Monday, October 11, 2010
"Sample" Is Not a 4 Letter Word
Colour gamp in saturated colours, twill and plain weave
Colour gamp in 'neutrals', plain weave
So many weavers comment that they hate making samples, or they don't have enough yarn/time to make a sample.
In my universe samples are how I learn. They are equivalent to a potter firing hundreds of chips to test their glazes, a musician doing scales, a dancer spending hours at the barre, an athlete in training.
Samples can be done in several different ways. When I get a new-to-me yarn, especially a wool or other protein fibre that will full, I wind a 3 yard long warp choosing a set that seems appropriate for plain weave and weave about 12 inches. I may then switch to twill and weave some more. That gets cut off and wet finished. Then I'll re-sley, tighter or looser, depending on the results of the wet finishing and do it all over again. I may do this several times adjusting the epi/ppi and weave structure to see what happens when....
Handwoven published an article I did using Harrisville 2 ply showing the various samples I wove to learn the potential of the yarn. Jan/Feb 2009.
Other yarns I may wind a 3 yard warp and weave 6 inches to see how it looks and if I'm satisfied with what I'm seeing in terms of set/weave structure/weft colour may then go on to weave a scarf.
If I'm very confident that I know what I'm doing I may go ahead and put on a longer warp and weave a header to 'prove' the concept.
During the weaving of the header I am also checking for errors - threading/sleying - and to make sure my weave structure and weft are suitable.
Weaving - like other technologies such as pottery, metalsmithing, woodturning - rely on a set of physical skills and knowledge of the materials used.
Weaving samples is how a weaver gains an understanding of their materials. Purposeful study of what they have achieved and how to change the materials or processes in order to get the desired results is never a bad thing.
After a guild presentation I did a few years ago where I talked about weaving 23 scarves before I got the result I wanted, a friend confided to me an overheard remark --- "That Laura Fry weaves way too many samples!"
Laura Fry thinks that she doesn't weave enough samples.....
Currently reading I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett