Today marks exactly two years since I bought my first loom.Â It is with some trepidation that I show off my very first weaving project.Â It was an advancing twill out of Handwoven’s Design Collection, and I decided to weave it as a color gamp, resulting in this rather *ahem* colorful shawl.
Yes, even in the early stages, Tien was a rather complex weaver. 🙂
Even as a rank beginner, I was fairly ambitious; this was one of the more complex designs in Handwoven’s Design Collections (where the pattern originates).Â And I dyed all the yarns myself.Â The yarn is Jaggerspun Zephyr at 5040 yards per pound.
And here I am at one year, taking baby steps into design:
This was the first pattern where I really altered the design (beyond swapping out colors, that is).Â I took the heart patterns in Twill Thrills: The Best of Weaver’s and flipped the bottom of the hearts so they were symmetrical, then changed the satin threading in the center of the “eye” to something more like the pupil of an eye.Â The yarn is once again hand-dyed, the orange in two subtly different shades of silk, the black cashmere.Â The lampworked tiger striped beads at the bottom were a nice touch, though I can’t take credit to them.
And here, of course, is the piece currently on the loom, which is entirely my own design:
If you’ve noticed a massive leap in my weaving between year 1 and year 2, you’re right.Â Most of this is directly attributable to Bonnie Inouye and her book, Exploring Multishaft Design, which I think is one of the best weaving books I’ve ever worked through.Â (Merely reading it isn’t enough; you have to actually work your way through the examples.Â It’s more of a guidebook or a map in how to think about weaving; to learn from it you need to, well, think.)Â Bonnie’s been extremely helpful to me ever since I “met” her; she was the one who taught me network drafting, and virtually everything else I know about design.
So thank you, Bonnie.
Other books I love include Sharon Alderman’s Mastering Weave Structure, which is great because it offers tremendous food for thought (I could easily spend a year exploring the concepts in any given chapter, and almost on any given page), Peggy Osterkamp’s trilogy of books on weaving, and any issue of Weaver’s Magazine or Prairie Wool Companion (its predecessor).Â Weaver’s was a great magazine and I’m sorry they went out of business long before I learned to weave.Â Complex Weavers is also a great resource, but still a little “over my head” for now.Â (But not for long, I hope!)
I am pleased with my progress.Â I’m learning a LOT with every project, trying not to do the same thing twice.Â I’m still making some beginner’s mistakes, but fewer than before, and I’m getting better at fixing them.Â I’ve already won one award (a silver at CNCH) and hope to win more in the future: not because awards mean a lot to me, but because they show that my technique is improving, and my artistic vision is getting stronger.Â Feedback is important to me – I can show things off to my guild and get oohs and aahs, but they’re not helpful to me artistically (except as general encouragement, which is nice).Â Serious examination by experienced judges helps me see where my work is good, and where it needs to improve.
So what do I want to accomplish in my next year of weaving?
- Explore multishaft design, especially network drafting, echo weave, and Alice Schlein’s book The Woven Pixel (applications of Photoshop to weaving design).Â Interleaved drafts and doubleweave and collapse, oh my!Â There’s so much to learn that I hardly know where to begin, but this is what interests me at the moment, and it seems good enough.
- Work my way through more of Bonnie’s book, and actually weave up some of those doubleweave samples.Â I still have a LOT to learn.
- Explore color more, doing more gradated warps and playing with this new knitting-machine weft-dyeing technique.Â I want to learn how to mix complementary colors successfully, and how to dye and use subtler colors – less saturated and more complex/less rainbow-oriented than my work thus far.
- Sew with my handwovens more.Â Finish reading Sharon Alderman’s Handwoven, Tailormade.
- Finish reading Mastering Weave Structures by Sharon Alderman and really try to understand it (which is much more difficult than simply flipping the pages).
There’s a lot more I want to do – like finish reading through all my back issues of Weaver’s, play with painted warps, read through some of the other weaving books on my shelf, and generally immerse myself in multishaft design, but goals should be realistic, and I think those are already ambitious enough.Â (Especially considering I have a full-time job + Weavolution + chocolate + cycling + whatever hobby I’ve picked up this month.Â Alas, time is finite, and I have many other interests to feed.)