Christine Preisig talks to weaver Femke Winde Lemmens

It’s not smooth minimalism and perfection that define Femke Winde Lemmens’ woven pieces but irregular patterns and sudden outbreaks of colour and texture.

Femke weaves without a preconception of what the end result should look like. For her, the craft is a momentous expression and a piece develops intuitively as she goes along.

When she starts a new work, Femke usually has an image in her head, often something nature related –water cascading, a landscape, colours or an atmosphere. The lines in her abstract depictions run freely and the colours mingle which gives the impression that they are in motion. This style of weaving originates in Japan and is called Saori.

Wall piece by Femke Winde LemmensFemke at work at the loomUnlike other styles that are more about patterns and regularity, Saori is freestyle hand-weaving
without rules and restrictions. It’s about self-expression and improvisation, an art form as well as a hand craft, where mistakes are introduced almost on purpose.

Femke fell in love with weaving when she observed a woman working at a loom.At that time she was a product designer working as a design consultant. The long hours at the computer and the constant struggle to keep to deadlines started to get to her. She also missed working with her hands.

“It looked so peaceful and I thought, ‘this is what I have to do’. It seemed so much like me,” Femke remembers.

She attended a few workshops with a weaver in Suffolk and was so inspired that she set out to build her own loom so she could weave at home. The construction of such a complicated instrument brought up various challenges. Femke overcame them all and created a marvelously functioning loom.

“I thought that if I can try and make a loom then at least I know it is not something I have just in my head,” she explains.

Weaving materialsShe creates artistic wall hangings and functional items such as scarves and pieces of clothing. She has woven the material for a baby crib and on one of her looms a beautifully patterned upholstery fabric is in the making. Recycled, ethical or organic fibres are her materials of choice. Some pieces are colourful and vibrant, others are more muted, made with yarns she dyed naturally herself.

Sometimes Femke packs up her loom and takes it to places where other people can have a go. She holds workshops for adults and children and regularly teaches sessions at Headway, a charity for people recovering from brain injuries.

She prepares the loom and provides participants with interesting yarns and fabrics so they are ready to explore the craft and the Saori spirit.

The next workshop takes place on 26 November in East London (venue to be confirmed). To register your interest, email femke@windeweaves.com. See windeweaves.com for more information and to purchase pieces.