Today is a bitter/sweet day.  This morning, I waved my son off on his next big adventure – a career in the armed forces.  He’s now on his way to boot camp – or Phase I training as the Army like to call it!  An intensive 14 weeks to see how he shapes up.  I know he will come back from that a different man with new friends who he will have to rely on for his life, and vice versa.

My way of coping with emotional times is to immerse myself in weaving.  Thankfully, I have a project on hand that requires all my brain power to work out (and no obvious comments there, folks! LOL)  This is one of the pieces that I mentioned about for the Elements exhibition in Aberdeen (Fabric of the Land).  Whether this will work out, I don’t know.  It’s a new adventure for me, and as usual, I am feeling my way blindfolded along the path.

Which leads me to today’s blog.  A fellow weaver told me recently that I should write about how I plan my pieces because it’s not a usual way – whatever ‘usual’ means….  So here goes.

Nature is generally my inspiration, and this time it is a photo of a foreshore where the sea has eroded the rock away in parallel lines with the sand between.  It’s dramatic, and very dimensional.  This is the kind of challenge that I like.  I don’t have a clue how I’m going to achieve the piece, but I know that I want to weave it.  So I mull it over for a while.  This can take anything from a day to 3 or more weeks.  This particular piece I have only really considered for a couple of weeks, when I realised that I wasn’t particularly enjoying the planning process for another piece.  If I don’t enjoy the planning process – if it doesn’t spark my mind – then I know it’ll be a dismal failure.

I don’t mind failure – in fact, I need failure to help me work out what I do want – and usually failures point the way to another project later on, but I know in my gut when something is going to be a ‘dog’ on the loom.  So I listened to my gut and abandoned the first project.

I had a vague idea that to create the amount of dimensional effect I wanted, I would need to weave areas in double cloth, with one layer shrinking, and the other layer not.  So far so good.  But I didn’t want the double cloth areas to be straight lines vertically – I wanted a certain amount of movement as nature would have.  So this led to a lot of thinking about how to achieve this on my 24shaft AVL Compu-Dobby I loom.

I’m not generally a stripes person, but I realised that if I wanted areas to be sand inbetween the eroded rocks, then I would need warp stripes, but how to blend that in with the rocks and generate a bit of movement?  In the end, I settled on small amounts of block weaves either side of the ‘rock’ double cloth which would allow me to modulate how the sections are woven.

Now for the serendipity.  The weaving is going well – I have 3 panels of 2m long and 38″ wide to weave.  That bit’s the easy bit.  After that comes the ‘suck it and see’ bit when I put it into the washing machine and then the tumble dryer and see what happens.  Gulp!!

I have given myself permission to fail, and not to have to enter it for the exhibition if I don’t want to.  We had to submit proposals (maximum 3) to the organisers at the beginning of July, and although I put down three pieces, if this doesn’t work, I shall contact them and notify them that I’ll only be submitting 2 or 1 for selection.  Selection is on 1st August, and because I’m not in Scotland, I can send images by post before the deadline, so if I’m not happy with the results, I will only send the ones I have.

The good thing about this is that I don’t have to submit the finished articles unless they’re selected.  The bad thing is that everything hinges on my images.  Good images and I might stand a chance.  Bad images and none of my pieces will even be selected.  But that’s how it goes.

What I am really pumped up about is that it has forced me to think in a different way and I know that will lead to something I’m pleased with, whether that’s with this piece or further down the line…

So, if my friend thinks this is a different way of working, will you please tell me how you plan things?  How we think and work out problems is a fascinating study and it’d be great to hear how your mind works!

Till next time, happy weaving!!