Thursday, January 5, 2012

Knowledge and Soapboxes

A gamp of various wefts for the rest of the warp.  Colours are not true - the greyish one is actually a soft greyed lavender which looks very pretty on the warp but not so great in the photo....

There has been a lively discussion on one of the chat groups about recipe weavers vs weavers who draw upon their own creativity and the relative merits of each approach.

I started wondering how many weavers throughout history really were designers rather than weavers who learned how to weave one particular quality of cloth and wove that as their profession pretty much every day.  They probably knew every hint and trick about how to weave that quality of cloth and were experts at producing perfect cloth within that quality.  But how many of the thousands of weavers who were journeyman really knew very much about the ins and outs of cloth construction on a broad basis?

Modern weavers are amazingly lucky in that we do it because we love it.  Whether we do it from 'recipes' designed by others or start from scratch, choosing our own colours, yarns, set, weave structure etc., is really neither here nor there so long as we are enjoying what we are doing.  Even as someone who does this as my profession, I'm primarily doing it because I love it, not because it's the only way I have of putting food on my table or keeping a roof over my head.

I could go do something else much more lucrative in terms of income than weave!

What does concern me, however, is that general knowledge about cloth construction might get 'lost'.  Who, then, will design the recipes for the others?

Judith MacKenzie has a great quote (which I have probably used before but bears repeating) "When you don't know what you don't know, you don't know that you don't know it."  (Emphasis mine)

I joined the internet community in 1994 and almost immediately came to realize the lack of knowledge about wet finishing.  (Well, I knew that from attending conferences, but the internet allowed me to speak about the necessity for wet finishing and sharing how to do it in a public forum.)

In the years since I have spotted other areas where there is a distinct lack of knowledge, especially on the internet.  Much of the knowledge is contained in books, but as someone pointed out to me, the new generation doesn't go to books as a first line of knowledge source, they go to the internet. 

And so I have found myself straddling several soapboxes - wet finishing, of course. Issues of efficiency.  Fibre characteristics.

The only way I can see of encouraging new weavers to realize that they don't know something is to constantly (gently!) harp on about what they don't know.  Eventually those who want to know more will learn where to find out more and hopefully pass on that knowledge to others.

So I continue to climb up onto my soapboxes and natter on about the aspects of cloth construction that I feel are under represented in the weaving community.

Currently reading Death in the Dark by Kerry Greenwood


Anonymous said...

Please keep nattering, Laura. I absolutely would have not know "what" I dont know if I had not been reading posts from you and many others who give of their time and knowledge via different forums. I for one really appreciate it. Many times I had no idea what people were talking about until I was a few years into weaving, then I could remember some thread in a list or a blog post. It all has been very helpful to me.

terri said...

Please stay on your soapboxes--I always learn so much from you!

Curiousweaver said...

Great post Laura. I agree with the perception of the Internet as the font of all knowledge! I also devoured every book on weaving before the Internet and now when I search for more unusual aspects of our craft I often don't find anything although I know it exists.
There is also a problem with google. All the search results I get are from my country and other English speaking countries - it is difficult to even get hits on a subject in other languages so I feel we miss out on the opportunity to view revevant sites on the topic and also access to other views or interpretations. Thanks for the thought provoking post. Kaz

Bonnie said...

Well said! Thank you for sharing.

Amanda Cutler said...

Great post! AND I love your gamp colors!

Jean said...

My thanks also, Laura, for your extremely helpful guidelines and suggestions. Your emphasis on discipline and noted experimentation is invaluable.
Hope you are well again.

Laura said...

Thanks Jean - I am getting better - more slowly than I'd like - but I'm getting there. :)


Marg said...

Good one Laura - encouraging to we soap box preachers.