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Doing what we do

This essay by Sara Lamb resonated with me:

I told her I love textiles, I wish more people did, and wish more people understood what makes a good textile, what makes good technique, and in support of that, I am willing to share what I know. I know a very small portion of the textile world, but I know my part very well! It’s likely what keeps me writing this blog, that desire to expand our base of spinners, dyers and weavers. That, and the wonderful feedback I get from readers!

Yes! And for me, the desire to learn new things and share my knowledge. I try to always be coming up with new ways to teach, and new ideas to cover. FFF was a few weeks ago, and as I often do, I tried out something new and experimental: how to analyze and chart a tablet-woven band from an already-woven band or from a photo. Some of that process is intuition and experience, and some of it follows a systematic process that can be taught. At least, my students seemed to get the idea.

I’m also disturbingly happy to teach a class on something I don’t know that well, because I’m confident in my ability to figure it out beforehand, and to keep ahead with my students, and in my general teaching skills. (I probably shouldn’t admit this, should I.) You want a three-day class on something I haven’t done in four or five years? No problem!

But that gets more knowledge out there, more textile goodness, more people who’ve at least tried these obscure techniques. My great joy, you all know, is obscure fiber arts that use minimal equipment. Tablet weaving is sort of vaguely well-known, and ply-split is becoming more available, but there’s very little on sprang beyond what Carol James is doing, and some of the other odd techniques are mostly in technical publications rather than popular ones (fingerloop braiding, fr’ex).

Teaching is how the knowledge and the enthusiasm are spread, that hands-on face-to-face transmission of fiber arts. If you think about it, we’re carrying on something that’s been happening for millenia in not too different a fashion. Our skills aren’t the necessity they once were (but just you wait until after the apocalyptic crash of civilization!), but they still satisfy some need for many of us. The gathering to learn and to teach is part of that satisfaction.

Though if I had the time, I’d be writing popular books on everything Peter Collingwood ever wrote about, except rug weaving.

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