Tapestry & Embroidery

Tapestry & Embroidery

It has been three years since I’ve left my country’s landmass. That’s by no means a personal record, but not travelling by choice, and being told you are not allowed to travel are very different beasts. Yes, my home country of Australia has limitless travelling potential within its boundaries, but the idea of needing that passport because you are about to step into another world is what I’ve really missed these pandemic-riddled years. So I got to thinking about the lucky creatures that don’t answer to boundaries. No passports, no government mandates and lockdowns. Did you know that the animal that travels the farthest across the globe is an Arctic Tern?

This powerhouse of a bird takes in the width and breadth of the globe, migratingfrom its Arctic breeding grounds to the Antarctic and back each year, which can be a trip of anywhere between 19,000kms (12,000mi) to 22,000kms (14,000mi). The deal was sealed. My traveling loom piece would depict one of the world’s ultimate travellers; The Arctic Tern.


STRINGING THE LOOM - Before planning the piece, I like to string up the loom first, to get an idea of what size field we have to play on. As this will be a high detail weaving, I am going to double string it with 0.5mm cotton warp from The Unusual Pear.


CREATING THE TEMPLATE - A quick google image search gives me tons of images to use as a basis for this design, and I’m going to use this image from American Oceans page. I find when sketching or weaving animals, some type of movement in the body works better than a posed image. Measuring the size of the weaving space on the loom, I’m going to trace over the photograph, simplifying details and adjusting the image so it fits in the available space, with some room around the border. Personally, I like to use a drawing program on my computer to trace and then print the design, but there is no reason you can’t print the original image and use a felt tip pen to streamline the image down to simple, workable shape and use that as your template.


CHOOSING THE YARN - When working on a small yet highly detailed scale, try to steer clear from chunky yarns. Fine to DK/Worsted are perfect for this type of weaving.

WEAVING TECHNIQUES - To keep the image simplified, tabby is going to be the way to go here. After a row of twinning to secure the bottom of the weaving, lay a row of rya knots and reposition the template behind the warp strings to the perfect spot.

Lap looms can always be a little wild to keep a handle on, so I like to secure mine to an easel so I can sit upright and work on it in front of my face. Start tabby weaving up the loom, around the template, and filling in the detail of the bird as you move up the loom, using those half steps of the double strung loom to give you extra detail, extra space for curves etc.

Once the piece is finished, weave in the ends while it is still on the loom so the piece is under the original tension it was created in, and then cut the bottom warp strings, double knot them and weave them into the back of the rya knots.

FINISHING TECHNIQUES - With these typeof images, there is always detail that can be captured better through embroidery than weaving. Using embroidery floss, add those fine details that really bring the image to life.

HANGING THE WEAVING - With prime real estate of the warp strings being taken up by the weaving, this little loom is going to get the most simplest treatment as far as hanging goes. The hemstitch along the top will secure the threads, and a thin dowel will thread through the leftover loops to be the hanger. A quick trim of the rya knots and this baby is ready to fly.

I love the idea of a travelling loom, skating around the country passing between hands gaining time and experience. I love that we will all put in our scraps of the pieces we’ve lovingly made to create something else new. I love that there are people in this online community who are always thinking of ways to get people involved, to link the creatives that are spread far and wide, and to challenge each one of us to try something new.

Thank you Rainie for such a wonderful experience. I can’t wait to see what this Travelling Loom will see on its adventures.

By Kristin Carter – Olive and the Boy

Kristin has her own weaving book coming out in March 2022. In Tapestry Weaving for beginners and beyond, learn to weave your own stories and make personalised woven wall art. Learn all the techniques you’ll need to create your own woven tapestries with a unique, personalised element. You’ll be guided to make your own loom, and see how even with the most rudimentary drawing skills, you’ll be able to create wonderful, meaningful pieces that suit your own style. From bold typography pieces to abstract art and portraits, this book gives you the tools to pick up weaving as an absolute novice, as well as building up new skills for intermediate weaver.

You can purchase artworks by Kristin via her Etsy store - Olive and the Boy

Follow Kristin on Instagram - @oliveandtheboy

Purchase Kristin's book Tapestry Weaving - www.booktopia.com.au/tapestry-weaving-for-beginners-and-beyond-kristin-carter

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