Saturday, 8 November 2014

Now let it be said

I know nothing about weaving.
Did you make one of those paper mats in school? I am sure you know the sort of thing I mean. You probably did it in "art" class. You drew the parallel lines on a square of paper and then carefully cut them almost, but not quite, to the edge. Then you drew more parallel lines on another sheet of paper and cut them into strips. When you had done that you were allowed to "weave" them in "one over and one under" and then "one under and one over" until you had woven in all the strips and could glue the ends so it all stayed together.
We did ours with two squares of "flint" paper - bright, shiny coloured paper. I cannot remember which colours I was given to use. I wonder now whether I actually managed to rule the lines or cut the strips. I was almost certainly given some help. What I do remember is that I experimented with the design - only to be told that it was "wrong". I was made to undo it and start again. There was only one "right" way to do it. I did not finish of course so I was sent home with it to finish as part of my homework. I did it. I took it back to school. When it was returned to me I undid it and I did my own design again. I cannot remember what it was like. It may even have been a hopeless mess - although I doubt that.
The idea that there was only one right way to weave was wrong of course. If the teacher had explained there were other ways to do it I might have been more amenable. The lesson might have been much more interesting if we had made two smaller squares, one in that plain weave and one we designed ourselves.
I didn't do any weaving after that. I told the students in the only primary class I ever had about the experience and then let them loose to experiment. They had fun - at least I think they did. Several of them made sets of placemats for their families by weaving strips of plastic. Come winter however and I taught them all to knit.
Although I have done no weaving since then it still fascinates me. It is both a simple process and a very complex one. Simple because it involves that "over and under" but complex because the variations on that theme appear to be endless. I know it is done in many different ways on many different types of looms with a seemingly endless variety of threads and yarns. There is something there to excite any craftsperson from the brilliant coloured weaving of the high Andes to the subtle colours of Scandinavia from the complex weaves of Latvia to the simple weaves of New Guinea. The textures and designs are both common and diverse.
The advent of the internet has given rise to resources most of us would otherwise not have available and I have discovered sites about weaving as well as knitting. They are a rich source of inspiration for knitters as well as weavers.
The coming year's big knitting project is, I hope, going to be about how some of those weaving patterns can be used by knitters. I want to do something more than "one over and one under" in one direction and "one under and one over" in the other. That of course is "moss" stitch - something I will mention. I will try not to gather too much of it.


Helen Devries said...

I used to weave and found it a satisfying combination of accuracy and invention...since retiring I've had no time to continue it!

catdownunder said...

That sort of retirement is it? I am beginning to think I shouldn't bother to try and retire! The Senior Cat is busier than ever - but then he is "only 91".