Weaving Around the World

One of the many reasons I love weaving is how connected it makes me feel. Not only to other weavers in the here and now, but to weavers around the world and throughout time. I love being able to go into museums, art galleries, and fair-trade shops where I can look at or pick up a textile and figure out how it was made. I also love learning all about the textile traditions from around the world—not just how the cloth is woven but also how it’s designed (and why) and about the weavers who make it. It’s amazing to think of how many different ways there are for warps and wefts to interlock to create truly wonderful cloth, and often I find myself trying to figure out how I can interpret cloth from around the world on my own loom.

Now I know I’m not alone in my feelings. These past five years at Handwoven I’ve seen many weavers take inspiration from these traditional techniques and reinterpret them for the equipment they have. I’ve seen weavers take historical drafts from other countries and “translate” them so they can be woven by the modern American (or wherever) weaver. It’s almost as if we can’t help it—weaving cloth inspired by cloth makes us feel part of a connected web of weavers.

Right now this is especially hitting home as we start on our March/April issue all about Scandinavian weaving. In it we have projects that use traditional structures and techniques in very modern ways. Some pieces feel like something you might find in a weaver’s cottage in Norway, others would be more at home on a shelf in Ikea. The way the designers took the rich weaving traditions of Scandinavia and made them uniquely theirs was wonderful to see.

Susan Halvorson’s kente cloth inspired scarf photographed with the textile that inspired it.

Susan Halvorson’s kente cloth inspired scarf photographed with the textile that inspired it.

These weavers are in good company, too. We’ve had lots of wonderful projects in Handwoven throughout the years inspired by traditional and historical textiles. In fact, it was my great pleasure to put together our last pattern pack of 2017 featuring 5 of my favorite patterns, Handwoven Presents: Weaving Around the World.

While picking the patterns I tried to find ones that spanned the globe and as well as the centuries. In it you’ll find a kente cloth inspired scarf by Suzanne Halvorson, Kay Faulkner’s runner inspired by the sotis cloth of West Timor by, a set of tea towels that use a draft from Imperial Russia by Jenny Sennott, a set of sweet supplementary-weft towels by Susan J. Foulkes inspired by the Swedish bandweaving tradition, and Tom Knisely’s take on the traditional show towel.

They’re all delightful and unique to the weaver that made them while still paying homage to the weavers and cloth that inspired them. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Happy Weaving,

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