Friday, August 7, 2015

Testing, Testing

After taking the year long (two semester) class in weaving at the local college, I knew I had merely scratched the surface of what could be learned about cloth construction.

Now there is no need to delve into the depths, as it were, but like an iceberg what you see initially is only the tip!

Being a compulsive perpetual learner, I wanted to know as much as possible.  I scraped up the pennies to take every workshop I could afford, bought as many books as my budget would allow, read extensively (this was all pre-computer, pre-internet, pre-digital days), haunted the library requesting books on inter-library loan.  And wove.  I wove lots and lots of things.  Everything I could think of - rugs, tea towels, scarves, shawls, wall hangings.  If it could be constructed with thread, I would give it a go.

Little by little, the enormity of the iceberg was slowly revealed.

I didn't rely on other people to tell me what to do or how to do it, although I was always open to constructive feedback.  I would take that feedback on board and decide if it was valid for what I wanted to achieve.  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

A group of local weavers were following the Guild of Canadian Weavers levels and I decided that I would do the same.  By the time I began I felt I was well beyond 'beginner' but was I really?  Doing the tests would allow me to see if I really did know what I thought I knew and how well I could execute the physical skills involved in weaving.  Wanting to teach more, I also felt that if I could pass the tests, other people would have some idea if I had a grasp of the concepts.  Whether or not I could convey those concepts was another matter - just because you are very knowledgeable doesn't mean you can teach someone else.  Teaching is another skill entirely.

So I did the tests for a number of reasons.  Being a self-directed program it was also a test of my dedication to learning.  Could I actually fit the test problems into my life?  How much was I going to invest in terms of time and money to accomplish the task?

It was a struggle at times.  The tests are not meant to teach you how to weave, but to see what your level of knowledge is.  So there were times when I had to find resources, read up on a weave structure, do the draw downs, weave the samples.

The tests also forced me to look at weave structures that didn't actually appeal to me.  Doing the test problems gave me a greater understanding of weaving than I would have pursued on my own.  They broadened my knowledge and gave me a greater appreciation of those weave structures that I didn't enjoy doing.

Understanding a larger variety of weave structures gave me a greater understanding of how threads interlacing worked so that I could pursue the things I did enjoy in a much more thorough way.

The tests were a challenge and part of the reason I did them was to see if I could rise to that challenge and succeed.

Ultimately not everyone is interested in delving that deeply into weaving, nor is there any need for everyone to do so.  But weaving can be a lifelong investigation into and study of textiles.  It all begins with a glimpse of the tip of a very large iceberg.

Currently reading Speaking in the Bones by Kathy Reichs


Sandra Rude said...

You've had a wonderful journey, and still have lots more of it ahead. I'm still working on the top of the iceberg. I know there are a whole lot of structure families down there below the water line that I just can't warm up to. So instead of working my way down to the bottom of that iceberg, I've picked things I love to weave, know how to weave well, and thoroughly enjoy the end result. I don't regret the narrow scope that I've chosen, it suits me. We all progress through these threads differently, and thank heavens we all get a huge amount of satisfaction from the journey.

Laura Fry said...

Indeed. Part of what makes the journey so interesting. And unique for each person. Something for everyone!


Vicki Hughes said...

What you describe is exactly what drives me in my learning experiences. Beautifully written.