There is something so tranquil about pastel colours. So I was happy to take the opportunity to weave a commissioned shawl in greys and pinks during the Winter of 2017. The client requesting a ‘misty, peony’ feel to the shawl. Peonies are one of my favourite flowers so I instantly felt connected artistically to the design process.
The materials – I knew that I had some Gotland sheep fleece in my studio waiting to be hand spun, that would be perfect for this shawl. Gotland fleece is a delight to hand spin, its so soft, and yet warm, with a long staple length giving it a feel of silk.
I spun some up and then warped up some shetland wool in various grey’s on one of my rigid heddle hand operated looms. I hand selected pinks using mohair, silk and merino to the warp to blend the textures through the length of the shawl.
The way I work with weaving is intuitive, contemplative and slow, mindfully working with wool and silk in a way that is non-directive. I don’t follow a pattern or instructions other than those of the skill of an artisan weaver. I choose the colours and textures of the weft of the weaving as I weave, paying constant attention to the feel, texture and effect of the yarns I use.
I connect with the colours and textures in an artistic way. The resulting cloth is unique and bespoke, no two of my weaves are the same, which makes them extra special. This particular shawl was very calming to weave, the chosen colours and textures played a huge part in this.
The process of cutting the cloth from the loom is quite a relief and at the same time daunting. This shawl was no exception. The reason for these mixed emotions is partly connected to the shawl being wound on the loom back beam as it is woven, so I don’t really know what the resulting shawl will look like off the loom, until it is free.
Finally, the fringes are either hand twisted or I use a manual fringe twister to complete the shawl. I wash the shawl in Ecover or Soak before pin blocking back into shape in my studio to dry. This part of the process is crucial to open the fibres back up, and this is what gives the shawl the light and airy feel, will keeping the warmth of the yarn when worn.
The client of this shawl absolutely loved the finished product, and so did I! I enjoyed working with these pastel colours and hope to weave up more in these tones and shades again in the future.