Weaving my Heart Out

21 January 2014

Neil Gaiman said, “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art, write, draw, build or sing or LIVE only as you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

I created Ocean Violet as a place to explore some of the pent up creativity that was being drowned in  my everyday work. Yet I continued to find myself spending an exorbitant amount of time  behind the computer or glued to my cell phone’s screen in a digital haze.  When I read that quote, I took that mantra to heart for my upcoming year and beyond. The phrase “making some art” stuck with me most as  I yearned to make more and create more; whether it was a delicious meal, a stunning photograph or in this instance, an incredible Saori weaving.

During the Delavan Center’s Open Studio event this past November, I noticed a beautiful textile wall hanging in Jan Navale’s artist studio. I marveled at its bold colors, bevy of textures and ornateness.  For weeks, I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I finally asked Jan how I might learn her craft.  I found out it was a specific type of weaving: the Japanese Art of Saori.  Jan created her wall hanging under the guidance of local Saori instructor, Karen Pardee, from Serendipity SAORI Studio. After doing a little research there are only a handful of registered Saori studios in the United States with only two in New York: one in New York City and one just fifteen minutes away from Syracuse, in Skaneateles.  Lucky, lucky me.  I reached out to Karen and after exchanging a few emails and I signed up for one of her introductory classes and was well on my way to making.

What I was initially attracted to in Jan’s weaving, I’d later find out is the driving principle in Saori Weaving: “Consider the differences between a machine and a human being.” Saori embraces flaws, skips in the threads and irregularities.  As my new teacher, Karen, would say, “skipped warp threads,  playing with color and texture, all add interest to the overall piece.”  Each hand-woven piece is unique, flowing from the heart.  Traditional weavers  value regularity and structure in the woven cloth.  Phoebe Philo could never embrace Saori, her minimalistic, rigid clean lined head would spin!  There is an utmost importance on free expression. I am not a robot!

I embraced this immediately, channeling my inner Ptolemy Mann, and choosing threads of all colors and variations.  It was one of the coldest days yet this winter so choosing bright turquoise, rose and burnt orange thread warmed me up right away. Karen and I sat at one of her many looms on beautiful Tuesday morning going well over my two-hour session. The time just spun by and in the end, I truly did create something that surprised me.

Here are a few pictures from my day at Serendipity Saori Studio. Check to see if there’s a studio near you here. 

color for days

color for days

the lone Saori loom before I got my hands all over her.

the lone Saori loom before I got my hands all over her.

almost finished

my final piece

If you can’t find a Saori Studio near you or you’re just interested in buying a weaving for yourself, check out some of these incredible pieces from Brook & Lyn and All Roads Textiles which will serve as inspiration for my next creation.  And if  all else fails, make your own loom to weave out of cardboard + tape, courtesy of the DIY Machine,  Etsy: “Learn How to Weave.”

brook and lyn weaving

also available on Etsy.

also available on Etsy.


I encourage you too to create, make and do. Use your hands, the finished product even with its flaws and mistakes is still beautiful.  My finished piece is proudly hanging on the wall in our dining room.  Thank you Karen for everything, including your patience!

Categories: Art, classes

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