Thursday, June 23, 2011


This is my favorite weaving pattern in Bedouin textiles, the one that always catches my attention and makes me smile in recognition.  Simple and subtle, it’s a prototypical Bedu pattern, and this may be why I like it so much.  I’m drawn to the basic, foundational marks that identify the origins of a piece.  
The graphic element is also compelling: scintillating patterns of dots, elusive in their simplicity.
In fact, this pattern is trickier than it looks, requiring a specific warp arrangement.
I know that now, because I’ve woven it!  I’ve been admiring it for a while, and feeling confused by it, thinking it mustn’t be that hard, but still failing to understand how it worked. Finally convinced myself to just try it, to confront it in person.  This is the only way for me to really learn anything about weaving – if I haven’t tried it, I have no hope of understanding.
I did not expect to warp correctly the first time.  Warping is my weak point, and I knew the first one might be an experiment in how to do it wrong.  But with the help of Joy Totah Hilden’s drafting chart in her Bedouin Weaving book, and the close examination of actual woven pieces, I made a warp, and it worked!  Even as I began to weave, I still didn’t understand how the pattern was going to form, but then it showed itself, and I recognized it.
I first learned the term for this pattern in Hilden's book, where it is written al'ouerjan (pronounced like "all wear jahn".) Then I went to the souq, and sure enough, the weaver there pointed out these sections of the weavings, saying "ouerjan, ouerjan."  She also showed me a two-color version, in a striking salmon and green combination, which she calls ouerjan med-khar.
Now that I've tried it, I feel even more affinity for this expressive pattern, and it jumps out at me from every corner of the rug souq.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Out of context

I took a rather neglected spindle-in-progress to the fitness club, to spin a little before spinning class (I like to bring together the two types of spinning, just for fun.)  It was in the pocket of my jacket, and since the room was cold and I started cycling in my jacket, I took out the spindle and put it on the floor beneath my handlebars.
Aspire Dome, the fitness club (shown in winter - now the sky is white)
I had a good view of it during the class, and from that angle, under the bright fluorescent lights, it looked extremely beautiful.  As I pumped my legs and sweat dripped off my chin, I felt a longing for the spindle and the elegant blended fiber.  The feeling was so powerful that it carried over after class, after going home, and I’ve picked up this spindle again and devoted fresh energy to this particular yarn, for the first time in weeks.
Mixed in with all my spindles, fibers, yarns, WIP’s, and textiles, this spindle and fiber had become just another one.  It was in a queue, waiting its turn along with a half dozen spindles-in-progress.  I had to see it completely out of context, all alone in the big, cold world of shiny gym machines and loud, driving music, to realize its power and beauty again.
I’ll remember this next time a project drags, or feels old and dull.  Take it out somewhere, look at it alone, where it’s the most beautiful thing in sight, and remember how lucky I am to have so many of these things going on.
Abby's Batt, Nine Wine Whine, on Bosworth Mini