Thanks, Insomnia. I think...

Last night was 2ish-5ish kind of a night, but unlike other insomnia nights, I wasn't as fully awake and I hoped I'd fall asleep soon; I even pretended to be asleep. To no avail. However, all was not lost as I came up with a simple but effective and not-my-usual idea for the next cashmere warp. And quick to thread!
It's simple, there is a lot of room for variations so the three scarves from the same warp can look a little different from each other without rethreading, and the twill will give the pieces a lovely airy hand. But wait. Shafts in this draft are divided into Block A-outside, Block A-inside, Block B-outside and Block B-inside. Because the warp colors change, swapping the appearance of the twill within the block doesn't produce an attractive look. (See the tiny bit at the bottom?) So why not keep the outside uniform across the width of the cloth, and give each inside separate maneuverability?
Now I've given four shafts each to Outside, Inside/oranges, Inside/purples, and Inside/greens. I get more flexibility, and if I flip the appearance of the twills, the outside throughout the width of the cloth will have a uniform look so that is an a option, too.


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At the top of Alison's design course instructions circa 2002, she wrote we shouldn't design based on what we've got in the stash. Being a novice back then, I was game for anything, but I was mindful Alison, then, was known as a rug weaver, I thought it's easier to make pictures on rugs than on cloth as my understanding of rugs was "tapestries with giant pixels."  

Often I hear wood-/stone-carvers/sculptors claim their design/work is inherent in the material and their job is to chisel away, well, the negative space until the work shows itself. Is this akin to "My Yarns Decide" school of design in weaving?  

I haven't figured out how I can translate my "design process" results onto my loom. That said, I have a set of tools I use when designing sometimes; other times, I pick and match material, (fiber, size, sheen, color,)  draft, size/sett/pick, and purpose. It's not an either/or but more/less weight/time spent with the tools. How I design depends on time allowed, material on hand, purpose of the piece, price if any, the client if it is a commission, and my taste/mood.

If projects don't progress smoothly, often on Insomnia nights I make decisions based on gut feelings, and these usually work. It's as if components of the projects are already in my head and my subconscious takes charge. I used to think this was cheating and I've examined my choices and changed bits, but some of these ended up being Big Disasters. I sample to see if my gut-felt decisions are the best, but I'm less skeptical of this method.

And then there are times, in those moments between sleep and wakefulness, I see what I have to make and work recreate that picture. I sample to see what option is closest to the mind picture and if I can improve on it, but I bypass a lot of grunt work. Sometimes I feel this is Big Cheating, but heck, it's my mind-picture, it's mine to use.

I'm not sure where I stand on the spectrum of Thinking-led/Yarn-led designer. Or is it a triangle with the third being Inspired? How do you design your work?


  1. I flip flop between designing and then ordering in yarns and setting Myself the creative limitation of only using what I have on hand. I don't think it matters much so long as I am creating....

  2. My mind seems to come at designing from all directions. Perhaps its really a circle or a spiral? Sometimes I'm yarn inspired. Sometimes I want to try out a structure, sometimes I want to create an effect other times a mood. Sometimes it's about color or texture, or I'm curious about a result and I want to work something out. Sometimes it starts as an intellectual exercise - as in I wonder if I can figure out how do do this and then it develops into something interesting (or not).
    I t would be a shame to limit oneself. After reading your blog for some time I don't think you limit yourself.

  3. I'm with you, Changepath; I'm all over the show. I think it's partly to do with not wanting to get bored or stuck in a rut, which I tend to if I stick to a limited number of ways. To that end, Laura, I need to keep flitting form one method to another in order to keep weaving. I also like to emulate people whose work I admire - not just in weaving but anyone who makes things and talks about it - and their approaches. Or I'm greedy and am perpetually afraid of missing out on something good if I discard ways I haven't throughly experimented with.


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