Weaving (8)

My reviews are listed below, but you can also click on this link to buy & find reviews of even more weaving titles. (Titles are listed A-Z by author. Check side bar for links to book reviews covering different stitch techniques. Please feel free to add comments – especially if you disagree with me!)

THE NAVAJO WEAVING WAY: The Path from Fleece to Rug by NOEL BENNETT

If you are interested in tapestry weaving, you will love this book!  A practical guide to weaving techniques, this book also shows you how to build your own Navajo-style loom, how to collect plants for dyeing your yarn, and gives an insight into the weaving traditions and customs of the Navajo.  Absolutely fascinating, as well as being instructional, and told in an easy, conversational manner, this is a truly wonderful beginners’ guide to weaving.

WEAVING WITHOUT A LOOM by VERONICA BURNINGHAM

This is, quite simply, a brilliant book of ideas and techniques for weaving techniques NOT (technically) without a loom, but with handmade, re-purposed looms.  The creative possibilities are endless!  Beginning with simple paperweaving, stickweaving, and weaving on card, an easy no-sew method for making a bag is described, along with basic tapestry (picture) weaving techniques.  In addition, there are suggestions for weaving on an embroidery hoop or rings to make dreamcatchers (etc), and the most loom-like of all, weaving on a picture frame.As an introduction to creative weaving, this is fantastic value.  There are lots of ideas suitable for use in a classroom, but there are also lots of general and creative crafting possibilities opened up.  A gallery of inspiration shows what a wide and wonderful array of results can be achieved with the basic techniques presented here.

TAPESTRY WEAVING by KIRSTEN GLASBROOK

Although Tapestry Weaving by Nancy Harvey is widely considered to be the essential text on the subject, I find Glasbrook’s text far more accessible and practical, especially for a complete novice.  As well as all the basics (warping, preparing weft, transferring a design, removing from frame, finishing etc), Glasbrook gives simple instructions combined with very clear step by step photos for all the simple techniques required to create your own complex patterns and tapestry pictures.

Using a very basic frame loom, the techniques are taught through a series of projects, all very striking and vividly coloured.  But if the style doesn’t appeal to you, or you just don’t want to learn through replication, the book is presented in such a way that it is very easy to extract the lesson to be learned from each section, simply by reading the text and examining the close-up photos of finished pieces and work in progress.  Each piece is introduced with an explanation of the inspiration for design, as well as any other thoughts or intentions behind the structure and/or composition.

An additional gallery of larger scale works is included, each using the techniques developed throughout the book, and with notes outlining inspiration and other relevant details.  What I found interesting, though, is the number of small scale pieces, reproduced in full size photographs, that show the versatility and detail it is possible to achieve without investing in huge, costly looms.  A basic frame loom really is all you need to create your own works of art.

The Nancy Harvey is perhaps more in-depth and goes into greater detail; however Glasbrook’s book is by far the best introduction to tapestry weaving, both easier to read and follow, as well as (for me) more stimulating in a creative sense.  When you first start out, it’s the only reference you’ll need.  If you want to develop further skills and develop more creative ideas, look out for the out of print title, Frame-Loom Weaving by Jane Redman, which is awesome.  (N.B. I gave my copy of the Nancy Harvey away after I discovered this one, so apologies for being unable to review it properly for comparison here.)

FABULOUS WOVEN JEWELRY: Plaiting, Coiling, Knotting, Looping, and Twining with Fiber and Metal by MARY HETTMANSPERGER

Wow. That’s really all I want to say about this book. But okay, I’ll elaborate (just excuse me if I’m a little over-effusive).  It’s a fantastic, stunning, innovative craft book packed to overflowing with gorgeous ideas and beautiful worked examples.  Hettmansperger demonstrates how to adapt traditional weaving techniques from different cultures, to create awesome but achievable contemporary works of (jewellery) art. The pieces are beautiful yet quirky without being either cliched, or kooky.

Please do not dismiss this as a project book, as it is just as much a workshop/tutorial of techniques.  The projects are wonderful, but every technique used (using fibercraft and metalwork techniques both independently and combined) is shown with clear instructions and step-by-step photos.  I would have liked a little more background information for each project, but the designs and worked examples (as well as suggested variations) are inspiration enough.

I simply can’t do this book justice in words; you must buy it and see for yourself.  If you don’t want to work with metal, look at the ideas and adapt them for yarncraft (and vice versa). If you don’t want to make jewellery, just use the techniques for whatever end product you want to create.  Techniques covered are plaiting, coiling, knotting, looping and twining, but that doesn’t even begin to describe the artistry of the contents.  You won’t find these ideas anywhere else.  Despite being presented as a project book, this is really more of an explosion of creative ideas and starting off points.  Not only is it fantastic value, but it is, quite simply, a fantastic book.

SMALL LOOM AND FREEFORM WEAVING: Five Ways to Weave by BARBARA MATTHIESSEN

To begin, I applaud this book: it is the first contemporary book to market weaving to the new wave of young and funky crafters, with projects specifically designed to appeal to this generation, as well as showing a variety of ways to weave that are, above all, economical.

It covers some rarely seen ground: the only other book I have seen with a version of the comb & board loom is ‘Shaped Weaving’ by Kathe Todd Hooker (available from some specialist outlets, but not on general bookshop release); and the only instruction I have otherwise seen for pin weaving is in a general textile art book.

I’m not a fan of rigid heddle weaving, and find the preparation required unnecessarily laborious, so I was disappointed to find that the Ashford Knitter’s Loom is one of the recommended looms.  But I guess each person needs to make up their own mind.  The 4th loom suggested is the weavette, which is not as common in the UK as the US, but fairly readily available via eBay etc.  The 5th way of weaving mentioned in the title is not as obvious upon first glancing at the book, as their are only 4 looms in the beginning section of the book.  I suspect, however, that the 5th way covers the few extra projects in the latter half of the book, using more re-purposed materials, such as garden canes, branches, and a bicycle tire rim.

The beginning of the book is great, with good clear sections on how to use each loom, basic tapestry weaving techniques, troubleshooting etc.  But there are a couple of things about the book that I am not so keen on. For example, approx, 2/3 of the projects specify which of the looms to weave on, so if you are new to weaving (which I believe is the premise of the book) you may not realise that actually, that isn’t the only way that particular item might be woven.  Other projects state ‘use a loom with a weaving area of x” by x” ‘ – again, something a beginner may find difficult to gauge.  Oh, and the bag projects in the book all involve sewing up the sides, something which I am fundamentally opposed to, in the knowledge of how easy it is to weave a no-sew bag or pouch.

One last negative: I don’t like the way the book is laid out.  The projects themselves are presented with a full page photo of the finished item, alongside a page of text instructions.  There are no step-by-step photos with the projects.  Although there is a good how-to guide at the beginning, it’s not the most practical thing to have to keep flipping backwards and forwards, if you are not sure how a particular idea works.

Back to the positives, though.  I don’t love all of the projects, especially the clothing; but some of them are great.  I do love the neck tie bag (sorry, ‘purse’), and the copper wire bracelets.  I love the rustic table runner, one of the projects recommended for the Ashford Knitter’s Loom, but could quite clearly be woven on almost anything, with a lot less hassle.  I love some of the concepts, such as the abstract tapestry, and the woven book covers.

This book is a great price, and the techniques section alone may be enough to set creative types successfully along the weaving path.  The projects are a bit hit and miss, but something that doesn’t appeal to me may speak to somebody else, so that’s okay.  Admittedly, I am generally more drawn to technique books than project books, anyway.

I was really looking forward to this book, and am a bit disappointed overall, for myself.  However, it is probably not quite directed toward ‘someone like me’, and if its marketing succeeds, and if it is quirky enough to encourage somebody to try weaving for the first time, then that’s good enough for me.

YOU CAN WEAVE!  Projects for Young Weavers by KATHLEEN MONAGHAN

The first thing to note is that this book is actually aimed at teachers, using weaving in the classroom with children.  However, if you don’t mind transposing the phrasing as necessary, this is actually a VERY good guide for anyone interested in learning the basics of weaving (adult or child), covering progressive ways of learning different techniques, and what can be achieved using different (simple) looms.  There are lots of step-by-step photos (a mix of colour and b/w) alongside clear written instructions; and pictures of completed weavings by both amateurs, artists and from different cultures are included to show what can be achieved.

Beginning with paper-weaving, the next step is straw (/stick) weaving, followed by weaving on a cardboard loom – including instructions to weave a small bag.  The essentials of tapestry weaving are covered, with further techniques in the next chapter, Frame Looms.  From the simplest frame loom, use of string and rigid heddles is introduced. Backstrap weaving, beadweaving, basket weaving and kumihimo braiding follow.

Considering such a broad area is covered, the instructions and background information are more VERY comprehensive.  In addition, projects are included to demonstrate each technique, as well as instructions to construct your own frame loom, rigid heddle, bead loom and kumihimo board.

Being a guide for lesson planning this is perhaps not the prettiest introduction to weaving you might come across, but it is possibly the best book currently available in terms of good, practical instruction for so many different techniques.

TIME TO WEAVE by JANE PATRICK

This book has a very serene, natural feel to it.  The projects are very simple in principle, but the materials used add a sense of understated elegance.  If you’re an eco-friendly crafter, you will appreciate working with stones, grasses, string, paper etc, and very minimal additional materials.  It’s a very refreshing antidote to many ecologically friendly craft books, being contemporary and stylish yet not self-consciously trendy.

The title says it all, because the simplicity of the concepts behind each of these projects means everyone really does have time to weave.  The aesthetics of the projects are never compromised for this: there is nothing childish, cheesy, or cheap-looking here.  Towards the end of the book, a couple of projects use a very basic frame/peg loom (widely available commercially or easy to build your own), but primarily, the projects show how you can utilise the basic over-under principles of weaving in your craftwork, without any unnecessary expense or vast expanses of time.

This book is not in any way an overview of different basic weaving techniques, loom or off-loom, nor is it trying to be. A lot of traditional methods, such as fingerweaving, dreamcatchers, weaving on a cardboard loom (etc) are not mentioned at all; but at various points in the book additional information and suggested reading notes are included for those who do want to explore ideas further.

This book IS a lovely, aesthetically appealing collection of projects which I recommend to anyone who likes a simple, natural style to their crafts, weaver or not.

KIDS WEAVING by SARAH SWETT

Kid or not, as a first (or even second) step in elemetary weaving, you can’t beat this wonderful value book.   Unless you’re looking for tips on how to use a rigid heddle or floor loom, read on!  Beginning with the very basics, you are shown the essential principles through weaving with paper – an idea that could easily be adapted using printed/patterned papers for original greetings cards, and here developed as funky paper dolls cut from old maps.

A couple more non-loom ideas are introduced, such as weaving with twigs and sticks for a fence or a hideway, and learning native american fingerweaving for friendship bands; then we move onto the cardboard loom.  Please don’t be dismissive!  It might sound and appear primitive and childish, but even though it is appearing in a book aimed at kids, I guarantee that projects woven on a cardboard loom can be just as sophisticated and impressive as any other woven product.  The main differences are simply that the loom is cheaper, quicker and easier to warp, and the weaving is easier to remove and neatly finish!

Instructions are included for a drawstring pouch, a pattern which is easily adaptable for a whole range of bags and purses to suit your needs.  From Japanese tradition, you can weave a rag doll warrior  – these are very cool, and also beg to be modified and personalised.  The ideas are so simple.  As the book suggests, great for kids, but also great starting points for anyone witan ounce of creativity.  There’s even a beginners’ guide to creating your own natural dyes to dye and personalise your weaving materials!

The second half of the book is devoted to weaving on a different kind of loom, easily built from plastic tubing and connectors readily available at a DIY store (& clearly modelled on Archie Brennan’s original copper pipe loom, instructions here).  Full construction and warping instructions are provided for this great lightweight, portable loom – again, ideal for adult tapestry weavers on the move, not just kids.  This loom is a good addition to include in the book as it allows weaving of larger pieces, but it is also free-standing, which gives the weaver greater freedom of movement.  Tapestry weaving techniques are introduced in this section, and various other techniques, including working a picture image from a chart.

It’s a very well-presented book, with step-by-step instructions throughout.  The text is occasionally interspersed with extra information about weaving mythology and traditions (although I thought there could have been more of this), and related skills, such as braiding, dyeing, and winding wool.  It is never condescending to the reader, and introduces the correct weaving terminology so that progression to further weaving instruction should not cause any problem.

All in all, this is a wonderful introduction to the principles and possibilities of weaving.  In fact, once you’ve seen the results of weaving on a cardboard loom, and realised the infinite sizing variations of a pipe loom, you’ll realise this book gives you absolutely everything you need to get started!  (But try Time to Weave by Jane Patrick for additional non-loom techniques, and Tapesty Weaving by Kirsten Glasbrook for a great beginners’ guide to tapestry techniques.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s