Just off the Loom - Southern Man

I finished weaving the "baby blanket" and took it off the loom; it's now hanging in the basement until I tidy/fringe/wash/press it in the next couple of days. You know the drill.

This is the second time this client asked me to weave something; the first was a wedding present in late 2005. The baby blanket was ordered first in late 2006 for her expected first grandchild, but I had my little exhibit coming up so I was unable to comply. Late last year she ordered it once again, in time for the said grandchild's first birthday, which unfortunately was sometime in February. But she had been informed.

Meanwhile, my client sent me a couple of pictures of the little boy, and I was astonished how manly he looked even when he was only a few-months-old and even more so around his first birthday. I knew he lived in the south of New Zealand (the cold end) so I wanted something sturdy and not baby-ish, but the more I looked at his photos the more I knew here was a Southern Man in the making.

The nearest I can think of to the notion of the New Zealand Southern Man is the Marlboro Man, but probably less stylish, says fewer words, and with weather-beaten, wrinkled skin. (Kiwis, feel free to pitch in.) Well, he's a man's man, and this little guy definitely is one.

I imagined a wee boy, at age 1, and 3, and maybe even 5, dragging an old blanket in a cold wooden house, or in the yard, or on the beach, or on a truck, playing, sleeping, crying over a lost fight, and cuddling a dog. (Notice, I didn't say a puppy, and I'm just imagining he lives in a rural environment but I don't know the facts.)

The client suggested a Herringbone, and requested mixtures of natural/cream, blues, navy, and mint green. The warp is in four different 110/2 merinos from natural to mid-blue, with cotton mint green boucle for accent, and the weft is an old-fashioned carpet single in the most delicious navy. The cotton boucle is threaded in addition to the merino wherever the twill changes direction, as I didn't think I had enough warp to test the different shrinkage accurately. The weave is 3/3 dornick woven in double-width.

I felt uncomfortable weaving this, as it's rough and inelegant and not the kind of cloth I like to make; let's just say it's' not "pretty". I'm not sure if the client will appreciate a "baby" blanket that feels more like an old-fashioned itchy wool blanket, though we have been in communication about this, because reading emails about it could be different from opening a parcel and touching it. I am, on the other hand, confident this one will be hard-wearing and versatile. It has been one of the most utilitarian piece I've designed to date.

Shortly before his first birthday, my client wrote me: "He recently discovered the hallway. Up to now he was carried from one room to another, but now that he can crawl, he is fascinated by this space that seemed to have always existed but was never a destination."

I hope she likes it.


  1. The twill is moving into the hills and valleys of the Southern Alps.
    Love the colour movement.

  2. So do you think I got the Southern Man alright? Though I don't think Baby quite has Speights in his bottle yet, but...


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