Finally getting a chance to write about the entry for the Great Competition of Weavers spring handwoven wrap competition sponsored by the Loom to Wrap facebook group that is the absolute heart and soul of the handwoven wrap community.
The competition operates on a theme basis – the community of weavers brainstorms to pick some finalist possibilities, those are put out to the wrappers in Loom to Wrap, and voting takes place. The theme this time was “Under the Microscope.” Being botanically obsessed I knew where to start in my search for the right inspiration picture!
This gorgeous National Geographic microscopic image of a pollen grain from the Albizia tree grabbed my attention! I loved how it practically glowed and could see how that would transform to woven material.
My plan was to hand dye and make a gradient (as opposed to hand dyed chains, which are arguably more popular right now). But I wanted it to scream microscopic detail in every aspect of it, so rather than the standard 8/2 cotton warp, I went with 16/2 – at half the thickness and double the typical sett. I figured this would be nightmarish to warp and thread but would make an usual, dense, thin wrap with very mouldable wrap qualities.
For the structure, I wanted something textured but simple and classic, so I went with a Franz Donat draft and turned it.
The actual weaving, of 4m of cloth in a weft of 16/2 Egyptian cotton into a dense warp was challenging, I won’t lie! Everything I knew about laying weft was wrong. The cotton was so sticky and it was a matter of constant vigilance to make sure the weft wasn’t sticking and leaving loops. It went faster than I’d expected 16/2 would go, and still incredibly slow, every time I had to fix a mistreadle or a skip.
I ran out of time and got right to the end. I finished and hemmed the wrap the night before photo collages were due, and did the photoshoot with my beautiful model the day of submissions…naturally, in the pouring rain. Because London, right? If I’d had just one more day I could have made it to the holy grail of sixe 6 / 4.6m finished but alas it was not to be.
The competition went in a knockout round manner and I think I did pretty well. I made it through the first 3 days – not bad for my first competition! It’s hard to measure exactly where we place but in the end I think I came at about 25th percent in the best in show knockout, and about the same for the voting categories (8-15 shaft as well as tabula rasa for entirely hand dyed wraps).
I loved the photoshoot – it was the first time my model had ever used a woven wrap, and now she’s a regular wrapper!
After the competition, I decided not to sell the wrap and instead send it around the world through the community as a travelling wrap. It’s now left the UK and is about to leave Ireland to head to Belgium. The knowledge that cloth that I made out of string is wrapping up babies around the world is a source of endless joy and pride.