Monday, February 4, 2019

Unintended Consequences

two warps, both with stripes of a yarn with elastic that activates in wet finishing to create a textile with shrinkage differential, one before wet finishing and completely flat, the other after

We set out to do something.  We do our best, but somewhere along the way, something goes horribly awry.  The results are not what we intended.  How does this happen?

In my life I've found that when I get unintended consequences, one (or several) things have played a factor in the actual results, instead of the one I wanted.

Usually it begins with a 'great' idea - but a lack of knowledge.  While thinking through this 'great' idea I will have built on the knowledge I possess, but that knowledge may have been incomplete.

I may be using a yarn I didn't know intimately.  I may have chosen a weave structure I didn't know intimately.  I may have assumed that the wet finishing process would be as 'usual'.

Because I didn't know the yarn intimately, I may have chosen an inappropriate density.  I may have chosen a weave structure that wasn't going to work very well with the yarn at that density.  And so on.

I may have chosen to use one loom when a different one might have been better suited to what I wanted to do.

When I get unintended consequences, it's usually quite apparent where I went wrong.  Too late for that particular project or warp, but just in time for the next!

Weaving, as I keep saying, can be practiced on a superficial level or deeper.  We can follow the directions given by someone else and not worry too much about why the designer made those choices, we're just happy to have had a successful project.  And that is perfectly fine.  That's pretty much me with knitting.

But if you really want to dig into the depths of the craft, there will be times when something goes wrong.  The correct response at that point is to sit down and analyse what you did and how it all ended up and figure out why.

Sometimes the unintended results are a gateway into a path of exploration that wouldn't have been obvious if it hadn't been for that 'mistake'. 

There are even times when I will push the boundaries just so I can see what happens when I bend the 'rules'.

And yes, I sample.  Every new yarn I get is sampled to find out what it can do, what hidden potential it may have.

All of these things bring more knowledge.  The more I know, the more I understand how much I don't know.  When you don't know what you don't know, you don't know that you don't know it.  And that is when those unintended consequences arrive.

The only way to really know what the results will be is to invest a little time - and money - and weave some samples.  Eventually the pool of knowledge will become an ocean and better decisions can be made.  That elusive 'perfect' we all work towards will at least visit, once in a while.

But never, ever let 'failure' stop the journey of learning.  Winding up with a textile that didn't quite express that idea you had?  Will not end the world.  It's just a textile.  And in the course of getting to that result?  Knowledge was acquired.

And that is always A Good Thing.

Currently reading Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

1 comment:

Vicki Hughes said...

Working on my Level 5 homework and this hits the mark. In fact, I wrote a page of notes to myself that touches on this very topic. If there is one thing that I have learned from the Master Weaver classes (and Master Spinner), is there are no failures. We can learn from everything that doesn't come out right. This has been a hard lesson to learn for someone who likes to think of herself as a perfectionist (clearly, I am not!) But the learning, the learning, makes every mistake worthwhile.