Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Analytical Planner

Latest tea towel warp.  I should be weaving the ones already wound, but I couldn't resist this combination.

The other day I was describing myself to someone who knows me but not very well.  I said that I was analytical and a planner, both good traits for a weaver.

Anyone who wants to learn how to weave can do so, some with more ease than others.  It all depends on what one wants to accomplish, why one wants to do it, how much manual dexterity and mechanical aptitude one has.  

Human beings have been playing with string for a very long time.  If it was impossible to learn, weaving (and spinning and felting and all the other myriad textile crafts) would not have grown up around the world, in almost every culture.

But there are levels of understanding.  

If a person is only interested in making 'perfect' textiles without digging into the principles of the craft there are numerous books and websites that give directions, right down to including the colours to use.  Shops will even make up kits with the yarn already included - all the weaver has to do is wind the warp according to the directions, dress the loom and weave, again according to directions.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  We live in a high stress society and sometimes it is rather lovely to just follow directions and wind up with something attractive.  Stress relief may mean shutting the brain off for a while, not taxing it with more questions, more decisions.

Other people find that very process challenging in a good way.  They set aside their stress by focusing on something completely different.  They like to delve into what makes a textile pleasing to them.  They like the 'what if' questions - what if I do this instead?  what if I try that?  what happens if I change...?

Being analytical, those are the questions that excite me.  All those variations.  All those options.  All the different combinations to try.

I am also a planner, so plotting the process from start to end is also something that excites me.   Starting from the colour cards of yarn, figuring out density, weave structure, design - all of that engages me creatively and intellectually.   Having an overview of my year - teaching dates, show dates - planning how to fit production, class prep, marking, travel, into my schedule can be taxing but also exciting.

And I like to challenge myself.  As I mentioned previously, I think, this series of towels has proven to be a real learning exercise.  I'm not an intuitive colourist, I had to work hard to find out what worked - and what didn't.  I still miss the mark occasionally, but less frequently, and not so widely.  I had gotten fairly comfortable working with three colours, then four, but this series has five different colours - four solids and one variegated.  Sometimes that fourth solid is really hard to choose.  

I have just committed to continuing to teach the Olds program - if they want me.  It may not be perfect but they are working on it.  And it is geared towards learning the why of weaving, not just the how.  It challenges the students to consider the what ifs, the what happens when.  Not everyone is comfortable with this approach, but even if the students learn better ergonomics, better techniques, better options - then I feel I have succeeded as a teacher.


Peg Cherre said...

Although I've never woven from a kit, sometimes I want to do the 'easy' - repeat something I've woven before in terms of both weave structure and fiber. Other times I want to stretch more. Try out different weave structures, or color combinations, or fibers. Isn't that one of the benefits of being in this business? The options are seemingly endless.

Laura Fry said...

I work in series too, eg, this series of towels. What keeps me engaged is that every warp is a different combination of colours. The weaving is a working meditation. :). Weaving can be enjoyed on many different levels.

Leslie said...

I enjoyed this post, Laura. I like weaving OK, but I love the planning. It takes me discipline to finish up weaving a project, as I would rather plan a new one. I also don't mind getting it onto the loom - there is something so satisfying about starting with cones of yarn and ending up with a loom with a tight well-organized warp in pleasing colors. I even love weaving the first 5 inches. I wish I could hire an assistant to weave off the rest!