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!