Archive for August, 2020

Completed fingerweaving project

When it comes to yarn, as I’ve said many times, I’ve fallen so far down the rabbit hole that there’s no coming back, even if I wanted to! I’m always discovering new-to-me crafts, and while not all of them have stuck, most of them have, and I take a lot of pleasure in learning about the less well known fiber arts.

When I say “less well known”, what I really mean to say, I guess, is that they are niche arts. When you walk up to people and say “weaving”, they instantly have a picture in their heads that, while maybe not completely accurate, indicates a general knowledge of the term. Same for knitting, crochet, etcetera. Even if they don’t take part in the craft themselves, they at least know enough to recognize what you mean. But if you walk up to John Q. Public and say “naalbinding”, or “fingerweaving” or “taaniko”, most likely you’re going to get a blank stare. If you follow it up with “fiber arts” and you’re talking to people like me, they’ll be compelled to go look it up. If they’re really like me, they’ll also be compelled to at least try it.

Thus my repeated attempts at fingerweaving, which finally paid off and were successful: I got through an entire band, with pretty decent selvedges, and I’m pretty proud of it. Will I continue with it? Most likely. It has the feel of one of those things that stick for me.

Practicing taaniko

Another thing that has that feel is taaniko. In my last post, I mentioned seeing a Maori artist who had posted a demonstration video of taaniko, or taniko, which is Maori weaving, and also resembles, as I discovered, the Chilkat weaving of the PNW nations.

I was so enthralled with this video–and the fact that no loom is actually necessary–that I hunted down a book on taaniko weaving to give it a shot and see if I liked it.

The book arrived a few days ago, and I finally got to it to make an attempt. The book was written in the 70s, and, for me, didn’t give me quite enough information. It went over setting up the warp, and the first two rows of actual weaving, then mentioned something about starting row five differently, then I turned the page, and the author was talking about finishing the piece.

Whoa, hold on!!!! There’s a whole heap of things that take place between row two and finishing! Where is all that information? What happened to rows three and four? Do I just repeat the same thing I did for rows one and two? Why is row five begun differently? And why are we talking about finishing the piece ten seconds after beginning it?

I tried, I truly did. I made two attempts in mercerized cotton that were absolutely disastrous. Then i decided to try what I should probably have tried in the first place: I hit my tutorial go-to website: YouTube. Some things just never click for me without a video.

I found a bunch of tutorials on taaniko, more than I honestly had expected. And the ones I chose to watch not only demystified the art, but also de-complicated the book. What I saw in the videos was far simpler than the book had been. Then I made an attempt in acrylic that went a little bit better. Then a fourth one in acrylic that went even better, and I began a fifth in unmercerized cotton that is only slightly better than the fourth, but the key is that I improved each time, and I’m proud of that.

The funny thing is that, watching the videos, it looks simple and easy, and in a way, it is. At its most basic, you’re twining two different colored wefts around your warp threads. That’s it. If you want color A to be visible, put color A overtop of your warp. If you want color B to be visible, twist the weft until B is on top.

It sounds simple. It looks simple.

It’s not simple at all, and yet it is.

I’m still working on my fourth and fifth attempts, and I’m just beginning to maybe-perhaps-possibly figure out how it works. I’ve given up on trying to follow even the easiest pattern yet, and just get the hang of getting the twining itself right, and the color changes. When you look at my photos, you can see there are mistakes…lots of mistakes. And I kept going because right now, it’s not about getting it perfect. It’s about figuring it out. Getting it right comes a little bit later.

It’s been a bit less frustrating than fingerweaving was. That, pardon my language, royally pissed. Me. Off. For years. I could not get it right. I couldn’t even get it going. I can now, but it has taken me nearly ten years to get to this point. Taaniko, thankfully, clicked a bit better! And yes, I do intend to continue with it, because it’s fun for me.

Monk’s belt patterns

I also tried out monk’s belt patterns on my new Windhaven Ukulele. And, by the way, I couldn’t be happier with both of the Windhaven looms, and I plan on getting at least one more, if not two.

But anyway: monk’s belt. It was a different kind of bandweaving for me. Dressing the loom was different than I’ve ever done before, and bandweaving has always been warp-faced before, but monk’s belt is weft-faced, which made it weird for me. With a monk’s belt chart, the only threads you actually manipulate are the pattern threads. The other threads just change sheds back and forth and don’t get manipulated at all, really. They’re really just there to help anchor your weft down; that’s the only way I can think to explain it. Weird, but pretty. Naturally, I’d had to try it because, new loom, and Celtic knotwork! Once I’d seen that, there was no way I wasn’t trying it!

Well, I think I’ve babbled enough on this post. I’d better get to bed!!!!


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