A couple of weeks ago I spent a week learning how to weave a rug from Jason Collingwood. He lives and works in Nayland, Suffolk, out of a building that was once the village school. The workshop belonged to his father, the great Peter Collingwood – weaver, rug-maker, loom inventor, teacher, author, OBE decliner, renaissance man.
I felt it was important to learn how to weave a rug because
a) I want to understand and use the power of weave structure when designing a woven rug
b) I wanted to sensitise myself towards what makes a good woven rug.
The design was based on a simple grid that I tried to bring some interest to using proportion and colour. As a black and white design it looks like a chequerboard, but using colour I made some bits disappear, and brought a 'verticality' to the composition. The design was based on a quick sketch I made on the train up to his place and refined through the week. Every evening I would go back to my room and adjust the composition a little bit, show up in the morning and say, "erm, Jason, it's changed again!". Jason is a patient man.
It was a great five days, intense work - I was weaving for 8-12 hours a day to make sure I finished on time. Once I got into the flow it was great chatting with Jason. In the evenings I had BBC Radio 6 for company.
Before I left, I was touched when Jason gave me a book by his father, Peter's favourite out of everything he had written.
Weaving on a big rug loom is a bit like playing a musical instrument with all four limbs. Some videos coming soon.