I’ve been a weaver for 36 years. I sell at craft fairs, on Etsy, and to friends and family. It’s a creative outlet that can be as frustrating and tedious as it is rewarding. Much like life! In fact, weaving has taught me much about life, and I share five of those lessons here.
1) Not everyone sees the world the same way.
What is purple to me may be plum or eggplant to you. Beyond the subtleties of color perception, what I make and market as a kitchen towel may become a runner in your home. A bread cloth may become a towel. I learned from weaving that different perspectives and viewpoints are legitimate and deserve respect.
2) Mistakes are inevitable.
Sometimes I thread wrong, which is easy to do when I’m putting over 500 threads through the reed and heddles in a specific order. I learned from weaving that despite my best efforts, I can’t avoid mistakes.
3) Mistakes can be fixed.
There’s always a solution. I can add a heddle to fix a threading error, or rethread. If I’ve noticed an error in the tie-up of the treadles or in the weaving early enough in the project, I can unweave what I’ve woven, re-tie the treadles and start over. If the warp threads keep breaking, I can cut the project from the loom. And that’s okay. I learned from weaving to respond to mistakes by taking a deep breath and looking for a solution.
4) Things don’t always turn out the way you expect.
I can visualize a mix of colors, I can estimate yardage needed to accommodate shrinkage, and the result can be nothing like I thought it would be. This is not always a bad thing – sometimes the surprise is for the better – but when it’s not, I learned from weaving that there is usually someone who thinks my less-than-perfect result is perfect for them.
5) There are many ways to be an artist.
I’ve struggled with what to call myself – crafter, maker, or fiber artist. I hesitate to use the label artist because to me that is someone who paints or draws or sculpts. I’ve come to realize, though, that creating functional fiber art is still art in a world where so much is made in China. I learned from weaving to nurture and celebrate my inner artist.
Lee Stevens weaves at her studio in western North carolina. See her work at bluetreeweaver.etsy.com