Wednesday, 31 October 2007

A weaving book for your shelves....

With grateful thanks to Cally for her recent recommendation, I want to introduce other weavers to a very useful book.

The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers, by Madelyn van der Hoogt, published by Unicorn Books and Crafts Inc., 1993, ISBN 0-916658-51-1.

As I've said before, it's difficult to know what's in a book without seeing a copy, and although I've known about this book for sometime, the reviews I've seen did not make clear to me what the content was and why it is a very useful book for me. I thought, "(hmm..) I know how to draw and read drafts, I'm familiar with basic weave structures, I think this isn't the most important book for me." I have already a few books that introduce basic weaving skills and a few books that are good on different structures, including pattern books.

Then came Cally's comment: "I worked my way through a number of the exercises and my understanding grew by leaps and bounds" gave me a different angle on this book. I decided to go with instinct and ordered a copy from Fibrecrafts (who were able to tell my by phone that they had a copy in stock).

My reaction when this book arrived was "this is it! the book that fills in lots of gaps in the jigsaw!" I had previously discovered from various internet sources that there were all sorts of weaves and techniques not in the books I owned. Also, that various books on particular topics are out of print and 2nd hand copies not easy to obtain.

I particularly value this book for including within one set of covers: block weaves, profile drafts, lace weaves, understanding damask, tied unit weaves, patterned double weave, lampas, network drafting... etc. It is all the more valuable for being very easy to read and understand (as I'd hope, given the author is well established as a journalist and magazine editor). It does so much more than describe weave structures, it explains them in full, taking you through the design and weaving process.

In the acknowledgements, at the start of the book, the author tells us that it "brings together most of what I've learned about weaving in more than ten years of passionate study". This book hadn't been in my hands long before I realised that the price paid, which had held me back from ordering the book before, was a bargain price for so much of someone else's experience (it works out at £2.10 per year of her study).

There's a recommendation in the introduction that the book should be read from the beginning without skipping bits, this is not my ususal approach and I was happy to see the author is sympathetic to my bad habit, but says "try to alter your habit for this book", and explains why. Out of respect for an author who has been able to assemble so much information, clearly expressed and in careful order, I aim to be a good reader and work through from the start, following Cally's example of working through the exercises. I'm hoping to take part in an Online Guild Workshop on "Advancing Twills" in November, so it will probably be into 2008 before I progress beyond reading, but I'm sure this is a good learning path for me to follow.


Leigh said...

I recently bought this book too, and so was interested in your take on it. I agree that it is an invaluable tool for learning. I understand so much more about drafts than I did now that I've read some of it. You inspire me to get it out next year and start to work my way through it. I think I'd do better with a planned approach, rather than haphazard projects here and there!

Peg in South Carolina said...

This will be a very good book for the rest of your weaving life, whether or not you approach it in planned fashion. One thing I like about my current life is the ability to follow any kind of learning process I care to. No tests to take. No papers to write. It is very freeing and I think I have probably learned more (at least about some things) than I have ever learned in school. But the real kicker is that the learning stays with me and is not forgotten at the end of the course.........