This project was exhausting but really enjoyable.
I have always wanted to weave and it seemed so complicated - I still think it is incredibly complicated but am now less fearful of it. I can start to look at a woven fabric/rug and make an educated guess as to the way the piece was made.
Time was my enemy during this project. Each stage of the weaving sample took a lot of time and thought. There is so much merit in being organised and planning the colours and images you are going to use.
I feel happier and more confident when starting a sample piece if I have done the colour matching first and some design development, it is still a very new way of working for me, but one that I will incorporate into all my design work from now on.
Did I have enough variety in my collection of yarns and other materials? Which kinds of yarns etc did I use most? How do their characteristics affect the look and feel of each sample?
I had a good variety of yarns in my collection, but not a complete range of colours. To do this project justice I would have had to start dyeing my own yarns - having seen the work of the weavers at Dovecot Studios and that of Jilly Edwards, I think this step will be worth taking.
I used a small range of 'other materials' and probably need to experiment further with this - I had leather, paper, foils etc all lined up, these will have to be sketchbook samples.
I did like the way the polythene worked, especially when mixed with the brightly coloured knitting ribbon.
Stage Two I mainly used fine rug yarns and sock weight yarns. These showed the weaving patterns well, they also covered the warp yarn fully.
The fine yarns are soft and smooth to the touch when woven. The finished sample is densely woven creating a firm fabric.
Stage Three I used some thicker yarns, these allowed the warp yarn to show through, leaving a more textured 'look' and feel to that part of the sample - it would be interesting to see what would happen if I used a coloured warp, or a warp made from another material with these thicker threads. This is a further sketchbook idea.
Twisting an eyelash yarn with the thicker yarns. This added a colour and texture to this part of the sample. It became really fluffy when the eyelash yarns had a long lash, the eyelash yarns with shorter 'fluff' became twisted in with the weaving adding colour, but not much of the fluffy texture.
Using the eyelash yarn to make the Rya knots - this was full of life, a whole sample made with this yarn and this technique would be fantastic. It looks and feels great.
The polythene in this sample changed so much when woven, it went from a thin, see-through, fragile yarn to a thick, strong, sparkly fabric. It also feels relatively smooth and soft.
The knitting yarn looked warm, soft and vibrant - it looked great as a plain weave, but the Soumak technique really made it look at its best - scrunchy and textured.
The cotton yarn that was made up of twists of many colours created a dense, tightly woven fabric. I loved the way the colours showed through in random patterns.
Stage Four - The sample ranged from 'soft and squishy' at the sides of the spiral where the thick blue yarn was woven loosely across the warp. To 'smooth and dense/firm' in the centre where the cotton fibres were woven. To 'soft, smooth and fluffy' where the mohair yarns were mixed in with the other yarns - the colour of the mohair yarn also added a depth to the colour it was twisted with, the plain yellow/gold yarn gained a warmth when twisted with the orangey mohair yarn.
How did I find weaving in comparison to the other techniques I have tried? Did I find it too slow or limiting?
Weaving is slow, but it is not limiting. It just requires patience, an understanding of the techniques and some planning before you begin.
Weaver Jane Freear-Wyld feels that choosing to be a tapestry weaver is a lifestyle choice, not an occupation, as she has the luxury of having time to reflect.
More information on this theme can be found at this blog "Making a Slow revolution" link.
I like the thought that some people still take their time to make things, a bit like the ideas William Morris had with the Arts and Crafts movement - then we had the Industrial revolution changing things, making things cheaper and faster to produce, and not necessarily better; now we have the Computer revolution, everything available now, at the touch of a button. There should be room for both to work side-by-side, but are people still willing to wait and pay a little extra for their trouble?
How do I feel about my finished sample? Am I happy with the relationship of the textures, proportions, colour and pattern to the finished size? Is there any part that I would want to change? If so try and identify exactly how and why you would change it.
Please see Stage Four for the responses to these questions, here, I have tried to identify what I liked, what worked, what went wrong and how I would rectify it and how I might have changed it, in this post.
Was there any stage in the whole design process, such as choice of source material, deciding proportions, choice of yarn or colour, translating idea to sample, that you felt went wrong? Would you tackle this process differently another time?
I answered some of these points in the post for Stage Four - see last link.
I don't think that the design process went wrong. I liked my source material; the proportions were easy to work with; the yarns and colours worked- I did mention the fact that the thick yarn made difficulties for me when creating the sample in my post; the idea translated into a sample easily.
Next time I may try out more ideas and more source material before settling on 'the one'.
I would also like to have a chance to work on the other sample that was suggested - to choose a 'word' and make theme boards from the ideas that are sparked by the 'word' before starting to make yarn wraps and cartoons for the weaving.
I would also like the opportunity to dye my own yarns, as I mentioned earlier to give a full range of colours, tints, tones and shades to choose from, rather than relying on my 'stash' and the local craft shop.
Which did I enjoy more - working from source material or putting colours together intuitively? Why?
I find it easier to work from source material as there is a process to work through. Locate interesting area of an image, isolate the colours and textures, find the yarns that work, design the cartoon for the weaving, think about the techniques that will be needed - start weaving.
Putting colours together intuitively is more fun, but you need to have the time to experiment more, the time to practise - to see if it does or doesn't work before you start the weaving.
Happily the OCA course book p.201 states, "Ideally you need more time to experiment and build up knowledge of how yarn behaves in the tapestry weaving process."
I have thoroughly enjoyed the learning process in this Project, I have had to work with a medium that I have had no previous experience with. I have a long way to go, but have already ordered some tapestry weaving books to add to my 'how to' collection and looked for tapestry weaving courses to go on.