Monday, August 31, 2020

And Here We Are

August 31.

We are now more than half way through 2020, heading into autumn, then winter.  Summer would appear to be over before it even began.  OTOH, we didn't have to live for weeks under a wildfire smoke plume, so that is something to grateful for.

Plans have been postponed or outright cancelled.  People have had to be creative in getting things done.  Parents are facing the reality of school and what that is going to mean in terms of the pandemic.  Worried about keeping their children safe.

While politicians are...politickting.

Our guild is working on how to provide services for guild members.  We are fortunate in having some great people who are creative and energetic, always looking for solutions.  Plans are being formulated and contacts being made.  If at all possible, we will be incorporating more on-line resources.  The guild room is being re-arranged, we may be downsizing some of the equipment to make it possible to have safe socially distant gatherings and a guild sale in the room.  The guild needs the income and some of our guild members make enough to sell items so that would be a win-win for everyone.  Including moi, with the never-ending tea towels, I'd love to sell some.

Covid numbers are increasing in our province, but we are still pretty isolated here with low covid cases.  However I am very aware that could change at any time.

I have been trying to think about next year, hoping that things will be improved enough that classes will be able to be offered, travel will be easier, all while being aware that it might be in my best interests to just stay safely at home.

OTOH, there are a few things I would like to do that will require travel, so...we will see.

Yesterday while fixing weft loops in the black on black tea towels (of course the loops happened in the black on black part of the cloth!) I found it very difficult to see to do the 'fine' work of repairing those loops.  Instead of dreading the cataract surgery, I'm now hoping it will happen sooner rather than later.  In the meantime I will pay more attention while weaving so the loops can be fixed in the loom.  It won't take any longer and will be easier to do than after the cloth comes off the loom.

Human beings are nothing if not adaptable.  I have a feeling that life as we knew it is going to change radically.  One benefit of so many people wearing masks is that the flu/cold season might be less severe and that alone is a good reason for wearing a mask.

Yesterday I didn't feel 'well' and did not weave at all.  However, I did get some other things done, things I had been procrastinating over.  To finally get those out of the way felt good.  Today I woke with higher levels of pain than I have been having recently, but a couple of pain killers has mostly taken the edge off and I am about to get dressed and go weave a towel.  My goal for today is two towels and press the seven towels I wet finished yesterday.  Seems I can manage three things in a day.  Seems I am adapting to 'retirement'...

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Long Stretch

Looks pretty harmless doesn't it?  Kind of like a ball of textured yarn.  Sort of. 

So many people not understanding what a virus is.  How it works.  Frankly we still don't know much about this one, in part because the effect it has on the human body is complex and individuals can react in unexpected ways.

We don't know the extent of the 'injury' that it causes to the body or how long those effects will linger.  We are beginning to understand that we can be re-infected because the rate of mutation is high and just because you may have had it in February, doesn't mean you won't get it again in July.  As some people have already experienced.

People are saying 'it's just the flu'.  People are saying 'just everyone get it so that everyone will have had it and get it over and done with.'  People are saying 'yeah a few people will die, everyone dies.'

While that last one is true, I for one don't want to die just yet.  And most certainly not from this virus.

Until there is a cure, all we have are treatments for the symptoms.  And if you don't like wearing a mask, I can guarantee you will hate a ventilator.  Ventilators are so awful that when I had to have one for my cardiac surgery, they gave me a drug to make me forget having been on it.  That's how awful it is to be on one.

And hospitals are running out of such drugs because so many people are requiring a ventilator or a bed in the ICU.  Which is why it is important to flatten the curve - so that hospitals and medical practitioners are not overwhelmed with patients requiring complex care.

If you are old enough to remember polio, cast your mind back to the iron lung.  How much fun was that?  And yes, people died from polio.  A percentage of people were left with muscle weakness and mobility issues.  Decades later people were dealing with something called 'post polio syndrome'.

While I live in a town with a very low rate of cases (so far) it will take just one person shedding the virus to start an outbreak.

So I will continue to stay safely at home (because I can remove myself from the line of transmission), when I go out I will wear a mask if I can't guarantee safe social distance (minimum of six feet), and wash my hands when I get home.

We may be done with the virus, but the virus is not done with us.  Yet.

Friday, August 28, 2020


I've talked about my resources before, my 'libraries' of drafts that I can browse through, evaluate for their potential for being the 'next' warp in the queue.

The one open is the latest, the draft I'm using being the one partially covered by the blue arrow.  The booklet is called The Fanciest Twills by Irene Wood, based on the drafts developed by Fred Pennington, as I understand it.  All (or most, there are a very few at the back that are on more than 16 shafts) are done on a 16 shaft point progression.  Most are symmetrical, although not all, such as the one I'm currently using.  which has a symmetry, but not up and down as well as side to side.  As such it creates stripes in the cloth.

Other books have been in my library for a very long time, like the Oelsner, which has drafts for 4, 6, 8, 10 and on up.  There is a section for twill based weaves, but also sections for other weave structures.  Well worth the price if it is something you are interested in.  Should be readily available second hand, although it might be a Dover publication, so not terribly expensive new, either.

The other book is a much newer book, purchased on a trip to Sweden.  As it happens Kerstin Fro:berg knows one of the authors, and introduced me to her when we ran into each other somewhere.  It is a book similar insofar as it is drafts, various numbers of shafts involved.  It has a number of weave structures that are not very common in North American, and because I had actually met one of the authors, bought it. 

I use these books as jumping off places.  I browse through them looking for ideas, for inspiration.  Usually I know what I want to make (what function the cloth is to perform) but I may not have a clear idea as to design or weave structure, beyond a category (twill, lace, etc.)

So I idly thumb through with my idea simmering on the back burner, looking for something that appeals to me that would be suitable for the function, and perhaps the colours I have on hand.

Right now my primary mission is to use up what I have, not buy more, so there is that creative constraint as well.

I'm pleased enough with how the red and black is weaving up that I will go ahead with the other three warps I've pulled, plus look to see if I can re-combine the yarns to make one or two more warps in this same design.

And after that?  Well, I will just have to wait and see.  There are scarves to be made and 2/16 bamboo from Brassard to use, a variety of fine rayons in lots of different colours and textures to use up.  And all that silk.  The silk may take a while longer to simmer before I feel up to tackling it.

Currently reading Benefit of Hindsight by  Susan Hill

Thursday, August 27, 2020

What You See

open the image in a new window to see the draft entirely

I thought I would show the kind of information I work with when I'm planning a warp.

As mentioned previously, the threading is a point progression over 16 shafts.

(Why don't I call this point twill?  Because while the cloth is based on twill interlacement, it doesn't follow a strict twill tie up - see the tie up area.)

I have woven this draft previously, but this time I was also incorporating stripes of colour and I wanted that high contrast colour to appear in the area of the cloth that would be showing diamonds.

The colours were not kept in strict stripe format, but at times I would mingle the two colours at the stripe borders to give a softer look and also so that the stripes did not become 'boring' to the eye.  Since there is a subtle change at the edges of the two colours, there is more interest and the stripes are less repetitive to view.

Since each stripe might be slightly different, rather than attempt to show the totality of the cloth, I kept that in my mind as I worked through the draft making sure I had the cloth weaving the way I wanted it, where I wanted it.

But it was all very fluid, not set in stone.

In order to see the effect more clearly I did not apply colour to the entire draft but left some of it just one colour in the warp, one in the weft.

While the cloth is twill based, the area of black warp will not show that clearly and the overall effect is that of texture, not a design.

It was while Kerstin and I were touring around northern England, visiting as many textile mill/museums as we could, seeing the paperwork for the Jacquard designs, that it really came home to me that human beings really are the same.  Drafts for the Jacquard cloths were done in different colours, not representative of what the finished cloth would look like, but using colour to clearly mark how the cards would be cut in order to achieve the end goal.

We tend to process information differently, so finding out what is most effective for you is each person's grail to discover.

Yesterday I wove a second towel and I have to say, I'm glad I am getting this one under my belt now as the black on black is a bit of a challenge for me.  What will be even more challenging is the hemming.  So I'm glad I got to this point now before the days slide into autumn even further, making it even harder to see to hem the towels.

I am going to start seeing more obvious effects of the cataracts.  Right now I don't think my perception of colour has been affected as much as the distortion in the cataract, because it is not growing evenly, but has areas of more density.  This makes my vision more difficult in terms of focusing.  I hope that it now grows quickly so I can get it dealt with, not have lingering eye strain as I try to see through the distortion.

Ah - old age - it's a trip!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020


Yesterday I posted this photo of the latest red/black warp to Instagram.  But Instagram doesn't lend itself to much in the way of explanation, so here goes...

In my quest to weave down my stash I am facing more and more challenges in terms of choosing colours that I find pleasing - and that I hope others will as well.

I have a lot of resources, one of which is The Fanciest Twills compiled by Irene Wood and all of the drafts in that little booklet are based on a simple point progression over 16 shafts.

Finding myself weary from pandemic and politics fatigue, making threading errors because I was losing my focus, I decided to work with this particular design which is a bit unusual in that it weaves up as a stripe with two different combinations.  One part is a small diamond, the other is a textured stripe.  Perfect for doing a striped warp where the little diamonds could be highlighted with the use of a very different hue/value.

The main reason for using this was to use up some of the black 2/16 cotton yarn that was slowly but steadily deteriorating and becoming weaker and not suitable to use for warp.  As I thought about this combination, I also selected other combinations that would also benefit from this arrangement until there were four in the queue (with potentially a few more to come).

All my working life I have worked in series, I don't get 'bored' of making the 'same' thing over and over.  If I'm weaving, I'm good.  I don't much care what it is, so long as it is going smoothly/efficiently.

Right now I am needing to trade mental stimulation for something that I can use as a working meditation.  Respite from reality.  More Zen than exploration.

This warp shows the reed marks very clearly.  These reed marks should settle and become pretty much invisible as the threads move to areas of least resistance during wet finishing.  Those gaps should fill in as the threads within the dent shift and move over to fill in the gap.  So no, I'm not bothered by the obvious striping in the reed.  And if they don't?  They will be consistent.

I purposely did not keep the two hues in rigid stripes, but allowed the boundary between the two to blur by allowing - indeed encouraging - the two colours to mingle into each other.

As I get older I am paying the price for 40+ years of hard physical labour.  (Anyone who thinks production weaving isn't hard physical labour has a very romanticized notion of what weaving at a production level is.)

When I finally decided I needed a new massage therapist (my old one had retired due to Covid restrictions) I had just turned 70 and was facing some nagging physical issues that were interfering with my ability to do things - like weave.

Since I had to explain to a new therapist why I needed their help, I did my usual and wrote up a list of injuries and symptoms, which meant I had to actually think about the damage I had caused my body over the years.  Some of it my stubborn insistence on pushing through physical injury, some of it being injured in the first place.

As part of the initial appointment, we went over my concerns and at the end of the appointment, we talked about my ability to push through the pain.  How unproductive that actually was, especially now.  Once again another medical professional told me in plain words that it was time for me to stop doing that.

This time I think I'm ready to listen.

So instead of getting this warp set up in one day (about 5 hours) it was done over three days.  Even so, by the end my body was telling me it was not happy.  So I only wove one towel yesterday, not two.  And today I may not weave at all, since I will be spending the afternoon at the guild room trying to get our room re-arranged so that we can have small socially safe meetings once the weather changes and becomes too cold to be outdoors.

The guild is built on serving the membership and one of the things the guild tries to do is provide educational experiences for members.  We need our guild room for that to happen.

So last night we talked about a few things that we might be able to do but the room needs to be set up in order to make that happen.

Personally my intent is to continue weaving as much as this body will comfortably allow.  My intent is to listen to my body, not push through the warning signals of pain.  (Not all of my pain is weaving caused - it is just made worse by weaving.)

My intent is to continue being supportive of others in their journey of learning.  Promote other teachers who are providing good information (IMHO).  Suggest books with interesting content.

My father died at 56, my brother at 51.  I am still here at 70.  I have the grey hair to mark my 'seniority' and I know stuff.

As several people have pointed out, I am truly an 'elder' in the weaving community.  Since that is my perceived position, I will embrace it, to the best of my ability.

I am hopeful that next year the pandemic will be over enough that we can have face to face opportunities to learn.  OTOH, who knows what the future will bring.

We have a unique ability to communicate via the internet and we may have to just accept that for the coming months/years we will have to limp along using the internet.  Not that there aren't people doing excellent internet presentations - just that they are different from in person learning.

Human beings are adaptable.  We may have to change our lives in significant ways in the face of our changing reality.

I was never a cheerleader in high school.  But I can cheer lead from my office chair.

Keep learning.  Keep making mistakes.  Keep figuring out your 'best' way.  Keep on, keeping on!*

*shakes pom-poms in encouragement...

Monday, August 24, 2020


Yesterday was a lovely day - partially cloudy, mild - a great day for a safe socially distanced visit with a couple of people in my carport.

Today is not so nice.  The skies opened a while ago and it rained heavily.  Again.  I try to remind myself to be grateful for the wet summer that has meant fewer nasty wildfires, but...

Since I took the afternoon 'off' yesterday, I didn't finish setting up the red/black warp.  This morning I managed to finally finish threading it, then began sleying the reed.  I got this far when the lunch bell rang.

Now I am faced with some personal 'business' that needs doing.  It will mean time on the phone, but I need to take care of this sooner rather than later.

Instead I am procrastinating - again. 

OTOH, I am quite liking this combination, in spite of the colour being non-traditional for most kitchens.  I have zero idea if anyone will buy the towels I have been obsessively making during this time of pandemic.  I would no doubt make them anyway, just not this non-stop deep dive into the 2/16 stash.  I'm sure I would have tired of tea towels weeks ago and been onto something else, I am.

There are three more warps in the queue, and I'm thinking once those are done I could do a re-combination of those yarns and do a few more warps, using this setup.  It's just a point progression over 16 shafts and the weave structure will reflect the stripe.

It is dead easy - and yet I still made one threading error and one sleying error.  So far.

I may not even get weaving today given the time as I'm writing this.  OTOH, it may not take me very long on the phone to deal with the pressing issue.  Plus an on-line order from a shop that doesn't mandate mask wearing but does do home delivery of on-line orders.

So...I will use that option rather than brave the store. 

I miss my energy.  I miss my fit(ter) body.  I miss my friends and students.  I am truly now the tortoise, and most certainly not any kind of Energizer Bunny!

Sunday, August 23, 2020


view of the Nechako River

We are now five months into the pandemic measures and people are feeling fatigue.  The stress has been unrelenting in many cases and difficult to manage for many.

Even people who are introverts, who don't mind staying home, limiting their social interactions are beginning to find it all tiring.

This past week has been a bit of a roller coaster for me, even though I am largely getting better and things are improving physically.

The reality of this pandemic is that it is not going to be over any time soon.  People are worried about their children and school re-opening.  People are worried about their finances, if they can pay their bills, if they will have a job to return to.

Governments are running out of money, just like the rest of us, so what can they do?  The economy is going to have to be adjusted, hopefully in a way that benefits as many people as possible.

We have a new minister of finance here, a risky move given the watershed we are about to undergo with tweaking the economy, but was deemed necessary.  It will be interesting to see what the new minister will do, given their long involvement with the publication Financial Times, and being involved in reporting on the economy and then dealing with negotiations with other countries for trade deals.

This past week I have found myself struggling to find the energy to do much of anything.  We had another week of grey dreary days, but the weather forecast is looking more promising for the coming week, so I'm hoping with a little sunshine I will feel more energetic.

OTOH, I am supposed to be 'retired' - but I am also not giving up living, or weaving.  So on the one hand, while there is no great urgency to get to the loom to make stuff, I also want to keep active, keep weaving, keep using my yarn stash. 

I do not want to leave my friends with the chore of getting rid of hundreds of pounds of yarn...

The reality is, I need to sell some of what I have made, but right now most venues are closed and I am also reluctant to sell to Americans because of the USPS issues and mail being delayed for weeks in some cases.  (One parcel, mailed July 2 still has not been delivered.)

As I get older, what I miss the most is my energy.  I am hoping that as I recover physically I will regain some of it.  I also miss my ability to concentrate, which seems to have flown out the window.  Maybe that will come back with the sunshine, too.

I have no answers, just - hang in there.  Stay safe at home if you can.  Wear a mask if you need to go out.  Maintain safe social distance.  Wash your hands.

While we may be tired or bored, the virus is not and is building up to the second wave...

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Best Before

Took a while to rev my engine yesterday, but did finally manage to start beaming the next warp.

The last time I worked with this black yarn (purchased in, oh, 1997 or somewhere about there, sitting in darkened store room since then) was for a warp a couple of months ago.  During beaming there were several tubes that were culled out because the yarn kept breaking.  That yarn was mostly used up as weft.  But I still had tubes of black yarn so I came up with this warp.

Turns out that there are even more tubes that have gotten weak enough that they don't like the tension of beaming so yesterday I got this far, culling two more tubes while beaming the first two sections.

I'm hoping that I've got them all now, but if not, there are 5 more tubes I can substitute and if I need more, there are a few really dark blue tubes, too.

The plan was to use up the last of the originally culled tubes as weft, then use up some of the 'good' tubes.  Well, now there are four tubes that will be used up as a matter of priority.

And I'm thinking that I need to use up more of this yarn, possibly as weft, as soon as I can. 

Black dye is widely regarded as being very harsh on yarn and this yarn appears to be approaching it's 'best by' date very quickly.  It can still be used as weft, but once this warp is wound, I am going to be very reluctant to use it as warp again.  So now I'm trying to think about what I have in the queue that would benefit from a very dark/black weft.

Stay tuned!

Friday, August 21, 2020

Slow Simmer

This afternoon I started setting up to beam the next warp.

While this particular warp was conceived quite a few weeks ago, it was going to vary from my 'usual' in such a way as to require a minor change to the loom (additional ties for the sectional beam) so it kept getting set aside while I dealt with the more usual set up.

As I kept moving it to the end of the queue, I started coming up with other colour combinations that would work with this design and lo, there are now four bins with yarns pulled for a short series using the same set up, same weave structure.

So the long slow simmer turned out to be beneficial.  As it percolated in the back of my mind, various technical issues bubbled to the surface, and in the end, even today another slight tweak was made as I was setting the tubes into the spool rack.

(Yes, even after this photo was taken, one more was made!)

Giving myself the time to think, slowly and carefully, about what I was doing has meant that by now, all of the technical issues should have been worked out.

The loom was stripped of the white warp (just under 3 oz of yarn, into the recycle bin - about $1.50 worth of yarn) the two additional ties adjusted for the different size of the Megado beam, and the ties grouped into four bunches.

The bin has been put away because when these tubes come off the spool rack they will go back onto the shelves and then the next one in the queue will be beamed.

After standing to press the towels that came out of the dryer, then putzing getting this ready to go, I felt the need of a break.  And came up to discover that yes, it was raining again.  Right now rather heavily.

I find it difficult to see another grey dreary and very dark day, but must not grumble because it could be like two years ago when we had the horrendous wildfire smoke plume for weeks on end.

There is just enough time to finish setting up the loom for beaming before beginning dinner.  Who knows, I might even get a few sections filled?

Celebrate every inch of progress.  It's still progress...


Both of the warps collected in these bins are now complete.  Yesterday I finished weaving the current warp.  There might have been enough warp left for one more towel, but I had used up the yarns I wanted to use for weft, and I didn't feel like having a single towel of one other colour.  Since the remaining warp is most likely less then 2 ounces worth of yarn, I decided it could be sacrificed to the loom goddess.

Went to the massage therapist yesterday.  I had been feeling quite well, nearly myself again, so I dragged out the vacuum cleaner.  My floors have suffered because vacuuming is the worst thing you can do with a wonky back.  However, the herds of dust buffalo were growing and I was finally feeling well enough that I cared about how large they had gotten.

Of course I wasn't able to do more than half the house before my back started to seize up on me, and I put it away again.  But I got the worst of the worst.  When I told the therapist what I'd done, he looked at me sadly and said that at least I'd done it before I had my treatment, not after and messed everything up again.  I told him that was exactly why I'd done it - I needed to find out my limitations.  He agreed that I did, and now I had I needed to lay off the vacuuming again.  I said I also had a Swiffer 'mop' and he agreed that was better and that the rugs would have to wait until I had recovered further.

But it was a watershed moment - the realization that I was actually recovering some of my ability to function and that allowed me to hope again.  I am well aware that I am now much older and more physically compromised than I was when I started weaving.  Rode hard put away wet, comes to mind.

When I got home I rested, took a Tylenol and then finally got to the loom to weave the last towel on that warp.

It feels very satisfying to use up the tag ends of tubes of yarn.  To the point where I am finally beginning to think about what comes after the tea towels.  By the time I weave off the four warps waiting in the queue, I might feel tea towel saturated.  In which case, I have loads and loads of rayon(s) that need using up and maybe it is time to do a run of scarves to start using up some of that.

In my quest to use up stash, I feel I have only made a tiny dent in it.  Fine yarns go a very long way!  But I also like the quality of cloth that a finer yarn can make.

I still have to deal with all that silk, and now that I've made nearly all of the jigsaw puzzles I own, it is nearly time to clear off the dining room table and set up my e-spinner.  And make yarn I can actually see.  My cataracts are getting worse, and the one in my 'good' eye is actually distorting my vision.  I may not be able to drive after dark this winter, which may impede my ability to participate in guild drop-ins. 

OTOH, with the pandemic still in the equation, there may be good reason to continue to self-isolate and stay away from groups of people in confined spaces with poor air circulation.

I still have the internet (fibre optic was installed this week!) and can maintain contact with friends near and far virtually.

Stay safe, everyone.  Wear a mask if you need to go out, maintain safe social distance, wash your hands.


Thursday, August 20, 2020


the culmination of years of research and experimentation 

one of the garments woven for the Guild of Canadian Master Weavers certificate

The first time someone referred to me as an 'expert' I cringed.  Literally.

The Oxford Concise Dictionary defines 'expert' as:  trained by practice, skilful, person having special skill or knowledge

An 'expert' (I'll stop using the quotation marks from now on) doesn't just have a degree or training in something, although that is a good beginning.  They must also put their knowledge into practice.  IMHO.

I came to weaving with a thirst for knowledge, recognizing that I could study the creation of cloth for the rest of my life and not know it all.  After 4 decades (plus) of studying, researching, taking classes with every teacher I could, reading as many books as I could find, weaving quite literally hundreds of samples and then studying them(!), I still do not consider myself anything other than knowledgeable.

There is more - much more - to learn about wet finishing, not just weaving as a whole.

Weaving is a gigantic pot of knowledge and skill and no one person can be an expert in every single facet of it.  Every good weaving teacher I know still gets excited when they learn something new.  They are aware of the holes in their knowledge and choose to fill them - or not.  Not every aspect of weaving appeals to every weaver.

While I know a little bit about tapestry and rug making, I am in no way an expert.  If someone wants technical information on that, I will refer them to people more knowledgeable than I am in that area.  Ditto things like weaving on small looms.

When someone is wanting to learn more, they will be faced with choices.  Especially now when a lot of information (not all of it 'good') is available on line.

What do I look for in a weaving teacher?  

I want to understand what they are knowledgeable about.  I want to hear how they present their information.  Do they give flat statements, saying 'doing it this way, my way is the only correct way'?  Or do they say 'in this circumstance it would be best to try this, that or the other'?

My knowledge is now broad enough that when someone makes a pronouncement about some aspect of weaving, I check it against my own investigation to see if there are points of correspondence.  If not, I want to know more about why there is a difference.  Because change one thing, everything can change.

If someone says 'do it this way because this is how it has always been done' I take a step back because the craft of working with fibre has been happening for 30,000+ years.  Has this 'always' been done 'this' way?   Why is it now 'always' done this way and does this way apply to my own practice?

To this day I do not comfortably wear the label 'expert' that others have bestowed on me because I know where the holes in my foundation of knowledge are.  At this point in my life I am not likely to try to fill them.  And I'm ok with that.

But as I said on Facebook this morning, I am old, I have learned things, and I know things.

Doesn't mean I'm not willing to learn more.  When I learn new things, I will change what I think I knew to factor in the new information.

"Do the best you can until you know better.  When you know better, do better."

A short list of some of the people I have learned from:
my first weaving teacher:  Elain Genser

workshops/seminars by

Irene Waller
Peter Collingwood
Diane Mortenson
Mary Frame
Judith MacKenzie
Dini Moes
Mary Bentley
Allen Fannin
Tom Beaudet
Jack Lenor Larsen
Madelyn van der Hoogt
Stephen Simpson
Morphyd Roberts
Mary Andrews
Robyn Spady
Bonnie Inouye

And many many more - names I will regret not remembering right this minute.

I would also like to say, all my students, who have pushed me to think more deeply about the craft with their astute and intelligent questions.  

As for the books I have read - too many to list here.  Check out Allen Fannin's book for an extensive bibliography for a very deep dive into the craft.

Otherwise, my favourite textile science book:  A Guide to Textiles for Interior Designers by Jackman and Dixon.  Get the cheaper 1st or 2nd edition - you don't need the more expensive 3rd edition.

Understand your materials, equipment, and processes.  Learn how each functions and when special adaptations need to be made.  Be willing to change what you are doing when what you are doing is not giving you the results you desire.

Choose an expert, learn as much from them as you can, then choose another to find out yet more.  Learn enough to become your own expert.

Above all, enjoy the journey.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Collective Learning

"The life so short, the craft so long to learn"

Recently someone posted this quote in reference to learning the craft of weaving (any craft really) amid a discussion of how one learns all the things there are to know about how to create a textile.

New weavers are anxious for definitive answers when the truth is, there aren't any.

Recently had a discussion with Jane Stafford about how, even after decades of weaving we both still feel like 'beginners', something new to learn all the time.

During this pandemic time, it is difficult for new weavers to learn - classes have been cancelled outright or postponed, or gone on-line.

The challenge with on-line learning is that students don't get the experience of feeling the resulting textiles, when a+b+c is done.

Textiles are, by their very nature, tactile.   The feel of them is a large consideration.

New weavers are told to sample, but when you don't know where to start, how do you begin?

For me I just jumped in and started exploring all the things - yarns, density, weave structures.  What happens when I change this?  What happens when I tweak that?  I have boxes and boxes of samples that I am loathe to get rid of - I spent lots of time, effort and money making them and they always come in handy when I'm teaching because the students can *feel* the results and begin to understand how multi-level and subtle the creation of textiles really is.

I studied all kinds of textiles.  I had been working with textiles in one way or another for years so I found it fascinating how tiny subtle changes could and would make a difference to the resulting fabric.

As I became more experienced I joined sample exchanges.  In return for weaving a bundle of samples, I got a variety of different samples in exchange.  The samples were documented and I could see - and feel! - the cloth, study the fibres used, examine the details, analyze the results.

It was a starting place and jump started my base or foundation of knowledge.

Instead of 'just' samples, sometimes people will do a 'thing' exchange.  The most common is tea towels.  These are great (although a larger investment for participation) because you get a functional textile that you can actually use and evaluate for how well it performs that function.

These exchanges can be done within a local guild or by mail.

The Guild of Canadian Weavers Bulletin still includes a sample with each issue.  Complex Weavers has a number of study groups where people exchange samples.  Conferences sometimes organize things like tea towel exchanges.

Some publications over the years have included textiles as well.  Those are by their very nature more expensive, but worth it.  (eg, the original Magic in the Water, the series A Good Yarn and others)

Some guilds subscribe to newsletters which also have samples in them.

Once the pandemic is 'over' it might be well worth a deep dive into guild libraries to find out what treasures they may have in terms of actual fabric samples to study.

"The life so short, the craft so long to learn."  Indeed.