Stories from a life in progress.


Last Saturday I had the day free, and I decided to visit The Mannings yarn shop and weaving school on their annual "Spinning Seminar" day.

The Spinning Seminar typically showcases multiple yarn crafts, not only spinning.  The lineup for this year included backstrap weaver and teacher Laverne Waddington.  I'd heard of backstrap weaving, read online conversations between people who do it, seen images of finished weaving and weaving in progress, and my conclusion was: very very cool, but I'm not going to learn it.  Too complicated to figure out, especially on my own.

But it's weaving, and it has always seemed interesting, and if I had the chance to watch it happen in person, I really wanted to.  Just to see how it actually works.

In the end I spent spent quite a while with Laverne, watching her weave and asking questions.  I got to scrutinize one of the sample bands she had in progress and even weave a few picks.  More than anything else, I was surprised and fascinated at how much sense it all made.  It certainly took concentration to understand what I was seeing, but it wasn't nearly as brain-breaking as I had expected it to be.  I've woven on a different sort of loom, and the concepts relate.

As soon as I came home I dragged out my own warping board and weaving yarn.  By evening I was weaving on my own warp -- weaving clumsily on a warp with serious problems, but weaving.  Since then I've made some more warps and the weaving is getting better.

I'm still shaking my head at how much easier this is than I thought it would be.  Don't get me wrong, I am the still the beginnerest of beginners.  At this stage I'm making progress mostly by messing up and then trying to fix my mistakes.  But I expected learning this art would be extremely difficult if not impossible.  My actual experience is that I'm already on my way, after just a few hours of work (added to my prior weaving experience).  My expectations were so far off the mark, it's silly.

There are a couple of lessons to learn here.  Nothing beats actual experience.  And expectations don't always know what they're talking about.