We had the chance to meet the author of Tapestry Weaving for Beginners and Beyond, Kristin Carter and we talked all about her passion for weaving, how she started and of course what was her inspiration behind the book.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a self-taught weaver from Australia who has been selling my weavings on Etsy for over five years, experimenting with lots of different styles, themes, subjects and techniques. I am also a wife, a mum to two, a daughter, a sister, an aunty, the list continues. I am a serial crafter, having spent my fair share of time painting, knitting, crocheting, sewing softies, making pom poms, making garlands. Weaving seems to be the one that I’ve stuck with the longest (6 years now!) and no one is more surprised than me. For the least patient person on earth to find respite in a slow, detailed, repetitive artform is highly unexpected.
Tell us a bit about your new Tapestry Weaving for Beginners and Beyond?
Tapestry Weaving for beginners and beyond came as a surprise. I definitely didn’t even have it on my craft-life bucket list, but when Sarah from David and Charles found me on Instagram and asked if I’d be interested in sharing what I did with the craft world, it was an opportunity too interesting to turn down. I wanted to make a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously and can service crafty types that have never tried weaving before, and also add some new skills and techniques to weavers that are looking for something a little different. The history of Tapestry is ancient, steeped in tradition and ritual, but like so many things, modern life has made it so accessible. I wanted a book that strips back parts of the artform that make it intimidating and hard to get in to. I spent my first year weaving using a plastic needle, a fork as a beater and a ruler as a shed stick. Weaving doesn’t need to be expensive, technical and bound by traditions. It can be fun, experimental and cheap as the kitchen drawer lets you be.
What is your favourite project/technique featured?
I think my favourites would either be Carter the dog portrait on the cover or Milkshake, the portrait of my daughter. I get asked so often how I create my portraits, so I really wanted to include some projects that show how to take a photo and turn it into a piece of woven art, whether it is with crazy textural eyebrows or just simple personalised details. I just hope people can take what I wrote and use it to make some really fun pieces. And I hope I get tagged in every single one of them so I can enjoy them forever.
How do you think you reached this point in your craft?
Practice! And an indecisive mind. I am drawn to such a wide range of styles and colours and techniques that at this point, I’ve had a go at translating a lot into woven form. I wanted to capture that in the book, too. You can jump from rainbow typography pieces to muted curvy shapes to textural abstract pieces so easily in this medium. It truly is trial and error, and keeping a really big notebook with all your evolving sketches and ideas to refer back to when you’re stuck for ideas.
Where do you look for inspiration: travel, other designers, Pinterest?
I have so many Pinterest boards for weaving inspiration, and very few of them feature actual weavings. Sometimes it is a visual element that I think might really work as a typography piece. The interconnecting bars within this piece by Sigrid Calon inspired a typography piece. [. Sometimes it is an element of a piece of graphic design. The detail within the globe of this Dawn Aquarius piece came through into a three piece collection of movement and colour variations of hand-dyed yarn in these pieces.
I also love to find inspiration in every day items. The colours my son picked out of the crayon box just worked so great together and became a palette. The colours of an awning of a local swimwear shop. Whole collections based on birds, or moths or beetles. There is so much to use when you look around you.
What is the most challenging thing about being a designer/artist?
For me, the most challenging thing is finding enough time. Between being a mum of two, keeping a marriage healthy, making sure the bills are paid, keeping the house clean and everyone fed, watered, nurtured and heard, holding down a part time job to ensure that a steady income makes some of the above happen, being able to find that time for the ‘you’ stuff can be both really hard and feel a little selfish. I rarely feel like my weaving is ‘work’, so the choice to not have movie night with the husband because you’ve got a commission to get out can be tough. Luckily, he’s happy to watch Netflix alone, so he can enjoy his boring boy movies in peace.
With respect to writing a book, being self-taught and having weaving feel like an outlet more than a business, it was challenging to get over the imposter syndrome that said ‘What the hell do you know about writing a book?’ It took a good bit of coaxing from my nearest and dearest to convince me that I should jump in with both feet and share my techniques and style with the world, but here it is!
What makes up for the challenges?
Getting to see the way my work impacts the families that take them in. The portraits of loved ones lost that give a family a tactile reminder of their person. The idea that most pieces will quietly exist among the lives of their owners and become a slice of the family story. And the ability to have something that I enjoy doing, that is something for me outside the life of a mum, that both calms and challenges me, and I get paid for that!? It’s a dream!
What do you think the “Next Big Thing” in your craft will be?
Honestly, I have no idea. I tend not to watch what others are doing too much, so I’m not a great litmus test of new and evolving. I do see a ton of weavers making waves their own unique style on a daily basis though. The amazing overshot pieces made by D.D. of @ollyed37 are such a beautiful mix of traditional techniques and modern styles. The gorgeous passementerie work that Michelle is making over at @wovenglow are always surprising, fun and colourful. Alison’s amazing textured circles over at @loominarium_fiberart are so intricate and the colours are always perfection. There are so many weavers out there doing amazing things.
How big a part, if any, does sustainability play in your work?
I think if sustainability isn’t part of your every day, what world are you living in? I definitely put a lot of effort into making smarter choices around packaging and marketing materials, purchasing local as much as I can, recycling what I don’t use. I keep all my yarn scraps and send them to some incredible women who sort, re-card and re-spin them into new yarn for me to use in future pieces.
Who (dead or alive) would you invite to the perfect Crafting retreat?
I’m going to go semi-realistic and say I want to have a crafting retreat with Terri from @tieoneoncreative. We became insta-mates years ago, only connecting via messages once she was on the other side of the world, and quickly realised she’d just been living a few suburbs away from me for ages. We’ve shared a love of all things weird, rude and random via insta for years, we supported each other on the book writing journey, going through it all at the same time, and I’d love to meet her in the flesh, muck around with some crafty stuff and base this friendship in the actual real world.
What advice would you give to your beginner self?
Keep your shoulders back. Your back will be killing you very soon if you don’t sit properly.
In one word, how would you describe Tapestry Weaving for Beginners and Beyond?
Which project would you recommend from your book for a beginner to try?
The first project is the bloom. I tried to order the projects so they build one or two techniques on at a time. The bloom only uses two techniques, which is the basic tabby technique, and a rya knot for the fringe. This project will get you using your loom, weaving along with the template at the back, and using a double strung warp to achieve smooth curves with neat lines.
One fun fact about yourself not many people know?
I truly believe I could be a great race car driver. Or at least a competitive go-karter. As long as I have the right soundtrack and I can play it reeeeeally loud.
What’s next for you?
I am in the process of building my own little she-shed in the back yard that will become my dedicated weaving studio. No more embroidery scissors being used to cut pipe cleaners or sticky tape going wandering all around the house. I will have all my lovely things organised, in place, and under lock and key from the kiddies.
Learn more about Tapestry Weaving for beginners and Beyond HERE.