By Cecil: The Handweaving Process
Back in March, Amanda Stockley came to visit me in my home studio to film me dressing a loom and weaving fabric. It was an interesting exercise that made me look at all the various parts of the process and how to describe them to a non-weaver. I wrote pages of notes on why I weave and what it means to me, which has been made me think about who finds peace with this weird little craft. I met someone at a market recently who knew a few of us and said that weavers were all a particular type of person, which I think is true.
There is an alchemy to weaving when animal or plant fibres are manipulated to create yarn to weave in a multitude of ways which produce a wealth of different cloth. The options are endless, but every choice made when planning narrows down the possibilities. Planning a warp takes a lot of time and calculations. The framework that is set will focus the design and restrict the direction the textiles can be taken in.
I thoroughly enjoy this contradiction between setting myself a tight design brief and the constant desire to subvert this and go off-piste. I think most weavers feel this contradiction and there is a whole sub-section of weave structures that are known as distorting the grid. As a handweaver, the ideal warp is one that I can create vastly different and unique textiles from without changing very much.
I am at my most peaceful when I am weaving. It provides me with a calm and quiet mind that is hard to pin down otherwise. The slow, methodical purpose of weaving allows me to reach a flow state where half my brain is working on the functional activity of lifting each shaft and crossing the warp with the thread while the other half whiles away and gets lost in a dream state of new ideas or working through old problems.
There has been much talk about the nourishing nature of craft and how we are all disconnected from the act of making. We are a species of makers, problem solvers and tool makers. I believe that everyone would benefit from some form of regular creative activity. I read an article recently that said learning a new skill has the most effect on well being regardless of ability. Weaving is my ticket to good mental health, and I feel untethered if I do not have some form of creative project on the go.