Thursday, December 30, 2010

Saori !!!

I've found it... Wabi Sabi weaving!!!

As the new year approaches I've been reacquainting myself with something I learned when I was researching Wabi Sabi for my Japanese Fulbright Scholarship proposal. I've been bumping into it for the past 5 years... and finally I'm embracing it! The above scarf is my first Saori project -- woven with pure joy and freedom -- and not worrying about planning and complex weave structures. SAORI was developed by Misao Jo about 30 years ago when she was 57 year old. SA is from the Zen idea of everything having its own dignity and ORI is the Japanese word for weaving. Misao says, "It is this individuality that makes everything meaningful and the uniqueness of each thread that creates the tapestry of life."

The day after Christmas I decided that it was the perfect time to begin a new project, but for this one I didn't want to spend a lot of time planning. I wanted to weave something JUST FOR THE PURE JOY OF WEAVING!!! So I took out my trusty warping board and gathered yarns from my stash for warp -- some grey worsted weight wool, some charcoal boucle wool, some thin singles white wool and some black fine 5/2 cotton. I didn't want to measure... so I guess-timated about 6 yards picked up the grey wool and started winding... when I felt like it I stopped and changed to one of the others until I thought I'd probably have enough for a narrow scarf. It chained it off and sat down with a 10 dent reed and my threading hook and the newly wound warp and started thread in about the center - again not measuring - guess-timating! (LIBERATING!) I doubled the thinner yarns in the dents... and voila... it was 5 inches. Perfect! (But then it would have been perfect had it been 6 or 7 inches! - I didn't care - I was letting chance take care of it. It felt right - that was what was important!)

Once the reed was threaded I carried it to my 8 shaft Mighty Wolf and proceeded to thread the heddles on a straight twill on the front 4 shafts only. I dropped the cords from the threadles on either side of the center 4 treadles and threaded these four with a direct tie-up - 1st treadle to lift harness 1, 2nd treadle to lift harness 2, etc. It cleared my way to dance and play with the treadles in different combinations using both feet.

I have been spinning for about 35 years and weaving for over 32 years and I have quite a stash of handspun -- some 35 years old. When you spin your own yarn - each yarn has a story... you remember where you got the fibers, where you were when you spun it, etc., etc., etc. So I gathered together some of these really, really old - almost antique - handspuns to use as weft for my first SAORI scarf. I also included some luscious bright white alpaca roving that my oldest and dearest friend, Cathy has sent me as a surprise (with paisley fabric and some delicious rusty brown alpaca, too!)

I tied the warp to the front beam and was ready to start playing! I randomly broke of pieces of the handspun yarns that I knew who "go together(wool, alpaca, wool & mohair and the alpaca roving) ... and started to play and dance and have a blast! No stress or worries that I was treadling correctly or that the threading was correct. It didn't matter. FREEDOM! Sometimes I used plain weave treadling... sometimes twill... sometimes combinations... sometimes I started one color from one side, another from the other side, clasped them and returned... sometimes I would turn the yarn at the selvedge and return it in the same shed two or three times... sometimes I placed the roving in the shed. I did whatever I felt like doing in the moment with the amount of yarn I had broken off the ball. HOW LIBERATING!

When I had woven about 2.5 yard I cut it off the loom and tied the fringes. I washed the scarf with Pantene shampoo and cream rinse to soften it and hung it to dry. I'm really pleased with his piece and look forward to weavin the 2nd scarf on this warp of tones of whites in different handspun fibers.

I just ordered this book from the Worcester Massachusetts SAORI Center and have enjoyed reading Misao's philosophy as well as seeing the many patterns for handwoven Saori clothes that are incorporated in the back. You can order it
(scroll down the page to find it...)


  1. Welcome to the world of Saori weaving!

    Happy Weaving,

  2. What a beautiful creation of random yarns!