SAORI One progress

So, I’ve been beading and weaving lately. Here’s how I’m doing with the weaving part. I like this section.

This is what happens when you wind the yarn too close to the end of the bobbin. It tangles in the shuttle.

I’ve moved the loom to a different room; carpet underneath instead of wood. I like this section too.

Green zigzag. Also, I have installed daylight LED lights above me. At night, I can take photos with really great color. Daylight will still wash out photos.

I saw a picture of a way to get multiple colors into a section, using just the bobbins. This was unenjoyable. I want weaving to be enjoyable. I ended up having to rewind two bobbins, and actually cut out a snarl in one of them.

I don’t think it actually looks that good either. I could do a neater job, and I initially thought to do this for several more rows, but I just wanted to be done. So I was.

Inlaying a second color above the weft to get blocks of a different color (at top of photo)? I LIKE this. This was fun. This is definitely a success.

There is still more of this warp. I have three more weaving projects planned already, and I was hoping to start the next one this month. It could happen, maybe? And I have a couple of active beading projects.

Chiaki O’Brien on Minnesota Original

Minnesota Original is a fantastic Minnesota Public Television show. It’s a weekly arts series “celebrating Minnesota’s creative community, across all disciplines and all cultures.” I believe last weekend was the original airing of episode #805, which features four artists. Two of the segments are right up my alley. One is Sally Power, a paper marbling artist demonstrating at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, something I tried at MCBA for the first time last month. The other artist I was delighted to watch was Chiaki O’Brien. I took my SAORI loom class from Chiaki, and also bought my loom from her. Watch her six minute segment, excerpted from the entire episode, and learn more about Chiaki and her work.

SAORI One samples and learning

I received my loom about a week ago and began weaving on it the next morning. There is an error in the warp from the factory. Since the idea of SAORI weaving is immersing in the process, with irregularity as “the beauty with lack of intention,” maybe this was on purpose? If that’s the case, why only one? Something to ponder as I weave.

Another color.

I bought four 1# cones of relatively fine cotton. The lime is all cotton, the grey and blues are recycled cotton, with at least 80% cotton. The warp is 6 meters (about 19.5 feet, but I’m going to lose perhaps 3-4′ because of the design of the loom), and I think I’m going to just play with these four colors for the length. I’m trying different versions of clasped warps, where I take the warp across, hook it around a second color, and return while pulling the second color partway, without pressing the pedal and changing the warp cross.

More clasped warps. Alternating the light blue and the grey looks almost like a self-striping yarn.

With the grey and the green stronger-colored stripes, I’m making multiple passes without changing the warp cross. I like it.

I’m into clasped warps.

I have no idea how much I’ve done, and how much I have to go. I’m just weaving. When I went to the SAORI workshop last summer, I wove quickly. Now, I’m working more deliberately, but I’m not planning ahead. That would be un-SAORI of me.

SAORI loom, some assembly required (but very little!)

I’ve been considering purchasing a SAORI loom since I took a free workshop at a local public library with Chiaki O’Brien of StudioFUN this past June. (A narrative of that is here.) Yes, I bead. Yes, I took up sewing again about two or three years ago. I also work outside the home. I had never woven on a floor loom before this workshop (an inkle loom as a teenager), but I kept revisiting how much I enjoyed this experience, so I took money I had saved for years, and bought the loom from Chiaki.

The loom comes directly from Japan. I took pictures while unboxing my SAORI loom almost exactly two days ago after a late dinner – but the post is today, because I wanted to start weaving immediately! Also, I worked today. The photos are most of the story…

Big box! I’m grateful it’s doubly boxed, as the outer box was soggy in the corner. The inner box is perfect. (Also, I’m still decorated for Christmas, say hi to my light switch Santa.)

Inside is the main loom frame, and the rest of the working parts are inside the box strapped to the loom’s leg.

The instructions for unboxing and assembly are very detailed, including how to open it.

Inner box. In addition to the rest of the loom, I ordered “the book,” and some additional bobbins.

The rest of the loom components, laid out as in the assembly guide, for easy reference.

First part to install, the bobbin winder.

Now, hang the warp set. That’s the rope pulley system just barely in view at the top center of the picture, holding the heddles. It’s really appealing that this comes warped. I bought a serger a little over a year ago, and it came threaded; the same result of almost immediate satisfaction.

Now set up the warp roller at the back of the loom.

The latch and gear system for this works really well. I’m holding the latch up with the heddle hook so you can see the mechanism.

This is the warp control pedal. I will be revisiting this later…

Now setting up the reed.

Tying the warp threads on the tying rod.

All tied!

Hook up the pedals.

Add the built-in shelf.

Look at the “check if everything is set up properly” pictures. I pass inspection with two of them, but I have improperly wound the cable on the warp control pedal. Fixed.

And here is the loom, ready to weave!

It’s late at night by the time I finished, and I started weaving the next morning; I had the day off. I’ll show some in-progress pictures soon. Here’s one of the reasons I wanted this particular loom:

This loom folds quite compactly – but it has a 23″ weaving width, and the ability for about a 15′ warp. I do have a creative workspace, a small former bedroom, but it doesn’t have floor space for a permanent resident loom. I can fold this and put it away in closet, and transport it if desired. It really is an elegant design, and I’m looking forward to future weaving exploration.

SAORI weaving

I had a perfectly delightful time last weekend weaving on a SAORI loom. This is a Japanese loom and style of weaving, designed about 50 years ago by Misao Jo. From the handout that was placed on each loom, “‘SA’ of SAORI has the same meaning as the first syllable of the word ‘SAI’ which is found in Zen vocabulary. It means everything has its own individual dignity. And the ‘ORI’ means weaving. All flowers are beautiful, even though each individual flower is different in form and color. Because of this difference, “all are good.” Because everything has the same life, life cannot be measured by a yardstick. It is this individuality that makes everything meaningful and the uniqueness of each thread that creates the tapestry of life.”

Taught by Chiaki O’Brien, hosted at a local public library, and funded by by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, this was a wonderful experience. Chiaki came with all these warped looms (those of you have warped a loom know this is significant; she told us it takes her about two hours to warp each loom). The loom at right front was brand new and came warped with black, otherwise, all the looms had multiple colors of warp thread.

These are simple, elegant looms. There are two harnesses – these are not looms designed to weave patterns, but to become immersed in the flow of weaving and work intuitively. In reading further, I believe there are two sizes of SAORI looms. This is the larger, which comes in this wood frame with folding metal legs or folding wood legs, and a non-folding version.

Chiaki was artist-in-residence at a local school recently, and teaches children frequently (She told us to pretend we were five years old when we started – so I started with yarn with sparkles in it.). She also teaches disabled adults. There is a wheelchair modification possible for these looms.

There was an English side and a Japanese side of the informational sheet about SAORI weaving.

My first yarn was a brown and “sparkle” ply. You see the boat shuttle that we used, and the plastic straw bobbin that we filled. I filled bobbins with colors that appealed to me, without much thought of cohesive design. I used colors that I liked with this happy, bright warp. There are three colors and two different weights of warp threads, and Chiaki sometimes put multiple warp threads in the same path, and occasionally skipped a warp, which you can see below.

More colors, wound on the bobbin as needed.

On the top of the loom is a wheel and mount for the bobbin for winding.

You can wind two colors together and treat them as one when weaving.

You can weave with two colors as I did below.

I was going with the flow – no straight lines.

A closeup that shows the extra warps. You can make a tighter weave, but I like this more open look.

In less than three hours, this is what I made!

Look how compact these looms fold!

I highly recommend SAORI weaving. I love the “beauty with lack of intention” that is encouraged. I hope to do it again sometime, and would dearly love to own one of these looms.