Weaving Well With Madelyn van der Hoogt

“It’s going to be woven for a long time.”

While weaving one of my first projects, I asked my teacher what to do about a mistake in my treadling. This error was far enough back that the thought of going back to fix it was disturbing for a new weaver. My teacher’s response: “It’s going to be woven for a long time.” That phrase has stuck with me and I think has helped me in my weaving career. Unlike knitting (which theoretically can be undone with some tugs on the yarn), there is no efficient or effective way to unweave a piece of woven fabric once it’s off the loom. For this reason, when I am weaving, I strive to weave well and this is the underlying philosophy of Madelyn van der Hoogt’s Weaving Well DVD.

“Weaving well” doesn’t mean you weave perfectly.

My friend Lisa used to use another phrase that has also stuck with me: “Perfection is highly overrated.” The term “weaving well” doesn’t mean you weave perfectly. In fact, part of handwoven cloth’s appeal lies in the mark of the hand—the artisan’s weaving signature, if you will— that commercial fabrics don’t have. I’m sure there are better weavers than me who have a “perfect” beat. I try to have a fairly even beat; I strive for perfection but know I won’t get there. Ditto for selvedges: mine aren’t perfect but they work for me and I’m not embarrassed by mine.

I weave with the idea that my projects will be woven for a long time, and hopefully survive one or more generations. For this reason, I try to avoid actual errors in my weaving, such as mistakes in the threading or treadling, or poor color selections. If I see a mistake while cloth still lives on the loom, I unweave. This can be painful at times, but I’ve learned to consider unweaving part of the process of weaving. My husband jokes that unweaving is one of my greatest skills. I have never regretted unweaving; it is always worth it. I have regretted leaving an error intact in a project.

Whether you have woven for a long time or are just beginning, check out Madelyn’s video. It is a comprehensive walk-through of weaving a project from start to finish, including how to avoid and fix errors. Watching it will improve your understanding of weaving techniques and give you the knowledge you need to weave well.

Perfection is highly overrated,
Susan


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