Friday, July 22, 2016


There are aspects of weaving that are very linear - e.g. dressing the loom.  The process is complex and in order to achieve a good result, care must be taken to do all of the steps in their order.

But what about the process before you get to that point?  If you want to design your own textiles, from the thread up, the process becomes extremely non-linear.  It becomes down right 'messy'.

I made the chart above in order to try to make the process more sensible - more linear.  And the diagram does, indeed, look nice and tidy.  But the process of considering all of those variables, contrasting one against the other, weighing up how much impact each is going to have on the final result?  Messy.

Beginning with the function the cloth is to perform, I consider all of the characteristics of the cloth.  Each variable needs to be assessed for how it will affect the finished textile.  Some of them are more consistent than others - I have two looms and depending on which one I use, I will either wind a warp on a warping board, or I will beam sectionally.  These two different methods mean I will approach designing things like stripes appropriate to the choice of equipment being used.

How wide/long will the warp be?  Shorter, narrower warps tend to be put into the smaller 4 shaft loom, while longer, wider warps on the AVL.  How many shafts do I want to use?  Four shaft weaves can, of course, be done on the smaller loom, but perhaps I want to beam sectionally - in that case I might use the 16 shaft loom, anyway.

How much drape does the cloth need to have?  That drape ability will be filtered through the section on density, then tested against the section on weave structure - and the density might be changed if I am using 16 shafts and a weave structure with fewer interlacements.

And so it goes.  Each factor contrasted with the others, changes made depending on how I feel the different factors are going to affect the others.  I may back and forth for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks.  Some projects may simmer in the back of my brain for months, partly because I haven't sourced the yarn that I feel is 'best' for the project.

One of the challenges with writing The Book, which I've mentioned before but have been thinking about a lot recently, is how to present this non-linear information and contrasting of factors in a book, which is quintessentially linear.  How can I teach the material for Olds, which is primarily about helping weavers learn to think through these things for themselves, rather than just do what the instructions say.

Trying to get a grip on this aspect of weaving knowledge has been a huge stumbling block in terms of my actually grappling with All The Words, and getting the book written.

On the other hand, I can only do the best I can.  So my goal is to finish the (now) 6 more warps for the current scarf line, then hunker down at the computer and get busy word smithing.


Eileen said...

Teaching how to think...the universal goal of education. I look forward to reading your book cover to cover.

Carol said...

The non-linear nature of the creative aspect of craft of any kind (three prepositional phrases in a row:woo hoo)was well addressed in the traditional apprenticeship method. When instruction became more focused on schematic (print, video) presentation, much of the intuitive part of the training was lost. Now, the student must find that part of the process that doesn't lend itself to verbal expression on her own, or she must find that teacher who can phrase those things in ways that reach her. I find that, for me and my learning style, you do it best of any weaving teacher I've found. Others may not find it so. Be assured that what you write will resonate with enough of us that it will be passed on to others, even if in different words.