weaving as medium
I was originally a knitter, taught by my mother. After tragically misreading the pattern for a sampler quilt I gave myself carpal tunnel in one hand and I can no longer knit as a result; I lose feeling in the hand after only a short time with fine work with that hand. I recalled my father’s sister had a large floor loom in the 1970s that she used to make artistic wall hangings, and I thought weaving might be a way to remain creative and productive despite my carpal tunnel. As it happens I was right – – weaving consists of more large movements than fine hand work and I can weave for hours without any issues with my hand.
I am a self-taught weaver so many of my early influences came from books, such as Jane Patrick’s The Weaver’s Idea Book, Carol Strickler’s A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns, Anne Dixon’s The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory, and especially Jennifer Moore’s Doubleweave book, which had cover art weaving porn that made me try double weave.
Now I use Instagram, the internet, and other sources like Handwoven magazine for inspiration. I love to look at tapestries even though I do not weave tapestries myself, and the work of Erin M. Riley (insta @erinmriley) and Michelle Driver (insta @threefolddesigns) I find particularly striking and inspiring. Kara’s work (insta @garnet_fiber_studio) inspired me to try rosepath and to design my own teatowel motifs. Susan Blanton (insta @susanbecca) does wonderful work with patterns that I am frequently inspired by.
Making Functional Art
I consider myself a functional weaver in the old Canadian tradition of the late 1800s where people wove functional items like rugs and coverlets but they also had lovely texture or pattern to please the eye as well. I like to think of my weaving as accessible small works of art with a purpose. Nothing pleases me more than to see one of my teatowels in use and stained or ripped – – it shows me that people are using and appreciating my work.
I usually will look for a pattern or texture that inspires me, and then think about how that would apply to the particular piece I would like to create. For example, on my last series of teatowels I found a pattern for a Finnish lace napkin that I fell in love with. I am not a napkin person, but I thought that the pattern would scale up well to a teatowel design and made the adjustments to scale accordingly.
Advice for Artists
You can be inspired by many different sources, but do not worry about whether your own work ‘matches’ anyone else’s. My husband is also a weaver and he enjoys weaving completely different things than I do, and that’s just fine because we both take pleasure from the process and craft of weaving.