Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Scarf from last year

Lots of thoughts inch worming their way through my brain as I think about the past few months.  About not feeling well in order to feel better (or at least, that was the goal, which finally seems to be happening), about life and how short and fragile it can be at times, at 40 years of being a professional weaver in a society that doesn't much value creative endeavours (although fortunately enough do that I've not actually starved), about living my life to (mostly) please myself.

Thinking lots of thoughts about creating textiles, writing about them, teaching others how to make them.  Thinking about the joy I see in others as they 'get' the concepts.  Some just want to 'dabble' in the craft while others want to Know All The Things.  And everywhere in between on that spectrum.

Weaving, like many other crafts, is shall we say, a 'skill'.  Anyone who wants to can weave, it's really quite simple.  You take one set of threads we call 'warp' and another set of threads we call 'weft' and you interlace them together.  And that's it, really.  Simple  Easy-peasy.

Unless you want to create something specific. Something useful.  Something that will function well in the doing of its job.  Maybe something beautiful...or even thought provoking.

Beginners get overwhelmed with the possibilities.  I know I did.  When you can do pretty much anything, anything at all, where do you begin?  How do you start?

My approach was to learn the physical skills and build on them.  My early textiles weren't particularly pretty.  I didn't know much about colour or design so I made some awful decisions, some really dreadful choices, when I was just starting out.  

Thing is, I knew I wasn't making very good textiles, and I didn't much care because I knew that I would learn.  I was in it for the long haul, as they say.  I didn't expect perfection of myself because I was a beginner.  I didn't understand the nuances - colour/design, weave structure, the inherent characteristics of the materials, how to properly operate the equipment.

But I was willing to wallow in the shallow end of the learning curve, soaking up as much information as I could jam into my brain box.  I was willing to fail...and learn from that failure.  

I am an analytic kind of person.  I don't hesitate to stare failure in the face and ask why?  What can I do to make it better next time?  How did my choices impact my results?  I knew I wasn't clever enough to achieve perfection the first or even the 10th time I tried.  I didn't care.  I wanted to learn.  I needed to understand.  I jumped into the nuances of what would happen if I changed one thing, then changed one more thing, then changed and changed again.  Trying.  Sampling.  Learning.

I was also fortunate in that I knew my way around a library and how to look things up in the card catalogue (yes, I'm that old.)  I knew about bibliographies and how to request materials on inter-library loan.  I knew enough to do research and when to scrimp and save up my pennies in order to take classes/workshops.  Quite often the lessons learned were not what I expected, but I always, always learned something.

Weaving became meditation, physical exercise (the way I weave it's aerobic - when you break a sweat and your heart rate increases, you really are exercising, in spite of what some people think), therapy, even a social life as I got to know other weavers and craftspeople.  It is a challenge, still, and at times intellectual stimulation as I try to wrap my brain around a new concept, a new way of looking at ways to make textiles.

It has, in so many ways, been A Life, with all it's ups and downs, its successes and failures, it's highs and its lows.  After 40 years and achieving an age where other people 'retire', all I can think about is doing it some more.  I love the look on people's faces when they ask what I'm going to do when I retire and I tell them I'm going to weave!


amyfibre said...

As sorry as I am that your year has been so very difficult, I am grateful for the introspection that has resulted, and even more, that you have shared it with us. I am years younger than you, but appreciate the reminder to think about these important aspects of my life and how it intersects with weaving.

Rebecca Hooper said...

I really enjoy your posts and teachings available online. As a new weaver, self taught in a rural area, you are one of my greatest role models. Thank you. Im looking forward to your lace webinar next week!

MegWeaves said...

Feel the same about retirement. I'm glad I don't have to think of it, and that I probably have enough stash to keep going until I'm a little over 80. (Though still aiming for a substantial reduction by 2018.)