After a workshop at NinaHQ in Elgin with Le Petit Moose I found that weaving could prove an interesting and versatile technique to create textile, and indeed tactile, pieces. I went home with a basic weaving kit that included a frame loom, which is enough to explore a lot of possibilities.
Out of curiosity I started with double the number of usual warp threads on the little loom which resulted in a dense and firm tapestry. Weft in coloured and some metallic yarns produced the basic contours of the coastal scene, with different stitches resulting in different textures. Embroidery was added to indicate plants and grasses on the cost, and rocks at the water’s edge. Beads further accentuate the greenery, the reflection of light on the water, the crest of waves, as well as waves hitting the shore.
Being a total beginner I didn’t manage to keep the tension as even as required to get straight edges, which required some remedial work after completing the weaving part. In the first attempt I edged the piece in a blanket stitch, but while it framed the work it did nothing to even out the edges. Enabling me to do this in the first place also meant that I had to take the tapestry off the loom and tie off the warp threads at the top. Normally they would be left intact and used to hang the work, but encasing all edges other than the bottom fringe in blanket stitch did not allow for that.
The clouds were ’embroidered’ with french knots to give them a three dimensional effect, but turned out too ‘bitty’ for my liking. So a felting needle was used to fluff them up, which was a bit of work, given that the yarn was synthetic, but it had the desired effect in the end.
Needle felting then offered itself to sort out the edges, too. Using roving in similar colours I went all along the edges, from the front and the rear, on both sides and the top, to give it a 1-1.5cm needle felted edge. Where the tapestry was a bit narrower near the top due to the tension variations during weaving, I built up the edge with roving, and fused it firmly on to the woven material. I think this doesn’t look so bad now and the process went some way to salvage the work from the rookie tension mistakes earlier.
The next issue was that I had lost the option of using the warp thread for hanging. I overcame this by using a fairly tight running stitch maybe about 7 mm from the top edge, coming up to 3-4mm from the edge at each location where there was to be a hanging loop, forming the loop, then carry on the running stitch as before. While I was doing that I also fed wooden beads onto the formed loops as I went along (easier when the thread is in the needle). Temporarily securing those loops so the beads couldn’t fall off again was obviously paramount. Afterwards it was simply a case of sliding the loops onto the drift wood hanger and placing another larger loop on that to hang the whole thing on the wall.
That still left the fringe. I had used various colours of yarn, all of which were used in the weaving part, too. The fringe was quite full, with up to seven or so threads, doubled up, forming each stitch. The colours were arranged in a particular order each time, from underneath to on top. The idea was to cut the ends of the different colour layers into shapes that would show as the fringe fell naturally. Sadly, this part of the experiment failed, irrevocably. The shapes didn’t hold their form and were unrecognisable. I thought of undoing the stitches and creating a new fringe after looking at the messy result my initial cut had produced. In the end I decided to just thin it out by taking out many of the threads, and trying to randomise the colours a bit more than they were. I don’t know if I am happy with it now or not, but it is the final result and I am now done with it. As far as experiments go, out of the six or seven objectives I tried to achieve, I half failed in one but rectified it, and completely failed only in one other, that’s not so bad.