2022 Summer Weaving Challenge: Week Eight
"Wander and Weave"
By Mirrix partner Rebecca Mezoff
The world has gotten so busy, hasn’t it? As we gently slide from summer into fall (or winter into spring!), it is a good time to take a deep breath and relax for a moment. We can use our art or craft practices to help us reset our over-stressed nervous systems and find some calm. Inspiration for our artwork can come from almost anywhere. I’m going to encourage you to use color as your inspiration, but you can choose any other aspect of your art that you want as you take on the following challenge.
This week I want you to take some time to go for a wander. This could mean taking your bike for a ride, going for a walk, taking a drive somewhere you haven’t been recently, or jumping on public transportation and going somewhere new. It doesn’t matter where you choose, just make it an adventure. If you aren’t able to leave your home, you can create your own adventure by exploring a corner you don’t usually use or you could turn to books or other inspiration you may have archived years ago and haven’t returned to. I’d encourage you not to use the internet for this. For those of you who are going outside of your home, you could commit 15 minutes to a wander on your own block or you could decide to take half a day and allow yourself some time to experience your surroundings.
As you wander, look around you. If something catches your eye, take a minute to examine it. The important thing is to challenge yourself to look. It may be something you’ve walked past thousands of times and never really explored or it may be something totally new. Eventually settle on something that catches your eye as an inspiration for your tapestry or beadwork.
You could be inspired by the color patterns in a hotel carpet, the leaves on a tree, animals or birds, color patterns in a building, or any unending number of interesting things. From there, focus on the color of whatever caught your eye.
Many of us find it is easiest to focus on color. Color can be surprising and engaging and is a wonderful aspect of both tapestry weaving and bead weaving. While I have only completed a few bead projects on my Mirrix looms, this idea would work just as well with beads as it will with yarn!
Here is your challenge.
- Have an adventure. It can be short or long, but make sure you’re taking some time to either walk/drive slowly or sit still and watch what is happening around you. Notice what you see.
- Do any colors catch your eye? It could be the color of absolutely anything. Notice what colors surround whatever caught your eye.
- Make some notes. If you have a phone or camera handy, you might snap a couple photos for use later. If you are a journal user, you might use colored pencils or watercolor to sketch out a quick palette in the field. This exercise can be really helpful in making you look carefully. You’ll experience that thing you’re looking at a lot deeper if you take the time to make notes about it, make a sketch (no, you don’t have to draw it accurately!), make some notes in words, and maybe add color if you can. Any coloring medium will work, even kids crayons!
- You could weave in the field, but it is likely you’ll do the rest of the challenge back at home.
- What colors really caught your eye? If you took photos, you could use adobe’s color.adobe.com to extract the colors from the photo. https://color.adobe.com/create/image Otherwise it is just fine to use your eye and of course the colors don’t have to be exact! You’re focusing on what attracted you to the scene, not precision in terms of hue or value.
- Weave those colors. I’m going to encourage you to take all the forms and tendency to make something realistic out of this exercise. Just weave the colors. Simple stripes are a great choice or you could weave a palette with squares or other simple shapes.
- If you’re weaving tapestry, remember that with thinner yarns such as Gist Yarn’s Array, you can mix a couple colors in one weft bundle and play with what happens when you do that. It expands your color options a great deal.
- Overall, this is play! Enjoy some time away from your regular routine, notice what is around you, and translate some of the gorgeous colors in the world into a simple weaving.
Here is an example I wove this summer. I have a couple old rose bushes in my backyard which continue to bloom despite a lot of benign neglect. They produce roses in three colors, white, light pink, and a deep rose color. I spend a lot of time looking past these rose bushes but one day this summer I decided to look more carefully at the blooms. The colors are beautiful and I ended up weaving them in this small striped tapestry.
Stripes can be so beautiful. In tapestry weaving, you can mix colors in the weft bundle, grade one color into another, and vary the width of the stripes to create interesting patterns. In this weaving, I used a handspun yarn which I made by spinning locks of fleece that were the color of the roses and the leaves in varying amounts. Then I just wove the yarn as it came.
If you are going to weave stripes in tapestry, I’d suggest using two wefts at once because lots of tails at the edge of your work are hard to deal with in the finishing. You can keep the tails in the center of the tapestry by using two butterflies in meet and separate. (Or if the colors you’re using are fairly similar, you could simply switch colors in the center of the weaving instead of at the edge.)
In the diagram below, I’ve woven one stripe with blue and for the next stripe in red, I’ve started the weft in the center of the piece of yarn. That avoids tails at the beginning of the stripe. Then I bring both ends to meet in the center.
In the second photo I’ve woven two complete sequences with the red and ended my yarns in the middle of the weaving, avoiding tails at the edges.
We hope you have fun with this challenge! When you're finished with it, we encourage you to post pictures on social media! On Instagram and Facebook, use the hashtag #summerweavingchallenge on your public posts. You can also email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) pictures and lessons from the challenge. We will share some of these in the coming weeks!
Remember, Summer Weaving Challenge awards will be given based on participation and achievements, so let us know what you're working on (via email or on social media, as noted above) if you want to be considered for one of the amazing prizes (including a 12" Loom and goodies from some of our amazing partners like Rebecca Mezoff's "Introduction to Tapestry Weaving" class, a tote bag from Gist Yarn and some SoftTouch wire by SoftFlex.) at the end of the summer!