Saturday, July 7, 2018


2/8 above and 8/2 cotton below - two completely different quality of yarns - because all the numbers mean is how many yards per pound (approximately) each has, and say nothing about how they were prepared for and spun.  They will produce completely different qualities of fabric because they are completely different qualities of yarn.

When I was just starting out as a weaver, it was pretty much an exploration with very few maps.  So I read - voraciously - and wove samples - unendingly.  I tried things, adjusted things, used every different kind of yarn I could afford.

Mostly, I reflected.  On my results, on my processes, on what needed to change in order to arrive closer to my goal.

Eventually I enrolled in the Guild of Canadian Weavers master weaver program.  This program is not a teaching program per se, but a testing one.  Part of me wanted to know if my experience was true beyond my own personal experience.  I was looking for the principles of the craft.  Things that were true in their application, not just in the specifics.

When it came time to do my research paper, I chose an aspect of wet finishing, partly because so little had been published about it.  And yet, it was the final step in bringing those individual threads into one cohesive cloth.  Partly I chose it because I wanted to know if I understood the principles or if my experience was only true for me.

I was very fortunate in that I had several people encouraging me to continue.  Two of them were instrumental in helping me understand those principles - Allen Fannin* and Tom Beaudet**.

(Eventually this research paper evolved into Magic in the Water)

Both had extensive experience in the construction of textiles - Allen from a similar sort of self-study I had done, but much more extensively than I had managed with an emphasis on industrial processes.  Tom is a textile engineer, making his living in the textile industry making everything from industrial to medical textiles and lots of other textiles in between.

Both agreed to look at what I had written to that point in time and both gave me excellent feedback as well as encouragement to continue.

Now I find myself in the position of trying to distill my very particular weaving experience into a format that others may be able to benefit from.  It is not an enviable position because so much depends on the readers and their perspective.  Their experience.  And how it may be similar - or differ - from mine.

Over and over again I rely on cliches - If you can't be perfect, be consistent.  Never use a knot where  bow will do.  It isn't finished until it's wet finished.  A thread under tension is a thread under control.  Change one thing and everything can change.  And of course everyone's favourite - It depends.

Recently a student shared another that I told her I was going to steal:  If it looks wrong, it is.

I forget which student it was - if it was you, let me know and I'll be sure to give you credit.

Bottom line - when it comes to the creation of textiles, Your Mileage May Vary.

*Allen Fannin - author of Handloom Weaving Technology.  When he died he was working on two books, which never were finished.  I mourned his untimely death due to a road accident and the loss of his knowledge that never made it into print.

**Tom Beaudet - with his grand daughter, writing and teaching weaving at his studio.  He recently published notes from his time studying the creation of textiles and is now offering kits as well as lessons

PS - it is this very variability of everyone's personal experience that is making writing The Intentional Weaver so difficult - my experience is particular to me.  Other people, using different yarns, different equipment and different processes will have a different perspective.  I am not saying those people are 'wrong' and that I'm 'right' - I am simply trying to share what I have done and the results I have achieved.  But I know that some people will be disappointed.  So I say again YMMV - partly because someone else is on a different path.  But it is also emotionally very difficult to know that people will be disappointed.  I am trying very hard to let that emotional attachment to my experience - my words - go and let people take what they will from what I am writing.  Not all who wander are lost - and everyone is on the path that they need to be.

On the other, other hand - when the book is available, I would appreciate people who find it of value to let their friends know.  


Carol said...

Laura, I'm not an expert in Canadian English,so this may go amiss. Those phrases you use (that we all love and repeat to ourselves) are far from being cliches. They are instead aphorisms. A cliche is "a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought." An aphorism, on the other hand, is "a pithy observation that contains a general truth, such as, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'" Sorry. The inner editor wouldn't stand for your devaluing your truths.

Peg Cherre said...

I agree with Carol. Your pithy words, along with some from other skilled weavers and artists, are often with me while I weave. The information you share is very valuable, and many of us really appreciate your generosity in doing so. For those who are disappointed, or don't like your message, there's another one of yours, which I probably won't quote quite correctly. It goes something like this, "If you're happy with your current processes and results, don't change them just because I said so."

Anonymous said...

Your book is another aspect of your wonderful creativity and comes from your heart. One common theme in writings about creativity is that the creator's "job" is simply to create. It is not your "job" to appeal to everyone. But since it comes from the heart criticism hurts. We know in truth you will be helping many, many people myself included. "Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!"
Stephanie Change