Monday, July 23, 2012


#3 scarf on this warp - the colours are pretty true on my monitor

Reading through Quiet there is a section on how introverts learn as compared to extroverts - how much - or little - stimulation each needs in order to learn well.  One of the interviewed experts talks about Deliberate Practice - something I call Purposeful Study.

There is a huge difference between practicing something without analyzing how effective what you are doing actually is in terms of your results.  If you simply practice something that isn't very effective over and over, all you are doing is cementing in place 'bad' work habits.  Habits that are extremely difficult to erase once they are firmly set into muscle memory.

Weaving is, on the face of it, very simple.  Anyone who wants to take the time to learn it can do it.  People who follow directions can produce lovely work.  But if you want to understand the subtleties of the craft to the point where you can make your own design decisions, a more purposeful approach needs to be taken, I think.

The question 'why?' must be asked, and then, 'what if?'   By constantly questioning results, the practitioner will gradually learn how the materials will react in different circumstances and how to control their results.  By accepting 'failure' (iow results that are less than desirable) the practitioner begins to learn what works and what doesn't.

One of my goals when I teach is to try to make the craft less mysterious.  Since I am an introvert, analytical, have done my 10,000 hours of Purposeful Study, I have a fair understanding of the nuances of the craft and, I've been told, can articulate those fairly well.  One of my students called me a storyteller.  After thinking about that for a moment I realized she was right - my story is the story of the construction of cloth.

When students come to my studio to study I offer them the opportunity to post on my blog as a guest.  I realized that some of the students that have studied with me elsewhere might also like a chance to guest blog.  If you would like to do that, email me your text with one or two photos of your work (the internet is a visual medium after all!).  I reserve the right to edit for length and typos.  :)


DebbieB said...

Laura, I'm weaving some tea towels today, and I decided to try holding the shuttle the way you recommend, palm up. It was quite awkward this morning, but I persisted, knowing that my thousands of hours of practicing holding it in a less-ergonomic way (palm down) had cemented it into my muscle memory. It would take some time to adjust and change that. Amazingly, as I progressed from towel to towel, the new posture of my hands felt more and more natural. I really like the 'pendulum' swing as the shuttle goes from side to side - it's a good rhythm. I'm certain that I wove faster today and was more productive. "Purposeful Practice" indeed.


Anonymous said...

My book of samples arrived yesterday, the house is full of company with more coming tomorrow and I want so badly to run away somewhere and look at my book!!! Thank you so much!!! Steph in NH

charlotte said...

Some time ago I realized that I had troubles catching and sending the shuttle effectively. Studying your youtube clip showing how to do this has improved my speed enormously and I am very grateful. Thanks a lot!