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  • Sara Nordling

Designing Weavers

Close up of deflected double weave scarf.

I am beginning a new series, related to last year’s elements and principles of design series. This one will focus on designing weavers. I will interview various weavers and include their thoughts here for your inspiration. My hope is that these interviews will inspire you in your own work. I will begin with myself, giving you a bit of background and some information you may not have known previously about how I create.


Who are you?

Sara Nordling, blog owner, weaver, MFA in studio art, teacher of art at the university level and to the weaving community.

How long have you been weaving?

Since 1992

What looms do you own?

16 shaft AVL compu-dobby, 8 Gilmore floor loom, 8 shaft Louet table loom, 4 shaft Leclerc floor loom, 4 shaft Leclerc table loom, 2 shaft floor tapestry loom, and lap-top tapestry loom.

Do you use weaving software, and if so, which one(s)?

For years I used WeaveMaker on a Mac. Recently I began using Fiberworks Silver for a Mac. Both programs have plusses. I like that WeaveMaker shows a mini-version of the whole weave (or most of the weave depending on the size) in a little window. But I also like that Fiberworks makes it much easier to do things like block substitutions and parallel weaves.

Close up of 4 color network double weave scarf.

Approach to Design:

Where do you look for design inspiration?

Everywhere! I keep a book of magazine photos of images of interest. I copy patterns and colors from nature. I look at historic textiles, works of art, and my own past projects.

How do you approach designing?

Sketches, mostly. I doodle ideas on paper, although sometimes I use Illustrator on my computer. This is my starting point. I will use colored pencils if necessary, and make several versions of what I am thinking of doing. After this point I will move to my weaving computer program and do several variations there as well. Usually I let a design sit for a day or so and return to it before I really call if finished. If I am still satisfied that no more revisions are needed, I will then move on to preparing the threads for weaving. Some of my designs are completely planned before weaving and others happen more organically on the loom during the weaving or threading process.

What is important to you in your designing?

Most important to me in designing that the final product fit well the purpose for which it was intended. After that, I want to keep the tactile nature of the cloth and weaving, the temptation to touch is important even in my wall pieces. I also want to keep a touch of elegance to my designs as well. Most times I feel I’m successful. The more I weave the closer I get to achieving my goals for the project.

Do you work in series?

I never used to. However, in graduate school I began working in series and found it to be quite rewarding. All the prior projects inform the next one and serve to move my ideas and designs forward. I found the energy builds and propels me forward to new designs and more ideas, rather than being bored. Of course after making many things in one series I see where I need a break, at least from the series. After that I may come back and revisit it or move on to a new series.

Do you have favorite weave structures?

Right now I am doing a lot of double weave in may forms from pleats, to blocks, to networked weaves. I love the versatility and range of results double weave can give.

Do you have favorite things to weave?

Whatever I am doing next.

I hope you enjoyed this first “interview.” I plan on more to follow. I am asking other weavers I know, whose work I admire, about how they create. Combine this with the previous posts on design and imagine the possibilities!

double weave on the loom.

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