While natural dyeing is an amazing and fun experience, it can often be a challenge to figure out the best way to highlight one’s naturally dyed fibers and yarns. Natural dyes have unique colors, tones, and work together in often unexpected ways. While chemical dyes, in comparison, are often challenging to make work together, and may even appear to be simpler colors when compared to the color achieved from natural dyes.
There are a few fun ways to highlight the beauty of your naturally dyed yarns, fibers, and fabrics. Wall hangings, and decorative pieces can be good ways to show how the colors can work together in harmony, even when said colors may not normally go “together” when done with chemical dyes. Alternatively, if you do not enjoy wall art, or prefer not to have “clutter” on your walls, Saori weaving may be an exceptional solution to highlight your natural dyes.
Saoria Weaving Background
Saori weaving is a fun, simple, and creative weaving technique developed in Japan. This technique focuses on the way colors, textures, and fibers work together in the weaving, instead of just how warp and weft combine.
Sometimes termed a method of free-form weaving, Saori weaving encourages your natural creativity when creating the fabric. Fabric woven with Saori techniques can also be sewn using a few simple techniques that highlight the fabric, and keep the cutting and shaping of the fabric to a pleasant minimum.
Due to its focus on colors, free-form weaving, and highlighting textures, Saori weaving is an excellent method to use with naturally dyed or handspun yarns.
Saori Weaving Techniques:
For saori weaving, the loom is set up in the simple plain-weave pattern. You do not need a harness loom for this, unless you are doing a large project with it, and a simple two or four harness table loom, or an even simpler rigid heddle loom, will work excellently.
If it is your first time working with the Saori techniques, try doing a simple garment that will not need sewing, like a scarf. However, I will freely admit that my first Saori project was a jacket, so feel free to disregard this advice. Just make sure it is a project you will finish, as few things are as discouraging to creative energy than starting a project and never finishing it.
Use plain yarn for your warp, no stripes, no variations, and no fancy yarns. A plainer yarn is best for warping when doing the Saori technique, the interest and patterning will come from your weft designs and techniques as you are weaving.
Once your loom is warped and ready, grab your naturally dyed yarns, handspun novelty yarns, and any same-fiber bits and pieces you have hanging around. If your warp is wool, try and work with only wools or protein fibers in your weft (due to the behaviour differential when yarns of different types are combined. Try to never combine a plant fiber with a protein fiber due to this shrinkage differential).
Saori is a free-weaving technique, so once you start weaving feel free to switch up colors, textures, and techniques as you go along.
A Few Things I’ve Done:
Woven Stripes are a fun and simple way to start your Saori variations. You can make them narrow, make them wide, or even do a two-color every pass alternating to form columns.
A loose tapestry weaving with interlocking weft can also be a fun technique to use in Saori weaving. Using this technique you can add circles, squares, and all kinds of fun shapes to your weaving. It also enables you to make different color patches in the middle of another color. So for example, you could do a line of yellow squares surrounding by dark indigo-blue background.
You can also add in weft threads with loose ends, so partially a tapestry technique and partially a texture technique. This worked exceptionally well to add a cute patch of texture on one of the shoulders on my jacket, sort-of like rank stripes.
Try to keep a like-weight of yarn as your weft throughout the project. This will insure a fabric that is sturdy enough for clothing, but still unique to you. Most Saori weaving books do not mention this, keeping a similar weight of yarn throughout your project will make your fabric have a uniform drape and sturdiness. While this does not matter if you are making wall art, it does matter if you are making wearable, huggable, art.
Saori weaving is a unique technique. Whatever you create using this technique will be unique to you. When weaving, unless you really want to, you do not have to make anything symmetrical or repeated. It is meant to be unusual, unique, and unrepeatable.
Back to You:
What do you think of Saori weaving? Have you ever tried this technique? If so, what would you suggest for someone just trying this technique for the first time?