Sunday, 24 August 2008

A couple of new weaving books

I have bought two more weaving books. These are not books that I needed. They do not really add anything to my weave book collection and don't tell me anything I didn't know... but I think most of you know that I am a great bibliophile and can't resist a good book.

That being said, I've made a resolution not to buy any more weaving / spinning / dyeing books this year and instead to start saving up in case I want to extend my loom equipment or buy a new loom next year. I'm already struggling with this resolution, but I know it makes sense. (I shall console myself with a list of the books I'm not buying and a list of new loom equipment - don't ask how much I spent on books since 2008 began, it would be a serious contribution to the cost of a new loom!)

My new books are:

The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell & Elizabeth Windesjo, published by Collins and Brown, in the UK in 2008
(an English translation of a Swedish book published in 2005). ISBN 978-1-84340-456-9, £16.99.

Weave Structures the Swedish Way - volume 1, by Ulla Getzmann, translated by Becky Ashenden, published by Vav Stuga Press, 2006.
(No ISBN, sold in UK by Fibrecrafts £25.20, in US by Vavstuga.)

The Big Book of Weaving.
(sub-title is Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs and Materials.)

This is a beginners book and I wish I'd had this when I started weaving. It is very good on parts of the loom, how to assemble a loom from a box of bits (the loom featured looks like a Glimakra counterbalance) and how to get a warp on your loom. The diagrams are superb, the text concise and precise.

Just a word of warning here - it does not include jack looms - only counterbalance and countermarche systems.

Although I am not working through this book as a beginner, I am fairly confident it has everything a beginner needs to get weaving interesting cloth. It's got yarn choice, project planning, yarn calculations, washing and finishing. There are several attractive and useful projects using a good range of traditional Swedish techniques - including (as well as the more usual blanket, scarf and cushion fabrics) a rya rug, a rep rug, lacy cotton curtains, a paper yarn screen, a bag with beaded panels, and some fancy inlay weaving techniques. These projects are described in full detail making it easy to work out what you need to do to produce each item.

Mmm. I shall definitely take up some of these - there's some very attractive bathroom mats and I fancy a large alpaca shawl.

Now although I say this is the book I wish I'd had when I started weaving, if you're a beginner you might like to use Deborah Chandler's Learning to Weave book. Many, many people have learnt to weave with this book. Many people like it a lot. I learnt to weave with it and I didn't like it at all. I didn't like the way it was written and found it hard to read and understand, learning as I was all on my own at home. I borrowed it from the library and took it back as soon as I could manage without. BUT in fairness I did learn some useful stuff in spite of not liking it and there's no getting away from the fact everyone else seems to like it.

I have often mentioned Peggy Osterkamp before. I wish I'd had her books from the outset too. Superb for tips "how to.." and problem solving.

Weave Structures the Swedish Way - volume 1.

Volume 2 is not translated into English, I asked the publisher when my book arrived as I wondered if I was missing something. Especially as this is an expensive book to buy from Fibrecrafts, at £25.50, and although beautifully bound and produced, it's only a thin book of 35 numbered pages.

If you're a beginner weaver, this book is superb for describing with absolute clarity the different weave structures you need to know about.

But would I advise you to buy it? Not if you haven't already bought Anne Dixon's book The Handweaver's Pattern Book (or Handweaver's Pattern Directory in the US edition). Get Anne Dixon first because her book is superb, it's about so much more than just weave structure, and is much better value for money. Also excellent are Mary Black's Key to Weaving (out of print, but widely available 2nd hand) and Janet Philip's books.

And if you have 8 shafts on your loom you should make sure you have one or both of Eight Shafts a Place to Begin by Wanda Jean Shelp and Carolyn Wostenberg and A Weaver's Book of 8 Shaft's Patterns edited by Carol Strickler. Both these books explain how weave structures work as well as giving examples.

If you are seriously interested in weave structures and not intimidated by heavyweight books, look on the ABEbooks web sites for: William Watson, Advanced Textile Design (first published 1912, several re-prints) and Harry Nisbet, Grammar of Textile Design.(Published 1906, my copy cost me £40).

But wasn't I writing about Weave Structures the Swedish Way? Yes, but beyond saying it covers all the important weaves, is beautifully laid out, easy to read and understand and I'm very pleased to have a copy, there isn't anything to add. Except that there are no photos of cloth inside the book, they are on the cover and an indexed diagram takes you to the page describing the weave. Simple but effective. If it was half the price I'd say this book was a "must have", but at the price I paid it's a luxury.


Laritza said...

Thanks for the info. That means two less books to buy!

Trapunto said...

I glad to hear your opinion of Weave Structures the Swedish way, as it it a purchase I've been considering. I thought I was the only person in the world who didn't like Chandler! More acurately, I actively *dis*liked Learning to Weave, which was recommended to me at the end of my first weaving class. I took it from the library for self study, and to use as reference when I was unclear in my memory about anything I'd learned in class. All the useful information was buried in pages of encouraging chatter, which made each process seem more complicated than it was: five paragraphs to describe something that two well-crafted sentences and a diagram could have conveyed much more clearly.

Leigh said...

Dot, thank you for reviewing those two books! I've been interested in them both. I have Mary Black's book, also the 8-shaft books you recommend. But next time I buy books, I reckon I should consider Anne Dixon too.

Anonymous said...

I also bought the Big Book of Weaving recently - a completely frivolous purchase, but I was mesmerised by the rya bench rug! I have been enjoying browsing it, but looking at the instructional part I wasn't sure how I would have liked it as a very new weaver.

It may be the way it is translated, but I found the frequent use of never and always - and other words in bold to be rather off-putting. It made me feel that if I didn't get things exactly right I might as well give up, in which case my weaving career would have been very short indeed.

However, the bench rug is still inspiring!

Dorothy said...

I'm interested in Cally's comment. Yes, she's right, there is a tendency in this book to imply there might be one particular "right" way of doing a thing. As those of us who've been weaving a while know, there's several different ways to achieve anything. If you had this book AND Peggy Osterkamp's books you'd probably find that anything you were stuck with in Big Book of Weaving, Peggy would get you through. Peggy hasn't got a beginner's book out yet.

Anonymous said...

I think Peggy is just putting out a new book that is aimed at beginners, so hopefully that gap will be filled.

It's interesting that you didn't like Chandler's book. Could you describe why? I did like it and basically have used it to teach myself so far. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it gave me true STEP BY STEP instructions, so that I was able to warp my loom without any help.

Of course, I'm still very much a beginner, and I'd rather like to get my hands on Peggy's stuff, as I've heard so much good about it. I think maybe I'll ask around my guild.

Dorothy said...

I could not understand Chandler. Could not make head nor tail of her writing. I spent days trying to decipher paragraphs. that I had to decipher in order to be able to get that first warp on to the loom. Very hard work, very frustrating. You say step by step. For me, it was like a ladder with half the treads missing so I'd climb a couple of rungs and then be faced with a gap and no idea how to get across.

Also, I found the information badly organised and badly laid out.

Yes I do have very high standards, but I'm not stupid and can ususally cope with reading and comprehension.

But, with Chandler, over and over again I was sitting there with the book thinking, well, she must have known what she meant by this, but I haven't a clue!
I really got very desperate, I'd spent over a thousand pounds on a loom and yarns and other essential equipment and for several weeks I thought I was going to have to sell the lot because I couldn't use it.

Somehow, I battled through. Mostly because of e-mail help and support from the Online Guild members.

Geodyne said...

Dot, I've come across so many books that I treasure now from reading your blog, so based on this post I went out and ordered The Big Book of Weaving. You're right - despite the fact that I'm no longer a beginner weaver, it's a lovely book. One well worth having on the bookshelf.

Thankyou, once again!