Oh my. It has been nearly a year since I wove this warp, and now over a year since I designed it and I've yet to hit publish on its blog post! This was my first go-round playing with the idea of the aurora borealis as inspiration. I have another aurora warp coming up on the loom, so it seemed an auspicious time to finally get this one published.
This warp is a dark navy blue with splashed streaks of color across it. So many times when I see the aurora used as inspiration, the warp is a riot of (beautiful) colors. But in the snow quiet wintertime when I step outside in the middle of the night and look up, I see the vast expanse of the dark sky held up by points of starlight and a swath of swirling curtains of ethereal color. I wanted to mirror that relationship of vast dark sky to ribbon of color in this warp.
The first wrap piece was woven with a black tencel weft. The weave is a faux crackle algorithmically designed by Ralph Griswold. The pattern of the weave reminds me of the stands of black spruce growing stunted and beautiful in the muskeg, and of the spiky patches of fireweed cropping up in meadows and roadsides. It is visually camoflauged in this piece because the navy warp against black weft doesn't give the sort of high contrast that allows for a weave pattern to shine. I do love the way that the interval of the pattern repeat and the random intervals of the pinstriped colors interact creating a visual effect of the ribbons of colors seeming to dance and move.
The second wrap piece had the added inspiration of a particular visionary dreamscape auroral display. It was a really special piece to weave and it went home to the person to whom that visionary dreamscape was speaking when I witnessed it. Such a magical experience to be able to pull that vision into cloth!
I used cotton for the weft on this piece, in (mostly) the same colors as are in the warp and in a variety of techniques. This piece was a total playground for me. It was so much fun to do. While it looks as though the weft may be hand painted, it isn't. It is all commercial colors with the visual effect due to hand manipulated weaving techniques. Clasped weft and alternating wefts, and alternating clasped wefts. For most of this piece I had between two and eight shuttles going carrying different colors. It was a totally improvisatory process, going through themes of color and technique, checking back in with the memory of that visionary dreamscape and moving into a new theme of color or technique.
One of the things I most adore about weaving is the way that once you know what you're doing, once you know the container you're working in, you can change things up and play to your heart's content. This was the same weave structure I had used for the prior warp, Field of Dreams, so I'd woven probably over 20 meters of this weave and had learned the structure inside and out to the point where I understood how it worked when I played with it. In the photo below, you can see how I played with treadling to change up the visuals of the weave pattern. This was another improvisation, like a harmony to the melody of the colorwork.
I love including cowls and fabric for making other things on my baby wrap warps. Not everyone who follows my work is a babywearer, and the children of even the most avid babywearer do eventually grow up and grow out of 'uppies', so I love being able to have items that can serve a purpose in the lives of those who don't wear their young children on the daily. I wove a set of cowls on this warp featuring weft by a local dye artist Bad Sheep Yarn.