The Majacraft Blog The official blog of Majacraft

30Jul/161

Creative Weaving

Are you one of those lovely creative fiber people who have purchased one of our Dynamic Heddle Looms? Or maybe you are thinking about it or curious about what makes it different from other rigid heddle looms.. So this months blogpost is devoted to the Majacraft Dynamic Heddle Loom (DHL) and I am going to show you just a couple of the really cool things you can do with it!

One of the best and most unique things about this loom is the magnetic heddle attachment. Not only does this give you a VERY satisfying 'click' when you place it on the holder, it also gives you a smooth and simple method of moving the heddle into the up and down positions to change your weaving shed, no fuss or fiddling required. I rather love this little added touch that streamlines the whole process as well as the look of the loom itself.

Another super cool Majacraft innovation is the dynamic heddle itself and the freedom it gives us to choose from a wide range of reed segments that will accomodate any size and thickness of warp thread into your design. In a single warp you can have giant bulky bobbly yarns next to fine yarns, you can create highlights and super textures in the warp itself. I have found that when using art yarns and bulky yarns, the ability to place them into the warp rather than being restricted to the weft only, dramatically changes the drape of the finished piece. For example, if you have a fine and even warp, and then weave your art yarns into it to create texture, it will look amazing, it will potentially be an excellent wall hanging or piece of art, but if you wanted to wear it round your neck, most likely you will find that it wants to sit flat and will not drape around your neck in a comfortable manner. However if you reversed that warp and weft, the moment you take it off the loom you will see that it will have the most delightful drape and be an extremely wearable piece of art!

Here is an example of the thick yarns in the weft only:


I do love that piece! But I have to say I found this one much more satisfying!

I actually find that my weaving itself is much more 'dynamic' when using my DHL loom.

Here are a few ideas I would like to share with you that I hope will inspire you in your creative weaving too.

Firstly, do not be afraid to try a range of yarns in your warp, this closeup shows the detail of the warp I used for the above weaving, I varied the yarns across the width of it, with appropriately sized reeds sections. The only caution I can offer is that the variation in yarns can cause some variation in tension. Mostly this does not matter so much because we are generally not weaving a 'pattern' requiring consistent tension, however if you do find it gets 'floppy' you can 'pack' that warp section on the warp beam to add tension to just that area. You can also help this issue by making sure you roll some light sheets of card in your warp as you wind it onto the warp beam, this will assist in evening out the tension as the thinner warps do not tend to dig in as much when the tension is increased.

A cool technique you can use to add texture into your weaving, even with a non-textured yarn, is to create some loops as you go. In the following example I chose to weave into a narrow section, moving back and forth across about 10 warp threads, and at each end, instead of pulling the weft in to make an edge, I left a long loop sticking out, of about an equal length on each row/end. On either side I pulled each loop up to the front of the weaving. This is a very simple technique that can be used in different ways to create interesting textures. The most important thing in creative weaving is to continue experimenting! If something you try doesn't work you 'can' unweave it if you feel you have to, or you can keep on working on it until you find something that pleases you!

Another technique you might want to try out, and this lends itself also very well to a variable warp, is to add waves into your weaving. There are a few ways you can do this, you could go out and buy a special 'beater' that is basically a flat stick with a wavy edge, it is used to push the weft into place and create the wave patterns. Or you could do what I do and just use my fingers to push the wave into the weft, this gives a denser look to the weft threads that are pushed together in the valleys, and the weft in the mountains is looser packed, which helps emphasise the wave pattern.

If you wanted to, you could use a tapestry weave technique to then weave a different colour into the valleys, building them up by weaving back and forth inside the shape of the valley you have crreated to make a straight line across your weaving again, you can see in the image below the dark blue area built up against the white that flattens out the design before I added the purple across the entire area.

Another creative weaving technique that I like to use is one of making holes in the weaving. This may cause a sharp intake of breath from very traditional weavers, however it is a useful design idea that I think can be used to fantastic effect in your weaving, whether for wearable fabrics or wall hangings.

Making holes is quite easy, in fact the simplest way I can think of is to simply weave to the place in your warp where you want the hole to be, and turn your shuttle around and weave back to the edge, just weave to this point for the size you want your hole to be and then return to weaving the full width of your warp. You can then go back and weave from the other side to form the opposite side of the hole. You can make it wider by pulling tighter on the weft, basically you are creating selvedges inside the ‘hole’ and pulling up your weft will create curves and widen the hole.

 

I hope these simple techniques have given you some ideas for your own weaving, I think experimentation is a key in creative weaving and often starting off with one idea can lead you to many more as you shape it into your own style and designs.

I will leave you with the video I made of warping the DHL with a 'direct' warping method, its fast and easy and works well with different kinds of yarns. You can find out more about the DHL loom on our Product page HERE and of course you can talk to any of our dealers about our Dynamic Heddles looms and accessories

Happy weaving!

Suzy

 

 

27Jan/160

Tutor Feature: Angela Daish!

Only a few weeks to go till Majacraft Camp! Tutors are getting ready, making up samples, sorting out fibres and  yarns to bring, organising equipment.. And I recently had a visit here at Woolwench House from the vibrant Angela Daish!


(No I don't live in a barn, this is a picture of Angela at a recent farm day!)

On her visit Angela brought some of the samples she has made for her Majacraft camp classes, and I wanted to share them here, they are very inspiring. Angela will be teaching the ancient art of 'Finger Weaving'.  Now this was something I had never heard about before, and on seeing Angela's sample pieces I could instantly see so many cool uses for this great yarnie craft! This is a technique that goes back at least 3000 years ago (amazing right?!) and although it was used all over the world it was turned into a real art form by Native Americans, who used it to make woven belts and sashes, bag and basket handles and so on. Materials used for finger weaving varied, depending on the use intended, the inner bark of certain trees, Indian Hemp (Dogbane), nettle, milkwood, and other plant fibers, even strips of moose hide could be used.

It was not surprising to me that Angela is so enthusiastic about this weaving technique! And of course, being Angela, she has been busy experimenting with different fibers, thicknesses, colours and textures, take a look at some of the designs she has been working with in preparation for teaching this workshop: (click on each image to get a closer look!)

As you can see, we can learn how to make patterned straps, and Angela has also been designing ways to use wider pieces (the weave does not need to be limited to band size), one of the images above shows a pouch she has made from a wider piece. I would like to learn this technique for making bag straps, a camera strap, some bracelets ( lots of jewellery type ideas come to mind actually), and to play around with mixes of traditional and textured yarns. I would love to use it to make pockets and add those to my loom weavings too. And the best  thing  is that these can be made without a loom or heddle of any kind, literally with your fingers and some yarn, this has to be the most portable project technique ever!

If you are enrolled in Angela's Majacraft Camp classes you are in for a treat, and not only for the technique and skill learning but also the fun of spending time with Angela, her enthusiasm for experimenting with what you can do with yarn and fiber means there is never a dull moment, and with Angela it is easy to feel like anything is possible! Not to be missed!