Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Sample Mix: Testing Ideas

A while back, I was sorting through my sketchbooks when I came across this 4 inch x 6 inch drawing:

It's labelled "Drawing from Tasare Tapestry India, July 17/09," and I have no idea what inspired it. A Google search of "Tasare Tapestry India" yielded many strange links and a few images, none of which remind me of this drawing. I suspect I intended it as a cartoon. Six years seemed long enough for it to be waiting for its transformation, so I hauled out one of my small Don George looms, enlarged the drawing and planned my weaving. The loom holds a piece that's approximately 8 inches x 8 inches, a nice sample size:

I've been sampling for a writing project and wanted to test a piece in which I used hand spun warp and wefts. The warp I used is a Romney singles, sett at approximately 8 epi; my wefts are my usual wool singles, with a bit of silk/wool thrown into the mix. For the twining, I used a 2 ply S/Z linen yarn, shown here as a singles, then after plying:

This is the first completely hand spun tapestry project I've done in a long time. The warp is holding up well, withstanding several false starts for warping and some restarted weaving. Reversing spinning/plying directions to S/Z, recommended when spinning flax, was a mistake for twining. Over the 16 inch span of the two rows of edging, the plies split so that it looks as if I twined with 2 singles. I won't do that again. I also won't use the pale green wool/silk blend in a larger piece, because it's too elastic and soft for tapestry weaving. It bounces in the shed as I'm beating and if you look closely, you'll see that there are little bubbles of weft poking up through the warps, giving me an unanticipated and undesirable textural effect. Overall, though, I like the design and see possibilities for a larger piece.

I've written about my casual, rather haphazard approach to weaving and design before, but the one thing I don't neglect is sampling for tapestry. Weaving small pieces before I tackle a larger tapestry has saved me a lot of time and trouble. Sampling shows me what will likely work - there are no guarantees - what needs modification and which should be abandoned. (Chakra Roots is the latest example of a larger work that isn't going to see the light of day any time soon.

I like the design of this small tapestry, tentatively titled, "Sea of Joy."(Young Master DD says it's "trippy." I told him that this was the stuff running around in my head all the time.) I'm not sure if I'll use a hand spun warp for something larger, but I now know that I can. I'm discovering which of my yarns to use on a larger scale and which to avoid. If there's a problem with a yarn in such a small sample, I can be sure the problem will be magnified as the piece gets bigger. I can see that there are flaws in the cartoon that need modification, but right now, my sample tells me that this work is something worth pursuing. 

By the way, if anyone knows what fascinated me about the elusive "Tasare Tapestry of India," please send me a link.


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