Thursday, March 21, 2019

Skilled Labour

For thousands of years, weaving - the complete supply line of raising and harvesting the fibre, spinning and weaving - was skilled labour.  Still is.

I just started reading a book that I'm going to promote here and then do a 'proper' book review when I get a little further into it - The Golden Thread by Kassia St. Clair.

But thoughts.  Oh boy, have I been having thoughts!  Especially paired with my work on crafting the ANWG conference, and my own craft practices, including teaching weaving, especially the Olds College Master Weaving program.

The creation of textiles became segmented many years ago because for one person to do everything?  Takes an enormous effort and a range of knowledge that is - quite frankly - awe inspiring.  Don't get me wrong, there are a few people who do know it and they have my admiration.

As a weaver, I know a little bit about spinning (spinning was how I got sucked into weaving, after all), a little bit about dyeing, a little bit about felting, knitting, lace making.  I've done embroidery, mostly cross stitch - and sewn my own clothing.

But I'm not particularly good or nuanced at anything except weaving.

Because the ability to create a wide range of qualities of cloth requires a wide range of knowledge.

People new to the craft don't always understand that weaving is not something you can pick up easily and get the results you want without putting in some time to learn.  If you want to become good at it, it takes time and effort to understand the principles, understand how weave structure works, how the loom works, how the various accessory tools work, how to fix mistakes (like the missed dent, and then the two threading errors in the current warp on the AVL), and last, but not least, how to properly wet finish the web so that you get the cloth you were aiming for.

It takes time to learn the language of the technology - because it is a technology, was, in fact, one of the the driving forces behind the industrial revolution.  It takes time to acquire the physical skills required to put a warp into the loom without a tangled mess.  Further skill is required to set the loom up and then weave it off.

These skills do not come overnight.  And it is really difficult to help someone when they don't have the vocabulary or understand the principles.

So - back to The Golden Thread.

It is a partial history of textiles. but mostly it is a love song about them.  If you trust my judgement in books?  Find this book now.  Today.  You won't regret it.

If you want to wait for the book review - it will be a while.  This is a book to chew thoughtfully, carefully, enjoying the flavour.  I'm not going to rush through it.  Just take my word.  Track it down.

Oh - and if you are a new weaver - take a class, either in real life or from Janet Dawson on Craftsy or Jane Stafford's on-line guild.  Take the time to learn.  It's perfectly fine to leap into the deep end of the pool, but it's nice to have a life saver handy...

1 comment:

Fremming Family said...

I love your last sentence! I leapt into the deep end 4 years ago and have been so grateful for online classes and the online
weaving community and information (like your blog) that has been my lifesaver.