To Bog or Not to Bog: The Search for Flattering Handwoven Garments

Judy Pagels' sweet capelet

We just sent the May/June issue of Handwoven to press. It's full of fabulous article and projects around the theme of texture in weaving: pile, crimp cloth, honeycomb, and amazing visual texture that can come from pattern. (David Wismar's snakeskin-patterned scarf is a snake-friendly knockout!) Along with the many textural delights, there is a letter from a reader that I love because it speaks to the eternal struggle to create flattering garments that make the most of handwoven cloth. In her letter, weaver Diane Crowder takes us to task for our sometimes-humorous discussion of bog jackets, and she argues that Cathy Coatney's Broken Borders jacket in the March/April 2015 issue is really a bog jacket. Looking at the basic construction, I think she is right. ("A bog jacket, by any other name . . ." Why do bog coats evoke Shakespearean references, I wonder?)

Shrug designed by Jane Patrick and Sara Goldenberg

Wherever you stand on bog jackets, they do meet three important criteria for popular handwoven garments: there is minimum cutting or waste of the fabric; they require only simple sewing skills; and they can look good on many body types. All of which are great, but there is a whole world of other garment ideas that meet those criteria, and I have been pleased to explore them in the new book Simple Woven Garments: 20+ Projects to Weave and Wear, by Handwoven editor emerita Jane Patrick and weaver/artist/designer Sara Goldenberg. This book is full of projects and ideas for wearing and showing off great cloth. The projects start with fabulous fabric that can be woven on rigid-heddle looms, table looms, or floor looms, and useful tips for choosing yarns, pickup patterning, making muslins and sewing, and my favorite section "Selvedges are your friends." The projects include tops, sweaters, shrugs, capelets, and more. (A pretty capelet by Judy Pagel, excerpted in the next issue of Handwoven, uses a clever variation on Brooks bouquet to make a lovely textured fabric.) Are are simple to make, designed to fit many wearers, and a few even combine weaving with knitting, for multi-crafting satisfaction. This is an idea book, as well, as a project book, so if your stash is bursting with interesting yarns crying to get out and be seen, you'll want to check it out.

Much as can be said for bog coats, that shape and my tush go together like Capulets and the Montagues (Romeo and Juliet's families. It's not pretty.). But now I have a whole new set of possibilities waiting. I plan to take Simple Woven Garments, a rigid-heddle loom, and a bag o' yarn on my summer vacation, set up under a tree, and start a new handwoven wardrobe for the fall. Won't that be fun?




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