I spent the weekend in my friend Emma Jo's studio. Her studio is one of many in a large industrial building in Dennistoun entirely occupied by artists. If you have the opportunity to come to Glasgow, make it the first weekend in October, when the artists open their studios for us normal mortals to indulge in fabulous art. annual. If you need accommodation, I have space for a few friends.
Anyway, Emma Jo not only a great artist but also a friend and neighbour. She is the most amazing weaver I know and recently finished 18 months of studio weaving to weave a medieval tapestry series for Stirling castle. I particularly like Emma Jo's portraits, some of which you can see here. I quite fancy one of those for myself one day.
Like many girls, I had a small loom but I don't remember doing much weaving at all. I must have used it I guess but produced nothing worthwhile keeping. I do like to learn new crafty things and learning from an expert is just much more fun than learning with YouTube. I particularly wanted to find out how to weave shapes.
We started off with a frame that Emma Jo had prepared for us by stringing it with warp, which is a bit like string but less springy. I think she used 6 warps per inch. First we had to wind bobbins with yarn of our choice. The yarn was not quite double knit (I am guessing), it was rough to the touch, not yarn that I would like to wear on my skin. We used it doubled up. Emma Jo often weaves with other types of yarn, some of which you can see above. Anything goes but it should not be too springy. It is important to secure the yarn to the warp. This is done by attaching it to the warp with a row of knots (two per warp). We then weaved some simple passes to practice smooth turning. The next challenge was to change colour and to weave a triangle shape. This was followed by smaller squares and a pattern for which I don't have a name. It is the one in red and turquoise on my sampler. The last challenge (which took almost all day today) was to weave a circle. This was to practice curves. I found this rather difficult and although I got off to a good start, my finished circle is more of an illusion of a circle. I guess I'll have to practice a wee while longer before I make my first portrait. This will probably by one of those yellow and black smiley faces....
Although the principles of weaving are not complicated, actually doing it nicely was a lot trickier than I thought it would be. I struggled with keeping the sides neat and straight if you look at my finished sampler, it is narrower at the top than at the bottom. I am also really rubbish at making knots to attach new yarn, or (depending on the pattern) in between passes. I can tie shoe laces no problem but using this skill on the loom was an altogether different matter. Curves are also very tricky and I can't even begin to imagine how to make a shape that uses different elements of what we have learnt these past two days. Weaving for two full days was tiring on the back and the eyes. I think I have a squint now but I haven't dared looking into the mirror to confirm this yet.
Will I weave again? I think so. I have nothing to weave with at the moment and will add things to my Birthday wish list. I don't need a loom of any kind. Emma Jo uses simple wooden frames for all her work. These look like picture frames. I might need to buy some warp. Maybe a couple of bobbins but again, Emma Jo uses her fingers for her portraits, and single lengths of yarn. I could try that but my sausage fingers may not be dexterous enough just yet. We'll see. In the meantime, I have a Missoni scarf and a blanket for Annie to finish.
This marks the end of a really nice weekend. I did thoroughly enjoy doing something different and I am sure I'll be thinking back to the class with a smile on my face. And if this wasn't enough, the house is clean and all kids were taken to their various social activities in time. They were unusually busy this weekend. I am very grateful that Richard didn't insist on his Saturday bike ride and was happy to take over my role.
What did you do this weekend? I hope it was something nice. Have a great week. Cx