Monday, November 8, 2010


Mt. Finishing - good thing Mizz B got 7 more shawls fringe twisted as I sold all except one this weekend....

It was an interesting weekend.

Saturday Mizz B came to mind my booth so that I could attend the 70th bd of a dear friend. While there I was chatting with some of the other weavers in the crowd and it came out that I was the 'baby' of the group. Not something you really think about when you're 60. :)

(You hear that Syne? 60 is young in the weaving world!)

On Sunday I had a chat with one of the other exhibitors. Actually I'd had much the same chat with a couple others during the weekend. The one where we all confessed to feeling very tired after a 20 or 30 year stint of designing, making product and schlepping it across the country to sell it. Because it isn't good enough to just make it when you're dependent upon sales of your hand made items - you're not done until the customer has paid you for it and taken it to a new loving home.

At any rate, the chat on Sunday morphed into an analysis of the change in the nature of craft fairs - how there were fewer and fewer designer/makers around - potters, glass artists, woodworkers, weavers. We wondered where the next generation would come from because it seems like the majority of 20 somethings have no interest in throwing a thousand mugs, or weaving a hundred placemats (or scarves etc). They want a product now and they don't want to have to spend years honing their skills to get it.

Or at least, that's how it seems. Especially when we looked around the show and counted up the number of food booths, the number of personal care product booths, the jewellry (strung beads) and other things that aren't counted in amongst the 'traditional' hand crafts.

(Mizz B is most definitely the exception and I treasure having her in my life.)

The feeling that people don't want to spend time learning the craft comes partly from the proliferation of new weavers who have no interest in sampling (they can't 'afford' to sample) and want instant success with proven 'recipes'.

Part of that sense comes from my experiences on the internet chat groups and other feedback I've personally had.

For example. After reading multiple posts from people who either don't have a local guild or, due to family/work commitments can't make it to meetings, I offered to start a study group list. The deal was that people could join the list (run through my website) for free, but if they wanted to participate in the sample challenge/exchange, I requested that those people pay a fee to help cover my expenses.

One person emailed to tear a strip off of me. Who, she fumed, did I think I was asking to be paid for something freely available at local guilds?????? (I'm paraphrasing here because I no longer have that email, but that was the gist. And she went on at great length to let me know I was not amongst her favourite people.)

There were many things I could have said in reply, but I chose to ignore her email and carry on with the plan.

So I know that there are some people who do want to learn. Who do want to understand. Who are willing to put the effort into honing their skills. But will there be enough of them to keep the craft alive and healthy? If the only designing (making up of recipes/kits) is being done by a tiny minority of weavers, will general knowledge - as thinly scattered as it currently is - eventually fade away?

Weaving has been going on by human beings for in excess of 30,000 years according to new archeological finds. Will it last much longer?

Just finished Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and started The Madness Of Lord Byron by Stephanie Barron


Peg Cherre said...

Laura -

Shake off the emailer's negativity and continue with your wonderful work, sharing your time and talents with others.

I must admit, I'm one of those weavers who rarely samples, but I also admit that I haven't tried one tenth of the things I want to try, either. At 58 I'm a fairly new weaver - only 5-6 years but 100s of pieces during that time. In my extremely rural area, my Guild is multi-focused, with only a few weavers - most are spinners or knitters. So I try to ;earn things online (like from you) and at the occassional class. This year I'm goimg to participate in a Su Butler napkin exchange, and try new things for that.

Keep up your chin, and the good work!

Sharon Schulze said...

In answer to your question:

Weaving has been going on by human beings for in excess of 30,000 years according to new archeological finds. Will it last much longer?

YES! Yes it will. In my weaving guild membership has been growing and the growth is in young people (30s or younger). That's anecdotal, of course, but in a session we had on "young weavers" we had one weaver who started when she was 3 (5 years ago) and a 7-year old who was introduced as "an accomplished weaver." Of course the young ladies' accomplishments weren't that of the folks who have been weaving half a dozen of their lifetimes, but the young people were excited, interested, and serenely accepted weaving as a part of their lives, even if sometimes they did other things.

People aren't always nice. In fact, all of use are definitely not nice on more occasions than we care to admit. But somehow the world keeps turning, things keep going, and someone else steps up to make sure that people keep being people, even if the window dressing changes pretty dramatically on the way.

Syne Mitchell said...

Is the desire for an easy answer a new trait? I think not. I imagine there were weavers in the 1930s, 50s, and 80s who hated sampling, too. I'm guessing though that without the internet, their opinions weren't public.

As for the fate of weaving, I'm not worried. For every 100 weavers who is happy to follow recipes or weave in a devil-may-care fashion, we only need 1 or 2 who take a deeper interest to keep the craft alive.

And hobby weavers definitely fill a niche. Perhaps they don't discover new boundaries or invent new weave structures, but they help spread the word about weaving and keep yarn companies and loom manufacturers alive.

P.S. 60 is the new young weaver? Woot! I'm a weaving teenager then. ;>

TeresaAngelina said...

I'm glad you blog. Please keep it up.

Sherri Woodard Coffey said...

I am lucky enough to have a very active local guild. And, even though I seem to be the designated rug weaver of the group, I participate because of the energy and comradeship of these wonderful weavers. Surprisingly, out membership is growing, mostly with new weavers. The last meeting had about ten new members standing. Wow!

janiebell said...

I am a young weaver at 57 y/o. I started sewing at age 8 and became a quilter as an adult. I love learning to weave now. There is so much to learn:}

There will always be folks who enjoy the complexities and creativity of being a master weaver. It's an elite group. Many folks just don't have the talent, skills and motivation to learn in depth.

You are an inspiration.

bicycledan said...

Maybe with the advent of recipes in the weaving magazines and kits from vendors, it has made it possible for many more folks to weave in their spare time and enjoy that part of it. Maybe the interest in all the rest is only of interest to a smaller number of folks. After all the commitment in equipment can be large for this craft and must deter some. Equipment is especially needed if you want to do production weaving for sale.
Though I have been weaving for 40 years, I'm still looking forward with relish to learning more from Laura this January at the Folk School class.
Teena Tuenge

Suzanne Hubele said...

Geez, if 70 is old, then I'm a weaving baby. Makes me feel good because I stopped being carded two years ago at 29. But I'm still 29 :)

I wouldn't worry about that gal. Sounds bitter that she didn't think of it first!

But think of it this will enable hundreds, maybe even thousands of weavers and fiber artists to launch their knowledge of weaving light-years ahead of what they can learn at a guild or weaving class.