Digital Jacquard Weaving at the Icelandic Textile Center February 2023

Ive come to the Icelandic Textile Center for the opportunity to completely focus that this residency offers me, as I’m learning and experimenting with weave structures in relationship to my chosen materials on the TC2 loom. Specifically, I would like to weave QR codes into my plant-dyed raanu weavings to encourage audience engagement with the works, educating about the power of the plants used, and sparking curiosity about one’s own environment. 

I’ve brought with me 10 metres of organic cotton warping threads (1320 of them), and many kilograms of plant-dyed wool from the past few years’ forays and experiments in rural and urban places including: here in Blönduós, Iceland, and Toronto, Thunder Bay, and Kaministiquia, Ontario.

Tuija’s hand holding many threads taught on the left, and the TC2 digital jacquard loom with the warp chains hanging on the right

Beginning to tie my warp onto the previous warp on the TC2 digital jacquard loom. Each end of each warp thread is tied tightly to its corresponding mate, once all are tied the warp can be tensioned and wound on. February 2023. 

The first week was spent setting up the loom. I knew this would take a while, and although I could have rushed the process a little more I enjoyed the time tying knots onto the last warp that was threaded, testing the threading, solving issues with the heddles, and getting settled in at a pace that was gentle on my body. 



Tying each knot, a good opportunity to listen to podcasts! February, 2023.


The first rounds of testing showed that I would have to work a little harder on creating the legible QR code than I had imagined, although that was to be expected.

Pink and grey wool yarn is woven into an off-white warp on the Digital Jacquard Loom.

Initial tests using shaded satin structures showed the warp sett and density of weft threads. February, 2023.

Previous, successful attempts at weaving legible QR code were using the same loom and technology but with a tighter warp set, black warp threads, and much finer wool. The problem I’ve set out for myself is to achieve the same thing but with a different set, unbleached cotton, and much thicker wool. 

multiple studies of QR code in various plant-dyed colours on the digital jacquard loom

Weaving many samples, changing variables in the computer file between each. Getting closer to legibility but still not working. February, 2023.

 A brown QR code and leaf design on white background on the left, the computer file on laptop on the right.

I really thought this time I had it! But this QR code still did not read, back to the “drawing board” in this case, my 2012 MacBook. February, 2023.

After numerous attempts at weaving a legible QR code using my plant-dyed wools, I started to fear that I’d use too much of my coloured wool in sampling and decided to day-trip to the next, slightly bigger town of Sauðárkrókur, where I could purchase the same Icelandic Létt Lopi in black and white to continue testing and sampling without depleting my plant-dyed stash. Luckily, the weather changed and the country bus was running, a perfect day for a spontaneous trip!

A charming light-heart on the bakery wall in Saudárkrókur on the left, and the Álafoss yarn selection at the grocery store on the right. February 14, 2023.

A trip to Sauðárkrókur isn’t complete without a visit to its famous bakery, and the Álafoss Icelandic wool yarn selection at the department store is the best in the region! February 14, 2023.

White and black handwoven QR codes on the left and yellow and black variations on the right.

With black and white Létt Lopi I sampled many different sizes and variations of QR code designs, determining what size works in this weaving sett, and, whether colour interferes with legibility on the woven surface. February 2023. 



I’m happy to report that after numerous different file changes, design changes, QR code renderings, and weaving, I’ve landed on one solution: weave the code larger and denser! I’m using a 2-shuttle 7-ended satin structure to create these codes, and they work. The question now is whether to keep adjusting the variables and testing different ways to solve the problem, or, to get weaving a finished piece during the remainder of my time with the loom? 

I’d like to give thanks and acknowledge the Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des Arts du Canada for supporting this research and my artistic practice!

The Canada Council for the Arts logo