What fascinates me as a new weaver is not so much the throwing of the shuttle – like knitting is not really the joy of needle clicking.
I love getting ideas. Inspiration from something I’ve seen, a pattern, a whole project, a colour combination, or a story/theme which leads my mind down some winding path. This is the part which keeps me going. “Can I make this?”
There’s not nearly as much actual designing going on compared to the imaginary part, so I’m trying to be more structured about it in different ways. Not efficient, weaving takes the time it takes, but to declutter my head. A bit. The usual story. As it is, the amount of time I have to think about weaving far exceeds the time I am able to weave, so it all works out in the end I guess.
I’m using various methods when I think up a fabric. Some arrive already done, just needing execution, I don’t even bother writing down a plan.
Sometimes I know which yarn I want to use, but not quite how to combine it. Then I may drag out that particular box and rearrange skeins all over the table until I’ve got it sorted. Taking turns on the couch clicking my weaving app, testing and struggling to understand tie-up plans. Then picking a different yarn and trying again etc.
There’s also the challenge of simply designing from what yarns you have; this can be an interesting limitation if you happen to be in love with a specific colour at the moment and don’t have it.
Or tapestry weaving without a plan, just moving from scrap yarn bundle to the next and see what happens. Usually tapestry is well planned out with cartoon and colours determined in advance. I don’t know yet what I prefer, I see lots of stuff on the web, but my own ideas are still very fuzzy. There’s also the matter of all the plant dyed yarns.
I’ve always made lists of colour combinations whenever I see them, as words, and I want to try to paint samples in watercolour for instance for a more visual follow-up when I don’t have a photo to work from.
This I want to combine with drafts that I play around with on my tablet, print them out and end up with a collage of sketches, colours and patterns that can be turned into a project. Sounds dead serious and work like, doesn’t it! But right now it feels interesting. A bit time-consuming perhaps? It’s not as if I need to remember every single notion that pops into my head, but sometimes projects are postponed just so long because of you-know-what, that I forget that I only thought about step 2 while weaving step 1, so I sometimes need notes I never made to be able to go on like I intended. Such as my “5 cone 3 cloth” thing in the 2nd picture. I don’t have a draft for cloth 2!
Sampling. Something I’ve never really made a habit with any craft. While providing useful information it also “wastes” supplies, especially in weaving where the amount of waste yarn at both ends is the same whether you make a long, useful piece of fabric or just 50 cm. In fact, the bigger the loom, the longer the pieces of waste yarn, which is why some weavers keep a short table loom for designing. I tend to just cross my fingers and pretend I know where things are going, but I may try the other way as my ideas accumulate. (no table loom, though. They never caught on in Scandinavia, so no used ones on the market)
Sometimes most of the time you just can’t predict things in your head without those 20 years’ experience under your belt.
And sometimes the designing continues right up to and after dressing the loom. Extra threads, changing mind about pattern, density, or weft yarn. Perhaps the fabric never ends up as the intended finished piece. I wonder if this process will change as I become more experienced, if the knowledge of materials will cement my decisions earlier in the project.
I’m curious to hear if other weavers have a specific process they follow, experienced as well as beginners like me! Somehow weaving is a very mathematical process, but I’m not in any way numerically inclined. So perhaps my approach or “vision” is somehow different? Or doesn’t it matter at all.
I haven’t yet had any desire to follow patterns by other designers, loads of inspiration yes, but I don’t really care for kits. When everything is decided for me in advance it just feels like a job and not like fun. Might as well just go buy the item then, and have some time over for other stuff. I know others feel differently, and that’s fine too of course. You probably make fewer mistakes…