Dawn is new to the faculty this year and having perused her fiber experiments and her website, I’m looking forward to meeting this talented lady in person. Curious about the name of her website Sley the Dent, I found out that in absolute terms, the phrase refers to the act of putting warp yarns into the reeds. In Dawn’s mind it conjures images of an ancient goddess of weaving and warfare brandishing her sley hook in one hand and her shuttle in the other, doing battle with the goblins that are trying to tangle the warp threads. My guess is that her classes will be filled with passion and inspiration.
The Fiber College planning committee has its collective ear to the ground, always listening for emerging and growing fiber trends. The interest in weaving has been re-surging hand in hand with the increasing number of hand spinners both on wheels and on spindles; when Dawn offered to teach Inkle Weaving we leapt at the chance to share this ancient art with students. In short spells of time you can create complex braids for unique embellishments, strapping and if you’re ambitions, the strips can be sewn together for lengths of cloth. Spin Off magazine recently published a lengthy article on Inkle Weaving…proof that we’re on the right track. Dawn will be teaching two Inkle weaving classes a beginner class, an intermediate class and a plaited basketry class.
The other day her responses to our interview questions came through the e-mail and this is what she said:
1) Fill in the blanks for the following statement: Inspiration for my work comes from ____ and from _____. _________ is a very important aspect of my work and something to which I find I am very sensitive. Whenever I create a piece, I am most pleased when someone understands the ____ behind my work.
What an interesting question! My inspiration comes from life,
nature, history, mythology, the world around me. I am most pleased
when someone understands the joy, the jokes, and the nuances behind my
2) Describe the perfect class that you’d like to take. I have become enamored with Japanese Shibori and indigo dyeing. I would love to be able to spend a week learning to make a proper indigo vat, learning more of the different shibori techniques that use sewing, tying, binding, and clamping. Of course I would want this class to be in a beautiful outdoor setting, a mountain retreat perhaps, with good food, and with other engaged students.
3) We’d like a sense of your expertise and ability to teach the class you’re offering…so tell us how you came to feel confident about leading a group through your particular class. How long have you been practicing?
I have been inkle weaving for at least ten years, I’ve been
teaching inkle weaving for eight years. I was smitten right from the
beginning; inkles (narrow woven bands) can be very simple and can also
be very complex. There is a great legacy of inkle weaving from all
over the world, different cultures developed different ways to weave
decorative narrow ribbons; to embellish their clothing, their homes,
or their horses. I am still learning, myself, about these intricate
beautiful small textiles.
An inkle loom is not as intimidating as a floor loom, and students
can be weaving successfully in a short amount of time. Learning to
weaving on an inkle loom, can be accomplished in a single workshop.
Inkle looms are small, portable, and more affordable; unlike
traditional floor looms.
4) If you make a weaving error do you jump right in and rip it out or do you call it a design feature and keep right on going?
I’m a ripper for sure. Usually it’s impossible to weave on the
loom when you make threading errors, so you have to rip out. It can be
very exasperating when you have to re-thread 900 ends, and a whole
morning’s work is gone. I’ve become very mindful of counting, and
recounting; checking and rechecking my threading while I warp my loom.
5) What techniques are in your bag of tricks for motivating a student to struggle through a difficult step…maybe something that’s just a bit out of his/her range…and come out the other side feeling successful?
I would let a student know that I have probably made each one of these
weaving errors myself, and there are many ways to fix a problem. I
also want students to understand that there are also many ways to
approach each step in weaving. There is not just one way to thread a
loom; there is not just one way to think about color, design, fiber,
texture, or pattern. But, students also have to learn “the rules”
before they can “break the rules”. Learning to weave is not only
about the combination of colors, textures, and fibers; it’s about
learning to use this intriguing tool called a loom.
6) I am an avid collector of… Oh lots of things: yarn (of course!), shuttles, inkle looms, jeans for weaving into rag rugs, and #2 plastic shopping bags for the weft of my Bag of Bags.
7) The best advice I have ever been given… was from my first weaving teacher, Lloyd Young, he had the best thought on color theory, simple yet true. Do you like this color? Then it is the right color.
8) What is your favorite color?
I’m not sure that I have a favorite color, the more colors I see, the
more I love. I find it interesting that on one hand, you can think of
there being only six colors, ROYGBV, and what you make has to be
ultimately described by some of those words (It is a blue and purple
scarf). But, when we go to a yarn store, see a paint chip display, or
play with Pantone colors, then we can think about the infinite number
of colors and it is so exciting.
9) What’s your favorite tool? Why? My favorite tool is a tiny maple wood shuttle. It feels great in my hands, it is just the right size for inkle weaving, and it reminds me of a great weaving conference that I attended.
10) What do you like best about what you do? That everything I make is a new handwoven creation. Something that has not been made by anyone else. I am responsible from beginning to end. The possibilities are sometimes overwhelming.