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Tangled up.

Tanya Tutin is an award-winning weaver, who turns threads into intricate stories and crafts some of Australia's most desired baby carriers, merging artistry, comfort, and a dash of motherly love into every creation.

Jun 10, 2023


Words: Gippslandia

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Slub, crackle, weft?

Almost sounds like a weird, yet warped attempt at the nostalgic Rice Bubbles characters. Instead, they’re terms relating to the ancient craft of weaving, and Tanya Tutin of Traralgon’s Tangled Weaves (yes, say that swiftly six times!) is an award-winning exponent of this art form, as well as the crafts-person behind some of Australia’s most sought-after baby wearers.

Tanya entered the field as a loving mother who had a child with a milk protein intolerance. Wanting to comfort her child, she learnt of the babywearing community, who advocate for holding a baby snuggly against the body with a piece of fabric or a carrier. The closeness assists in settling the child, as well as facilitating further bonding.

Initially, Tanya learnt to weave to create her own carrier. This then morphed into a bit of a ‘hobby business’. Now, 13 years later, Tanya has a swag of accolades to her name, winning local, state, national and international competitions, as well as a growing list of clients.

As Tanya reveals, “Weaving is a bit of a lost trade, and textile creating in Gippsland, or even Australia, isn’t a huge community.

“Spinning is a larger community… So, when I learnt to weave, it was done via online courses, forums and a lot of self learning. Trial and error along the way too. Even finding weaving floor looms in Australia is like finding a needle in a haystack!”

Gratefully, a renaissance appears to have been occurring for many of the handmade or older, traditional crafts, which has boosted practitioner numbers in more recent years.

While Tanya began by predominantly weaving baby wraps, she uses the scraps of her weaving to create handmade items like purses, bags, cowls, toiletry and cosmetic bags, key fobs and jewellery. Tanya adds, “And, of course, scarves, because the entry section for the Melbourne Show and a lot of agriculture shows is a handwoven scarf.”

“I think what sets my work apart is, predominantly, its uniqueness. I don't sit within four walls. I like to think outside the box and love being outrageously creative. I tend to go overboard in the design [of a piece], but in weaving that works in my favour.

“Also, I'm a stickler for the finer details. I love a challenge and getting something flawless and perfect is the best challenge of all. Although you never quite get there, a perfectionist will always try,” says Tanya, chuckling.

In somewhat of a revelation, Tanya shares that the babywearing industry is a boutique market and that, “Some baby wraps can fetch quite a lot of money with the right fibres and unique details.”

To prepare for a weaving that’s to be entered into a competition, or for a baby wrap client, Tanya will sketch her idea on paper. Then she aims to use all aspects of the piece to convey the story, including the structure, the colours and style of dye work. For example, her ‘Shoo Fly’ piece was about celebrating the electrifying colours found in the eyes of a common housefly when viewed under a microscope. As Tanya says, “It was about capturing beauty where others saw none.”

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For Tanya, a scarf is nice and quick, taking about a week from initial design to the woven result.

“The actual weaving is the fast part and will only take a day or two, but the preparation is the time-consuming bit: the measuring, dyeing, designing structures on the computer and dressing the loom. Because of this, you never just measure out one scarf or wrap.” (The longest warp Tanya’s completed for some babywearing mummas that's was 46 metres long – “I was happy when I got to the end of that one!”)

In chatting with Tanya, it’s obvious that she’s completely immersed in her craft, describing the qualities of various fibres with ease and speaking of hunting down looms as a ‘treasure hunt’ (she now has four floor looms and has unintentionally become a collector).

“I don't think there's enough years in my lifetime to master this craft with all the knowledge it has to offer,” says Tanya.

“Sometimes, no matter how hard you strive for a piece to look a certain way, it comes to have a life of its own. Its own personality. I enjoy creating things that can be almost exactly the same colour and never ever, ever turn out the same way.

“I bring fibre to life. I turn yarn into something meaningful to someone. And, I love every single second of it.”

Given her passion, we can’t wait to see more fruits from Tanya’s looms as she weaves her magic one wonderful warp at a time.

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To view more of Tanya's wonderful weaves, please visit her website, tangledweaves.bigcartel.com, or her Facebook page, facebook.com/tangledweaves.

Gippslandia - Issue No. 27

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