Choosing Warp Yarn for Wild Art Weaving

Choosing Warp Yarn for Wild Art Weaving

So after a nice morning struggle with some serious writer’s block, I decided it was a video kind of day. I have had several questions about warping for art weaving on a rigid heddle loom. So in today’s blog, I am going to just walk you guys through selecting warp yarn for my next weaving project. Enjoy!
Easy Peasy, right? So what are you working on? are you planning any holiday knitting/crochet/sinning/weaving projects? Share in the comments below.

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How to find new art ideas

How to find new art ideas

I have a confession. I have been holding out on you guys big time. I have been brewing the final installment of the 4 part weaving series for a couple of months now. And for what ever reason the inertia has been heavy. What I owe you is a post on what to create using the art weaving you have created from lessons 1-3. What I really want to do is inspire you to intuitively create your own designs. And I know for so many fiberistas that is a pretty steep step.

Because I am all about pushing you to really dive into your right brain, I feel like I first need to talk about how to find new art ideas. Give you a little insight into how I come up with inspirations using methods I learned in art school, and working as a art director. Straight up one of my favorite ways to spark inspiration is to study historical references. And for me, historical study can be broken into 3 different areas. Artists, trends, and personal.

Becoming obsessed with historical inspirations

One of my favorite things to do to churn up inspirations is to dive into historical study. Diving into the work of an artist and looking at their life to see connections between their life and their work. Or studying fashions of a particular time period and thinking of how they reappear in fashions of a later time over and over. This is something that is best done on a regular basis, as opposed to as you are about to dive into a particular project. If you dive into study project by project, it is easy to let your left brain take over and over think the creative stuff. However if you regularly feed your right brain with information, absorbing and journalling these findings and giving your subconscious time to do it’s thing in the background, you will be surprised at the level of creativity and unique ideas that will come out of your work.

Studying an artist and their life

It is one thing to look at a work of art and be inspired. But it is a another level of inspiration when you are driven to learn more about the life of the artist behind a peice of artwork that you find riveting. Learning how that artist expressed what was going on in their life through their work. And even more so to be inspired by how they lived their life.

Frida Kahlo

I find Frida Kahlo particularly intreguing. Her vibrant colors and haunting self portrats is what drew me at first. And then their were her clothes. That woman had moxie. Once studied, I fell in love with her unique style that unapologetically embraced her heritage and provided comfort and ease while accomodating the corsets and braces she had to wear because of her disability. I realized the colors mimiced her bold uncensored way of living. Her style to this day is easily recognizable. One day I hope to see this exhibit. And I have all kinds of ideas for recreating the traditional huipils that she wore in freeform crochet and weaving. Frida Kahlo reminds me to live out loud, honor my unique style and how I got here, and unapologetically be myself.

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel, though on the opposite end of the spectrum from Frida Kahlo, lived her life on her terms as well. Her creative expressions were through simplicity and subtle details. At a time when the fashions of the 1900s were pouffy and excessive, she found herself leaning toward simple details and silhouettes that conveyed an air of elegance. Chanel’s work reminds me to pull back sometimes and appreciate the small perfect details and to let that whisper of a detail stand out, unobstructed.

Studying a period

Another interesting way to dive into study is to look at a particular period in fashion or costumes of a culture. What were the unique detail of that time? What was going on news wise during a period? For example, being a teen in the 80s, meant Madonna, tunics over leggings, dolman sleeves, big hair + earrings. Seeing many of these style reemerge in the last 5 years has been amusing. I love how they have been re-imagined… new colors but familiar tunics, and dolman sleeves, over skinny jeans instead of leggings (or stir-up pants!)

Studying a re interpretation of a cultural costume can yield some terrific inspirations as well. A kimono re-imagined in freeform crochet, the huipuil (example I gave above) made with modern textiles, Americana prairie dresses re-worked and streamlined into a modern dress. Dive into a day of googling and see where you imagination leads.

Me in art school, 1987. Photo by Lee Dunnie.

Consider the evolution of your own style

I know my style has changed throughout the years based on what was going on in my life. For example, I had a preppy style my senior year in high school because I had a conservative preppy boyfriend. Turned thriftstore hippie while an art student in college. Turned business casual with my first job at a Southern homemaker lifestyle magazine. Each phase was affected by the life I was living at that time. What have been your evolutions? Is there a certain time when your look resonated with you more than other times? Despite an evolution of personal tastes, from my perspective, the core of what I wore had consistencies worth noting. These consistencies mark a certain set of details that collectively make up my personal style.

Art Journal Helpers

As you know I am a big fan of art journaling to help keep your right brain ideas organized and within reach. When journaling your inspirations from studying a period or artist work I like to think of journaling in two stages.

1. Just taking notes. Sketching printing out and pasting all info that catches you eye. Do not think now about how you will translate it. Just go for the gut “I like this” or ” I find this interesting” reactions and take note.

2. Taking time to flesh out Ideas. This is usually done at a separate time from your study time. Where you sit with your journal and your drawing/painting tools and just brainstorm. Flesh a single idea out no less than 4 times exploring the tiniest changes in details. You do not have to spend a ton of time. Maybe 20-30 minutes letting your brain play and transform your ideas.

Take it a step further and push your boundaries

Is there a particular period or cultural costume that you do not like? How would you change the look to be more pleasing? Is there a fusion of culture or style that would improve this look?

So my question for you this week…

What artist/period/culture will you study? Where will you begin?

Leave me a comment below.

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Art Weaving Part 3: Creating Fabric

Art Weaving Part 3: Creating Fabric

If you have been following my Instagram, you will see I have been obsessed with all things weaving since I came back from On Higher Ground Fiber Workshops in Taos last October. Debra Lambert of Picasso Moon taught an awesome class on weaving, sent me home with a loom, and I have been hooked.

I have had many questions about my weaving. This is the third part of my four part series on art yarn weaving. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. By art weaving, I am talking about an intuitive practice that is very similar to the Saori method of weaving.

I am so excited about this part of the weaving. We are going to drop into our hearts and follow our bliss of making beautiful artfully woven fabric.

This is where all the magic happens for me.

There are so many techniques to consider, but for this lesson I am going to focus on getting you started with some basic theories that will work wonderfully with you favorite hand spun and hand dyed yarns from your stash.

This series MY perspective.

I am not a weaving expert by any stretch of the imagination. And if you have been following my articles, you already know I am all about embracing a fiber art rebel attitude when it comes to craft traditions. So I have no doubt I am breaking some traditional weaving rules here. Or not… who knows. I have not spent as much time studying the traditions as I have just diving into making the mistakes and discoveries.

Lesson We are going to cover what you can do with your art weaving beyond a artsy scarf.

Do you have some weaving tips to share?

Leave me a comment below or post it in the Facebook group.

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I will be sharing 20 of my favorite art weaving techniques that I find are the best ways to show off your beautiful hand dyed and hand spun yarns.

Art Weaving Part 2: Warping

Art Weaving Part 2: Warping

If you have been following my Instagram, you will see I have been obsessed with all things weaving since I came back from On Higher Ground Fiber Workshops in Taos last October. Debra Lambert of Picasso Moon taught an awesome class on weaving, sent me home with a loom, and I have been hooked.

I have had many questions about my weaving. This is the second part of my four part series on art yarn weaving. You can find Part 1 of this series here. By art weaving, I am talking about an intuitive practice that is very similar to the Saori method of weaving. It is all about being in the moment and intuitively selecting yarn and techniques as you work. It is so similar to how I love to knit. I have been completely blown away by the results.

This series MY perspective.

I am not a weaving expert by any stretch of the imagination. And if you have been following my articles, you already know I am all about embracing a fiber art rebel attitude when it comes to craft traditions. So I have no doubt I am breaking some traditional weaving rules here. Or not… who knows. I have not spent as much time studying the traditions as I have just diving into making the mistakes and discoveries.

Today I am going to talk about warping your loom.

I am not going to lie. Warping has always been one of my least favorite  tasks in weaving. And one of the main reasons why the tiny looms are so awesome is I can have the loom dressed and ready to go in 30 minutes.

But over the last 6 months, I have come to see warping as an opportunity to add another design dimension to my weaving. Warp can play a significant part in what your fabric looks like. Which should be a given, Right? It makes up 50% or more of your hand made cloth.

What yarn to use?

When picking yarn to warp, the most important thing to look for is a strong yarn. It will have to endure a bit of wear as you tighten the loom, move the heddle, and beat the weft into place. Take it from me it can SUCK when a warp thread breaks. But, I am not saying you can only use a coarse ugly cotton string that you would never dream of knitting with. Plied is probably better than singles (although I have had success with some sturdy wool singles). Sock yarn is a terrific option. As is beautiful hand dyed silk lace yarn. There are many looms that have some heddles designed for textural art yarns. But for your first piece, I would recommend sticking with  something not so bulky.

Consider adding color and texture to your warp.

This is a great place to add a stripe of novelty yarn. I have also found some interesting colored warps (hello remnant sock yarn stash) can give awesome depth to your fabric. Don’t overthink the selection too much. You will be pleasantly surprised with the results as you work.

How long should my warp be?

I know for my Sample It loom, really 12 ft is about the max that the loom can comfortably handle. If you are making a series of smaller pieces, you can either warp a bit shorter (for example if you were making a 7ft scarf) or bulk weave some pieces (for example, if you were weaving 8in pieces for a series handmade pouches). If you are planning on weaving a series of pieces,  expect to have between 6-12″ of loom waste depending on if you will have fringe or not)

Most rigid heddle looms come with a warping peg. For me this is the easiest way to warp. You can also wind a warp on a warping board. I have only tried this once with disastrous results. It is something I would like to explore more because I would love to try my hand at hand painting some warps.  Here is a video of how to warp a loom with the warping peg.

The only other advice I have for warping is to be sure to use  some brown paper bags or sticks as you wind the warp onto the beam. This will keep your threads from sinking into the wound warp and messing up your tension. As you tie your  ends onto the strap, start in the middle and work out to the ends evenly. Then, be sure to go back and retighten your first ends as they may feel looser once you get all of the ends tied onto the strap.

In the next part we are going to get to the fun part of weaving. The actual weaving the weft. I will cover just a few of my favorite techniques.

Do you have warping tip to share?

Leave me a comment below or post it in the Facebook group.

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