The Whys of Warping

You may not have heard her mentioned among the recent Golden Globe nominees, but our own Madelyn van der Hoogt is starring in a new video, in which she shows us the path to serene warping. (Sadly, this was not filmed on location in Bali, nor are there mouth-watering scenes of Italian food. Still, Julia Roberts, move over!) We caught up with our elusive star recently for an interview about the rigors and rewards of weaverly "method-acting."


Madelyn loves the warping process,
from cones to serenely warped loom.

You've taught warping to many weavers over the years, and you keep a studio full of looms warped all the time. What do you feel is the biggest challenge that most weavers have with warping?
I think the biggest challenge is learning to judge the consequences of each step. When you watch a warping demo, everything looks easy. The demonstrator is using some key steps to achieve this apparent ease, but since you don’t know the “why” of any of them you will inevitably leave out one or more, and so your first try is often a mess. Then you tell every “experienced” weaver you meet what happened, and each one tells you what you did wrong. So you take one little tip from each person and incorporate them all into your method, and your next mess is even worse. Instead, if you know WHY you are doing something, you can think about the consequences of doing it differently. This takes experience, so it’s important to start by following ALL the steps of one particular method. After you understand the “why” of one method, you can make innovations based on what others tell you, follow your own creative ideas, or change methods completely.

How do you hope this video changes warping for the weavers who see it?
I love the simplicity of the way I warp, and I want them to feel the same way I do about the process.
I didn’t invent any of the steps I use, but over the years I’ve come to understand and refine and simplify them. I explain the “why” of each step in the video, pointing out which parts are essential for success. I know that weavers are intimidated by warping. Even experienced weavers sometimes have warping disasters, and just one of those can make you dread ever warping again. If you don’t have to worry about what might go wrong, you can truly enjoy every step: the rhythmic motions at the warping board; comfortably sleying the reed on a tabletop; the repetitive, relaxing threading of the heddles; the easy and trouble-free tensioning of the warp as it goes on the beam. Every part of warping can be as pleasurable as weaving.

  Huck doesn't believe in bad hair days.

What are the most difficult and the most fun things about being in a weaving video?
I could not believe how movements that I have done a million times in front of students could be so much harder in front of cameras! I am hoping that when I look my most awkward in the video, viewers will take note that if someone that graceless could do it successfully, they should have no trouble! Also, and I KNOW this is not important, but because we had to shoot some parts out of sequence and over two days, my OK and bad hair days are interspersed in the video, so that was a little difficult. Real stars have hairdressers!

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