After you have been reviewing projects for Little Looms and Handwoven for a while, you start to see certain contributor names come up frequently, and human nature being what it is, you start to rely on those people for quality projects. They also become your go-to contributors when you see there is a hole in an issue’s contents—as in, “No kitchen towels, are you kidding me? Who could weave us a set before the photoshoot in 2 weeks?” Sara Bixler is in that category for us. Whereas Tom Knisely, her father, weaves and experiments on multishaft looms, Sara has fully embraced the rigid-heddle loom, and we know her as someone who pushes that loom’s boundaries to great effect.
Sometimes what she does is subtle. For instance, in her Ticking Striped Blanket that was in Little Looms Summer 2021, she carefully calculated the striping pattern on the edges so that when the three panels were put together, the ticking pattern continued visually even though the warp color order seemed incorrect. I know because I questioned it, and she proved me wrong!
For another example, I thought Sara’s weft choice for the Shibori-Inspired Rag Rug in Handwoven September/October 2021 really was, well, “inspired.” The clasped-weft rug woven on a rigid-heddle loom has a navy-blue camo fabric background contrasting with ten neutrally colored fabrics. Those ten fabrics were part of quilting jelly rolls of precut fabric. Rather than having to purchase and cut ten pieces of cloths, Sara got the color variation she was looking for without doing all the work.
You can find lots of Sara’s work in other issues of Handwoven and Little Looms, but you can also see her in person in one of her many videos. She has degrees in fine arts and education, and you can tell by her aesthetic and teaching ability. Soon we will be releasing Color-and-Weave on the Rigid-Heddle Loom with Sara Bixler. In the video, she demonstrates color-and-weave techniques on the rigid-heddle loom, including how to direct warp those types of patterns, which I can tell you from my own experience can be brain twisty.
Here is a short list of some of her other videos, in case you want to check any of them out while you wait for this next one. Just by the names alone, you can tell that her interests lie in creating unique and beautiful woven pieces and, as I said in the beginning, pushing the boundaries of what can be done on a rigid-heddle loom.
I don’t know where we would be without contributors like Sara. Check out her work in Handwoven, Little Looms, and her many videos. It’s people like her who are moving us all in the direction of interesting and thoughtful weaving.