Sample Minded

Darwin didn’t walk around the Galapagos and come up with the theory of evolution. He was exploring, collecting, making observations. It wasn’t until he got back and went through the samples that he noticed the differences among them and put them in context. Craig Venter

Okay, sampling in weaving might not be quite in the same realm as the “sampling” process that lead Darwin to come up with the theory of evolution, but Venter’s point is that new ideas rarely appear like light bulbs.  New ideas are often, counterintuitively, results of collecting the “old ideas” together, moving them around, making small changes, observing, etc.

With this notion in my mind, and in preparation for an upcoming class, I have been (uncharacteristically) sample minded. I realize that I have moaned and groaned about “sampling” in one or two or more . . . blog posts, but I recently discovered a nuance in my relationship to “the sample”. It turns out that I hate sampling for a project, but I love weaving samples as the project!  If the mission is to weave samples in preparation for weaving a scarf or placemats, then I would much rather (impatiently) dive into the project itself, and consider what I have woven as “the sample” if there is a problem or “the project” if it works out well. IMG_5626 IMG_5693

Some might see the biggest problem with this approach as the potential waste of time/materials if the initial concept is faulty, but I think there is a much bigger problem.  For one thing, I have been doing it this way for a long time and the results of my approach have rarely been so disastrous as to be a total loss.  Alarm bell!  By definition, I must be keeping my “ideas” in a very narrow, safe zone if I can weave projects without sampling. And by having an end use in mind I have already shut the door on other possibilities and reduced my willingness to mess around, re-arrange, etc.

IMG_5732 IMG_2585 IMG_5762

SO, my new mission is samples as the end product!  And to paraphrase Laurie Autio when she was asked what she was making when she was doing a lot of experimental drafting, she replied, “I’m making a weaver.”

IMG_5766 IMG_5828 IMG_5830 IMG_5881 IMG_5903 IMG_5632 _DSC0664

I will admit that this might be too big to count as a sample . . .


13 thoughts on “Sample Minded

    • Thanks Dianne!
      It is Plainweave!! Crazy Dimity (plain weave that weaves every pick in one area and every other in another which creates the texture)-in this case Dimity bars running vertically and horizontally. Only drawback is most Dimity fabrics are not reversible – floats on back. I did see a reversible double Dimity shawl in the Complex Weavers Journal . . . 30 shafts I believe?

      • Sigh…. I love every one of those samples. I too enjoy weaving sample warps more than samples for a project. The reason is there are no rules, no expectations, no exact pattern repeats or selveges to worry about…..just throw the shuttle and see what happens.

        Hope you get to come back to Michigan soon!

  1. Oh, that blue and brown, where the warp appears to wander way back and forth! And who says samples have to be small, anyway? If all we ever sample are pieces small enough to stuff in a notebook, what about rugs? What about very-long-repeat yarns? Warp painting? If you fail (or succeed) boldly with a project, without sampling first, doesn’t that teach you just as much or more as making nice tidy little samples?

  2. I believe your Mother might say your work has not fallen far from her tree! Such gorgeous colours Lisa! So exciting and rich!


  3. Oh, so, so beautiful and inspiring! Can you tell me more about your first sample? I’m still trying to get my brain to translate what the flat angular draft looks like to the organic, textured form of the final product. I would love to make towels with that pattern!

    • Hey Jules,
      How’s life in Columbus? I’m still talking about your fab Arts Center and what a great group we had. The first sample was woven for Handwoven’s Yarn Lab (Nov/Dec 2016) using some wonderful 14/2 linen (Louet’s Euroflax) I used 3 colors – burgundy, red and caribou and it was set to have the pleasant sturdy floppiness of a placemat or table runner. I believe the setts will be in the magazine. Hope all is well and that you are able to get some weaving done between the joys/frenzies of job/life/kids.

Leave a Reply to Isabelle Flinois Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *