Friday, October 27, 2017


Here I am at the loom having just caught the shuttle.  Notice I have 'caught' it between my index and middle finger and am using my thumb to brake the bobbin and apply a slight amount of tension to the weft to ensure that it seats well around the outside end, creating a secure and consistent selvedge.

Before the industrial revolution there were so many people involved in the production of textiles everyone pretty much knew what went into getting the fibre from the crop onto one's back.  But now the vast majority of textiles are produced in factories, far away from the eye of those people who rely on textiles.  In other words - pretty much all of us, one way or another.

As hand weavers we keep the craft of textiles alive.  As such I hold no secrets.  I am quite happy to share what I know.  If I get paid for it (such as by teaching workshops or publishing my hints/tips), even better.  Because I am in this as a profession, not as a hobby.

Weaving has never been a hobby for me.  Spinning, knitting, bobbin lace - all hobbies.  But not weaving.

I tell people that while I don't take myself very seriously, I take my craft very seriously indeed.  And over the years I've learned - quite a lot, actually.

I have taken workshops from as many people as I could, bought numerous books, reading many of them cover to cover.  And I've tried things.  Many things.  Failed too many times to count.  If you consider learning a failure.  Because sometimes the most valuable lesson of all is that you won't do that again!

As I was weaving this morning - after too many weeks away from the loom - I hit my stride - my zone.  And I thought about how, even when only surface attention is required, I am constantly monitoring what is happening.  Paying subliminal attention to the loom, to the shuttle, to the weft.  That even though it may look as though I am mindless, I am anything but.  Rather, I am actually pretty engaged in what is going on.  And when something happens that isn't consistent - the weft 'catches' in the shuttle, for example, I can immediately adjust and 'fix' that.

I rarely teach beginning weaving classes any more.  I'd much rather students get their introduction to weaving elsewhere and then come to me once they have learned some of the vocabulary, some of the concepts, some of the principles.  And then I can refine what they are doing.  Tweak their skills.  Advise on their equipment choices, their ergonomics.

At this point in my career, I find this enormously satisfying.  To see new-ish weavers take wing and soar.

And all the while I think about all the giants who allowed me to stand on their shoulders.  And I give my thanks to them for helping make me the weaver I am today.

Here is a link to the video clips I have loaded to You Tube.  And of course you can still get The Efficient Weaver from shops that carry Interweave Press products, or from their website


Anonymous said...

You've been an inspiration to me since I tip-toed out of twining, toward heddles and shuttles, 4 years ago. I bought and sold a number of looms to get where I want to be, equipment-wise. There is always more room for growth, but I'm content in my present situation. Now I'm working on technique and understanding the structures. I still have a long way to go before being able to speak fluently in the craft, but my vocabulary in increasing all the time. Green and growing! What was perplexing last year is not this year. I just look back on the growth and proceed one small step at a time.

I will likely always be a hobbyist in this field just as I was in music, but what I create is functional, appreciated by those who receive it, and will live on long after the musical notes have gone silent. And it is because of professionals like yourself that I continue learning and progressing. Your tireless efforts and continued publications are an indispensable tool for us young'ns. I have your "Magic in the Water" and your "Efficient Weaver". And your video on warping with a valet was my launching pad. I haven't turned back.

The challenges and failures in weaving are necessary; frustrating at the time, but learning tools nonetheless. It's like practicing the piano. Failure is just an opportunity to begin again with new knowledge.

I'm very glad to hear your teaching schedule is full and it's enjoyable for you. We can be sure the craft is being handed on to the next generation of weavers. Your credit to weavers before you is admirable. We must also credit you and others for our accomplishments as well. I don't get here too often but I do catch your posts on Rav and Weavo and I always learn something, there and here. Thank you for sharing yourself and your skills. And thank you for inspiring me.

All the best,
Tom Z in IL

Laura Fry said...

Be still my heart. I love hearing stories like this. Thank you!