Introducting Shawlene, Handmade, Wearable Art
Handwoven shawl by Jan Priddy
from attached label
#3 “Carnival” Warp
23″x72″ + fringes
Handspun and handpainted merino
For more information, Imperfect Patience, or contact, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan Priddy was born in Corvallis, Oregon and has lived in her Pacific coast family home since 1979. She walks the shore every day before heading indoors to her loom.
After exhibiting ceramics and metalsmithing in galleries such as Henry Gallery in Seattle and the Tacoma and Bellevue Art Museums, Jan Priddy shifted direction to focus on weaving and quilting after her sons were born. In addition to teaching in private and public schools and college for forty years, she has earned studio degrees in the visual arts and a Masters of Fine Arts in fiction. As a widely published writer, perhaps it is not surprising that her textiles are in the collections of many authors such as memoirist Temple Grandin, novelist Molly Gloss, and poet Judith Barrington.
Her work celebrates color and the skills that have served human beings throughout our time on earth. This covid year when we are all so held apart, fabric’s tactile appeal comforts her as an artist and as a human starved for contact. Each unique weaving incorporates the work of women dyers and spinners before reaching her studio. They are intended to be touched and used daily as handwork in a time of mass-production, communal in a culture overly focused on the individual, and women’s work in an atmosphere that marginalizes women’s cultural contributions.
All non-bordered photos courtesy of the artist.
Interview aka Flood of Questions
I knew I wanted to do a post on Shawlene. So I asked for more info. Below are Priddy’s responses with minor interjections from me. I heart an easy interview.
“Generally, I design my shawls to vary from side to side and from one end to the other.”
The materials have a story of their own. “Half of the warp is handspun from a specific spinner. Weft is hand painted pure merino from Canada.
“The rest of the warp is from Koigu, a three-generation woman-owned company in Canada. I love these people and always use their yarn in my shawls/scarves and blankets & afghans. The watercolorist grandmother agreed to move to the country when her banker-husband retired on condition she could have sheep. Sheep gave her wool. The local sheerer clipped her small flock which gave her an astonishing (to her) amount of lovely merino wool. She sent it to the local spinning mill and they sent back an almost terrifying amount of 2-ply fine wool. She was a watercolorist and decided to try hand dying the yarn by painting on colors. Her daughter came home on vacation from business school and said: I can sell this. Six months later Koigu was in Vogue. The granddaughter models what they make from their yarn. Koigu
“All the handspun in your shawl came from one spinner who no longer sells yarn. This happens a lot with people who make fiber arts—eventually they pencil out what we are getting paid per hour and move on.
“I generally use only one spinner in a shawl to avoid issues in warping, weaving, and blocking. But, I buy from many hand spinners.
“I weave the first length according to the sense I have when designing the warp. The second usually tilts in another direction or reverses the dominant color with the other (e.g. red for pink and pale green for forest). The third is the wild card where I try something unexpected and is often my favorite because I took a risk. You will also note that, usually, the first and third have little braided tails on one corner.
(Shawlene was third on the warp.)
” ‘Carnival’ because that warp was such a wild range of colors. I don’t know anyone else who names their warps, but I always do.
“All the yarn I use, whether handspun or millspun, is colored by hand, and while a person knitting a sweater might absolutely require even, consistent color in the yarn they use, I deliberately seek out variety. I value evidence of another’s hand at work.
“Some of the handspun I use has silk or alpaca mixed in with the wool, but generally no more than 10% other fibers. Most are 100% wool. I never use synthetic fiber. I love the way the Koigu hand-painted yarn plays against long color changes in handspun, but using any handspun adds 25-40% to the cost of putting on a warp, and then there’s weft.
“It is on the far right below. All of these shawls have handspun in the weft.”
My shawl was the youngest of three.
“Here are the siblings in this morning’s chilly sunshine. So one went purple, one green, and then yours. The only way to be certain they are from the same warp is to look at the fringes. This photo below was taken indoors because it was too cold to stay out!
“By way of contrast, here are three shawls from the Celedon warp. They are relatively close in color. You can probably see that one is spring-leafy, one with a bit of purple, and the third summer-green. The warp is the same.
In closing, “I weave for my own satisfaction, and I have made no effort to sell my work until this last year. I have donated pieces and people who have seen the work have bought it, but I had never advertised or exhibited my textiles, only silver-smithing, enameling, and ceramic sculpture back in the day.
What I have to say about it
I’m always cold, so I always have a warm shawl to hand. Even when I travel – remember that? – I bring a shawl to wrap up in at night. Buying another one wasn’t too much of a stretch. Support an artist. A metaphorical cup of coffee for a blog I enjoy reading. I confess there was an element of daily good deed in the purchase. I figured I’d find something to do with whatever showed up.
I love it.
I am wearing it as we speak. Well, I’m wearing it as I type and will probably be wearing it again as you read.
I want to walk up to people and say, “Look. Feel this. You need to buy one of these.”
Why is it easier to say dramatic, snarky things, but hard to say nice things in a convincing fashion?
I guess if it were easy, we wouldn’t need marketing departments.
When I saw the size at the unboxing, I was a bit concerned. One thinks of shawls as voluminous, something to be wrapped in. Turns out 23″x72″ is exactly the right size to hang off my shoulders and stay out of the way. It is now my daily driver.
Light enough to feel comfortable and heavy enough to hang correctly. Wool really is an amazing fiber.
I asked for one that varied in color. Check.
The feel is wonderful. Is it weird to pet a shawl?
I’ve done a bit of weaving. I do best when the technique emphasizes one set of threads over the other. Twining is weft-facing. Inkle and tablet weaving are warp facing. In other words, you only see that set of threads. In other words, tightness is a virtue. [Numbers and Weaving]
I don’t do so well when balance is called for. I took an evening class using a small, rigid heddle loom at the Yarn Boutique in Decatur. The instructor told me not to push so hard. Leave room for the fibers. Really? You don’t smoosh the beater as hard as you can?
My point is that I have a faint idea how hard it is to attain a smooth, balanced weave. When I examine Shawlene I can’t automatically tell which is warp and which is weft. That’s how balanced it is.
Yes, I named the shawl. That’s how much I like it. I can’t name an animal to save my life, but a lump if wool? Sure. [Help Me Name My Horse 2012, still don’t have a good show name.]
Yes, I’m gushing. I’m impressed. And warm. How impressed? I’m considering a second one. Perhaps in yellow tones for Spring wear. I may already have a name picked out …
Weaving specific posts from Imperfect Patience.
“Here’s one on how I got started: IP: WEAVING STORY.”
“When I won the Koigu contest for a blanket I wove in four strips: IP: WEAVING.”
“My work celebrates color, comfort, and the skills that have served human beings throughout our time on earth.” IP: THE COVID WEAVING: Comfort in color. (This is the one that caught my eye.)
“It is on the far left, folded at the front of the header photo of the post IP: MORE, PLEASE.”
Stay safe. Stay sane.