Friday, September 4, 2009

Asking Myself Why

A wise weaver in my local weaving group suggested that I ask myself why.

Good advice for many things in life and in weaving.

The particular why I'm puzzling through in this post is:

"Why were the drafts I loved successful or unsuccessful for the Ruby Leslie Color Workshop warp?"

: I tend to think out loud....or on paper or using a this post is long and might not be even slightly interesting to anyone. I will not be offended if you just skim - or even bail out now!! I need to keep all this info in here so I can come back and look at it so that it sticks in my mind.)

I don't always apply my engineering training to my creative pursuits. Perhaps I should do it more often. Thinking analytically about why I like something or why I don't could help me create things I think are beautiful and avoid those projects that just don't come out to my liking.

For me, nothing is more motivating than a project that is coming out even better than I imagined....and nothing is more demotivating than a project that I don't love. For me, that feeling of loving a project is really important....worth thinking analytically to make it more likely that I feel that way more often.

I realize I've actually resisted thinking analytically about creative projects because I've often used those projects as an antidote to too many hours at work thinking along rigid engineering lines. Even though I'm not working as an engineer these days, old habits die hard.

What I want to mull over in this post is why some of the drafts that I chose and sampled looked good and some were huge disappointments. They were all drafts that I liked and thought would work, but only some of them actually worked.

First I tried this draft that reminds me of fern fronds.

When I wove it, I didn't like it with this warp. I think the issue was that the warp has strong stripes and this draft has strong horizontal elements. My weft was also striped since I didn't have enough of any one color to do the project.

I think the warp stripes, weft stripes and strong and fairly large horizontal were competing with each other rather than helping one I don't think this was a successful combination.

These crescents are OK on paper. They were on my short list, but I didn't love them.

When I wove them, they looked pretty good. I think the small scale of the shape and the fact that it doesn't strongly push my eye in any particular direction helps this combination to work.

My favorites on paper had a strong diagonal component.

I thought these diagonal bricks might look good also.

Both the fusili and the bricks disappeared when I wove with them.

Looking at the fabric again today, I realized that if I look at the back of the fabric, I can see the fusili a little bit and one small part of the bricks. (The top two shapes are fusili and the bottom shape is part of a diagonal brick.

I judged one pattern by what the back of it looked like, and the other by a very small repeat.

I'm still happy with the choice of the crescents, because I ended up using this fabric for napkins - so I'm glad that it's reversible.

My decision-making process could have been better though.

Things I learned:
  • Make sure I know what both sides of the fabric will look like. If I want the cloth to be reversible, make sure to consider both sides!
  • The size of the motif in the weaving and any color variations in the warp and weft will interact
  • As with so many things in life, good on paper isn't always good in practice!!
  • Analyzing why you either liked or disliked something is a good way to learn and improve as a weaver!
If any of you have made it through this post, thank you for that! If you notice something else about these drafts with this warp and weft, please comment and let me know!!

Related posts:
Finished napkins on my autumn table

Samples from the workshop
Day 1 of color workshop
Day 2 of color workshop (I guess I was too tired to write about day 3!)
Ruby's Teaching Schedule


charlotte said...

I don't think this post was too long, but it is very interresting to anybody dealing with weave structures.
I think when I don't like a particular draft which I beforehand thought I would like, this is because it didn't turn out like I imagined it would. Sometimes I continue sampling with different yarn or just varying epi and ppi, and then it can happen that I get the effect I hoped for in the first place.
But I have also had some experience lately that details looking nice on the computer, probably just would vanish in the fabric.
For myself I have drawn the conclusion I can never know precisely how a binding pattern will look in the fabric unless I have tried to weave it (and unless I use exactly the same yarns and epi/ppi like in a project description with photo).
Weaving is not an easy trade, but I guess that's what makes it so fascinating!

Theresa said...

Sue, great post and one I actually had to mull over before commenting. I'm with Charlotte, weaving in all it's variations and complexity can offer up surprises
no matter how long you've been at it and I think some of your questions go towards goals in weaving. Is it the process or the finished article that grab you about this trade? Myself, I think, at this time, it's more process. I'm sticking with simple weave structures and simple items really. What creates the magic for me is the fibers. A usable woven item is almost secondary to the planning and warping process. While I have worked on some nice and challenging weave structures, overshot, summer & winter, monks belt and some fancy twills, my pleasure in the product was heavily based on how much I was pleased with the fibers and a good appropriate choice of weave pattern.
I start with a fiber I like and search for the simplest structure to enhance instead of starting with a pattern and finding suitable fiber. I still struggle with color play in the weaving and since I consider everything an experiment, I have many failures, but since it was the process I am usually not too unhappy it ended in something fugly that I didn't love. You being an engineer makes perfect sense that the structure is the vehicle for the creativity. My father is the same also. I always think of the point of inspiration and creativity like the center of a spider web, we all build out in a different direction but cover the same things.
I'm sure this comment was absolutely no help whatsoever in draft determination!

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for reading and commenting!!

It's interesting to hear your responses to these thoughts.

Charlotte, your comment makes me want to ask the weaver who started me down this line of thought if she can predict what things will look like. She's been weaving seriously for years and is very accomplished. I know she likes to do samples and has an extensive collection of sample books that she's put together. So I'm guessing that she can't predict either.

I don't even try to predict what something will look like....but I go toward what I like. Sort of a "I'll know it when I see it" approach.

I do think the fact that there are so many different ways to weave makes weaving really interesting and really grabs hold of my thoughts.

Theresa, Process or finished article....For me, I like to get a finished article that meets my goals for the project out of weaving. I've done warps that are just for sampling purposes, but I'd way rather warp the loom for some samples and something that will be a finished object.

On the other hand, I'm fully capable of cranking out a bunch of scarves or dishtowels or something like that, and that doesn't appeal to me at all. I like to do the whole design process and then try to meet my goals for that piece - which inevitably includes making a usable piece that I like.

I haven't done any complicated structures yet, but the part of my brain that loved engineering in school, loves the idea of combining that mathematical, puzzle-solving piece of my mind with creating beautiful, useful items. (Hence the 12 shaft Toika!)

Knowing me, I will embrace different parts of weaving on different projects or at different times. That's what's so cool about weaving - you could spend your life weaving and still have ways you could learn or grow in the craft.

I appreciate other bloggers so much. It is so helpful for me to have these types of discussions about how and why we weave....not just what we weave!



Theresa said...

And speaking of those 12 shafts......getting ready to add some more onto the loom? I can't wait to see that beautiful loom with all her parts!

Life Looms Large said...

I am determined to get everything sanded and oiled before it gets too cold to work on it outside. I still have one more part of the porch painting project that I'm responsible for....and then I have to make myself get out the sandpaper!!

I was just thinking about blankets - and what I want to weave....and for some of them I want a lot of shafts.

Fingers crossed that I actually put my nose to the grindstone - or hands to the sandpaper in this case!


Delighted Hands said...

I can sympathize but other than knowing what I like and don't like I have only learned this for sure about weaving-just try different things and enjoy the process!

Life Looms Large said...

I guess sometimes I enjoy asking why!!