Friday, February 20, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

“Give yourself room to fail and fight like hell to achieve.”*

Giving myself “room to fail” means, to me, trying out ideas, structures, colors that I have not woven before.  But why should I give myself “room to fail” at all?

In recent years I’ve given myself plenty of room to fail in my study of crackle.  But as I progress in my studies, I find that there is less and less room to fail.  I am becoming quite comfortable with crackle.  But what about the wool crackle sampling I did?

I have to admit, I kind of threw things to the wind.  I had not used either wool or heavy yarns with crackle.  And I had not specifically designed this warp for crackle and certainly if I had been designing it, I would not have used blue and light gray wide warp stripes.  I had used those stripes simply to check for color relationships in the lace weave structure I was trying. That the unplanned crackle attempt turned out, in terms of design and color, as well as it did was pure serendipity.

On the other hand, I had woven with this yarn before, had fulled with this yarn before, and had some idea of what might happen.  And I certainly was not “fight(ing) like hell to achieve” anything.  It was just a let’s-try-it-and-see project.  Moreover, it was the only way I was going to get anything woven for the spring Crackle Complex Weaver’s Exchange.

(Question: does serendipity happen without the previous wrestling?)

Perhaps giving myself room to fail doesn’t necessarily mean I have to give myself a huge room.  The silk crackle shawl I am currently designing does seem to be providing me with a fairly good sized room. But again, why give myself this room at all? 

1. It is the only way I will learn.

2. It is the only way I will find and continue on my own particular journey.

3. It’s fun.

But fighting “like hell”?  I know that faithfully doing my morning exercises is one version of fighting “like hell.”  There I am fighting hard to keep my body in shape so that I can weave (and garden) hopefully well into my 80’s.  But back specifically to weaving.

I suppose that weaving sample after sample is fighting.  And probably, thinking about it in those terms, I don’t fight enough;  probably I don’t weave enough samples.  I know that with this crackle shawl I should probably put a lot of warp on so that I can weave each of the motifs and trying different ways of weaving them.  Or another narrow warp to try the different ways of weaving them. 

Using the full width for this type of sampling is wasteful and serves no real purpose.  Indeed, With the full warp on I would be so eager to get through the sampling and into the “real” weaving that I would doubtless shortchange myself.

A narrow warp is a good idea.  What is holding me back from just doing it?  The difficulty of winding and warping the silk.  Can I look at this winding and warping more 60/2 silk as another opportunity to improve my skills there?  Yup, that will help a bit.

A narrow warp I think it shall be.  No, a narrow warp it SHALL be……………sigh………………

*”From Words to Paint By” (Irwin Greenberg) as found in The Painter’s Keys.  Go here to read all the “Words to Paint By”. 

Related Posts: 
   Out of the Washing Machine 
   That Badly Snarled Skein of Yarn
   Winding Cones: Have I Found the Secret?

Words of Wisdom?” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 20, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina


fibresofbeing said...

The full list of Irwin Greenberg's insights make interesting reading. Thanks for the pointer.

I'm wondering about the balance between sampling and "end products" (not a good term, but all I can come up with). The large amount of time and materials involved in weaving a finished item such as a shawl makes sampling incredibly important, but I think there's a point where the emotional commitment we make to an intended "end product" means we learn even more from that. Of course the risk is greater too... given our finite time the balance point changes - which path will take us further, seeing this project as one step in a longer journey.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Judy, very good observations to which there is no one answer, as I'm sure you know. Each person has the weigh the risks for his/her particular project and make the best decision she can at the moment. One of the factors that swung me into doing more sampling is that I need more learning. Even with the sampling, I will continue to learn once I start the shawl, but I need that intermediate learning first. I need to cut the risk level down to something reasonable!

Bonnie said...

For me the answer to sampling is a 6"-8" "scarf" 4-5 yd warp. Not to wide, not too long, but enough to both sample AND have a finished product

Jane said...

Good morning, Miss Peg.

Am enjoying catching up on your posts with my morning coffee. First, I'd like to thank you for your warm reply to my last blog post. You are such a kind soul.

When I was younger and an intrepid weaver, I just hated the thought of sampling. Diving, right in and weaving away was just my cup of tea. And frankly, the results were usually just fine.

Then I met one of my mentors, Sandy, and she convinced me of the value of sampling. For me, I just warp an extra yard for every project, and make my sample something that I can use. This way I know how the weave and materials will behave on the full sized warp.

This being said, though, I would be less inclined to do that with precious fibers like your lovely handspun and expensive silks, etc.

Room to fail? Absolutely. Fight like hell? At my age, and since I weave strictly for my own pleasure (being a recovering overachiever) all I aspire to achieve is serenity at my loom, and the joy of watching something beautiful (to me) take shape. Hmm... I feel a blog post coming on.

Thanks, as always for a thought provoking post!

Now off to look closely at your dummy warp post.


Peg in South Carolina said...

Bonnie, I think that might be a good idea. I was planning on a 3-yard warp, purely samples, nothing else. But the more I think about it, the more I find appealing the possibilities of a 4-5 yard warp. It would give me especailly greater opportunity to explore the heights of the motifs and the spaces between them. Thank you!
Jane, my response to Bonnie is for you as well. Actually, fighting is part of my nature. Not fist fights! But fighting to live on the terms I want to live on, to garden on my own terms, to weave on my own terms........ But, clever as you are, you probably already figured that one out! I hope you are now writing that blog post!