October 8th, 2022
‘Colour is power which directly influences the soul’ -Wassily Kandinsky
Something exciting has found its way to me- A little box containing the travelling loom and a squishy assortment of lovely fibres from Rainie over at ‘The Unusual Pear’. I cannot wait to get started but firstly, let me introduce myself. I’m Shan Chin- a busy mum of 3 boys (currently 2,5 & 7 yrs. old) and the creative fibre artist over at ‘Three Blue Larks’. I started weaving about 3 years ago and in my search for quality fibres and weaving equipment, I stumbled upon ‘The Unusual Pear’.
As many fellow weavers might understand, we tend to own an impressive assortment of different sized looms (just because right?!), but one of the very first weaving looms I owned was the mini loom (hence, the replica of the travelling loom). Its cute little size was perfect for a beginner weaver but also perfect for someone who never seems to have time on her side, and whose inspiration comes and goes quickly. The mini loom was and still is a popular choice for me.
If you have ever stumbled upon me on Instagram, the first thing you may notice is colour. Yep! No secret here- colour is my number one muse. Whether it be creating a woven piece or spinning up some hand spun yarn or dyeing some ribbons, I look towards colour, which is almost always inspired by nature. I frequently find myself looking upwards to the changing sky above or to a beautiful bouquet of florals, the shift in the seasons and across the landscape. It's not uncommon to see me snapping a photo quickly so I can refer to it for inspiration for a future piece.
That being said, I also find inspiration from the colours in fibres and textiles, especially in hand spun yarn. I absolutely love the imperfections and the multitude of different colours within an art yarn and from that I will base my colour selections.
Its October here in Australia right in the middle of Spring so I have decided to create a woven piece that is inspired with the warmth and growth of this season. I naturally gravitate towards pastels and soft, dusty tones so I have chosen a selection of yarns and textures for this piece. I love creating with an assortment of quality wool yarns, ribbons and cotton for a lovely, mixed texture.
Most of the time, I won’t use everything I have selected and it’s very common that I will add different colours and fibres as I work. One of my absolute favourite yarns to use in my pieces is Meracca yarn, a blend of baby alpaca and Merino wool 2ply yarn from the ‘The Unusual Pear’. It’s extremely soft and it creates a beautiful drape within the fringe.
Happy with my assortment of fibres, I am ready to weave!
Once you have your colours selected. We warp. Tie a double knot at the bottom left and work your way up to the top notch and back down to the next and repeat. The trick here is to not let go of the string and to maintain even tension- not too tight and not too loose. When you decide how wide you want your piece, secure a knot towards the bottom right corner.
Two rows of Twining and 3 rows of Tabby follows and then...fringe time!
I usually start my fringe with a series of rya knots of assorted lengths, colour and textures. Next another row where I will start to incorporate Rya loops.
To add more visual interest to a piece, I tend to create a fringe with volume and varying textures of silks, wool and cotton (you may use whichever fibre calls to you). I will then add another row of Rye loops to finish off the fringe.
I personally find the fringe the most challenging part but once its completed, everything tends to fall into place quite easily. Next, we move onto the main body of the piece. I tend to use a variety of plain Tabby weave, Rya loops and Soumak techniques to create this section. I don’t usually make a plan when I create, I tend to make it up as I go, embracing a freestyle and abstract weaving technique, letting the fibres guide me.
Almost done! Now it's time to tackle the back of the piece. I tuck in loose ends and create a series of double half hitch knots on the top and bottom of the piece to ensure everything is secured before it gets taken off the loom. Once off, I double knot the bottom warp strings for security and tuck in the loose ends with a darning needle. Once the back is neat and tidy, it is attached to a dowel and given a final trim.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and fibres. When it comes to weaving, I say you should try everything at least once to know whether you love it or not. This is important as it can help establish your weaving style.
- Weaving is extremely therapeutic. Too much on your mind? You will be surprised how easily your worries fade when you sit in front of a loom with an assortment of textured fibres at your reach.
- Never force yourself to create when you don’t feel the urge too. Your creative energy will come and go in waves. You may find that your best work/s will generally happen when you have that urge to weave.
- Let your piece sit on the loom for at least a few days before you take it off. You will be surprised how often you may end up changing an element here or there.
- Sometimes, chunky wool and art yarns can be a bit tricky to tuck in. If this is the case, use a felting needle to felt in the ends.
When I was pregnant with my youngest, back in 2019, I remember finding solace and peace through reading and watching weaving tutorials and videos as I waited in the reception area for the many OB appointments to come. Although weaving is a very ancient form of craft dating back many centuries, at the time, it was a craft I had never stumbled across upon. I was fascinated by the rhythmic motions of the weft travelling back and forth across the warp and the various weaving techniques which could be used to create a woven piece of art. It was then that I decided that this was a craft I really wanted to learn. With its meditative and therapeutic benefits, it has been something I have often turned to when life gets too hectic.
Almost 3 years on, I still love reaching for a loom. Watching a piece come alive from a selection of fibres, woven slowly and mindfully over a blank canvas brings my soul so much joy!
Thank you Rainie for sending the travelling loom my way. It’s been a pleasure to take part in its journey across the country.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my creative process and it may inspire you to give weaving a go!
Shan Chin, Three Blue Larks x