Crafting for Comfort or for Challenge?

For those of you who make things, or garden, or write, or bake, or even take walks in the great outdoors, do you tend toward challenging yourself in new directions, pushing yourself to do more and more difficult? Or do you choose familiar, comfortable techniques and projects and paths to soothe you?

For most of us the answer is probably, “It depends.”

It depends on mood, other stressors in our lives, the time have available to work on a project, and maybe, basic temperament.

My basic temperament leads me to the familiar, the soothing, the comforting . . . the easy.

I don’t especially like fussy, complicated designs that seem, to me, overwrought. And I seem to have enough tenseness in my life without looking for more stress in my crafts. So I very often do more of the same, return to the familiar, make more of what I’ve already made, just variations on a theme.

But even I, sometimes, feel the need to push myself a little. My two most recent weaving projects, while not at all, in the least, wild and crazy, were forays into slightly different techniques.

And what I learned was that, even though I was moving away from my comfortable, known weaving, I was moving into weaving that was, almost immediately, as comfortable and manageable.

In other words, just because it was different, it wasn’t hard or stress producing or uncomfortable. And that was important for me to learn.

One project was kitchen towels. Nothing new and different about that! Kitchen towels, made of cotton and linen are, by far, my favorite weaving product. What made these towels a little bit of a walk on the wild side for me was that I used a weave structure I hadn’t before—called false damask—and I used 8 shafts, not for the first time but I haven’t used them too often.

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Many (most?) floor looms have 4 shafts—when you add more shafts, you can achieve more complex designs. My loom actually has 12 shafts but I’ve not used all 12 yet!

The thing that drew me to this particular weave structure, was the way the checks on the towels look like they are made of interwoven bands.

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For weavers, this pattern is #246 from A Weaver’s Book of 8 Shaft Patterns, edited by Carol Strickler.

IMG_1793I honestly wouldn’t’ve looked at this draft twice if I hadn’t received email from my prolific weaving pal, Joan, with a photo of her towels. They were so fab, I had to do my own!

The details: 8/2 cotton warp in white, with narrow navy stripes; 24 ends per inch. Weft in varying colors of 8/2 cotton and narrow navy stripes.

I like the yellow one best! And I wove coordinating tabs on my band loom.

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My other recent project was two scarves from one warp.

This structure is called Atwater Bronson lace and, honestly, it couldn’t be much easier! But it achieves this pretty lacy effect.

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For weavers, this pattern is straight out of Next Steps in Weaving by Patty Graver. Her project is for a table runner in 3/2 cotton. All I did was substitute finer, 8/2 rayon and Tencel, which achieve the narrower width and a super silky drape and feel.

I used warp stripes in both a deep teal in Tencel and a variegated rayon thread that included teal, purple and turquoise.

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I lined the lace “windows” up with the warp stripes so, when I wove the pattern, the windows alternated between the plain stripes and the variegated.

For one scarf I used the same deep teal as weft and, for the other, I used navy blue. I was surprised that I liked the effect of the navy better—it makes the brighter colors glow. The only other difference between the making of the two scarves is that the windows are shorter in one and quite long in the other.

 

 

Both of these projects were a joy to weave. I expected them to be difficult and to create agita but they were both manageable and  . . . really easy.

I was avoiding branching out because I craved comfort and reassurance yet I found just those things by taking a baby step outside my comfort zone.

And I achieved a different kind of comfort and reassurance in knowing that I was becoming the kind of weaver who could branch out, who could attempt new approaches, and could be successful, without drama.

A lesson, perhaps, to apply to other aspects of my life  . . . ?