Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Community Crochet- an Undersea Panel for Weaving Stories!

The next chapter in my series about the crochet in the Weaving Stories installation is about the freeform style crochet panel for the Sea themed part of the wall.

When the submissions came in for this part of the wall, most of the artists had chosen to concentrate on pieces relating to water. As the time came near for putting the wall together, I decided I needed a piece inspired by things found under the sea. I really wanted it to be crocheted because I wanted it to be 3 dimensional and there are so many effects you can achieve with the right stitches and yarn! 

I thought that it would be fun to do this panel as a group project, so I invited local crocheters to join me in a crochet morning at the Sadu House. I told them them just to come with their hooks and I gave them the color palette for this section in case they had any yarns in the colors we were going to use. I  also collected yarns from my stash to bring. My yarn exchanges with the International Freeform Crochet group were really beneficial to this project, as I have collected many bits of interesting yarn in beautiful colors over the years! 

Everyone arrived in the morning ready to get to work, and I gave them some patterns and ideas for possible shapes. Some people used patterns and some freeformed their creations. I wasn't too specific as I wanted their creativity to come out and I didn't have a picture in my head of exactly what I wanted it to look like.

I just knew that it would be like putting together a puzzle with no exact solution. I also knew that I  probably wouldn't use all of the pieces, and that I would need a lot to choose from to find the best arrangement. It was exciting not knowing exactly what the finished panel would look like! Some people were skeptical that the pieces would look good sewn together and overlapping, but I persevered. 

We crocheted for 3 hours and were able to produce a nice collection. I didn't feel that it was enough to make a meter long panel, so we got more crocheters together the same week in the evening and some people agreed to work at home and bring the pieces in by the end of the week. 

Written patterns were used by some, and diagrams by others, depending on the way they like to work most. 

The time passed very quickly with periods of silence as they became part of their stitches.

Nawal Al Baker, Afifa Behbehani, and Tammy Asad hard at work!
 As the pieces were completed, we collected them on a table for inspiration. 

Once all of the pieces had been collected, I got my cutting board out and began to lay out the pieces. I had all of the pieces in front of me and just kept arranging and rearranging them until I was happy with the arrangement. I kept them on the board and put some pins in to hold the main pieces together. I stitched everything together with invisible thread first. It was challenging to stitch while everything was on the board, as I had to be careful not to upset the pieces! I took a photo of the arrangement first, just in case the pieces moved for any reason. After the initial stitching with invisible thread, the panel was easier to work with. I was able to stitch on my lap since everything was secured in its place. To make the panel really strong, I stitched the pieces together with coordinating yarns wherever there was any weakness. 

When I had all of the pieces together I took the panel to try in the frame with the panels that we had already received. As with all of the panels, it took us a while to decide the best location for it! We finally decided to put it below the sea shell panel, and after I got home and looked at my photos from the day's work, I realized that it would look even better if I made it wider. Fortunately I had more pieces at home to add, thanks to the hard work of the group! I spent another evening adding pieces to the panel to almost double its width!
Photos by Nawal Al Baker
The panel was carefully woven in, so as not to cover too much of the crochet work.

Voila! The completed Sea Section!
Photo by Tammy Asad

Monday, December 5, 2016

Layered Crochet Motifs!

The next in my series of Weaving Stories Panels, is inspired by Islamic motifs.  I found a crochet motif that looked similar to many motifs that I had come across in my research for the project, so I knew that I wanted to include it in my panel. We required all panels to be 110 cm wide since our standing looms were 1 meter wide on each side, and we needed the extra 10 cm to wrap around the loom for securing.  I was happy to find a coordinating variegated yarn for the background. My first order was to crochet enough motifs to span 1 meter, which I did, and then I blocked them while I worked on the background. My original thought was to stitch the motifs directly onto the background so that the variegated yarn colors would show through. I got to work knitting the background, as I liked the look of this yarn in a garter stitch, and I thought it would be nice to have a combination knit/crochet panel! When I finished knitting the background, I laid the crocheted motifs on top of the knitted background and found that the colors didn't show through as much as I thought they would. I then switched to plan B, which was to create multi-colored striped circles to go underneath the motifs. The solid colors underneath made a bolder statement that I was really happy with! Finally, I stitched the circles to the motifs, then the layered motifs to the knitted panel. I wanted to leave space between the motifs for the warp thread to show. 

Each panel was woven into the standing looms with the design of the panel in mind. Skipping warp threads where we wanted design features to show! So for this panel the warp was only between the motifs, and this was enough to hold the panel in place. I love the layered effect and plan to explore the technique more in the future!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Letting Your Yarn Write the Pattern Part 2: Embroidery Embellishment!

We had some wonderful crochet panels in the Weaving Stories Installation, due to the fact that crochet is very popular in Kuwait. I thought it might be fun to show you some of them up close!

I am starting off with one of the panels I made for the wall. In a previous post, I introduced this panel by talking about how I let the yarn write the pattern by changing the stitch type every time the variegated yarn changed color.

I was inspired by the Desert theme and I wanted to show that there actually is some green in the desert! I was so happy to find a variegated yarn that had the exact shades I was looking for. Since the wall tells stories of Kuwait, I decided to include the National Flower of Kuwait, Al Arfaj. It is like the dandelion of the desert and it is a cheerful reminder that there is color in the desert!

I crocheted the panel background before I knew where to place the flowers or how I would stitch them. I just let the yarn do the talking first!

I wanted them to look as much like they do in nature as I could so I went searching for photos of Al Arfaj, and I found the perfect image:

I printed it in the size I needed it to be for the panel and traced the main lines on to some thin paper and pinned it into place on the panel.

Then, I used some regular sewing thread to stitch all of the stems through the paper.

After it was all stitched, I tore off the paper so I could follow the thread stitching lines to stitch with the yarn.

The stitching lines appear very faint in the photo, but they were visible enough to stitch easily.

I chose the shades of green from the variegated yarn so they would show up well on the background, cutting the yarn and changing colors wherever necessary.

Once the stems were embroidered, I pulled out all of the sewing thread.

I used the photo as inspiration for where and how to stitch the flowers. I tried a few techniques for stitching the flowers, and decided on one that would give the most realistic look. It involved stitching a rather thick base of petals, then cutting some of the stitches and separating the strands of yarn to give a fuzzy appearance in the center of the flowers.

This method was a great way to stitch the flowers as realistically as possible!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Weaving Stories Art Installation: "Honoring Textile Traditions, Creating New Interpretations"

I have talked a little bit about the Weaving Stories exhibition, but I haven't shown you the focal point of the exhibition! We put together a 12 meter long panoramic woven wall installation that took us 425 collective hours to arrange and stitch, not to mention the 5 months of work to make all of the panels!]
Photo by Lesli Robertson
We began planning the exhibition last December, and we sent out a call for submissions last May, asking for panels in these six themes: Modern Interpretations of Sadu Weaving, Desert, Sea, Islamic Motifs, Traditional Kuwait, and Modern Kuwait. I made storyboards for each theme to inspire artists and makers. These storyboards were great conversation starters and led to many great creations! You will see many of these images translated in the wall.

The wall is made up of a total of 72 panels made by over 30 different artists and makers, and 10 of the panels were made by Fibers program students from the University of North Texas as part of a cultural exchange. They are students of our consultant to Weaving Stories, artist and professor Lesli Robertson. The wall took the team a little over a month to put together and was exhibited for one week at Al Shaheed Park.

We invited people to submit all types of techniques and we have a beautiful variety represented: crocheting, knitting, quilting, applique, macrame, fabric painting, and 3D printing.13 of the panels are crocheted! You can see each individual panel and its story on the blog for the Weaving Stories Project.

We spent a lot of time arranging and rearranging the panels to make the most harmonious array and deciding what should be woven in between the panels. I even printed out miniature paper mock ups of the panels to help decide the best arrangement! Once we had everything decided, we set to work stitching the panels to the frames and weaving in twill tape and roving. Each end of these had to be hand stitched to the back of the frame. We had a team of volunteer stitchers helping us with this job to get it done in time for the exhibition! 

Photo by Tammy Asad
We start off the tour of the wall with the Sadu section. We reserved the left for more traditional Sadu pieces, some with a modern twist, woven by Master Sadu Weaver Laila Yasser. For fun we also put the traditional old Kuwaiti Flag by Aiesha Khalid in this section to kick off this story of Kuwait! In the other half of the Sadu section, we included modern interpretations of Sadu weaving and designs. You will notice at the top right of each double frame, there is a macrame panel at the top right. We have a very talented macrame artist here in Kuwait, Marly Kamal Youssef, who created macrame interpretations of each theme! In the Modern Sadu section we also have 4 hand woven panels, 2 of which were created by University of North Texas students, and 1 that was created by a student of a Sadu Master Weaver. The panel of traditional tassels was a group collaboration!.We got together one Saturday morning at the Sadu House, and we were taught by a Master Weaver how to make the traditional tassels, then we set to work making as many as we could in the 3 hour session.

Now I will take you on a mini tour of the wall. Can you spot which pieces are crocheted?

Photo by Tammy Asad

Next we move onto the desert, with 3 crocheted, 2 quilted, 1 knitted, 1 needlepoint & cross stitch, 1 applique, 1 hand painted with natural dyes, 1 tapestry weaving, and 1 macrame panel. I created the green panel with the national flower of Kuwait, Arfaj, embroidered on it. I am planning a future blog post with more details about this panel. 

Photo by Tammy Asad
This frame tells the story of the Kuwaiti Sea, with textural pieces representing water, sea life, a traditional boat (a dhow), and a macrame fish net. There are 3 crocheted, 2 knitted, 5 quilted, 1 woven, and 1 macrame panel. The freeform crochet sea life panel was also a group project! We gathered in 2 sessions to crochet shells and things under the sea, and then I assembled them all into one panel. The texture is wonderful, and I love that so many people worked on it together!

Photo by Tammy Asad
The Islamic panel was interesting to put together as we had many different interpretations of the them. We started out asking for motifs, but some artists wanted the theme to extend into architecture, and phases of the moon. In this section we have 3 quilted, 2 applique, 4 crocheted, 1 Sashiko embroidery, 2 woven, and 1 macrame panel.

I think this panel a lot of fun! It illustrates traditional dress, architecture, music, dishes, camel trappings, baskets and henna. There are 3 quilted, 3 crochet, 2 knitted, 2 applique, 1 henna painting with embroidery, one leather work with buttons, and 1 macrame panel.

Photo by Tammy Asad

The Modern Kuwait wall makes bold statements about the landmarks and architecture in Kuwait, with many tributes to our beloved Kuwait Towers as well as the Constitution Monument at Al Shaheed Park, and a piece depicting the precious oil underground! In this frame there are 2 crocheted, 4 quilted, 1 woven, 1 applique, 1 3D printed, and 1 macrame panel.

I love how the entire woven story looks from afar as well! I am so proud to have been in charge of this project, and can't wait until it finds its permanent home so that it can be enjoyed by visitors for years to come!

Read the Full Article here

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Weaving Stories Opening!

In honor of Kuwait being chosen an International Cultural Capital in 2016, the Sadu House/ Beit AlSadu was invited to do something special to honor the occasion. Inspired by the traditional Bedouin tent divider, we created a 12 meter long panoramic woven wall, based on 6 themes: Sadu, Desert, Sea, Islamic, Traditional Kuwait, and Modern Kuwait. More than 30 international artists contributed a total of 72 panels. 10 of these panels were made by students of Lesli Robertson, our consulting textile professor from the US as part of a cultural exchange. The techniques used to make the panels ranged from weaving to crochet, knitting, quilting, hand and machine embroidery, needlepoint, fabric painting, macramé, and 3-D printing. The panels were joined together to create a sculpture telling the artists’ stories of Kuwait.

After a year of solid work on this project, we were so thrilled for the opening night to arrive! This past Monday, November 7th, we had the great pleasure to open the exhibition in the Multi-Purpose Hall at the beautiful Al Shaheed Park. The Secretary General of the National Council of Arts and Letters, Mr. Ali Al Youha, and Ambassadors from the US, UK, and Lebanon, in addition to close to 400 guests attended the opening night of the Weaving Stories exhibition. 

It was a great celebration of Textiles and it has inspired the public to see the beauty of a combined collection of diverse artwork. In future posts, I will talk about the wall in more depth, as well as what went into making the individual panels. 

I was especially proud of my daughter (you can see her in the photo above) who was in charge of teaching weaving to the guests on our specially designed interactive community loom, that was made by my husband Emad Allaho, (@eWood_q8). She got to teach the ambassadors and their wives how to weave, and even convinced one of them to come to our Woven Paintings modern weaving workshop last night. Our goal is to get everyone in Kuwait Weaving!

 Close-ups of details from some of the panels in the woven sculpture

Friday, November 4, 2016

Textile Collaboration and Weaving Stories!

I have been a little quiet this past year as I have undertaken a new challenge- managing and being the textile collaborator of the Weaving Stories project for AlSadu House in Kuwait.

Kuwait was chosen to be an Islamic Cultural Capital in 2016 and the Minister of Information and head of the National Council for Arts and Letters asked the AlSadu House to do a special project to honor this.

The opening will be at Al Shaheed Park on November 7th. I can't wait to be able to share photos of our collaborative work of art! Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

One Skein Crochet Scarves!

There is something so satisfying about a one skein project! Most of us have single skeins of yarns that we love in our stash, that are waiting patiently for a great project! 

It was a wonderful surprise when I found out that Interweave had put this pattern collection together including my Doodle Scarf

A few years back, I designed the Doodle Scarf for the Interweave Crochet Accessories Issue, it is an eye-catching scarf that is really fun to crochet! It works up quickly in a bulky yarn and you can think of it as oversized jewelry that keeps you warm!

There are two uses for the Doodle scarf pattern. I also did a blog post about how to use this pattern to make a necklace.

Scarf season is coming up and this is a really lovely collection, thinking of one skein projects makes me want to make a scarf for each of my friends!

The Doodle Scarf Sample, before I sent it to Interweave
The Flora Necklace, that can be made from the Doodle Scarf Pattern

Saturday, October 1, 2016

New eWoodStory Stockist in Australia!

We are so excited to announce our new stockist, The Embroidery Den in Victoria, Australia. You can now find our exotic wood Mini Masterpiece stitchable pendants and our embellishment flowers in their lovely shop!  The Embroidery Den sells everything for the hand embroiderer and they have one of the largest collections of threads in Australia!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

All About The Fizz Crochet Scarf!

Interweave Crochet/ Harper Point Photography
In the new Fall issue of Interweave Crochet, I have a second design that I am also very excited about! I was so thrilled that my Rivulet Cowl was on the cover, and then I saw that my Fizz Scarf was on the title page! Fall is always my favorite issue of any magazine. I think my love of fall comes from my love of the traditional fall weather, and to my childhood feelings of the excitement of the first day of school. September signifies new beginnings and optimism for me. I love that Interweave choose the name, "Fizz" for the scarf, since it sounds like a celebration, which this time of year is for me! 

This scarf is all about the stitch pattern for me. Most of the scarves I design, have a design element to the stitch pattern, but this stitch pattern is so wonderful that it calls out to be the star of the design. 

It is fun to work, and watch the pattern develop as you work. You really appreciate the beautiful stitch pattern after the scarf has been blocked to emphasize the bubble openings! Don't miss this important step and opportunity to see the magical transformation of the scarf!

I have a great love of tassels and I couldn't miss this opportunity to finish this scarf off with a few bold tassels and I added interest by making them in two different looks.

This would be a great scarf for the new Super Scarf trend. You can repeat the stitch pattern to make it even longer, wrap the tassels more times to create even bolder tassels. You could also use a chunkier yarn which would make the scarf wider and magnify the stitch pattern.

I would love to see your version of the Fizz Scarf! Don't forget to add your project photos to Ravelry if you decide to make one! 

A great tip for making your tassels look their best is to block them! Here is a tutorial that shows you how I like to finish off my tassels. 

Interweave Crochet/ Harper Point Photography
Interweave Crochet/ Harper Point Photography

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My Rivulet Cowl on the Cover of Interweave Crochet!

Interweave Crochet/ Harper Point Photography
I am always excited to talk about my new designs, but this time I am super excited because my design appears on the cover of the Fall 2106 issue of Interweave Crochet! As a designer this is something you wish for every time you are published in a magazine. This is the 17th Interweave/ F+W Publishing magazine that my designs have appeared in. I guess the 17th time is a charm, made extra special because this is the last issue with the wonderful Marcy Smith at the helm as editor. She was so wonderful to work with and has consistently put together stunning magazines issue after issue! She is moving on to new adventures and I wish her all the best. 

For this issue, I was inspired by their call for cable designs and I decided to make a seamless cowl. I didn't want a seam to spoil the flow of wonderful cables! It is more of a challenge to design something seamless, but there is something so amazing about crocheting something in the round that appears to have no real beginning or end!

Cables are very interesting to make in crochet, and if you haven't tried the technique, don't wait any longer! This issue has several beautiful cable designs, catering to a variety of skill levels.

This cowl is versatile and can be worn as a headband as well! A great thing to take when traveling to somewhere cold! 

I absolutely love this lavender shade of The Fibre Company's Road to China Light- a gorgeous blend of baby alpaca, cashmere, camel, and silk! What shade would you choose?

Interweave Crochet/ Harper Point Photography
Have a look at all the lovely patterns in this issue on Ravelry and favorite the designs you love best!
Interweave Crochet/ Harper Point Photography
Interweave Crochet/ Harper Point Photography