Handwoven Digital Collection: 15 Years

Last weekend, my husband and I finally got around to watching the recent Marvel comics movie Dr. Strange. (It stars Benedict Cumberbatch and a pretty amazing cast.) For those of you who, like me, never read the Dr. Strange comic books, the plot is about a brilliant neurosurgeon who goes to Tibet looking for a way to recover from a terrible injury and who ends up saving the universe. He’s a very quirky hero, and a big part of the story is about his access to a library full of cosmic wisdom and magic.

Handwoven Digital Collection: Sarah Jackson weaves cheery pillows in a 2-block turned twill pattern.

Sarah Jackson weaves cheery pillows in a 2-block turned twill pattern.

I, too, have a library full of magic and wisdom, but mine is full of 80 years worth weaving books and magazines—everything I’ve been able to collect going back to the early 20th century. The problem with my weaving library is that I can’t just open up other dimensions to store my books as the sorcerers in the movie could, so I need the magic of technology to make room for new books. Fortunately, my three shelves holding every issue of Handwoven can now be reduced down to a few inches of discs, or to no space at all when I download all the issues to my computer. And these other-dimensional magazines are still full of cosmic wisdom from my heroes of weaving. For example, the Handwoven 15-year Digital Collection that’s on sale now spans my personal weaving career. I’ll never forget studying Rosalie Nielson’s rep article, “A Checkered Past” in the November/December 2001 issue, trying to figure out how all those patterns could be made with just alternating colors in the warp. (If ever there were proof of magic in the universe, rep weave is it.) Nor will I forget Madelyn’s block weave issue in 2011, when I finally sat down and translated a profile draft into one weave structure after another, really internalizing the issues of scale and number of shafts and all the other interesting aspects of designing with block weaves.

There is enough wisdom in these issues to make any weaver a sorcerer at the loom. Just writing about them makes me want to go through every issue again to find the nuggets of wisdom I missed the first time. But unlike 15 years ago, I can now do it from the convenience of my laptop or iPad, and I can print out pages to mark up for a project and take to the loom. When Dr. Strange wanted to borrow books from the magical library, he had to open an interdimensional portal. All I have to do is click!

Happy weaving,

Featured Image: Rosalie Neilson reveals how to weave a checkerboard in rep in Handwoven November/December 2001, page 53. Photos by Joe Coca.

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