Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Power of Intention

The power of intention.  Makes for a great motto, but what does it mean?

For me it means I have a goal that I am working towards.  In life.  In weaving.  I intend to make something - a particular something.  In order to accomplish my goal, I have to have certain skills.  Particular knowledge.

How do I obtain those?  I have to stumble around at the bottom of the learning curve until I figure out what I need to know in order to get from intention to material.

The above photo is of a sample warp.  I had an objective in mind, but I wasn't sure how to achieve that end result.  And so I put a sample warp on.  And I wove it.  I experienced how the materials felt as I worked with them.  I observed how they reacted when I changed one thing, and then another thing, and then another.  I tossed it into the water to see what would happen.  And then, and only then, did I actually attempt to make...something...using these materials in this particular arrangement.

Some of the Olds students are working on their homework and asking questions.  This is part of an answer I sent to one of them this morning:

Above all, document what you have done.  Because I don't necessarily just want to see 'perfect' (although that is always lovely to see!), I want to see the student work through the exercise, draw conclusions and observe the changes that happen when something is changed.  And perhaps, after doing the initial sampling, the student will do another one, based on their initial conclusions, so that they can produce results that come closer to 'perfect'.  Change one thing, everything changes.  When analyzing the samples after wet finishing, comment on when you might use that particular combination, or why you would never use it.  Document, document, document.  We always think we will remember, but we don't!

Why am I such a staunch supporter of the Olds program?  Because it hopes to make the students think.  Mastering a craft such as weaving does not mean coming to class, being told what to do, doing it, then passing the course.

Rather, the mastery of something like weaving means understanding the principles.  Gaining the knowledge of what happens when by actually doing the thinking, the analyzing of the results, figuring out how to more closely meet the parameters of the exercises.  Honing the physical skills required in order to get the results desired.  All of that.  But mostly to learn how to think the process through in order to get the intended results.

There is a reason I am calling my proto-book The Intentional Weaver.  I hope to distill some of what I have learned in 40+ years of stumbling around at the bottom of the learning curve (why do I keep typing that word as 'curse'????) until I figured out how to more-or-less, most-of-the-time-but-not-always get results I am happy enough with to put my name on and offer for sale.

With this publication I hope to explain some of the principles that go into the construction of cloth that the weaver wishes to have as their result.  Not so that I can tell people how to get their results, but how to think through the process in order to get their own results by following their path.

Right now all writing is on hold while we get through the next four weeks of show season.  This is the time of year where I 'harvest' the crop I have been working on - all the weaving I have done for the past 10-12 months will be on display and for sale in hopes that I earn enough money to get me through the next 10-12 months.  So the writing will have to wait for a bit.  In the meantime I'm still thinking it through.  Still analyzing what has been done so far.  Still honing, polishing, thinking what else needs to be included.  Definitely not forgotten.  Just one more step in the process of being...intentional about what I want to have result.

In my heart I know that anything I produce - not my weaving, not my writing - will not satisfy everyone.  I'm quite sure my book will be...controversial...because I have walked my own path, made my own mistakes.  My path will not be for everyone, because most of all, what I hope, is that people will make their own path.  Because change one thing, everything can change.  In weaving, as in life.

Currently reading A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny


Eileen said...

Thanks for articulating my goal so nicely! Having recently completed "Olds, week one", and working my way through weaving explorations, decisions, and delighting in the application of my knowledge to date, I can identify with your words. I look forward to your book's publication!

Peg Cherre said...

So well said, as usual, Laura. I'm currently working on my COE with the HGA, and I'm sure they would agree with you on the purpose of both the writing and the 40 woven samples. Although they only want me to send in the 'perfect' samples. So far I have 7 of those samples complete....but I've woven more than 16 samples to get those 7. Documentation at every stage will 'hopefully' allow me to weave fewer samples as I proceed....but I'm not counting on it. :-)

Anonymous said...

I was about to write a thoughtful, appreciative response to your well-written blog post (that I truly found so interesting and inspiring) but then I saw the last line. A new Louise Penny I wasn't aware of?! How could that be?
Ok, I've ordered it on Audible (I've listened to every one) and now I'm back.
Anyway, lovely post, and your class at Olds last June made me a believer in sampling!

Anonymous said...

I think the most valuable part of being an Olds student (Level 2 this year) has been the thinking process at both levels. The week of classes give a start and a focus to what I am thinking and learning about, but it is going back and working on the samples (not to mention reading about them in a number of different sources) that solidifies and deepens the understanding I had at the end of the week. It also has made me focus on structures I might not have explored or at least not at this time. One that is on the agenda for this level is overshot. I found that as I looked at many examples and worked through the samples for the one I eventually choose, that this weaving structure that I would have initially decided against working with began to grow on me. I have also learned so much about the historical background of overshot coverlets (though NOT the particular pattern I choose - still looking!) that I would probably not have learned without the course.

Shirley Stearn