Fingerweaving & Sprang
Learn simple, ancient, low-tech methods to create cloth with Carol James
Instructor: Carol James
Dates offered 2020:
Nov 2–5 (canceled for covid-19)
Braided structures are among the oldest examples of human textile work. In this class you’ll receive an introduction to the basic techniques with emphasis on the basic stitch, learning how to use your fingers to create the desired structure. A wide variety of surface design patterns are possible. Instruction will cover pattern reading and writing as a means to understand structure and as a tool to play with designs.
We will explore a fingerweaving method that was known in pre-Columbian North America and results in bias-weave cloth. Those interested in the warp-faced fingerweaving designs popular in Québec are welcome to explore the building blocks behind more complicated patterns during the remainder of the session. The rest of the class will go on to explore sprang.
Sprang is a textile technique that dates at least to the Bronze Age and recurs again and again in human history. You will learn the basic stitch and then see how it can be adapted and shaped to create bags, bonnets, socks, mittens, scarves, leggings, and vests.
On the first morning we will focus on fingerweaving on a pre-made warp.
Create a sprang bag
Later we will move on to sprang, creating a bag using an interlinking stitch and finishing by sewing an invisible seam.
Embellish a multi-color warp
Students will also set up and “stitch” a two-color and a multi-color warp, featuring embellishments such as cable stitches, lace technique, and a twining stitch that wanders across the surface.
Design a project to take home
On the last day students will receive assistance in designing and setting up a project of their choice—such as a scarf or shawl, bag, mittens, or socks— and may purchase yarn for this take-home project at the end of the class.
Carol James has always been interested in playing with strings and is of the opinion that anywhere is a good place to weave. She was introduced to fingerweaving by a Québecois in 1981, and it was love at first sight. By the mid 1990s her passion for the technique had earned her the name “SashWeaver.” Seeing the name, military re-enactors asked her for reproduction sashes, sprang sashes, and she had to explore that technique as well. Carol quickly discovered that sprang can be used for much more than sashes, bags, and snoods.
Carol has taken the opportunity to visit collections across North American and Europe. To better understand these items, she maps out the patterns, and has made replicas of some of these items for clients including George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the German Archaeological Institute, the Norwegian Army Museum, and the Arizona State Museum. She has also made modern wearables have been accepted by the Handweavers Guild of America’s Convergence Fashion Show.
Happy to share her knowledge, and hoping to provide an easier learning curve for others, she has now taught across Canada, the US, New Zealand, and Europe. Her students find her to be both patient and enthusiastic. She is the author of three books—Fingerweaving Untangled, Sprang Unsprung, and Sprang Lace Patterns—as well as numerous articles and two DVDs.