Traditional Textile Adventures In Japan

Weaving at the Kawashima Textile School. Anastasia pictured in the top image. Photos courtesy of Anastasia Macdonald.

The Carmel Crafts Guild (California) had an exciting program at the January meeting. Guild member Anastasia Macdonald gave a presentation on her six-week weaving adventure in Japan. I asked Anastasia if she would share some of her experiences with us on Spinner's Connection.


"When I was new to weaving, I assumed that I knew everything that was necessary once I first took a piece of cloth off the loom. As is the case with most things, I was sadly mistaken. It took a six-week immersion course in weaving to show me differently.

It had been a long-held dream of mine to go to Japan. Immersing oneself into a culture is amazing, exciting, and more than a bit scary. But I was able to learn so much: about textiles, culture, and precision.

In late September, 2010, I found myself on a thirty-six-hour journey to Kyoto, Japan, to take up studies at the Kawashima Textile School. What I found out is that weaving is a traditional practice steeped in mathematical equations, accuracy, interesting tools, and focused learning. Unlike in many western countries, the knowledge of weaving was never lost, only to be pieced together by trial and error many years later. There are formulas and guidelines you follow before you ever touch the loom; basically, you can weave an entire piece on paper and when you take it off the loom it is exactly as you had planned. All the errors are worked out beforehand with pencil and paper. You'll know if you have enough thread, how much shrinkage there'll be, where and when to start a new warp color or pattern, even how much loom waste there will be. Above all, I learned that proper tension is key and one of the most integral things to bring to your work. Patience and correct tension are two skills I always practice when I sit down at my loom; and as a result, there's never any doubt when I design a piece and when I take it off the loom. 'Measure twice, cut once' is a motto that aptly describes the weaving process.

Japan is an incredible country, with many interesting textilesand immense amounts of traditional knowledge that it was a pleasure to delve into. If only I had more than six weeks, I'm sure I could I have touched on many of them!"


Anastasia Macdonald is a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design and a life-long student of the fiber arts. She says, "I started down the road of learning when my mother put a pair of knitting needles in my hands at the age of six. Since then I have always started each project with a desire to know more and a reluctance to believe that anything is impossible."




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