Since the last blog post my husband, puppy and I moved from Panama to Cuenca, Ecuador in November 2013. As much as we enjoyed Panama, we were looking for a South American adventure and Cuenca looked like it would be a more active cultural experience. And it is! My blog about Ecuador is on my photography website.
When I heard that my sister and her partner are going to get married this fall, I immediately thought about a wedding shawl. Even though I don't know anything about the way others use it, I thought it would be great to have this shawl wrapped around both their shoulders while they take their vows.
The challenge was that my loom had not yet arrived in Ecuador. Actually, it had arrived but was being held at customs. This caught me totally by surprise. I had no idea I would have to pay duty on my own used property. I had to hire a customs agent and we ran into the Christmas holidays which really slowed down the process. In the end I had to pay $660 in duty to claim my loom! OUCH! That could have bought another boatload of SAORI threads. Of course, importing the thread into Ecuador I would have to pay duty on that too....hmm....the limitations of international living.
So in the meantime I was in Cuenca with no loom and plenty of time on my hands so I bought a very inexpensive loom that is manufactured locally. It is a rigid heddle loom which I had not used before so my friend Gertie came over one day and helped me do the first warp which I made into a wall hanging.
For the Wedding Shawl I chose a random selelction of many different fibers. That is a typical mistake of a new weaver I think. The first year I didn't have to face all those decisions, I had bought a full set of SAORI cotton and silk threads that are all compatible and machine washable even. Now I was faced with having to choose from a lot of unknown threads and companies. There are miles of interesting acrylic fibers but only a few types of cotton and silk. I also found wool which is totally new to me. So I grabbed a palette of colors and textures that appealed to me and got started.
I used wool for the warp. Yes, I forgot the rule that if you can tug on a thread and it breaks then don't use it for warp. But I got caught up in the colors and forgot that rule. Anyway, I think now that it is done that it is strong enough. Most of the weft was acrylic. Inspite of production issues, the result is lovely and it was fun to start weaving again even with a kind of funky loom. And I'm really happy with the Wedding Shawl which reminds me that really amazing beautiful weaving can come from very rustic and simple looms.
I am so spoiled by the fine SAORI loom and tools, now that I see what others use I can appreciate mine even more. But I see that my experience in Cuenca is going to be rich in other ways. In the next post I'll tell you about a wonderful textile artist/weaver/teacher here in Cuenca who is teaching me all kinds of new textile art forms...