These greeting cards are the result of a self-directed learning spree – a hands-on, trial & error, teach-myself excursion into the unknown. In this case the unknown was weaving with an 8-shaft loom.
2012 is the third year in a row I’ve made greeting cards using pieces of fabric from one of these binge-on-a-whim experiments.
In 2010, my first handmade cards came from practice mixing dye colors.
One young friend asked if I’d woven the fabric (which I had not), so the following year I decided to weave fabric for cards as “practice”.
Practice weaving a specific shape – 6.5 inches x 4.5 inches with an area of interest approximately 4.5 inches x 3 inches.
(I use cards from Photographer’s Edge)
And practice weaving stripes.
No surprise. I learned a lot.
A lot of important stuff. Like why I prefer putting stripes in the warp rather than the weft. (It’s easier.) And why I’ll think twice before choosing to weave weft-faced stripes. Especially if the yarn I want to use is 8/2 cotton. (It takes forever).
On the other hand, I also (now) know that I love the look of weft-faced stripes in 8/2 cotton.
Tough call. But good to know.
The kind of knowing that comes from doing.
A fine tuning of personal preference.
Fabric for greeting cards is a perfect project for practice.
And now one of my “go-to” projects when I want/need to psyche myself out.
When the best way to get answers to my questions is to try, re-try, do, redo, repeat, adjust, and try again.
When information gathering is part of the plan.
And when I need a way to get past that gag-me-with-a-spoon reaction I have toward making samples.
The prospect of working on anything that resembles a “put-it-in-a-notebook-and forget-about-it” weaving sample leaves me totally uninspired.
Wholehearted, enthusiastic exploration of possibilities is much more likely to occur when the process is exciting and the results
Weaving is most meaningful to me when I’m working on something I can use.
That’s why, when I started thinking about switching my Leclerc Colonial loom from 4 to 8-shafts, I knew I had to find a way to make the weaving worthwhile – as in, “this absolutely has to be something I can have fun with and use”.
The problem was (is?) – nothing I want to weave requires 8 harnesses.
So I went to my back issues of Handwoven Magazine – starting with the most recent. Paging through this vast collection of weaving wisdom usually moves me. But I knew what I was looking for – and none of the projects requiring 8 shafts were “it”.
Maybe this says something about how far behind I am, compared to rest of the weaving world.
Until I got back to 2001.
Sure enough, in a magazine published 11 years ago, (pages 48 – 50 in the September/October 2001 issue of Handwoven ) I found the perfect project.
Designed by Sarah Saulson – specifically aimed at and written for 8 harness “newbies” (part of her “Now we are Eight” series of articles), – and intended as a “how-to” for weavers interested in creating plain weave selvedges along the edges of a woven pattern, it was exactly what I was looking for.
The project was for mug rugs. Small, simple and manageable. These little gems – (also known as coasters) – have never been on any of my weaving “to do” lists. Remember when I mentioned the “need to weave” something I would use?
But – what if? What if they were just a little bit narrower and each piece woven a little bit longer? What if the fabric could be woven to fit in the window of a greeting card?
There it was. The project that inspired questions suitable for a “spree”. Thanks to Sarah Saulson and Handwoven Magazine, I was ready to find out what would happen “if” with 8 shafts.
It was late October when I started weaving – not soon enough for people to see during Fall Open Studio Weekend, – and perhaps overly optimistic of me to imagine weaving off, finishing and sending out few Happy Thanksgiving cards. But the autumn-y brown and gold colors I chose for warp made an excellent foundation for a whole slew of color combinations to try in the weft.
Every one was different (and a couple of them were really different).
But exactly the kind of “see and do” thing that could keep me interested. Interested enough to make me want to repeat the process.
As soon as I finished the first warp, tweaked the weaving plan and made adjustments based on my notes, – I started all over again. Different warp colors and another whole slew of color combinations to try in the weft.
So maybe three times really is the charm. Because after 3 separate warps, I was feeling a lot less beleaguered by those additional shafts and treadles.
Baby steps, to be sure – but enormously satisfying. And with lots of cards to give as gifts or send in greeting – the experience fit perfectly into my idea of worthwhile.
Worthwhile enough to make me stick with 8? No – I’m just not there. Too many other things to do.
The Colonial is back to normal – which for me, means a 4-harness counter-balance loom with an overhead beater. And with several exciting prospects on my “things to weave” list, – I probably won’t need to dig through my back issues of Handwoven Magazine for at least another 6 months.
In the meantime, since I had to resort to giving someone one of my weaving IOU’s instead of an actual gift this year –
I gotta go weave.