In the hidden creative gem that is west Wales I recently went on a Saori weaving day with Mud and Wool who run wonderful workshops in a stunning rural location.
Saori means weaving ‘the beauty with lack of intention’. In other words free, spontaneous and joyful weaving, with no mistakes and no patterns. This means that there are endless discoveries to be made and one day’s weaving can differ from another’s as you let your inner creativity lead.
The four core principles of SAORI are:
- Consider the differences between a machine and human being.
- Be bold and adventurous.
- Look out through eyes that shine.
- Inspire one another and everyone in the community.
Saori weaving began when Misao Jo was 57 years old. She wanted to weave an obi (belt) for her kimono and her son built her a hand weaving loom. As she wove, she noticed that a warp thread was missing but carried on as she thought it may make an interesting effect. She was fascinated that her ‘mistake’ had made a beautiful pattern, carried on exploring the ‘flaws’ that could create interesting effects, and soon she began to teach others.
She taught her students the basic techniques of using a loom, and helped them remove any preconceptions of weaving, giving the weavers an opportunity to discover their natural creativity within the cloth they produced.
Our teacher was one of only five in the UK who trained in Osaka, Japan and is authorised to teach Saori weaving, Amanda Edney of BeautifulCloth. The Saori five are dotted around the UK and you can find out more about them at their collaborative website SaoriUK.
Saori weaving is freestyle handweaving without rules and restrictions. The looms themselves are very simple and well-designed, and both the looms and weaving are designed to be accessible to all regardless of age, gender or ability. In fact, the biggest challenge I had to overcome was to retrain myself to actively use my left foot as a result of driving an electric car! I can vouch for the fact that all the students on our one-day course produced completely different pieces which was joyful to see as the nature of the Saori weaving means that it is friendly and encouraging to all.