Ania Grzeszek - Woven Journals

January 2017

January project of the month

When I first learnt how to weave I realised that it's a meditative process. The repetitive and slow movement offers balance and calms me down. Preparing the loom takes a few days. From dressing the loom to the last stroke of yarn, I do everything by hand. It's a very slow and personal craft. You can read more about how it all came to be here.
I almost never weave with a set plan. I don't make sketches or choose yarns beforehand. I decide what I do next as I go. I want my weavings to be my visual journals and to tell stories.

If you follow me on Instagram you might know that my goal for 2017 is to weave one woven journal each month. That means a new warp and a new technique each month too. January started humble and slow, and I think it's a good thing.
Every day for 2 weeks of January I was weaving a small section. Some days were brighter, some were pretty grim. Sometimes I was bursting with ideas and sometimes I needed to withdraw. Nothing was planned, it was a slow and organic process. But it's not about how this cloth turned out. It's about how it felt to weave it and what it made me realise. There are loads of thoughts coming to your mind when you touch beautiful fibres for hours, look at muted natural colours and meditate.

For this cloth, I used natural shiny flax warp (vertical threads). The same yarn pops in the weft (horizontal threads). I also used some raw unspun flax fibres and natural cotton yarn. You can also spot some beautiful and elusive white mohair I bought in France and my own botanically dyed wool. I only use natural fibres, as I try to use natural materials in my life in general. I don't buy much, I'm not a gatherer and I'm happily noticing that I'm becoming more mindful of our environment and mama earth.
None of the colours in this weaving is synthetic either, most of them are naturally grey or white. The only dyed yarn is blue wool, beautiful shade I achieved with some local privet berries. Dyeing is a slow and often unpredictable process, which makes it so exciting. This time I was so happy to wake up to blue yarn without having to buy indigo. It was the best surprise! I expected nothing more than pale purple, I didn't see it turning blue at all!

I never buy or import dyes. Why? Because I want to use the resources I find around my home. They are often not even perceived or noticed by a casual passerby. But I see them, they intrigue me and make me want to try them out. I am getting to know this ancient craft the way my ancestors did. I want to experiment, play and learn. I want to pay a tribute to beautiful nature and plants I come across every day. And you would be surprised how many plants you can find in the middle of a four million city. I collect plants in my local park, extract the pigment in my kitchen and dye all my yarns myself. I'm lucky to have a dog to go out with daily, and after 1,5 year of following the same route every single day, I still find new plants. Each season brings new discoveries and that's the wonderful thing about nature.

But it wasn't until I finished this weaving and hung it on a wall that I realised what was going on in my head. This weaving reflects my recent thoughts, even though I didn't plan it to. Unconciously I wove a statement for what I want this year to be.
And so this weaving tells a story of a year to focus on learning, refining my skills, being mindful, resourceful and connecting with nature. I'm glad this cloth says it all. And now I'm even more curious to see how I feel in February and how my next journal reflects it.