Look Who's Talking

Virgina West and friends showing their handwoven textiles in the 1950s.

Virginia West and weaving friends having a
weaving conversation in the 1950s,

"when we wore pearls."


A Biblical scholar and linguist once told me that in some translations, the quote from the Book of Genesis, "In the beginning was the Word," comes out as "In the beginning was the conversation." Perhaps because I am a communicator by trade (and without getting into the niceties of Greek or Aramaic or the theological implications), I cherish the idea that humanity and the exchange of ideas are inseparable. Certainly weaving has been shaped for millenia by interaction between people, their environment, their culture, and their times.

Our weaving community continues to be shaped by many factors. Conversations within the European Arts and Crafts movement, the Bauhaus movement, the Cranbrook Colony, the Folk Schools movement, and other social and economic trends have all left their marks in recent centuries. One of my favorite articles in Handwoven was entitled "When We Wore Pearls." It talked about weaving in the 1950s and showed a photograph of Virgina West and a group of weavers wearing "pumps and pearls" while admiring their handwoven table linens.


Syne Mitchell's handwoven scarf with EL wire
  e-Textiles such as Syne Mitchell's
light-up scarf are a new trend
in handweaving.

What draws many of us to the craft is that you can explore for a lifetime and never run out of new things to learn. This joyous diversity exists because of centuries of exploration, innovation, and conversation. A great personal joy for me is to make Handwoven and Weaving Today a part of that dialogue, a place for weavers to share ideas and inspire other weavers. But weavers don't sit still (even at the loom). Our times, our interests, and our communities are a-changin' all the time. We don't wear pearls to guild meetings, modern technology and world markets offer us new fiber choices, growing numbers of us use computer-controlled looms, and many, many use computers to help create and share drafts. Our conversations are as likely to take place in cyberspace as over coffee or tea.


To serve this vibrant and ever-changing community well, we need to keep up with you: to understand who you are, what you want, and how you weave today. So I invite you to take five minutes and lend your voice to this conversation by taking our 2012 Weaving Today Survey. There are eleven short questions about what you like to weave, what kinds of looms you use, your weaving goals and aspirations, and what you need from us to help you achieve them. The survey will be available until July 11th, and when it's finished, we'll share the results to help all of us, writers, vendors, guild leaders, and teachers, better understand the needs of weavers today. Please lend your voice. I look forward to hearing from you.


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