Creative Constraints – The Linen Scarf
We have a soft spot for our old girls – our Lancashire, Hattersley and Ruti looms.
For some of them, at over 100 years old, they’ve been around longer than us.
They run slower. They require a bit more tinkering, and a bit more care. They produce lofty textiles.
The characteristic feature of our antique looms is their shuttles, which transport the weft threads across the width of the fabric. Inside the shuttle is encased the pirn, a bobbin around which the weft yarn is wound. We use a pirn-winding machine in order to transfer the yarn from a cone onto the pirn.
Depending on the machine, the pirn is changed in different ways.
In the case of our Lancashire looms, they require a careful eye from the weaver, whose job it is to manually reload the pirns. This manual process means that the weaver must stand at the loom at all times, monitoring when the weft is running low.
Our Ruti looms are pirn-change looms. The pirns are fed onto the loom by means of a magazine, which can hold 23 pirns at a given time. Their principal advantage is that they are semi-automatic – when a warp thread breaks the weaver is notified. And when yarn in the pirn runs low, it is automatically ejected. These unique features mean that one weaver can man multiple looms at a time.
But with these looms come constraints. Built for speed instead of flexibility, the Rutis aren’t able to produce intricate designs – created without the pattern card feature which so cleverly commutes a pattern onto our Lancashire and Hattersley looms.
Without the option to vary the design in the weft, we look for ways to play with colour; finding creativity within the constraints.
This is where we found our play with the Linen Scarf…
For the Linen Scarf, the pirns are set at random, varying the colours in the weft.
The result is that each Linen Scarf bears the mark of the weaver.
Each Linen Scarf is truly one of a kind.