Category Archives: Practice

One More Reason To Love The Rigid Heddle Loom

 

photo of 24" RH loom with cotton mat project in progress

If you weave with a rigid heddle loom, you already know it’s a wonderful way to weave.

You don’t need me to remind you of all the advantages.

You already know – and appreciate – what your rigid heddle loom can do.

  • You know how easy it is to set up your loom when you’re ready to weave.
  • And you know how easy it is to put it away when you’re not.
  • You know that your loom offers endless fabric-making possibilities.

I know these things, too.
They’re a few of the reasons why I choose to teach weaving with RH looms and why I wholeheartedly recommend the rigid heddle loom to anyone interested in weaving.
Especially anyone eager to explore the craft without having to spend lots of money for a much larger and more expensive piece of equipment.

Rigid heddle looms are affordable, portable, simple, and versatile.

But if someone asks you why you love weaving with your rigid heddle loom you might have more personal reasons.   You might say it’s because:

  • You can take your loom outside with you on a fine summer’s day.
  • You can weave on your porch, under a tree, in a park or on the beach.
  • You can hang your loom on the wall  – and display your handwoven art.
  • You can take your loom with you on vacation or on a business trip.

Maybe most important of all:

You can access your creativity with a rigid heddle loom.

The funny thing is, even though I know and appreciate all of these things, until recently I’ve done almost all of my weaving on a floor loom.

Until recently, I’ve felt more comfortable weaving with a floor loom.

Maybe because I learned to weave on a floor loom.
Maybe it’s just a habit I developed because I’ve spent so much time practicing with a floor loom.
Or maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a loom snob.  Maybe I choose to believe that a floor loom is “better” than any other type of loom.
Maybe.

But maybe the reason I haven’t spent much time weaving with a rigid heddle loom is simply that I haven’t had to.   I’ve had access to (and a definite preference for) a different type of loom.

Funny how things change.

My new reason to love the rigid heddle loom? – I don’t have to use my knees.
And recently, I’ve been having pain in my knees.

Of course it makes me sad not to be able to use my floor looms – dancing on those treadles is part of the fun.
And of course I hope I’ll be able to weave that way again, soon.

But for now, my “weaving way” is moving me slowly and gently in a different direction.

And once I decided to get over feeling disappointed and frustrated, I started to get excited about this new path.

I’m excited about planning projects that – until now – have been outside my preferred (and comfortable?) method of operation.

I’m also intrigued by the appearance of this unimagined opportunity and the impact it has on the choices I make – turning me away from what I know well – towards ideas I hadn’t (and likely would not have) considered before now.

I love weaving.  I love spending time making fabric by hand.

And this change in circumstance reminds me of why, exactly, that is.

Weaving helps me learn about myself.

One thing’s for sure:  if you’ve ever thought (like I did) that weaving with a rigid heddle loom “just isn’t the same” as weaving with floor loom – you’d be right.

There are a lot of reasons why it’s a whole lot better.

I gotta go figure out what I want to weave next.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio

Spin, Weave, Dye or Blog?

What do you do when you get stuck?

Considering how long it’s been since my last blog entry – it’s pretty clear that  “publish a new blog post”  hasn’t been at the top of my to-do list for a while.

It’s there.  Just not at the top.
Not because I don’t like sharing my work.
And not because I haven’t been working on things I’d like to share.

Like these two rugs

photo of handspun handwoven rug made by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

“Brick” Rug, 31″x 21″, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

 

photo of multi-color wool rug, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

Multicolored Rug, 41″ x 21″, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

and this twill tape/binding (the hem sections on the multi-color rug were too bulky to fold and didn’t look right),

photo of twill tape used as binding on multi-color rug, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

Twill Tape for multicolored rug, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

and another greeting card project with removable/useable mug rugs,

photo of greeting cards with fabric inserts handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

2013 Holiday Greeting Cards, fabric inserts handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

and a couple of scarves,

photo of Yak Scarf , 69" x 3", handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio,  Fairfax, VT

Yak Scarf, 69″ x 3″, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

photo of silver-gray, Alpaca and Silk scarf, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

Alpaca/Silk Scarf, Silver-Gray, 71″ x 13″, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

and some experiments dying fabrics and yarn to “go-with” commercial yarn colors.

photo of fabric and yarn dyed to match commercial yarn colors

Matching colors – hand dyed mop yarns and muslin.

The reason I haven’t shown up here for such a long time is that this blog is part of a question I’ve been struggling with –  my “What will I do about building a new website?” question.

And by struggling, I mean stuck.

The kind of stuck-ness that happens when you know something’s wrong with your project.
And you try to fix it.

photo of a film can attached to a warp thread to fix a broken warp during weaving

Is one enough?

But it’s the kind of wrong-ness doesn’t go away.  It just gets worse.

photo of 5 film cans hanging from the back of a loom used to try and fix broken warp threads during weaving

Are 5 too many?

And you start to think it might be better to cut your losses and move on to something else.

photo of cotton threads, cut from the loom

The final solution.

If you’ve ever struggled to understand something and felt like you didn’t  “get it” – If the only thing you did manage to get – from all the hours, days, weeks, (months?) of study, practice, work and effort  – is a feeling of frustration – then you know what I mean by stuck.

Like you’re not getting anywhere.
You’re just spinning your wheel(s) and not making any yarn.

And if you know what that’s like, – you probably also know how easy it is for feelings of confusion and bewilderment to turn into disappointment and doubt.

The problem isn’t that we get stuck.

Learning something new is always filled with challenges; situations, information, techniques, materials – all kinds of things we’re unfamiliar with and aren’t (yet) ready or equipped to handle.  So we ask questions.  Our questions lead to answers.  And the answers help us move forward.

The problem is – instead of asking “What’s wrong with this?”  the question we often ask ourselves is  “What’s wrong with me?”

When that happens – when we interpret our inability to move forward as some kind of personal failure, our self-esteem takes a hit.

Maybe – instead of trying to push harder against what’s holding us in place – maybe what we need to do is take a step back.

Maybe we need to walk away.

It’s not about quitting or giving up.  It’s about checking in with ourselves and reconnecting with what really matters.

It’s about recognizing how we feel about what we’re doing.
And giving ourselves permission to do something else – something that allows us to rest our minds and re-set our intentions.

If you find yourself, like I have, in the middle (or at the beginning?) of a project that isn’t going well, –  if you’re unsure about which direction to take, or what to do next, – instead of beating yourself up about what isn’t working, and what you think you did wrong, – remind yourself that there are plenty of things that you can do right.
Things that give you pleasure.  Things that you can you enjoy.
Things that make you feel successful.

Do some of those things.
At some point, when you’re ready, if you decide you want to take up where you left off, you can do that, too.
Unless – before you walked away – scissors were involved.

I gotta go put on another warp.
Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Have What It Takes To Make Superior Yarn?

Spoiler alert.
Handspinners please note.
If you’re not interested in making better yarn – leave now.
Click away.
Do not read the rest of this post.
Because what comes next will change the way you think about your handspun yarn.

What comes next is a not-so secret formula – written by Lee Raven and published in the Winter 1983 issue of Spin-Off Magazine.

Photo of Spinning Magazine from 1983
It’s both a how-to and a challenge.
It’s a simple equation – and it’s a doozy:

“Good Fibers + Skillful Control = Superior Yarn”

And by doozy I mean game changer.

Because if you read those words and think about how that statement applies to the yarn you make, you’ll start thinking about yarn differently (and not just your own yarn – you’ll probably think differently about commercial yarns, too).

So if you ignored the warning at the beginning of this post, be aware of the consequences.

Everything you know about fiber, yarn and spinning has undergone a subtle but undeniable alteration.

Your brain has begun to reorganize and re-frame all the information you’ve gathered about making yarn –  including what you do, how you do it and what you think about the end result.

You might not recognize the change right away.  But it will begin to show up in the questions you ask.  Questions you might not have asked yourself until now.

Questions like:

  • “What qualities define a good fiber?
  • Are the fibers I usually spin considered good fibers?
  • “What makes some spinning fibers good and others not so good?”
  • ” What do I need to know about fibers so I can tell if they’re good fibers or not?”
  • “What does skillful control mean?”
  • “What skills do I have and how can I modify what I already know?”
  • “What is it – exactly – that I’m supposed to control?”
  • “What skills and techniques can I practice to gain more control as I spin?

If you continue to seek answers to questions like these – and if you incorporate what you learn into the yarn you make, – you’ll know if you have what it takes to make superior yarn.

Let your questions – and your preferences – lead the way.

Maybe you’ve  been wondering how to change something about the yarn you spin – how to make it thicker, thinner, smoother, or more textured?.

Maybe you’d like to try spinning something different – something you’ve heard other spinners say is too hard, or too tricky or too expensive.

Maybe you want to weave with your handspun yarn.

Maybe you want to raise your own sheep but aren’t really sure what breed is best for your purposes.

Maybe you don’t give a rodent’s patootie what someone else thinks is “superior” – maybe you just want to be able to make whatever the heck kind of  yarn you want to make.

So what’s stopping you?
What do you need to know before you can move forward?
What part of that equation don’t you understand?
(I’ll tell you about some of the things I didn’t – and still don’t – understand in another post).
But right now – I gotta go look through a few more of my old Spin-Off magazines.

Joanne

8H Weaving Practice = Holiday Greeting Cards

Photo of Greeting Cards with Fabric Inserts Handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio

Handwoven Greeting Cards – 2012

These greeting cards are the result of a self-directed learning spree – a hands-on, trial & error, teach-myself excursion into the unknown.  In this case the unknown was weaving with an 8-shaft loom.

2012 is the third year in a row I’ve made greeting cards using pieces of fabric from one of these binge-on-a-whim experiments.

In 2010, my first handmade cards came from practice mixing dye colors.

Photo of Greeting Card with  hand dyed fabric insert by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT.

Hand Dyed Greeting Card 2010

One young friend asked if I’d woven the fabric (which I had not), so the following year I decided to weave fabric for cards as “practice”.

Practice weaving a specific shape – 6.5 inches x 4.5 inches with an area of interest approximately 4.5 inches x 3 inches.
(I use cards from Photographer’s Edge)
And practice weaving stripes.

Photo of red and green striped fabric for Holiday Cards on the loom - woven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT , 2011n 2011

Striped fabric for holiday cards – 2011

No surprise.  I learned a lot.

A lot of important stuff.  Like why I prefer putting stripes in the warp rather than the weft.  (It’s easier.)  And why I’ll think twice before choosing to weave  weft-faced stripes.  Especially if the yarn I want to use is 8/2 cotton. (It takes forever).

On the other hand, I also (now) know that I love the look of weft-faced stripes in 8/2 cotton.

Tough call.  But good to know.
The kind of knowing that comes from doing.
A fine tuning of personal preference.

Fabric for greeting cards is a perfect project for practice.

And now one of my “go-to” projects when I want/need to psyche myself out.
(Or up).

When the best way to get answers to my questions is to try, re-try, do, redo, repeat, adjust, and try again.
When information gathering is part of the plan.
And when I need a way to get past that gag-me-with-a-spoon reaction I have toward making samples.

Photo of striped fabric greeting card by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

Just for fun stripes

The prospect of working on anything that resembles a “put-it-in-a-notebook-and forget-about-it” weaving sample leaves me totally uninspired.

Wholehearted, enthusiastic exploration of possibilities is much more likely to occur when the process is exciting and the results
hold meaning.

Weaving is most meaningful to me when I’m working on something I can use.

That’s why, when I started thinking about switching my Leclerc Colonial loom from 4 to 8-shafts, I knew I had to find a way to make the weaving worthwhile – as in, “this absolutely has to be something I can have fun with and use”.

The problem was (is?) – nothing I want to weave requires 8 harnesses.

So I went to my back issues of Handwoven Magazine  – starting with the most recent. Paging through this vast collection of weaving wisdom usually moves  me.  But I knew what I was looking for – and none of the projects requiring 8 shafts were “it”.

Maybe this says something about how far behind I am, compared to rest of the weaving world.

Nothing resonated.
Until I got back to 2001.

Sure enough, in a magazine published 11 years ago, (pages 48 – 50 in the September/October 2001  issue of Handwoven ) I found the perfect project.

Designed by Sarah Saulson – specifically aimed at and written for 8 harness “newbies” (part of her “Now we are Eight” series of articles), – and intended as a “how-to” for weavers interested in creating plain weave selvedges along the edges of a woven pattern, it was exactly what I was looking for.

The project was for mug rugs.  Small, simple and manageable.  These little gems – (also known as coasters) – have never been on any of my weaving “to do” lists.   Remember when I mentioned the “need to weave” something I would use?

But – what if?  What if they were just a little bit narrower and each piece woven a little bit longer?  What if the fabric could be woven to fit in the window of a greeting card?

There it was.  The project that inspired questions suitable for a “spree”.  Thanks to Sarah Saulson and Handwoven Magazine,  I was ready to find out what would happen “if” with 8 shafts.

It was late October when I started weaving – not soon enough for people to see during Fall Open Studio Weekend, – and perhaps overly optimistic of me to imagine weaving off, finishing and sending out  few Happy Thanksgiving cards. But the autumn-y brown and gold colors I chose for warp made an excellent foundation for a whole slew of color combinations to try in the weft.

Every one was different (and  a couple of them were really different).

Photo of different color combinations made by changing weft colors on a brown and gold warp.  Handwven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT.

Changes in weft colors on a brown and gold warp.

But exactly the kind of “see and do” thing that could keep me interested. Interested enough to make me want to repeat the process.

As soon as I finished the first warp, tweaked the weaving plan and made adjustments based on my notes, – I started all over again.  Different warp colors and another whole slew of color combinations to try in the weft.

So maybe three times really is the charm.  Because after 3 separate warps, I was feeling a lot less beleaguered by those additional shafts and treadles.

Baby steps, to be sure – but enormously satisfying.  And with lots of cards to give as gifts or  send in greeting – the experience fit perfectly into my idea of worthwhile.

Worthwhile enough to make me stick with 8?   No – I’m just not there.  Too many other things to do.

The Colonial is back to normal – which for me, means a 4-harness counter-balance loom with an overhead beater.   And with several exciting prospects on my “things to weave” list, – I probably won’t need to dig through my back issues of Handwoven Magazine for at least another 6 months.

In the meantime, since I had to resort to giving someone one of my weaving IOU’s instead of an actual gift this year –

I gotta go weave.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio

Nearly 30 Years of Weaving And I Still Don’t Know “Jack”

We’re not total strangers, jack and I.  We’ve crossed paths.  Met briefly at a couple of workshops, and at a friend’s house.

I’ve read several descriptions.  And seen a lot of pictures.

But we’ve only ever had a passing acquaintance.  We’re certainly not good friends.  And the thought of spending any real time together?
It never crossed my mind.

Not until recently, that is.

Maybe because my first loom – a counter-balance loom  – seems like the perfect loom.  Small and sturdy.  Exactly the right loom for me.

I  learned  to love weaving with a counter-balance loom.

Photo of 27" Leclerc Counter-Balance loom

My first and favorite loom – a 27″ Leclerc “Fanny”

Maybe that’s why my second loom is also a counter-balance loom.

Photo of 36" Leclerc Counter-Balance Loom

My second loom – a 36″ Leclerc “Fanny”

And my third.

Photo of 45" Leclerc Colonial Counter-Balance Loom

My third counter-balance loom, a 45″ Leclerc Colonial

To me, these looms represent everything good about weaving.
Easy, effortless and enjoyable.

I’m happy weaving with these  looms  – and have great long  lists of  “what to weave next” – projects perfectly suited to weaving with a counter-balance loom.

So even though the 45″ (older) Leclerc Colonial is convertible – (and not just from counter-balance to jack, – I have the kit to add 4 more harnesses), – even though I could switch it over to a jack loom, – I’ve never been particularly interested in giving it a try.

Any discussion of counter-balance vs. jack  fell by the wayside.
Into the category:  “It doesn’t matter, it’s not important, and I don’t care”.

Until recently, that is.

Because recently I’ve had several conversations about looms.  Conversations with people in my Learning to Weave classes; conversations with weavers thinking about getting a different/smaller loom; conversations with people visiting during Open Studio Weekend; conversations about choosing the “right” loom, and which loom is the “best” loom.

And I’ve started thinking about how limited my weaving is.

When a question comes up about jack looms, all  I can say is:
“I don’t know”.

(For the record, I think “I don’t know” is a perfectly good answer.)

But all that thinking and not-knowing made  me curious.  Not just about why I was choosing not to know.  (Although that may be the more interesting question.)  I started to get curious about “jack”.

How would (my) weaving be different if I used a jack loom?

The Leclerc Looms  website  has good  information about the mechanical differences between counter-balance,  jack and countermarche looms – along with the advantages and disadvantages of each system.

But I wanted to know what it meant to me.
What did it have to do with the kind of things I like to make – or  the kind of fabric I like to weave?

Would having a jack loom change how I felt about weaving?  Could I, would I, should I – weave differently – or explore different things  if I had a different type of loom?  Was there something in particular I wanted to try, but couldn’t accomplish with a counter-balance loom?’

And the “ifs” turned into “then”  and “when”.
If I was considering converting the Colonial to a jack loom,  then I might as well set it up with all 8 harnesses.  And if  I was going to look for a learning project, then I might as well look for one  that  let me experiment with multiple harnesses.
When I found the right project I decided to give it a try.

Photo of Leclerc Colonial Loom as 8 harness jack loom

My Colonial Loom with 8 harnesses.

After 2 months and three warps, I’m surprised and pleased.    The nearly completed project was a perfect introduction to “jack”.   And even though it represented just a little bit of time – (in weaver time) – it feels like time well spent.
Most of all, this experience  helped clarify something the Home Economist (Consumer Scientist?) in me suspected – something the Weaver in me needed to know for sure.

It’s not just about the loom.

Our personalities, values,  lifestyle choices,  likes and dislikes,  dreams, aspirations, goals –  all of those things deserve our attention.

The first loom you use may not be either “right” or “best”.  But if it gets you weaving, it’s a still a good choice.  It’s important to notice what feels like fun – and what doesn’t.

Keep weaving.  And pay attention. Weaving can show you things.
Whatever loom you use.

Your preferences will show up in the fabric.

Photo of various colors used in 8H weaving.

Changing weft colors made this an adventure!

I’ll tell you why this was such a great project in my next post.

Right now, with another 20 inches or so left on this (last) warp –
 I gotta go weave.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio

Weavers: Do You Ever Want To Just Tie One On?

Not a dozen.
Not 4.
Not a complete “set” of anything.
No extras for friends, or gifts to give.
Not enough to donate or sell.
Do you ever choose to warp your loom for just one thing?

It sounds simple enough.
But it might not be all that easy – especially if it’s not what you usually do.

If you usually try to make the most of your weaving plan by making multiples, warping for just one thing seem might seem like a waste.

Why does it feel like one is not enough?

Maybe because your time is valuable.  And as a resource, it keeps dwindling.
When we’re short on time, but passionate about weaving  – we may feel the need to maximize our efforts.

It’s an economy of scale thing.
Warping a loom – getting ready to weave – requires a lot of preparation.  Measuring, sleying, threading, tying on, winding on…

Photo loom harnesses and heddles being threaded

One part of the warping process – threading heddles.

Whatever order you choose to do it in, –  it all has to happen – whether it’s to make one thing or to make many.

Each additional thing you plan to weave adds more length and uses more yarn.
But measuring and winding on only take a little bit longer.

Most other parts of the process stay the same.

So you’re actually saving time by making multiples – by not having to repeat all the steps.

Clearly, it’s more efficient to make more than one.

But … Are two enough? Are 6 too many?
When a TV ad posed those questions several years ago, the answer was obvious – because with prunes you really can ‘trust your gut’ to get it right.

When you’re planning a weaving project – sometimes it’s hard to see why more is not (necessarily) better.

Rigid Heddle weavers may have an advantage here.  Limitations imposed by the equipment prevent over-reaching.
My RH loom comfortably holds about 4 yards of warp.   I’m not tempted to set it up for 24 towels – because I can’t.

On my floor looms, weaving 2 dozen towels from one warp is definitely possible.  (But if you think this might be a good thing –  and if you  know you have a short attention span, and/or are easily bored, please – pause and consider –  by #7  the weaving starts to get old.  The next 17?  Not a lot of fun.  Trust me.)

How you feel about the warping process can make a big difference.

Especially if  you think of it as an ordeal.
Do you find it excruciating?  Or merely off-putting?
Does it seem like it takes forever?
Do some parts of the process feel awkward and uncomfortable?
Is it complicated and confusing?
Does warping your loom feel like a major undertaking?
Do you warp for more than one so you can avoid having to do it more often?

Do you wish you could warp less and weave more?

For a lot of weavers,  the work of setting up a loom isn’t the fun part – and that becomes a problem when there isn’t  a lot of time to spare.

But if we pay attention to what’s fun and what’s not fun – if we consider what we might do differently – we can find ways to make the not so much fun experience more satisfying and less of a problem.

Warping is part of weaving.  A big part.  One thing has to happen in order to “get”  to do the other.  (And those next 17 towels do have to be woven off before I get to warp for something else.)

So how do you feel about warping for (and weaving off) just one small thing?
Does the prospect make you happy and excited?
Or does it sound like a waste (of time and materials)?

What if you enjoyed warping as much (or more) than the actual weaving?

What if the time it took to set up your loom was just – time?  What if it was good time? Special, satisfying and rewarding time?

What would it take for you to feel you were making the most of it?

If you feel the need to make multiples of a project – is it because your weaving dreams include lots of things?

Or is there some other compelling ‘ought to, have to, must do’,  – driving your choice?

If the reason you’re hesitant to warp your loom for just one thing is because you’re uncomfortable with the process – if it feels confusing, if  it takes too long, – if  you need someone right there with you to help you, and you feel intimidated by all the steps involved:

Warping more and weaving less might solve the problem.

Sometimes it makes sense to tie one on.
Just one thing.

And weave it off.
Then do it again.
And again.
And keep doing it.

Try warping your loom for one thing at a time.
Practice the part of the process that (for many people) is problematic.
Give yourself a gift (of time) that allows for practice.  Lots of practice.

It won’t make you perfect.  But I’m pretty sure it will make you feel capable, comfortable and competent – with your own version of  ‘warp speed’.

You might find that you enjoy how slow you go.
Maybe even find it exquisitely slow.

I gotta go weave.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio

Why I Never Weave Samples (And What I Choose To Do Instead)

Some weavers enjoy it.
Most will say it’s a good thing to do.
And all of their reasons why make perfect, practical sense.

Photo of practice fabric for a card insert

This is not a sample. (It’s fabric for a greeting card). Really.

But for me to weave a sample?  I just can’t.
I mean it.
I can’t. I won’t. (“And you can’t make me” says the stubborn child within .)
What that really means is:  I refuse.

The concept is one I embrace – as it applies to other things.
But weaving samples?  No way.
That’s not gonna happen.
I refuse.

So what do I have against weaving samples?

Maybe you’ve  noticed.
Funny things happen when you spend time with your loom.
Weaving time, quiet time, alone time – time spent with and by yourself – that kind of time lends itself to self-reflection.  Introspection.  An opportunity to examine one’s thoughts.

Here’s what I think  – I think I have issues.
And one of them manifests as a strong feeling of resistance to any suggestion prefaced with the words “you should”, “you must”, “you ought to”, “you need to”, or “you have to”.

Have you noticed how often those words appear right before “weave a sample“?

This does not inspire me.
Instead of feeling encouraged and excited – I feel dread and disappointment.
Instead of feeling helped with what I want to learn, I feel thwarted, frustrated and impatient.
Instead of feeling open to the possibility of  success, I feel threatened with failure if I don’t ‘comply’.

I just want to weave – not feel bad when I don’t do it the way someone else thinks I ‘ought’.

And another thing –

What are you supposed to DO with a sample once you’ve gleaned whatever information you wanted/needed it to provide?
It’s just a sample.
I don’t a want sample, I want an actual thing.

If you weave – you know.
Setting up a loom is no small task.
Taking the time, making the effort to weave something to keep in a notebook for reference doesn’t thrill me. 

Cloth.
Useable fabric.
Made by hand.
Regularly finding its place in my own (or someone else’s) hands.

That’s what thrills me.
Not some specimen, some bit-of-a-piece-of-a-thing.

What I’m telling myself

(if I choose to believe my thoughts)
– sounds something like this: “don’t bother, it’s not worth it, you won’t like it, you won’t do it right, it’s a waste of time”.

And that message leads to not weaving.

In other areas of my life, I might go along with that kind of thinking.
But, not weaving?

Not weaving is unacceptable.

No matter how many reasons I come up with for why the idea of weaving a sample irks me – what really matters is:  how to stop the irksome-ness  and get on with the weaving.

As it turns out – there’s a simple fix. (OK, maybe not easy – but definitely simple).

Whenever things show up on my own, personal, “need to know” list – questions I have about a fabric I want to make – I start looking for ways to incorporate the reason for a sample into something I know I will enjoy weaving.   Because the reason is the important part – it’s about gathering information that will help make future projects more successful.

So instead of  weaving a sample –

I make practice pieces.  
Bookmarks, greeting card inserts, mug rugs,  coasters, scarves, towels, table mats, runners, shawls – anything I can think of as a reasonable alternative – a way of gathering the same information a sample would provide.

Instead of irksome, a practice piece is something I’m willing and happy to weave.
More than a reference tool, often imperfect, exciting to plan, thrilling to witness as it takes shape, full of possibility –  leading to more weaving.

And yes, it’s absolutely all in my mind and how I choose to think about it.

Whatever you want to call it, however you manage to accomplish it – it’s all about the same thing: practice.
The value of continued practice.

Engaging in the practice 

Finding meaning.
Feeling positive about what there is to learn.
Enjoying the process.
And having fun with it.

That’s how weaving “works” for me.  A space opens up when I’m involved with  yarn.   A space where crowded thoughts move apart, drift past, and eventually float away.  Where the irksome becomes just another piece of lint  – under the treadles, beneath the loom.

I gotta go weave.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio