The warp and the woof


This is an illustration from "The Project Gutenberg EBook of a Study of the Textile Art in It's Relation to the Development of Form and Ornament", by William H. Holmes.  This page has examples of the warp and woof in mending and darning and they are quite beautiful in their simplicity.  The one shown here is of linen darning, "drawing in the woof threads".

I love the metaphorical images that spring to mind from the phrase "the warp and the woof" (or weft, as it's also called).  For me, these are the images of interrelatedness, the interlacing of directional opposites, collaboration, compositional texture, the strength of many to support and sustain the structure when one thread is removed...

I am not a weaver, nor do I know much about stitching or even sewing for that matter.  My grandmother taught me to darn socks (long forgotten) and I do have a rather rustic knowledge of how to mend.  During the 70's, I machine sewed several pairs of those simple, wide-legged hippie pants, the style with the drawstring closure around the waist (remember those? yikes!) because sewing a zipper would have been akin to building a space rocket.  Or almost.  It's been enough to get by and these days, well, I mainly return wayward buttons to their rightful spots or steady a falling hem.

That is, until that fateful day I jumped off the deep end into visual journaling with beads on fabric.  Suddenly my learning curve went intensely vertical.  The need to learn the language of fabrics and the techniques of stitching all those tiny beads onto a surface catapulted me elsewhere - elsewhere, away from the comfort of a simple running stitch and cotton muslin for my hippie pants. 

Back to my metaphor.  These days I feel like I am truly pulling together the warp and the woof of my work with beads and textiles.  As the upcoming Bead Journal Project approaches, I find that I am contemplating fabric use almost more than any other part of the project.  The beads - they almost always speak for themselves and direct themselves, they do not worry me.  The surface I will sew on is another matter altogether. 

Which makes me ponder on this blustery afternoon, what sort of weaver will I be?

I welcome your thoughts on this subject.  In my next post, I'll show you some textiles I've fallen for.


  1. hi christi...I did a lot more with fabric the second year of the bjp...this year I'm thinking of going back to more intense beading on a smaller base. I loved exploring fabric manipulation, but at heart, beads are my central focus.

  2. hey there, thanks for your visit
    best wishes

  3. So, dear friend, please ignore the ignoramous email I sent to you last night... I have found your blog again!!!!

    This is a fabulous post... you, in every way, and thoughts about inter-connectedness, about many supporting few and about what sort of underpinnings we might choose for our beadwork. I'm pondering that too... and am leaning towards felt this time. There we have fibers intermingled to make fabric... more chaotic than weaving, yet stronger. Go figure.

    As to what sort of weaver you will be? Well, in my opinion you are an extrordinary weaver... a weaver of tales, a weaver of friendships, and a weaver of spirituality.

    Hugs, R