I'm thrilled to introduce our new throw blankets. I've wanted to expand our product assortment to this category for a long time but it took time to find the right sourcing partner. When an old friend of mine from RISD, Matti Sloman, told me she was starting a small, creative weaving mill I knew immediately that I wanted to work together.
The Weaving Mill is a small-scale industrial weaving studio in Chicago. They design and create fabric in collaboration with artists and designers (like me), and also have their own projects. They also have a partnership with Envision Unlimited where they provide textile education workshops for adults with developmental disabilities. They’re good people doing good things and I’ve really enjoyed working with them.
Weaving is a new endeavor for me. I studied painting in college and apart from a course on machine knitting and digital printing, everything else I have learned on the job. I've always been fascinated by weaving because it's not my area of expertise. It's much more technical and structured than creating a print. Print design is so closely tied with my painting roots and about creating a repeat that flows. Working with a friend was the perfect introduction to weaving as I was able to learn a lot through our conversations and ask all the questions that came to mind. They had the technical know-how to help me understand what was achievable--and what wasn't.
For those of you who don’t know anything about weaving there are two basic terms essential to weaving: warp and weft which refer to the threads that make up the cloth. Warp is strung vertically on the loom and it is in many ways the framework for the fabric. The weft then goes horizontally back and forth between the warp.
My process began with a series of cut paper collages exploring an off-set stripe concept. I knew the design would be translated on a dobby loom and that my repeat would be limited to 3/4" to 1" wide maximum. That's very different than with print where there is so much flexibility! My floral collage print, for example, has a very large repeat of 54” and 36”.
After creating collages that I loved, I sent the originals to The Weaving Mill and we discussed possibilities. Matti and Emily worked up a whole group of samples based off of the concept, with existing yarns, and we went from there. The first samples were woven by hand. I picked my favorite samples (which were, of course, the most expensive!) and then we re-worked the ideas in the next round to refine the design and make them more production friendly from a cost point of view.
Keeping the warp fairly neutral with ivory, blue, and gray was important so that I could have more than one color on the same production run. We used a cotton warp for strength and the weft is merino wool for its cozy texture. Through two additional rounds of sampling we hit on the final design and went into production.
The fabric arrived in big bolts, which were then cut and sewn right here in IC into throws and pillows. These cozy throws are textural, unique, and versatile décor for your home. I hope you'll enjoy them just as much as I've enjoyed making them. This is just the beginning when it comes to wovens and I can't wait to share more with you soon. Also stay tuned for my top 10 tips for styling a throw, which will be on The Fold soon.
P.S. If you want to get hands on and try your hand at weaving, we have a great introductory project in my book Living with Pattern.