weaving play

I made this little sample quickly yesterday and can’t wait to explore this further. I warped a tiny frame loom with some very rough hemp, and wove it with alternate picks of torn fabric and thick and thin Colinette yarn. Then I threw it in the washing machine with a load of washing.


When it came out I thought it looked quite interesting, with some parts firmly felted and some holes, especially where the yarn was thin. I hadn’t planned to remove the warp as well but once the idea occurred to me it became an irresistible ‘what if’, so I snipped the knots and pulled out the hemp. I wondered if the wool would hold the weft together and the answer is yes. I like the way it’s solid in places and fragile in others, just like memory. I also like the texture and structure of it, and the way the effect of the warp persists.

I’m going to have a play with handspun and unspun wool, and different kinds of fabric, and different warps, felting by hand, to see what emerges. I imagine a series of pieces, ragged yet strong, To do with prayer and memory and being made new. I am thinking about habits and quotidien rhythms and the structure of praying the hours, and how our outworn clothes embody our history and memory, about what we keep and what we waste, and about connections and inclusion and mixing things up. All sorts of things.

Re-weaving: Sakiori inspirations

I had heard this word, Saki-ori, before, but I never quite took in what it is. The Japanese tradition of creating new cloth from old cloth, weaving with thin strips of worn fabric. Akin to rag rugs, but on a fine scale, soft enough for clothing.

When I made these …


for these


… I knew I would come back to this, one day. Find out more. Take it further.

A long time ago, I stitched connections between the fabrics I’ve worn and worn out.


Three weeks ago I met a woman who will never buy any clothes again, ever.

Then, I read the year of enough by Joanna of Things[HandMade].

Yesterday, sorting out supplies for a feltmaking day I’m leading next week, I felt drowned in everything I’ve amassed, such quantities that I hardly know what I have.

There’s so much going on in my head right now I think I may fly apart. But I hope that the quiet discipline of cloth will hold the fragments together.

Sakiori is here, here, here, and here. And here, along with many other wonderful stripes and strips.

The prayer flag project

I can’t remember how I learned about this project, but I’m thinking about joining in. I find prayer flags and prayer trees captivating: the raggedness; the littleness; the physicality of spirituality; the way they hold permanence and impermanence combined.

screenshot of blog

Back when I was exploring prayer flags (and their relationship to laundry) for a prayer flag weaving, I favourited a number of images on Flickr, so I’ve just made them into a small gallery to share with you. If you also happen to like looking at laundry, on the line is another gallery I made a while ago…


These are all woven with my handspun on a 12 inch Ashford Knitter’s rigid heddle loom.




I made them at the end of 2010. It’s high time to warp the loom again, since the New Year it’s been all spinning and no weaving.


Work is frenetic at the moment but I am making time to go to a weekly patchwork class on the island – two peaceful hours with likeminded people, and lovely log cabin to play with.

And out of this something very exciting is being born – the new Tiree Tapestry Group – tapestry in the sense of community tapestry, using a wide range of creative textile techniques. We’ll have a web site soon but there’s a little bit about us on our Facebook page. Our first meeting is on Friday – I can’t wait!

the last lap: changing direction

For the first trial felt mat, I decided to needlefelt dots of fibre within a circular area, leaving a border of undecorated felt where I was going to try writing some text. I can’t post a photo as I sent off the samples with my assignment without taking any, but it was – just – OK – really I didn’t like it at all! I spent some time stitching into and applying bits of fabric and fibre to another piece of felt and while there were lots of nice effects that I may use in the future, nothing was singing to me. I looked at my solitary mat and imagined a few more alongside it, and I knew this wasn’t what I wanted to do.

Soooo… back to the theme book to pick up on another of my early ideas – a set of napkins in napkin rings. Napkin rings are physically the perfect shape to embody both the embracing, enclosing aspect of the circle and the openness I was trying to convey. Embroidering text onto napkins would mean that it could be rolled up and half hidden, to be revealed in the act of opening the napkin and preparing to eat. “Hospitality can begin a journey towards visibility and respect” (Making Room, Christine D Pohl).

napkins in sketchbook

I still wanted a non-matching set, and at first I thought about making each napkin ring in a different way. I looked at various textile napkin rings and cuffs on Flickr, at how they were constructed and fastened. I sampled a quilted ring using indigo fabric, and I thought about weaving and embroidering, and I thought that they wouldn’t be a non-matching set but would just look as if I’d tried to include every textile technique I ever used! As Tim Gunn says, “Edit, edit”.

I thought about the cards I had wrapped with fabric and how exciting they were. I looked at my pile of blue and white fabrics from around the world, and my indigo shibori fabrics which include a few overdyed colours as well as much blue and white, and I decided to weave the napkin rings, all on the same warp, in fabrics using a free Saori style. Each one would start with a slightly different base point – Ghanaian batik, Indian block prints, sari silk, Javanese batik, and shibori, refecting cultural diversity. Indigo, forms of which are used in so many countries, would link them all together.

So I warped my little loom (for the first time!) and wove. I had been thinking about numbers, having decided that I wanted an odd number, as more in keeping with my theme, I settled on 5, since 7 is supposed to symbolise perfection and I didn’t want that. Thanks goodness, I would never have completed 7 in time!

weaving on loom

woven strips

I found the perfect napkins on Ebay, all the same size, all white damask, but each with a different pattern. I love that they are used, not pristine, and have their own hidden stories, if they could only tell. On each one I wrote, with stitch, the words of a detainee held at Yarl’s Wood, a UK detention centre for asylum seekers, a place which epitomises the very opposite of hospitality – a scandalous place where traumatised women and children are made prisoners. Yarl’s Wood Befrienders go to visit and support the detainees, and the words are taken from their web site, with permission. They are very moving. I stitched them over and over in shades of blue, moving from pale to dark, to reflect something of the “journey towards visibility”.

napkin stitched writing

five napkins

So I should be done, at this point. But no, that really is something else in the background. In a moment of mania I decided, not for the sake of the assignment, but for the sake of the work, that it wasn’t complete. I’d wanted to incorporate some of the snippets of text that I had jotted down throughout my theme book, but I hadn’t wanted to mix them up with the words of the detainees, detracting from both. So I was thinking hard about how to include them in the piece in a way that was continuous with the rest and added to the whole, and what I did is the next instalment…