Thursday, October 2, 2008

Becoming, part II

Cotton warp with singles linen weft. The change in colour is due to the light and shadows falling on the web.
Saga continues..........
So that summer we sold our little house and bought a bigger one. We took possession the end of August, I quit my job Sept. 1, finishing Sept. 15, my father went into hospital for the last time over Labour Day weekend, I started the weaving class (first day posted to this blog earlier) and my father died............
The next few months were spent - as much as possible - in the weaving room at the college. I felt my father's spirit near, and supportive of me in a way that he could never have been in life. He was a "responsible" person and would never have gambled on a profession so "iffy" - so prone to failure - i.e. no guaranteed income. Having passed from this life, I felt that he now understood why I was doing what I was doing, why I *had* to have that element of creativity in my life on a daily basis, that my spirit craved it in a way that was difficult to explain, let alone justify.
So I wove as much as I could. Made *lots* of mistakes, and learned. Mistakes are valuable tools in learning. They tell you when you have strayed from the path of success. They also tell you that your knowledge is expanding, because if you only do what you know works, you aren't learning anything new.
And there is *so* much to learn about how to construct cloth!
So many people think that making fabric is a cut and dried process, but nothing is set in stone because of the very nature of the materials, and all the myriad ways one can combine them, how density affects the results, how the interlacement of the threads can change what is going to happen when the web hits the water. Making cloth is not a "hard" science, but an intuitive art.
When I first realized the extent of the possibilities, I was nearly frozen with indecision - what to make - *how* to make it? And that was when I came to understand the value of creative limitations. By setting boundaries, the possibilities are thereby limited, and then it becomes easier to choose which direction to follow.
As they say in Alice in Wonderland, if you don't know where you're going, any road will do!
So I call myself a Form Follows Function weaver. I always have a destination in mind when I put a warp on the loom.
Sometimes that destination is simply "Greater Knowledge" and that's when I put a sample warp on the loom, weave a while, cut off and wet finish and assess the results. What are you good for? I ask. What qualities do you have?
Then I will resley, either more open, or more dense, weave some more, wet finish again and re-evaluate the results. I may do this several times, with only the intended aim of learning more about a yarn.
Then when I go to make something specific, I have a starting place based on the foundation of knowledge gained from being open to what happens when..............
As a new weaver, I wove *everything*. Rugs, placemats, towels, scarves, shawls, garments. If it could be made from thread, I made it. Naturally there were course requirements, but I also wove other things because I was looking for something that I could make that might sell so that I would have an income.
Linda had a loom, and so after the class at the college was over, we shared warps on her loom, making rugs. We settled on rep weave mostly, although not exclusively. We read as much as we could, and wove as much as we could. We also made wool blankets or throws. Doug built a stretcher so that we could wet finish and brush them.
I don't know when I realized the importance of wet finishing, but my textiles were always wet finished, even the rugs.
In 1977 Doug and I went to Sweden and Finland, where I attended Varpapuu Summer Weaving School for two weeks. While there, I bought a "table" loom with stand. Doug disassembled it and carried it home in his backpack. He had it reassembled and ready for me to weave on by the time I got home. I started weaving a lot of placemats and other household textiles with the intention of taking a booth at the local craft fair that fall...


k. said...

Thank-you Laura; I’m enjoying your story immensely, interlaced as it is with your many insightful observations. Praise also for your supportive husband.

Angie said...

Thanks for sharing your becoming a weaver story. I'm looking forward to your next installment!