This is a subject which has popped up twice in less than a week, so I thought I would allow myself a few moments to muse on it.
Over at weaving today, which is the online extension of Handwoven magazine, a recent blog post takes the form of a “weaving personality quiz”. Based on your responses to the questions you are classified as a “colour/texture” weaver, a “structure/pattern” weaver or something in between that is undefined. A lot of the people posting comments seem to have come out in the middle, so perhaps it is not surprising that I did too: right bang in the middle of the middle with a score of 24. This presumably means I am either very balanced or very indecisive.
I’m not inclined to read much into pop quizzes, but I mention this one because of the other occurrence of the personality topic. At our guild meeting on Saturday I happened to be giving a talk about my experience of the Bradford course. I had been asked to do this about a year ago and blithely said, “oh yes, that’ll be fine” without really thinking about it. Fast forward >>> to a couple of weeks ago, when I found myself wondering what on earth I could say that might be relevant to other people and not just a self-indulgent bout of nostalgia. After all, the course-as-we-knew-it is in abeyance at the moment, so it is not as if I could help people decide whether they wanted to take it or not. Anyway, I settled on a structure for my talk that I thought would convey (a) something of what we learned, (b) something of how I developed as weaver, comparing my weaving personality “before” with my weaving personality “after”, (c) some thoughts on how doing the course contributed to that development and (d) ways people might be able to foster their own development sans Bradford.
So you see I had been thinking about my weaving personality — that was the phrase I chose — for a week or so before this quiz popped up. I hadn’t been trying to classify myself, however, just to identify some key characteristics. What I jotted down in my notes was this:
BB (Before Bradford)
- still a novice, loved to weave, keen to experiment;
- lack of experience led to some poor design choices, but responding to the consequences led to interesting discoveries;
- straightforward warps, single colours or stripes, played with colour in the weft;
- not much bothered by warnings about not using certain kinds of yarns, preferring to try it and see.
- much more adventurous with colour — when in doubt, use all the colours (or as many as possible);
- in love with warps, which allow me to “front load” the colour complexity and then concentrate on pattern when I am weaving;
- still like to experiment and don’t like being told that certain things are difficult or “won’t work” — that just makes me have to try it.
Most of what I noted down was about colour, although when I talk about “experimenting” what I mean is experimenting with structure: experimenting with structure in order to show off colour.
And the reason why I started telling this whole long-winded tale is that what I said came as a surprise to many of my guild friends. They have seen some of my finished work, of course, but we had never spoken about what motivated me; so, because I am known to be “mathematical”, they had assumed that I am driven to weave by a love of really complicated patterns and some found this off-putting. Discovering that I was motivated by colour suddenly made me seem like a more normal human being! You see, I do enjoy complex structures, but when I say “complex” I just mean something that takes a lot of planning not necessarily something that results in intricate patterning on the surface of the cloth. I’m sure as weavers you know what I mean. My personal taste actually runs the other way: I don’t like intricate pattern nearly as much as big bold shapes.
All this adds up to my not wanting to be classified one way or the other, so the middle of the middle will do just fine. If you work, as I do, with computers, then it often comes as an enormous surprise to people when they find out that you are literate as well (especially if you happen to be literate in more than one language). Literacy and numeracy are not mutually exclusive options! Nor are colour and structure. Of course, it is as well to know for yourself what you are not interested in before you sign up for a week’s tuition in something which will bore you rigid, but what made you sign up for the history of stamp collecting* when you could have been weaving? Get back to the loom and weave something!
*apologies to any historians of philately: I am sure it is fascinating.