picking up on the sample thing

I have just been reading Laura Fry’s recent posts on sampling and I want to add my “Hear, hear!” so there it is. As you may have realised, my own problem with sampling is forcing myself to stop…

Thinking about sampling also caused another thought to pop into my head. It is a recurrent thought but one which I have never recorded, so I thought this time I’d catch it and write it down.

It is quite common for new weavers to start by weaving projects from books and magazines. I certainly tried a few drafts I found in Handwoven, although it is (or was six years ago) less easy for UK weavers to make the exact projects therein since we don’t (or didn’t) have ready access to the US yarns and yarn suppliers. However, in the weaving community it is more or less expected that sooner or later the novice weaver will move on to designing their own projects, and for some — especially those who have experience in knitting — this seems to be a strange and frankly unreasonable expectation. After all, many knitters produce beautiful work and become very expert without getting into pattern design. And you wouldn’t expect a pianist to compose all their own sonatas, would you? What snobs those weavers are!

But in fact this expectation is not unreasonable at all. The secret is this: designing your own weaving is really, really easy. And the reason it is easy is because you only need to make rectangles. Rectangles! Knitting projects involve all sorts of garment shaping as well as pattern and colour; weaving projects are rectangles.

Of course, they don’t have to be rectangles, and the challenge of using a loom to make non-rectangular cloth can keep a weaver happy and busy for a lifetime: just look at Anna Champeney’s post about the Danish weaver Lotte Dalgaard*, for example. Even if you don’t want to go that far, “defying the grid” in small ways to create pattern and texture is enormous fun — but you don’t have to worry about the shape you get. You can make the cloth and then cut it up to create whatever you want.

The only thing standing between a weaver and his or her own designs is fear of it all going wrong. So if you feel that fear, go and make samples!

Rant over, thought recorded, time for bed.

*Right after this quick plug: I should mention that Anna has written a fascinating profile of Lotte Dalgaard for the forthcoming Journal, which is how I come to know about her amazing cloth. It comes out in late November so there’s still time to sign up for your copy 🙂

picking up on the sample thing” was posted by Cally on 12 Oct 2010 at http://callybooker.co.uk

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6 Responses

  1. neki rivera
    | Reply

    she says that scarves are samples.i’m saved i do sample a lot !!i

  2. Pat Foster
    | Reply

    And what if the warp yarn cost a fortune and you don’t want to waste a scrap and you can’t make your mind up what weft to use? You can put on a ghost warp which will give you another 24 inches on the Megado. What about trying out weft yarns AND UNPICKING THEM. After photography of course.

    • Kerstin
      | Reply

      No, no!!!
      Use the extra 24 inches (that would be approx half a metre, yes?) to weave with 5-6 different wefts and KEEP THEM for future reference! Next week (or year) one of the combinations can be exactly right!

      • Cally
        | Reply

        Sounds like we’ve got two different trains of thought here… I’m with both of you! Saving expensive yarn using a dummy warp *tick* and sampling to the very last centimetre *tick* 🙂

  3. humblebumble
    | Reply

    alright cally.

    thought i should drop u a line as i’ve finally started posting again after a long absence. glad to see you’re still working away at the whole thing. i’m working like a coolie in the weave shed at college every day now, beginning a long campaign of systematically sampling all the yarns i can get hold of in a series of regular and not-so-regular weaves.

    I get a lot of “free time” in college and choose to use it sitting inside a loom cursing, as we all would, were we all somewhat bonkers and completely monomaniacal

    i’ve also just finished a double layer interchanging cloth, which hurt my brain and am now planning a triple-layered interchanging cloth, which may well break my brain altogether. good times

    • Cally
      | Reply

      I’m heading right over to have a look at your blog! Glad they are letting you have plenty of loom time.

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