Adding my 2¢ of opinion to an online discussion often seems like a good idea to me, at the time. So, but for the grace of Google, which has locked me out of commenting in my ScanWeave group, until I produce my long lost password, I'd have felt compelled to offer my take on a recent discussion: how often to advance the warp off the back beam, and how frequently to move the rocking pivots on the overhanging beater of the Scandinavian loom forward, for the optimal beat.
It turns out there are many aspects to the subject, which generated heated interest. Opinions vary from never moving the rocking pivots forward, from a Swedish weaver who averred that no Swedish weaver she knew would ever do it, to moving it alternately, while advancing the warp, every 2 inches, never mind the temple, also advancing.
Of course, this sounds like an exercise I could never accomplish, like bringing myself to a free handstand in yoga class, that would require coordination well beyond my current (or future) ability and concentration, both sadly in decline. It's probably better I can't comment, because I am unqualified. For the record, I've moved the rocking pivots on my loom rarely in my long weaving career, and when I did, it was only as a desperate measure, to eek out a few more inches of a warp that was coming up short.
In days past this kind of discussion would have preoccupied me. Should I pay attention to this? I am self taught and suspect (with substantial evidence) I may have quit teaching myself too soon. Maybe I'm not a real weaver.
But I am always interested in lively discussions by other, knowledgeable weavers, which I love to hear, and experience, if only vicariously, standing outside the inner ScanWeave circle. To be clear, the ScanWeavers have always made me feel welcome. I do share their intensity about weaving matters, and try to pay close attention to the finer points. But, I find my interests often lean in a different direction. My best hope at this point in my weaving career, is to be a competent weaver, no more, but certainly, no less. I weave everyday of my life. My genetic code has made me a Scandinavian weaver to the bone. I try to improve daily, or at least try not to lose ground.
The intensity of my feeling, and my urge to weave, conversely, increases steadily. This state of mind usually begins with an image, or a memory, a fragile apparition. I prepare my warps with as much planning and care as I can muster. I practice patience as I work out designs. I work deliberately at each step of the warping process, and try not to rush. At the same time, I try not to make stupid mistakes. I supply myself with the best materials and colors I can procure. I am finally able to develop very good, even tension, consistently, across my warp. Though I'm quite impressed with myself over these modest achievements, other qualities interest me more, and are what drive my desire to weave as often as I can.
Painters are often the source of my agitation, and tend to send me off in new weaving directions. Lately, my muse and model for all things artistic is the British painter, Rose Wylie, who likes a quality of "slightly casual misfits," in her paintings. My obsession with her painting is acute, and people close to me have already had their fill of it. I usually can manage to work Rose Wylie into any conversation.
Rose Wylie has a lot to say about her painting process. She prioritizes the "object quality" of her canvases, "the thread, the glue, .... the marks of registration." She cuts her canvases and pastes them on in a very casual, not precious way. She even used to paint, stacking her canvases on the floor, and sometimes even walk on them. This was not because of a careless approach to her work, but out of an intimate connection with it. Her work is both careful, highly structured, and meaningful. "In all the imperfection," she says, "the object becomes your own piece of work, it becomes very much a part of you."
What is more saturated with "object quality" than a weave? The beauty of raw materials, the feeling and shape that use and time add to the quality of a weave, the power of color and texture to surprise us, and change our perceptions. I also
In recent years I have read some discussion of craft whose highest achievement is not its "finesse, polish, and virtuosity. " "Sloppy Craft" and Arte Povera offer pushback to the dominance of skill as the primary criteria in woven work. I don't mean to diminish the importance of skill, but also to beware of its tendency to overpower, and even hold back the weaver/artist from achieving what may be the better part in the work.
Maybe I should have been a painter, but I'm content to be able to call myself a weaver, even if it's just by the skin of my teeth.