I saw the call for entries into the Handwoven/Vav garment competition, and was thinking about entering. But the garment needs to be appropriate as a project for Handwoven magazine, which puts a tremendous number of constraints on it: no more than eight shafts/ten treadles, and simple enough to give instructions for in 3-4 pages. This basically means you have to use a currently available commercial sewing pattern, or do loom-shaped garments that are simple enough to explain in a page or two. It also means using a draft that can be reduced to fit on a single page, i.e. no complex nonrepeating threading and treadling, and no liftplan designs. And a yarn that is commercially available at retail, i.e. no mill ends and no hand-dyed gradated colors.
These, for me, are pretty severe constraints. There are ways to make complex patterning on eight shafts/ten treadles, of course – my Tiger Eye shawl is lovely and uses only eight shafts. But I am not used to designing with these constraints anymore, so it would be quite a challenge. Of course, I could go even simpler and use four shafts and color/texture play to make an interesting fabric – I did write an entire article on what could be done with plain weave, after all – but again, this sort of design runs contrary to what I typically do.
So I had thought, originally, that I was going to skip the competition.
But then I started thinking about constraints in a different way. Constraints are an excellent way of pushing you out of your comfort zone, which I think is a great thing to do, at least every once in awhile. Working within unfamiliar constraints forces you to get creative, to think in new ways, to come up with new solutions – all of which can then be taken back to, and enrich, your current body of work. (Or even convince you to hare off in a different direction, if the new vein looks interesting enough!)
So I am seriously thinking about entering the contest, as a way to force myself “out of the box” for a project.
Or maybe not.
At this point the projects are starting to pile up against each other, and I need to accept that they’re not all going to happen. This is not a bad thing – queueing up projects too far in advance stifles my creativity – but is a bit disappointing, since I think they’re all really interesting. There are the diversified plain weave jacket, the triple weave shawl, the qiviut scarf (which has to get done, since it’s a commission), and let’s not forget the cashmere coat, which I am seriously considering hauling out of the icebox, since it’s such a beautiful fabric. I generally don’t plan more than two projects in advance, since a given project is apt to take me a month or more. The qiviut scarf is such a quick project that I can probably just “toss it off”, but the others will take considerably more work. Adding a project for Handwoven on top of that would probably make the whole stack fall over.
And yet, it’s tempting.
So I am contemplating what to start next. I will consult with Sharon tomorrow on my intended projects, and may kill one or more depending on what she says about suitability of the fabric. And I will play around with eight-shaft designs to see what possibilities I can generate. I don’t have any textured yarns to work with, and don’t want to add to my ohmigod huge stash, so it’s probably best for me to stick to designing with color and pattern, at least for now. Haven’t decided what fibers to use, either – my favorite is silk and cashmere, of course, but I also have lots of cotton and linen on hand, that I wouldn’t ordinarily use.