While on Saltspring Island a couple of weekends ago, I was lucky enough to meet up with Terri Bibby, who started the Saltspring Island Fibreshed website. She also happens to be a SAORI weaving instructor and let me in to her beautiful studio and introduced me a bit to the principles of SAORI.
SAORI was founded by Misao Jo at 57 years old, who took an interest in the “mistakes” she made while weaving – starting with a single missing warp thread on a woven “Obi” (A Japanese belt for a Kimono). After intentionally making more and more mistakes, she decided that she found the unevenness and varied intervals to be much more interesting than a commercially produced, “unflawed” piece of cloth. Shortly after, she built a loom with her son and started her weaving method and career as a weaving teacher. She believes that by staying faithful to your “true self” while you weave, weaving can be a form of self-expression for all.
Misao Jo is now 101 and still practices weaving. There are now over 40,000 SAORI weavers in Japan only. SAORI has been introduced in more than 40 countries at nearly one thousand institutions including special education schools, sheltered workshops, high schools, adult education centres, and rehabilitation centres.
Misao Jo has been commended by the Japanese government twice for her public contributions made through her weaving programs. In 1990, she was honoured by Minister of Health and Welfare of Japan, and in 1992 again by the Prime Minister of Japan [source]
SAORI is a “free-flow” style of weaving with no rules or restrictions. There are no samples to follow, and no mistakes in weaving. In this idea, in SAORI, we weave our true selves.
1) Consider the differences between a machine and a human being
A machine can be programmed to weave uniform patterns and straight edges. The human hand and heart reveals itself in the variations, the unevenness and the flaws of the woven cloth
2) Be bold and adventurous
Whilst weaving, we are free to explore different textures, colours, patterns and ideas without a fear of doing something the wrong way. Our ‘mistakes’ can lead to the discovery of new techniques and our ideas can arise quite spontaneously from the act of weaving itself
3) Let’s look out through eyes that shine
We try to stay as open and enthusiastic as we can in each moment and try to be kind to ourselves whilst weaving, noticing the beauty around us and being alert to our own thoughts and emotions. With Saori, you can let your weaving be an expression of who you are, right here and now.
4) Inspire one another, and everyone in the group
Each person’s ideas and experiences are equally valuable and there are no levels such as beginner, advanced or master. Differences in status, age, physical or learning abilities are unimportant and all participants are encouraged to share their discoveries with others. A new weaver can come up with ideas and combinations of threads that no-one else has thought of before, a child can show a new technique to an adult and a person with learning disabilities can coach other group members.
Read more about Saori Weaving here .
I happened to be on Saltspring during the super moon, which made for some really exciting views and also stories. It was mentioned by Terri during our weaving session that the super moon is about aligning with our centre and most authentic self, or “True North”. According to the internet,
Our Truth North is aligning with our center and our most authentic Self. In honoring our Self, we will have to define our own path as well as our own boundaries. This is the path to Freedom. Choose You, your soul will thank you![link to full article]
It should make sense that I would be on Saltspring island, discussing SAORI and fibreshed with Terri.
What I really enjoyed about these looms, is the portability. Terri had at least 4 looms set up inside her studio, and I bet she could get up to 6 or 8 going. All the looms also fold up for easy storage and transport. I highly recommend learning. It’s a real treat to sit down with a cup of tea and play on these looms. Terri also has the looms for sale on her website.
A big thanks again to Terri for introducing us to SAORI!