Having found an image and made a yarn wrapping I was particularly inspired by, I decided to make a weaving that was midway between the two sample briefs. I wanted to make a representation of a design I found pleasing, but was also interested in the interplay between warp and weft brought about by a looser weave than a tapestry.
This is a postcard of a book cover that can be found in the Bodlean library. I love the contrast of curved and square geometry as well as areas of high and low contrast with adjacent shapes. The yarn wrapping was made with a selection of DMC tapestry wools, acrylic yarn and a chunky alpaca Rowan yarn for the gold. It is only after I started to develop this further I realised I seem to have an ongoing definite Bauhaus leaning! I visited a friend’s house where they have a woven tapestry displayed that they bought in rural South America. The chunky alpaca was reminiscent of this for me, both in colour and texturally. A notable thing about that tapestry was that the warp had remained quite visible, although was of undyed cotton and not part of the design.
I decided to take a quarter of the design to sketch, as I wanted bigger shapes in my piece, and felt that the asymmetry would create more tension in the design.
I then transferred the design onto graph paper with watercolour, having already painted watercolour stripes inspired by the yarn wrap for the warp. Never to make life easy for myself, I decided to tackle perfect circles and straight seams in my weaving!
You can see on the sketch above that I also played around with how to present the fringing. I decided on plain knots in pairs finally as it worked well to draw attention to the warp design. Rather than weaving the smaller red circles, I decided to stitch crochet circles instead. This came finally out of a discussion at West Dean about surface embellishment and ornamentation, and partly to solve the problem of squaring off of curves once the design becomes too small. In terms of yarn selection, I used one strand of chunky yarn and 2 strands of other yarns to keep the picks level. I also substituted the pale yellow with a strand each of warm yellow acrylic baby yarn and shiny copper synthetic yarn. This was in order to create a contrast of textures and solid versus broken colour.
The alpaca chunky made a really solid heading cord, and having a coarser surface texture meant that it gripped to the chunky warp yarn making it stable. The weaving process was quicker than my other samples as I was following a pattern, but I was held up significantly by a long wait for out of stock yarn. I had really underestimated how much yarn I was going to need given that I was using it 2-ply. At the beginning of the weave, I checked the scale of my weaving by checking that a square on my paper design was a true square in the weave. This was important to ensure that the circular elements of the design worked. I was really happy with how the variation in thickness as well as colour in the warp worked with the weft design and felt that it carried the stripey elements of the design through the piece. In the stripey part I took the advice of the weavers at West Dean and alternately used interlocking and slit techniques where the colours met. Unfortunately, having three slit seams in one pick caused a widening of the weaving in this part. This was particularly annoying as I had been really pleased with how even my tension at the selvedges had been on the loom!
I have got the weaving bug and having read Margo Selby’s book of designs, I would move on to experiment with different lifting patterns, and how this could work with mixtures of textures as well as colour. I feel I have an understanding now of how an inspiring image or feeling can be interpreted into weave.