When Rainie reached out to ask if I'd be interested in a visit from the travelling loom, I said yes straight away. I didn’t think about it too hard, didn’t stop to wonder if I would have anything interesting to say. I just said yes. Even as I begin writing this, I’m not really sure how it is going to go. Which is kind of in line with the way I weave - making it up as I go along.
Many of you will have already experienced the anticipation that comes with knowing there's a package on the way from The Unusual Pear. That feeling is so much more heightened when you're not certain what will arrive on your doorstep! In my head I had already started imagining what I could make but I knew I needed to wait and see what goodies came before I made too many plans. It wasn’t easy and I impatiently stalked the mailbox until it finally arrived.
My usual approach to weaving is pretty fluid. Sometimes it starts with a new yarn purchase, other times I pull my whole yarn stash out and see what catches my eye. This time that stash came packaged in a carton, with a handwoven flap added by previous maker Stacie Sims to mend the broken box. While it is different for me every time, there is always one yarn that stands out and becomes the hero of a piece. This time it was a beautiful handspun yarn with blush and golden tones created by Stacie. Diving into my own stash, I soon had my palette of blush, lilac and gold to go with the handspun.
Small weavings are the perfect place to try out new ideas as they are quick to warp, and it takes little effort to undo if things don’t go to plan. I decided to do just that with this piece and chose a bright pink wool yarn (also from Rainie’s shop) to warp the loom. Something I wouldn’t have done for a larger work, as there is too much stretch to be able to support the weight of the finished piece. It was fun to try something different and *spoiler* I was excited to see it pay off this time.
Rainie’s looms are light to hold, and simple to warp so I was up and running in no time. Once I had my starting point, I knew I wanted to create my favourite fringe - lush silk sari ribbon loops. I weave bottom to top so after a few passes of plain weave I start with a layer of long rya knots, cut easily using an OG Unusual Pear tool that I have had for years. Next a layer of rya loops, followed by another row of knots. I don’t have too much of a plan, and let myself decide the placement of each yarn as I go, going with what feels ‘right’. I feel it’s important to point out that I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do things when it comes to weaving. While there are basic techniques to learn, as you grow in confidence many people develop their own styles and methods of arriving at the same point. That’s one of the best things about this craft - the freedom to do things your own way.
Using some of my go-to techniques, I add texture with soumak, plain weave and short rya loops, stopping to enjoy a cup of tea in the process. Working my way up the loom, it starts to feel like I need to add something more so I head back to my stash and find some thick two ply yarn in lavender blue and dusty rose, using them to weave rows of soumak that come together like braids. Nearly at the top, plain weave and hem stitch keeps it all in place.
Before I can cut my weaving free, I need to tidy up the ‘dark side of the loom’. A process made easier by securing loose ends as I go. An extra loop around the warp before starting with a new piece of yarn means only a few tucks and trims are needed before it’s ready to go. No matter how many times I do this next part, I have a moment of nervousness where I’m not sure if it will hold together. Thankfully it does, and I go to work trimming a piece of dowel to hang it from. I love how the bright pink yarn looks and braid some strands to use as a hanging cord.
Finished, I hang it on the wall and stand back to take it in.
This piece of art that I created using a few simple but beautiful tools, and my own two hands.
'The Traveller' available for purchase at www.jadeandfrankie.com/product/the-traveller