This weekend I enjoyed the first of my planned weaving activities for 2012: two days at at Weft textile studio learning the Theo Moorman technique with Jan Shelley. It was absolute bliss to turn my back on the computer and the mountains of work piled around it and head down the coast to spend quality time at the loom — and with other weavers to boot! The social aspect was a significant part of the treat, I must admit. But learning the technique was fascinating too, and I gradually shifted from intimidated to excited over the course of the weekend.
I started intimidated, because I couldn’t imagine what on earth I would think of to do with this technique that would be within my limited artistic capacities. However, we were set to work on a sampler, practising different skills but sticking to simple squares and rectangles. I concentrated on trying a range of bonkers yarns, from the skinny and slippery to the wildly fuzzy, and by the end of day one I had woven this:
Yup, that’s it. If you peer at the bottom of the photo you can still see where the warp is tied on to the apron rod — that is the sum total of one day of weaving. Slow cloth for sure. But I got very excited by the overlapping squares which I had just started and overnight my head went into crazy over-excited mode. I went back on day two with a box of coloured yarn and a plan to see how many I could overlap without exploding my head completely. The six-bobbin moment turned out to be as far as I could go…
If you’re paying attention, then you may spot that the top row of colour is constructed differently from the row below, in that the inlaid blocks are joined together rather than sitting side-by-side (although given my colour and bobbin arrangements it is not especially clear what’s going on). The structure of Theo Moorman is very simple, but the way you handle the inlay opens up some very complex possibilities and I managed to experiment with a few.
The warp is threaded on four shafts: shafts one and two hold the ground cloth (the thick white cotton in my sampler) and shafts three and four hold the tie-down threads (the fine black cotton you can see over the white card in the shed — the card was very useful for seeing exactly where the tie-down threads were so I put it in every shed which involved more than one colour). Here’s a side view:
You weave one tabby pick, lifting shafts one and three, then lower shaft one (the ground cloth) to weave an inlay pick on shaft three. Because the tie-down thread is raised for two picks in a row, the inlay slips over the tabby pick and sits on top of it. Then you weave the opposite tabby pick, shafts two and four, and then inlay on shaft four which again sits on top of it. There is plenty of detail about it in this WeaveZine article by Nadine Sanders.
So on day two I finished my overlapping rectangles and then played about with colour to get this. I quite like it sideways.
Even slower cloth than on day one! My head is still fizzing with ideas, but it is clearly going to take years to try them out.
Oh, and Stuart and I got a fish supper from the Anstruther Fish Bar. What more could a person want from a weekend? Ice cream and a Daniel Auteuil movie on DVD? Yup, had that too. Brilliant.
Sadly it is now Monday and the central heating is on the blink.