In my world, we all had a grandma that was knitting. Among family chatter and laughter, with a big smile and all ears at all the talk around her, down on her lap, her hands moved fast kneading thread and needles into a flurry of seemingly chaotic storm. From it came the most neatly organized intertwine, artful patterns and bursts of colour. Fascinating.
Years later when I’ve learned myself, I’ve discovered the pure relaxation that comes with it and even though now I do not indulge that much in the habit, I make sure I visit it from time to time.
But believe it or not, this is not the oldest it can get with weaving. Weaving is one if not the oldest crafts. Even before ‘weaving’ existed as an activity, probably before the word was invented, the basic principles of weaving were applied to tying branches together to make fences, shelter and baskets. First finds date back from the neolithic, so we’re talking 12,000 years ago!
So it is with utmost awe that I reflect upon the evolution of weaving. Given its long time on this earth, it is no wonder that it continuously takes surprising and challenging expressions.
It is one of those arts that can, more than fine arts, constantly reinvent itself in a new form. It is an art of the maker, not of the artist.
Take painting: with all its evolution, paints are still paints. That is not to say that painting is not constantly evolving. But when you look at how that evolved compared to weaving, you start to see the difference that lies in the capability of weaving to apply its principles indiscriminately to almost any material, even glass.
Weaving, and knitting as part of it, is essentially the placement of cords or fibres in certain patterns in relationship to each other. Traditionally we’re talking horizontally and vertically intertwined but that has changed and now you can find the most intricate patterns show in the most unexpected places. In the Italian pavilion from the 2015 Milano exhibit, the interior and exterior of the building reinterprets the old weaving tradition. (by Nemesis Studio) The facade and the interior are made of interlaced moulded filament, thinner and thicker emerging from a solid base. An unusual effect enriches the space and our perception when close, as well as who far from it.
When used in design, weaved materials have a special power to render a connection between us and the building. Perhaps part of that connection aside from being aesthetic it is by now ingrained in our DNA and that’s what constantly attracts us to re-make and appreciate the never lost art of weaving.