I recently spent a very happy few hours playing in a Saori Weaving Sessions with Kim at the Saori Shed.
I confess I am not a weaver. As a craft it has never really appealed to me. I don’t know why. It has always seemed so complex, all that talk of ends, so much jargon and all those rules. Too many rules. Too many conventions. Too controlled. Too complicated.
Saori (pronounced Sa-Ori) promotes freestyle weaving with no rules or restrictions. Saori is an art form in which the weaver can express their true self in weaving. There are no mistakes, no patterns to follow. Weavers just weave what they want to with complete freedom and creativity. This resonates with me and my approach to making.
I first met Kim a couple of years ago when she gave a talk and demonstration to my Guild (Mid Norfolk Guild of weavers, spinners and dyers). Kim weaves some extraordinary, breathtakingly beautiful textiles from handspun yarns using wool, natural and local fibres and recycled materials. She combines her woven fabrics with knitwear to create garments that can be worn in many ways. A very talented lady indeed.
I spin and I knit. I don’t weave. Aside from keeping me sane I spin for two reasons. Firstly, to make yarn to feed my knitting. A knitting addiction that could quite quickly drain my very limited funds dry. The second is for pleasure. I gain huge satisfaction from dipping into bags of fibre, locks, threads, random found things and creating textured arty yarns.
These yarns are fragile and delicate. Whimsical and decorative. Beautiful but limited in practical application. They are Divas of the yarn world. They make great accents in garments, beautiful cowls, wonderful cuffs, collars and cushions. But, unless they are given enough freedom in the knitted fabric to really strut their stuff they become trapped, caged animals. Loosing something of their wild, unconventional ballsy nature.
I have often heard spinners of textured art yarns recommend weaving with them. Somehow, trapping them in a woven fabric keeps their character. I was curious but also as someone who sells their yarns I really ought to know the process and how my yarns behaved so I could talk about my experience to my customers. And this curiosity is how I came to spend a couple of hours with Kim at the Saori Shed clutching a skein of my handspun.
I had quickly thrown together a single skein in a grey Romney with some mohair locks in pastel candy shades the day before and bought it along to try out.
Firstly Kim took me through the origins and philosophy that underpins Saori. Then we were introduced to the looms. The looms were already warped up ready to start weaving. So no time wasted for warping, an art in itself. We began by raiding the ‘Wall of wool’. An amazing resource. Coned yarns in different textures, colours and weights and baskets of brightly coloured fibres, locks and an assortment of objects. I went for grey and dark purple for the base colours with a bright citrusy green and pale lilac for accents. With some locks and roving.
I found it difficult getting the gist of the rhythm. A dance of beat, feet, hands, repeat. I can understand why weavers find it meditative and restful. But for me the dance did not come naturally. Maybe I have no innate rhythm? Or maybe it was just new and needed time to get ingrained into muscle memory to achieve that restful meditative state as I do when I spin and knit.
Keeping the grey I introduced the hand spun.
The thickness and texture meant it was slower going but faster growing. I interspersed my yarn with some of the coned grey, wondering if it would blend with the first section. It didn’t. The handspun fabric was thicker but softer. Weaving was most definitely faster than knitting. It was amazing to see the fabric grow so quickly.
I’m undecided as to what this cloth will become. At the moment I am just enjoying looking at it. It will tell me what it needs to be when the time is right.
I had a great time with Kim but, I know in my bones a weaver I will never be. However, I also know myself well enough to know never say never…