Forever Newbie

While combating the twisted heddles yesterday, (finished 12 shafts and found six places to correct; have the worst four shafts to go), I kept trying to remember the one instance I was attracted to warp painting. This morning, I was having a look-see in Kaz's Curious Weaver looking for that photo. There I found her (and others) musing on beginners designing projects vs using kit sets. This caught my attention because I consider myself honestly and squarely a beginner, and wondered who qualify as "beginners".

On Monday I was discussing with Rosie the Art Historian the different design approaches by weavers I know personally, and I thought I saw a pattern so I said something like "perhaps that's the difference between veterans, and beginners like me." She responded with her elegant, English dismissal, laughing, "But you've been doing this a long time." And I was seriously taken aback because I never had anyone refute my beginner status, and that unsettled me big time.

But that was Monday, and by Tuesday I was back to my happy beginner self again. It's like the universe, see.

Considering the amount of stuff you need to know in order to know everything there is to know about weaving, whether I start counting from the first day I passed my stick shuttle though the shed in my rigid heddle, August 1995, and ignore the years I didn't even touch a loom, or the day I was asked to resign from a lawyer's office because I wasn't suited to office work and decided weaving was the only thing I had left, in August 2004, the time I've spent obsessing about weaving has been but a fraction of the time I need to feel comfortable with the craft to think I know something about it. I still find great comfort in being a beginner.

I can't remember where I was going with this stuff, but I haven't even done my Morning Pages this morning, so I'm waffling. But it's been an important issue for me. And the warp paint that got me curious wasn't warp paint at all; I think the it's woven shibori. Live and learn.

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Rosie has just been to a William Morris exhibition in Christchurch, where the entire (?) exhibition was created from the collection of one family who catalog-ordered everything to decorate their house in Adelaide, Australia! The collection now belongs to the Art Gallery of South Australia. We mused on Morris's dislike of mass-production vs his entrepreneurial ventures; Williams, McIntosh and Larsson; and Arts and Crafts/Art Nouveau/Bauhaus, among other things. I'm hoping seeing Rosie is going to be a regular thing.


  1. I kind of crept from beginner to "advanced beginner." Then, with great difficulty I accounted myself an intermediate weaver. That was a really difficult step and a bunch of us were in that ready-to-jump but scared mode. Now I just account myself a weaver. I was a member of a large guild for six years. Aside from a few years on a rigid heddle back when the world was young, that was where I got started weaving. I think being a member of a large guild makes it easier to assess who you are as a weaver.

  2. For me, Peg, this is not a relative measure, e.g. in comparison to other weavers, but more an assessment of my competence as I see it. I think I'm too pragmatic to fear much.

    I feel with almost every warp, that this warp can only be better than the last, and to that end I see myself as a beginner.

    I know it doesn't matter where one thinks one is on the scale, as long as we keep weaving pieces that pleases, first and foremost, ourselves, but this is something I think about often.

    I'm still meddling with the heddles this afternoon...

  3. Another interpretation, Peg, is this could be a way to keep myself grounded, to stay at Point 0 on both the X and Y axis, like the cage of a homing pigeon. OK, now I'm waffling.

    All I know is with every piece, I know a post-beginner should do better. That could be it.

  4. Meg, but it is relative. But that is not the issue for you. If you remove yourself, in your own mind, from your status as a beginner, you will expect more from yourself. That is frightening but once you've moved, it is also freeing. Leave the safe place! Take a leap!

  5. Really good post, Meg. For me, weaving is a lifelong learning process. From the time I threw my first shuttle (late 70s) I was enthralled and enchanted. Also self taught, living in WY which is the outback of the U.S. :) So I did somethings really well and others I have since learned to do in a more efficient way.

    I truly think that every weaver is a lifelong learner, and even the master weavers that I know and love, are always learning something new to them, and asking others for input and guidance.

    Live and leaern, indeed :)

    Weave on!

  6. Gee, Peg, that's a totally different way to looking at it. I must try that perspective.

    Jane, isn't it nice to be in a art/craft where you can't possibly learn everything there is to know about it? But then if take anything seriously, I think there is no art/craft, or most thing in life, where you can know everything there is to know. The more I weave, though, the more I find out what I don't know, and I'm thrilled about it.

  7. Thanks for this post Meg. I guess I attach the meaning of beginner more to length of time weaving rather than skill or knowledge level. There are so so many ways of weaving and then there's the connected skills of dyeing, spinning, braiding, finishing etc etc. I can never refer to myself as an advanced weaver although I'm attracted to weaving that is called advanced such as jacquard perhaps.
    I just love everything to do with weaving and am delighted when I discover something new - just like a beginner!
    I will have some entries on warp painting again on my blog in the near future for your interest
    Thanks again - Kaz

  8. Oh, me, too, Kaz, I love jacquard cloth, but I don't think I'll ever comprehend the workings of a jacquard loom.... But I do love everything about weaving, and in that, I feel like an absolute newbie.

    My mom things the number of warps you weave has something to do with the level - she thinks about 500 warps ought to get you out of the beginner stage.

    Oh, warp painting, just for me? Thanks!! And if I may, please, please, more of your drawings and sketches, too, please!


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