Monday, 31 March 2008


The glossary below will be continually updated. Access it any time via the link to the right of the page.

Base knots: two half hitch knots tied onto each warp end before weaving commences (and also at the end when the weaving is finished). Along with the starter weft, this creates a firm base to weave onto. The knots remain as part of the tapestry when it is cut off the frame, and prevent the weft unravelling.

Heading: temporary, thicker weft woven between the warps in order to space the warps evenly before the base knots are applied. It does not form part of the tapestry and is later removed.

Sample: a piece of experimental weaving, not deliberately intended as a finished tapestry

Sett: the number of warp ends per inch (epi)

Shed: the space formed between the front and back warps. There are two sheds - the open shed (created naturally), and the closed shed (created by pulling the back warps forwards between the front warps)

Starter weft: Strong weft, usually warp thread, tied to the frame and woven between the warp threads two or three times, pulled taut and tied off. This secures the warp threads in place before weaving commences and gives a firm foundation, along with a row of base knots. The starter weft is removed after the tapestry cut off the frame.

Warp: the taught vertical threads, usually cotton or linen, made by winding the fibre around the frame. Warp thread is different to string - it is specifically designed to be firm and strong but with some springy-ness to allow the weaver to manipulate the warps during the weaving process. The weaver may wish to experiment by using other sturdy fibres (such as fishing line or wire) as warps.

Weft: the horizonal threads, woven between the warps, and usually packed down to cover the warps completely, although this depends on the intention - the weaver may want to leave the some warp threads exposed. Any fibre element which can be woven between the warps can be used as weft.

Monday, 24 March 2008


Winding fibres into uniform balls
removing the distractions of cardboard tubes, cones and labels
I can view the colours in their purest form
they belong to me now, welcomed into my family

The fibres are more accessible:
of similar size and format
they are easier to move around
I see them in a different light

The colours can be compared,
the fibres contrasted -
constructed into balls, their look is transformed
they are their own mini works of art

Winding them teaches me about their nature,
giving insights into the qualities of their weave
I learn which fibres hold structure easily, and which don’t
all good information about their textural potential

The rhythm and routine of the winding process is good medicine
the slow methodical pace
determined by my hands
helps to unpack my head, my weavers block

overwhelmed with ideas -
can't process them fast enough.
crammed into my head,
they are bottlenecked, logjammed

Winding is good medicine
it allows my head to gradually settle
I stop struggling and respect the pace
things trickle out in their own time

Winding time is quiet time
private, untangling time. healing time
later, the creative part of me will be free to fly
and later still, woven tapestries will be the tangible and public part of my process

Weaving is my form of spiritual practice
when I engage with it
all else falls away
somehow, I find the way to be here in this moment

Monday, 3 March 2008

Gradual development

Each day I notice the studio space evolving in parallel to the weaving. Things gravitate gradually into the right positions. The system gets better, smoother, more organised.

This morning, I was reading Small Woven Tapestries by Mary Rhodes. Looking at the work of others propels my knowledge forward. It has given me ideas about inserting additional warps, geometric patterns and textures.

There are two distinct conversations happening in my samples. One is textural, the other pictorial. I feel that they will naturally merge with time. With the current sample, I am looking for balance now in bringing the design to a close. Looking at what has gone before, and seeing what I can do with the remaining weft from the workshop.

I love the combination of wrapping and plain weave. It allows me to showcase the warps. I found a better way of wrapping a single warp to maintain integrity of weaving: weaving independently behind the single wrapped warp avoids creating slits. This is straightforward if the background on either side is the same colour. If not, the two background colours could be interlocked behind the single warp, which would create a floating wrapped warp on the front of the tapestry with no vertical slit.

A cartoon behind the warp, with some of the major shapes marked onto the warps, plus a small colour image next to me as I weave would be a good combination for weaving a design. It would give the right combination of structure and freedom. I may experiment by scanning a design into the computer to reduce it down to its main components.

Future project
  • Squiggles (‘taking a line for a walk’) possibly combined with horizontals and verticals.