Sarah Warren: Seasons Pathway II
In the summer of 2013, I attended a “Navajo Weaving Bootcamp” session taught by Mary Walker and Jennie Slick of Weaving in Beauty. They introduced me to many Navajo weaving techniques, including Raised Outline. I came home and began to experiment with Raised Outline, finding ways to incorporate it into my tapestry designs.
Living in the mountains of northern New Hampshire, a common theme in my tapestries is the seasonal changes in the landscape that surrounds me. In Seasons Pathway, I have used four large “clouds” to represent each of the four seasons. The six smaller clouds represent the morphing of one season into the next. The outer border’s meander pattern represents the inexorable progression of the seasons.
Navajo design elements that I used in Seasons Pathway II are the meander pattern and the cloud (also referred to as squash blossom) pattern. Weaving techniques that I used are the interlock join (throughout), outline (the brown line separating the lighter inner blues and the darker outer blue), and raised outline (cloud patterns). Instead of using traditional Navajo colors, I used my own hand-dyed wool.
People often ask how long it takes to weave a tapestry. The answer is difficult because the actual weaving time varies depending on the complexity of design and techniques. I decided to use a timer to keep track of how long it took me to weave Seasons Pathway. I averaged 3.5 hours per inch in length — a total of one hundred and thirty-six hours at the loom! This is about twice the time it takes to weave a landscape design. Extra time was needed to make each interlock join precise, so as to maintain horizontal lines. In a single row, I worked with as many as 33 separate bundles of wool, making 32 joins!
Given the Navajo’s reverence for the natural world, it seems befitting to use their symbols and techniques to weave the changing seasons.