Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ten Years

Ten Years ago today I posted my first entry to this blog. 523 posts since, I'm still here. Why? Weaving.

silk fabric3

All those many years ago, 2 friends and I were talking online about how nice it was to read knitting blogs, and decrying the lack of weaving blogs. We decided to do something about it. Marie and Char still blog, although less often. We have all had long or short hiatus, but we are all still here. Ravelry has certainly taken some of the energy from blogs, and yet it is itself indeed a wonderful gift to the knitting, and, by extension, spinning and weaving communites.

Our original blogging intent was to de-mystify hand weaving, bring it out of the closet, and demonstrate how easy it can be. Yes, there is a learning curve, there are frustrations, but that is part and parcel of learning any craft. I think (based solely on nothing but intuition) that more people are weaving now, that knitters have become spinners and spinners are learning to weave. It seems an explosion, lately, of interest in weaving, and very good work is posted now all over; on blogs, in Ravelry and Weavolution, and in print magazines and books.

There are many weaving blogs now, in fact, I think a determined person could learn everything there is to know about weaving, looms, tricks and tips by following blog links, weaving blog to weaving blog! A good thing.There are over 150 blogs on the Weave Ring, I'm not sure how many are active, but it gives one a place to start. Most blogs have sidebars with links to further blogs (I have never figured out how to do this, I use a reader to save my blog-links). Almost-local-to-me-Sharon's blog has a goodly list to start on her sidebar, if you have an interest in finding new-to-you mostly weaving resources.

So how and why have I kept it up? Well, first and foremost, it feels like a conversation. I get feedback, comments on the blog, emails and comments in person from people who are still reading, or who have found me in the interim. I have enjoyed the thinking, talking about, and deepening understanding of this work that I do. In order to put it into words, I have to have something to say. Yes...some posts are merely Look! at! This! picture heavy. But many have required that I analyse what I am doing in order to pass it on. The still-favorite posts every day in my stats are the tutorials:

Inkle weaving 101

Pick-up tutorial

How to make a Shawl Pin

Older posts sometimes do not show up with photos: they are still there, on Flickr. If you click on the blank box that says photo no longer available, it pops up from my Flickr site.

cardwoven bag

But more than just the ability to put it all into words, the blog has brought me a platform for a larger audience. I've been teaching spinning and weaving in Northern California, where I live, since 1980, at first in local weaving shops. The Conference of Northern California Handweavers (CNCH) is held annually, and I have taught there since the late '80's (I could look the exact date up, but I am lazy).I've taught at other regional conferences: ANWG, Black Sheep, MidWest Weaving Conference, CASCH (Southern California, alas, now sadly defunct), MAFA (sadly diminished but still going), SpinOff Autumn Retreat, also now sadly defunct, and at weaving/fiber conferences in Canada, Britain and Australia.

Some of these teaching events happened before I started blogging. But my classes have been easier to fill since the blogging happened. And at least one (Tasmania, the Bothwell SpinIn in 2009) would not have happened at all if the organizers had not been familiar with my work and me, through the blog. Think of it: I was invited to come and teach halfway around the world, all expenses paid plus I was paid for my time there. Who could ask for a better return on the investment of my time writing this blog!?

pile demo piece Tasmania 2009

I've had some amazing experiences, exchanges with people I would not know but that they found me through the internet. I was able to finish this carpet for a weaver's family after he died, leaving it without the last three inches:

rug done2

It was a gift to be able to do this, and also cause for much thought: how much do I want to leave unfinished? Is it important to leave things behind? They are, after all, just things. But, are they a comfort, do they extend your memory into future generations? Is that important or even desirable? Are all these words important to leave behind, or even leave out here?

I've written 3 weaving and spinning books since starting the blog. I am quite sure the book acquisitions department read at least a few blog posts before extending me those contracts: does she know what she is talking about, can she write, is she interesting? :) One book, Woven Treasures is only available new in print directly from me, now, but the ebook version is still for sale by the publisher. Spin to Weave, and Spinning Silk are still in print, and there are DVD versions of the latter two books for the auditory/visual learners.

silk shawl2 April 2007

Ten more years? I have no idea. I am a maker, I will continue to make things. I am still weaving, fabric and knotted pile mostly, for clothing and bags. I am still spinning. More of the same, really. Is it repetitive to keep on? I can only really speak about what I do, and weaving is such a huge topic, no one person can know it all. I certainly have new directions/new projects, traveling and teaching about which I can continue to write. I do plan to claim back more of my time in the future from travels for teaching. I have no thoughts of stopping entirely, either the blog or the teaching, but my posts are clearly less frequent than they once were, too. I have grandchildren (have you noticed?) and prioritize visiting them, or having them visit me:

art show at Grandma's

the artists, one with truck

artist at work

If you have been with me since the beginning: thank you! Thanks for your input, comments, and perseverance! If you have just found this platform? Welcome. Be warned, the posts here are weaving-centric, with a side of spinning, dyeing and now? leather bags! and a dollop of grandchildren. I welcome your input, in the comments or in person.

It's been quite a long trip, so far. How much further? Anybody's guess!