Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mistakes: A novice's tutor



A mistake repeated is a new design, my friend and weaving mentor Beth likes to say. This is especially true in weaving where a slip in one’s concentration can cause all kinds of interesting problems in your cloth. Below you can see what is going on with the dishtowels I’m weaving, which have become a defacto sampler.
Despite the greatest of care and much double checking, I made two warping errors. One is missing a dent in the reed, and the second was in the threading. The missing dent is the most bothersome because it gives the weaving a gap toothed look on the loom, though I suppose this might at least partly disappear once it is free from being held in tension. The threading error happened in a kind of nice spot design wise, so I pretend it is my “signature stripe” or something to that effect.
The fun part was when I decided to re-tie my treadles to a walking tie-up, which puts a tabby (plain weave) at each end of the six peddle arrangement on my four harness loom. I was using a classic rosepath treadling from Marguerite Davison’s book which produced tiny little triangles.
I must have been daydreaming when I started weaving one day because I treadled one of the tabby’s adding two pics to the design. So, I became a weaving designer, or better an unventer, because here I have this satisfying little weave that is a mix of small and big diamonds. I think I will weave the central area of the towel before going back to what I was doing at the start—weaving a couple of rows of diamonds and then one row using overshot technique. This will be fun.
My friend Beth says that in earlier times, apprentice weavers were given samplers to work on. As a novice this is where I should be too. I want to not only learn to weave, but master the craft—to understand how and why things happen. My “mistakes” are providing this knowledge. I’m glad I made the decision to move forward with weaving and not redo the threading and sleighing.
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