One of the things I’ve marveled at since moving to Toronto is just how much stuff happens at any given time. Festivals, shows, live theatre, lectures, parties… it’s hard to know how to handle it. Take last weekend, for example. While the G20 was front and center for most people (myself included), a huge array of other things were happening elsewhere in the city. Like the Pollinator’s Festival, the Cooking Fire Theatre Festival, or the Toronto Jazz Festival.
Now, I’ve never considered myself a huge fan of jazz, but every so often I take in a show, and every so often that show blows my mind. Last night was one such example. I happened to see the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and wow. Just, wow.
The most amazing part was the stark contrast between hearing him speak and hearing him play. The man is 89 years old, and when he speaks, you can tell — his voice wavers a bit, and well, sounds old. But then he sits down, his fingers fly, and if you closed your eyes you’d never guess that he was over 25.
My favourite part of the show was when he announced Blue Rondo a la Turk, saying that this was the hardest piece he’d ever written, and he always wonders if he will be able to get through it. Well let me tell you, he got through it, and its been playing on repeat tonight while I weave place mats. Speaking of which…
Place mats – Part I
The instructions for this week’s project are adapted from a book I picked up in the UK called Making Stuff, An Alternative Craft Book.
Here it goes…
- A big piece of sturdy cardboard
- Material scraps, cut into 2cm strips
- Masking tape
- A way to sew (either a sewing machine or a needle and thread)
1) The hardest thing about this project so far has been getting a piece of cardboard the right size. The cardboard needs to be sturdy (e.g. the side of a packing box) and slightly bigger than the desired size of your place mats. After sifting through my basement, I found a box that produced a side that was 12″x13″. It’s not terrible, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend using a piece any smaller. I think the ideal size would be about 15″x17″. In any case, step #1 – cut yourself a nice big piece of cardboard!
3) Take a long piece of fabric, and starting at the top, wrap it lengthwise around the cardboard, using the slits to keep it in place. Imagine Goldilocks and the Three Bears while doing this. You don’t want it too tight (bending the cardboard), you don’t want it too loose (not staying in place), you want it just right. If you come to the end of the piece of fabric, tie another one on, cutting off the loose ends, and trying to make the knot as flat as possible. The fabric going horizontally over your cardboard loom is, in fancy weaving terms, called your warp.
4) Now comes the fun part – the weaving! According to my book, the name of the weave we’re using is called “plain weave”. Not a very creative name. In any case, the “plain weave” is pretty much what you would expect — you are weaving your piece of fabric vertically through the warp, using an “over one, under one” pattern. When you get to the end, weave the material back, using an “under one, over one” pattern. Following? I hope so…
5) At any point you can change up your colours – just knot the next piece of fabric on and keep weaving. I experimented with a variety of textures and colours and am pretty happy with the effect so far. One tip for the weaving – be careful to not pull the fabric too tight. You want it to lie flat along the cardboard but not to buckle at the ends.
6) When you come to the end, tie your…
That’s as far as I’ve gotten… watch for the next post to figure out how to finish!
Thanks to the wonderful J.Lax for the chats, company, and for being my weaving guinea pig!