Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Additional Thoughts on Samples

Realized that I had a few more thoughts on samples that I wanted to share.

The photo above shows the issue of Hand Woven that the Harrisville yarn samples are in, and one of the several sets of samples I wove for it. I will have them with me at ABQ and the tour in January if you will be there and want to handle the samples and examine them

I think if you click on the photo the enlargement will show the differences in the loom state (left) fulled (centre) and additionally fulled (right) than appears in this photo.

One of the things I discovered while doing a lot of sampling was that when fulling the more you full the more the dimensional loss will be. The more open (gauze-y) the set, the more you have to full and the more extreme the dimensional loss. A good argument (I think!) to not weave window screening when one is trying to do extreme fulling!

But let's look at attitude a little bit.

Many new weavers are anxious to make something they can use and proudly show off to friends. Why 'waste' time and money on making a sample? They can't brag about that to anyone but other weavers, many of whom wouldn't be impressed because they don't 'waste' time and effort on samples and sampling either.

So another more useful attitude needs to be brought into play. The attitude that knowledge for knowledge sake is well worth the time, effort and money. That no skill comes without purposeful effort. That 'perfect' is a journey, not a destination, but you are going to come closer to perfection the more you practice honing your skills and increasing your knowledge.

Many new weavers will ask on various chat groups and social networking sites "I have x yarn. Tell me what to do with it." (Or words to that effect.)

I no longer answer most of these queries. I don't know the yarn (generally a knitting yarn), I don't know the skill level (I assume extremely new and inexperienced), I don't know their physical skill level, I don't know what equipment they have or their tools.

The only proper answer to that question is "It depends...."

Many new weavers come from a pattern or kit mindset where they are given the yarn, the weave structure, density, dimensions etc. What they don't realize is that once they are done the weaving and wet finishing they should analyze their results in order to learn from the experience.

But many of them don't seem to understand that part of the process. :(

I'm not saying that every weaver has to weave every single yarn/weave sturcture/density on their own. They can obtain collections of samples and examine them.

What do they like about the results? What do they not like? What would they change? How would they make their next attempt at this particular design more about them and less about the designer of the pattern or kit?

It was that reason that I formatted Magic in the Water the way I did, with both before and after fabric swatches. So many new weavers have no understanding of the wet finishing process - what it is and what it does - that I felt the only way to really make the point was to have the before and after.

Examining fabric - any fabric, commercial or handwoven - will bring a great deal of knowledge to the new weaver if they open their minds to the experience.

And yes, scarves are samples too. Out of the 23 scarves I did before I got the desired results? None of them was a 'failure'. They were simply stepping stones in the direction I wanted to go.


Marie said...

Excellent post! Thanks so much. As a new weaver, that is about all I have done, samples. I basicly wanted to see what different patterns looked like with different fibers. And I have really enjoyed doing them and have learned alot. Mostly, what I have learned is I have a whole lot more to learn! But I love weaving.

Anonymous said...

That was great - I just had a question about finishing and began my answer with "it depends"!

amyfibre said...

oh, Laura -- you are my hero! So well said. And I can't tell you the number of times I've shared my Magic in Water with new(er) weavers to show them...emphatically!...the magic that happens in wet finishing.

Syne Mitchell said...

"of the 23 scarves I did before I got the desired results? None of them was a 'failure'. They were simply stepping stones in the direction I wanted to go. "

Great line.