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September Blog Weaver Spotlight!

We are so happy to share some of the beautiful work of our Online Guild members.

It is truly amazing to see where they have taken the online lessons, how they have adapted them to suit themselves and their technique. When members have the courage to change my drafts, change the colour, change anything they want… it fills my heart to overflowing.  When I see these posts on the Forum and Ravelry I know why I love my job so much and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop teaching.

So… is with great pleasure that I share some of the beautiful work from one or our Online Guild members.  This month we bring you Clare!

My name is Clare Cunningham (diveblue on Ravelry) and I have been a member of the guild since the first season when a friend suggested I have a look. I had started weaving a year or two before and had a couple of floor loom classes under my belt. From the beginning, I loved the pace of learning with the videos. It was also nice to get a fresh viewpoint in that first season on the mechanics of weaving. Jane’s aesthetic appealed to me from the get-go. I am a graphic designer and her clean, graphic sensibility and fearless use of color were very appealing to me.

I came to weaving by way of being an avid knitter. I loved the idea of using up my stash which had tipped the scales to the “more yarn than one can knit up in a lifetime” side. I also found the processes to be very similar. There is a catharsis to all that counting, threading, and sleying. I was once told that knitters have to be somewhat OCD and that is probably also true of weavers! I love all stages of the process, including the design work, and rarely follow a commercial draft.

I wanted to remain true to the workshop drafts and follow them to the letter, but I’ve made a few tweaks along the way, mainly for ease in winding and warping. I like to hold two threads in my hand which I find easier to keep straight in the cross when peeling threads off the lease sticks and I also like to begin and end at the same point on the board so I always hold a minimum of two threads in my hand and keep the numbers in the draft to multiples of four. I therefore have to round up or down any odd number instructions in the draft. Not very Fibonacci-esque at times but I try to keep the proportions the same. 

In the first project, the Asymmetry draft, I swapped out the red for a deep pink which was readily available in my stash, a color I knew would work well with the greys. In planning the subsequent pieces for this project I tried to make my weaving “deliberate” and have a finished piece in mind. In the past I have tended to weave to a firm plan as far as the warp and structure goes, and would then get bored, changing up the weft as I went along. I’m finding that the more intentional a project is the more I like it. I make an effort now to dial back on the randomness. This towel is woven as written: 8/2 in warp and weft and a sett of 18. 

The second piece was inspired by Swedish weaving that I had been looking at. I made use of repetitive sequences, something I keep in mind regularly these days. I find the pieces that have an asymmetry and appear to be random hold together much better with some repetition— either in the pattern of the weft or in a color turning up again later, if only briefly. It is the 8/2 cotton warp with 8/4 Maysville cotton rug warp as weft. The sett was opened up to 15 and it makes for a very thirsty bath towel. 

Below is the preliminary sketch that I “poured the detail” into. It is a division of space in 5s.

In the last piece I opened the sett up to 12 with the 8/2 cotton as both warp and weft. It is very gossamer and light as air. I tried some sampling at this sett and had great success with Zephyr Jaggerspun.

The Color and Weave sample colors were chosen from a distant memory — a woman’s outfit I saw on the street as a child. I have loved them since. Chartreuse, to my mind, is a neutral and goes with anything.

I greatly admired Jane’s shawl with the beautiful drape from the first season and I was trying to come close to its fluidity. The piece is sett at 15. The warp and the crepey green stripes in the weft are in 8/2 cotton. The rest of the weft is 5/2 bamboo. The cotton stripes shrank differently to the bamboo and look like seersucker. The bamboo was a success in achieving the drape I was after. 

I used the full draft and have to confess that I struggled with holding multiple warp threads in my hand. I had wound off a number of balls and they didn’t play well with one another! The final outcome was worth the warping struggles. The patterns are magical as they appear.

I had a great deal of fun with Parrot and loved the color play. I was missing one of the pinks and swapped it out for another blue. As I started to weave it was the colors created by the weft on top of the warp that really caught my interest. The layers of transparency added depth and the more complex and murkier the color the better. In this piece I especially like the brown, earthy tones created by those overlapping colors. 

I thought about Fibonacci numbers with all the divisions of space in the weft. This piece reminds me of the spaces on a Parcheesi board!

I had a Piet Mondrian grid in mind when I started this piece. I focused on “making squares” and planned for a pure color square of each of the warp colors as I approached from either side by using the clasped weft technique. The only color that could not be reached was the red square in the center so in this instance I used the inlay technique described by Jane in the episode. 

My favorite piece from this series is an overlay of the asymmetry sample from lesson one. There is so much saturated color in this warp that a white “zinger” seemed like the best choice. 

I find that my biggest successes are the pieces in which I’ve pushed myself to go outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes I get an idea and immediately dismiss it as being a little too “out there.” I challenge myself to follow through with these because these are the pieces that often end up being the most successful, and if not, give me the most satisfaction by way of the effort. Jane has given me the courage to take that leap!

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