Friday, 4 April 2008


I begin by choosing the colours for the new sample. The wound balls of colours look fantastic together. Just looking at them makes me want to weave. This time however, I decide to restrict the number of colours I work with in order to focus my attention on technique and design, and choose just black and white.

I’m just going to start and see where it takes me. I have some ideas which may come to fruition but perhaps the weaving will take me in a different direction. I resolve to stick to my original plan of weaving a panel of circles, and see what happens within this structure. I might also try my hand at weaving letters and words.

I start by drawing a circle onto the warps with a permanent pen, then weaving up to its base then up one side. The result seems to be a fairly good curve which is encouraging, this being my first ever attempt at weaving a circle. It is a technical challenge to weave shapes well in a process such as tapestry weaving which is physically inclined towards horizontal and vertical elements, but this is also part of the attraction.

I like creating lines visually without them being there physically. Here, the black and white pattern gives the impression of a circle, but without using a solid outline. I very much like the idea of giving enough pictorial information in the weaving, but not spelling everything out. It then involves the viewer by allowing him or her the space to make visual connections and independent discoveries which feels so much more dynamic and interesting.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


I’ve set up a circular warp on the loom. This type of warp is tied to itself rather than the frame, which means that every so often I can loosen it, pull the weaving around the loom, then tighten again.

There are two reasons for this: firstly, it enables me to create a longer panel of weaving because I have a longer unbroken length of warp to work on; secondly, it enables me to keep working at the same height which is my personal preference.

Working on a circular warp means that the weaver only has access to half of the warp ends (those on the front of the loom). Normally, the warps at the front and back of the loom would be brought together and secured with a starter weft. This would then double up the warps to be woven on. Therefore, to achieve the usual sett (the number of warp ends per inch) that I am accustomed to, I wind double the number of warp ends onto the frame when creating a circular warp.

Additionally, I like to fix a spacing rod to the top of the loom before I start winding on the warp. I do this as a matter of course as it gives me the option of some slack if required later by adjusting its position. Likewise, I often create a double warp at the selvedges (the edges of the tapestry) for strength, stability and structural punctuation.

Before weaving, I finish the setting up process by doing the following:

  • tying on a temporary starter weft to stabilise the base of the warps which will be cut off when the tapestry is pulled around for the first time.

  • clamping a wooden baton inside the base of the front warp, a foundation for the heading and base knots to follow.

  • weaving two inches of heading (which spaces the warps evenly, and is removed after the tapestry is cut off the frame)

  • adding a row of base knots – this secures the tapestry to the warps and stop the weft slipping down the warps.

  • creating a shed (the space between the front and back warps) by inserting a dowel rod into the warps, secured in place with metal g-clamps (plastic clamps distort under tension)

My weaving memories are making a gradual return. Knowledge gained from the experience of past tapestries is filtering back (hooray) and I pick up where I left off. It feels lovely, valuable and reassuring, all rolled into one.