Rosalie Neilson loves using color and geometric design in her weavings and kumihimo braiding. As both designer and teacher, she was featured in a 2-hour DVD by Interweave Press called Rep Weave. She publishes regularly in weaving and braiding journals and maintains an active teaching schedule throughout the United States, Canada, and England. Her curiosity about unique patterns lead her to develop the 1,024 4-block symmetric motifs, in addition to the 1,157 unique 2-color patterns for the kumihimo braid structure Kongō Gumi. She recently published her kumihimo designs in the book Kongō Gumi: A Cacophony of Spots – Coils – Zags – Lines. And her most recent book, An Exaltation of Blocks, with a toolkit of design pages and transparent overlays for exploring symmetric block design, has just been released and is now available.
I have always been fascinated with color. One of my earliest childhood memories is peering into the throats of tulips, marveling at the satin-sheen of red, yellow, and black. My love of color comes from being raised in Oregon. During the majority of the year, nature appears in shades of green, blue, and grey. In this softly lit environment of neutrals, bright colors stand out in sharp contrast.
What attracted me to weaving was the color I found in weft-faced and warp-faced block weaves. Being part Scandinavian, I gravitated to the Swedish technique of warp-faced rep, and began to explore the complexity of geometric designs created by the interchange of two layers of color.
Using a sixteen shaft loom with computer assisted treadling, I enjoy producing a series of different designs within one threading system. One series leads to the next. After weaving the technique of warp-faced rep for the past forty years, I am still amazed at the limitless possibilities for creating abstract color designs.
My interest in Kumihimo began in 1980 on an Asian textile tour lead by Russell Groff. As one of the visitors to a Tokyo kimono academy, I arranged a private lesson with a kumihimo instructor. I returned to Oregon with two instruction books written in Japanese, plus a Marudai (the round stand), and a Kakudai (the square stand). Because Kumihimo is another technique where color plays an important role, I continue to explore the wide variety of 8- and 16-element braids. One braid structure, interlaced the exact same way, can change its appearance by the number and placement of colored elements on the Marudai.