Each weaving I make with fabric strips is a grand experiment, part planning, part serendipity, and part figuring out how to make it work despite a lack of this color or that. I’ve never made a wall hanging or rug with fabric purchased just for the project. Instead it becomes a design and color (and recycling) challenge to come up with a lovely piece with the tumble of input on the floor and nearby counter.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how difficult it is for many people to envision the whole while just seeing parts, or patterns for, finished textiles. When my daughter was young, I would take her to the fabric store when it was time for a special-occasion dress. While I would look at the patterns and imagine the combination of different views, or of completely different fabrics or colors, Margaret couldn’t see beyond the version in front of her. “No, Margaret, I can make a blue one,” I told her, or a shorter one, or a long-sleeved one. She just couldn’t figure that out. I gave up trying to let her choose.
In the same way, I don’t think my husband can imagine the whole while seeing just the exposed part of a weaving on the loom. I don’t think he can discount the header preceding the piece. It might be a crazy color or completely different yarn, with unkempt edges. A weaver’s brain can erase the header while looking at a weaving.
When I take weavings off the loom I am often puzzled and uneasy. Did it fulfill my initial vision? Are the edges OK? Is the color contrast too great, or not strong enough? Am I just too caught up in my decisions along the way, and need some time to evaluate its success? Finishing a piece can make a huge difference in the appearance of a weaving; hemming, fixing threads, steaming, straightening. Will that make all the difference in how professional and striking it looks?
I felt very uneasy about the last piece I took off the loom. It’s a monks belt piece done in a large scale with fabric strips, with two bold geometric spaces. I folded it loosely, took it to the closet and didn’t show my husband. I think it will look much better when the finishing work is complete. I didn’t want him to look at it and damn it with faint praise, just to be nice. I’ll work on the hemming and finishing, and then I’ll look at it too. Will the balance work out as I planned? Will the pattern on top of the same-color background give the surface interest and depth? Or will it turn out to be a dreaded “learning experience”?