Last spring, during my week-long drawloom class at Vävstuga in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, the lovely, vibrant, intricate hangings on every wall made my heart sing. Reds, blues, golds, 8-pointed stars, crosses, and diamonds everywhere I looked.
The hangings echoed the richly decorative weaving of Sweden. Some were in linen, some in wool. Some incorporated Monks Belt, some Smålandsväv, but many were woven in opphämta, a weave in which the heavier pattern floats over or under the plain weave ground fabric. The motifs are old and found in many crafts besides weaving.
All the way home, the patterns and colors played at the edge of my thoughts. How could I apply the techniques I’d learned to my own weaving? How could I adapt those traditional motifs to the equipment I have, the yarns on my shelf? That is, after all, why we go to classes and workshops—to learn new techniques.
Finally, this summer I wound warp for four hangings without any clear plan on specific designs. I just wanted to try my hand at wall hangings like those I’d seen. The first hanging features blues and a few bands of rose. As the patterns grew, it spoke “winter” to me – blue, icy patterns on snow, rose colored sunsets.
After that, the other three seasons just fell into place. “Spring” with bright yellow and red flowers and light spring greens, “Summer” with darker green vines and bluebirds, “Autumn” with acorns and oak leaves.
The warp is 8/2 bleached cotton—I didn’t know if I was ready for the careful warping linen requires – next time. The ground weft is linen. For weft, I used what I have on hand—some linen, some cottolin, some mercerized cotton. I used 17 pattern units on the drawloom threaded in a point which results in symmetrical motifs.
Of course, as I twisted fringe and assembled the hangings, I already knew things I’ll do differently next time. There’s always a next time. That’s inspiration being put to work.