Monday, August 20, 2007

Keeping Records

Dorothy asked the following question:

"What other kind of records do you keep for the samples & items you have woven? "

To put it truthfully, records are the bane of my weaving existence. Given that truth, I do keep records. And the final truth, for the moment at least, is probably that for me it is not the record itself which is important. After all, I do not keep records in order to repeat myself. It is the record-keeping process that is important. It is a process which keeps me focussed. It is a process which helps things get into my memory for future possible use. It is a process from which I learn. The result is quite a complicated answer to a simple question.

First, I keep all my records on the computer. I keep one page in my notebook software just for ideas I might want to explore sometime. Often, my initial sampling explorations come out of one of those ideas.

When I get to the point of making a decision to pursue one particular idea, and sample it, I open up a page in Word Perfect (which I much prefer to Word). This page will likely become close to ten pages in its printed form when I am done with the sampling. It begins as a continuation of my first ideas, whether they come from my notebook page or from some idea I have started to play with in my head but has not made it onto that notebook page.

As these ideas become more concrete, I make notes of them. These could be ideas about yarns, colors, threading, blocks, treadling, whatever comes into my head. At some point I start exploring threading ideas and treadlings in my weaving software. When I finally land on a threading I like and the yarns I intend to use. I make note of all the calculations I need to wind the warp and put it on the loom. This includes, length of the warp, width, sett, all the necessary technical information necessary to get the warp wound, put on the loom, threaded, sleyed and ready to weave.

As I weave the sampler I continue to make notes. I assign a letter or number to each treadling. I put down the treadling information, the yarns used, the colors used and sometimes my immediate reactions to the results, including noting if it would be a difficult treadling to memorize. If I use the same treadling with different yarns and/or colors, I identify these as a subset of the original. Also I make notes if any other treadling ideas come to mind as a result of what I am currently doing. Since I hope to choose one of these treadlings for my final project, it is imperative that I include all the information I can possibly think of.

And so I proceed with each treadling.

I also make a note of the width of the warp at the reed and the width on loom. And I will follow those up with width off the loom and width when washed, as this could be important information for the size of the final project.

The record I make for the final piece is quite similar. It includes all the usual information I need to put on a warp and weave it. If I am weaving yardage things like treadlings, heights of blocks, colors will have to be pretty much decided before hand. I do put on enough warp, however, so that I have enough warp to play with and change my mind about some details before I begin the actual yardage itself. If, on the other hand, I am weaving a scarf, more fluidity is possible and I can do a bit of designing on the fly. That is what I really love to do!

In any case, whatever the project, I continue to make notes as I weave. These notes include problems I encounter and ideas for future projects. By the time I am done, I usually have about 10 pages.

When I am done, I do take a look at the parts of my notes that mention future possibilities. Sometimes I do nothing with them. Sometimes I put one or two in my notebook software.

When I dye my yarns, there is another sheet which contains all the calculations I need in order to dye them.

There is one final piece of record keeping I do when I am finished and the piece is to go to a show, or is to be cut up for some kind of learning exchange. I take the very basics and put them together on one page. This means warp and weft calculations, yarns and their sources, notation of sett and picks per inch, and all the appropriate measurements. In other words, I collect the bare bones data and put it in one spot so it is easy for someone else to follow what I have done in weaving the piece.

Photos might well be a part of these records. So far I have resisted. My husband really wants me to keep a photographic record/scrapbook of my weaving. Well, I have never liked keeping photographic records of our travels and vacations either. The joy for me is in the doing and the watching. And the joy of remembering does not require a photographic record.

When I first began this blog, I faithfully kept copies of each entry in case anything happened to Blogger. And then I asked myself why I was bothering to do this. I have no desire to go back to read past entries. I go back only when I want to link to one of them, but that is an option, not a necessity. And I certainly have no wish to publish them ever! When I realized that, I stopped my investigation into copyrighting blogs. The value for me is in the writing, in the process itself.

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

Hi Peg, thanks for your comprehensive answer. I can see that your records are being made as you design, plan and work through. This is very good and thorough of you.

I don't enjoy record keeping, but I just don't remember details well enough to get away without. I've got myself a strict rule with weaving that I can't start a new thing until the previous work is documented. My records become my memory.

I'm pleased to have photos of paintings I produced 20 years ago - all my best work I gave away or sold, sometimes when life is busy and things about me are changing I loose the sense of myself as a person who can make and do things, so these photos come out and help me understand who I am and what I am about.