Don’t Judge Your Cloth Too Soon

Every weaver I know is his or her own worst critic. Well, here's Liz Gipson, former Handwoven managing editor and the star of a new weaving video, to remind us that sometimes it's better when things don't turn out exactly as we planned. We need to be open and see the possibilities in our happy mistakes. -Anita


Spacer 5x5 pixels Handwoven table linens by Liz Gipson
  The results of my round the clock weaving.

I had a very simple vision. For my video Slots and Holes I wanted to weave a coordinated set of table linens. Each piece would be designed to show off the advantages of a specific rigid-heddle warping technique, and they would all look lovely together at the end. Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” I'm not sure I'd go so far as to call my concept genius, but through it I was reminded that having a good idea and making it happen are two different things.


For one thing, I never leave enough time to do anything. If I think it will take ten hours it will take twenty. I budget twenty and it takes thirty. Keeping this in mind, I very carefully selected yarns for my napkins and dutifully wove a sample, and I warped my loom based on that sample. This is what you are supposed to do to get good results.


Unfortunately, there is something in me that rebels against an orderly process. At the last minute, I used a different weft. What I did is akin to substituting salt for sugar in a pie recipe, and I’m sure you can guess what happened next. The napkins did not shrink as much as planned. I was distraught by the cloth that came off my loom. It would not do!


Linda Ligon was able to buy me some time, but I only had ten days until the camera crew showed up on my doorstep. Irene at Cotton Clouds graciously overnighted me some more yarn. I started weaving from my stash, fearful that I would not make the deadline. (I still had to clean my house, for Pete's sake!)


Liz Gipson's handwoven napkins Spacer 5x5 pixels
The napkins with the rest of the table setting  

I wove a mountain of cloth in a very short amount of time—four sets of napkins to be precise. And after all that stress and trouble, which ones did I use? The original set, of course.


When the cloth that comes off my loom isn't what I expected, I'm too quick to call it a failure. Learn from my mistake: if you feel disappointed with your cloth, walk away and leave it alone for awhile. I'll bet when you come back to it, you won't be so quick to judge. Right now, I'm ignoring a shawl. 


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