Exploring the Inspiration Behind Woven Pieces

  snakeskin woven scarf closeup
  The Snakeskin Scarf, as seen in the latest issue of Handwoven, features a beautiful 8-shaft twill design inspired by our legless reptilian friends.

imageplaceholder Christina Garton
Editor, Weaving Today

One of my favorite parts about working for Handwoven is learning about the inspiration behind certain pieces. I know my own thought process when I design and how I go about picking colors and narrowing down weave structure and final drafts. Sometimes I spend hours plotting and planning as I make color wraps, experiment with different drawdowns, and ask everyone their opinions on whether the gray warp I’ve chosen looks better with navy or admiral blue.

Other times it seems as if the project already exists, it’s just waiting for me to hurry up and weave it. I have a skein of beautiful golden Muga silk and two skeins of purple Bombyx silks that keep shouting at me to turn them into a set of twill scarves. I keep trying to explain that I have towels on the loom, and when I finish those I have another set of towels that must go on first so they can become (very late) wedding presents. The silks refuse to listen and still call me whenever I pass by my stash. (As much as I try to resist, I have a feeling that after towel grouping #1 is done, I will have to give in and spend a weekend playing with silk.)   

In the newest issue of Handwoven, May/June 2015, there are plenty of great stories about how the different projects came to be, but my favorite by far is the cover project “Snakeskin Scarf” by David Wismar. The beautiful 8-shaft twill scarf is an absolute stunner in shimmering gold and cool black Tencels. Having seen this piece in person, I can tell you it does look just like snakeskin, but far more comfortable to wear around the neck and much more snake-friendly than the real thing. (As a gardener in the desert, I am an avowed snake-lover as these lovely reptiles gobble up the wee beasties that attack my carrots and zucchini.)

Similarly, Dianne Totten took inspiration from a colorful tropical bird for her 4-shaft Parrot Plumage Crimped Scarf. Not only did Dianne take inspiration from the colors of a macaw, but she also used crimp cloth techniques to mimic the texture of the feathers. Woven in silk and Tencel, this scarf is also a stunner that calls out to be touched.

On a completely different note, Elisabeth Hill found inspiration for her Danish Rosette Towels from a historic draft in a Danish weaving book. Thankfully for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have access to Vavstuga Weaving School’s library of Scandinavian weaving books, Elisabeth’s set of 8-shaft deflected doubleweave towels gives us everything we need to weave a set of showstopper towels. The warm Moroccan colors work perfectly with the Scandinavian draft, and as a lover of all things deflected doubleweave, I am especially smitten.

Just writing about all these amazing projects and their varied inspirations makes me want to take off work early and play at my loom and in my stash. Once you start weaving (or any other sort of art) you learn that inspiration is everywhere if you take the time to look.

Happy Weaving!


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