Tips for Keeping Weaving Project Records by Amanda Rataj
Do you keep records on your weaving projects? Sometimes in the rush of weaving and my excitement to wash a newly finished project, I forget to take detailed notes about what I’ve done - I am also in the very bad habit of using bits of paper to scribble things on and then leaving them around the studio and forgetting what they mean.
Weaving project records are an important part of your weaving practice for a number of good reasons! For starters, they help you duplicate a project - by keeping all your information in one place, you can easily make a project again, no matter how long ago you made it. They also help you learn from your past experiences - by recording things like finishing techniques or that you had lots of extra warp at the end, you can make more informed decisions for the next time. A good record also helps you gain confidence as a weaver, because if something went wrong (or right!) you know to avoid it or do it again.
In my very first weaving notebook I took atrocious notes (see image! so much white space!) but I’ve gotten much better and developed a system that works for me. To start thinking about how to keep weaving project records, read on!
What Type of Information to Keep
There are a few basic things you’re going to want to write down in your weaving records:
- Date: When did you make this project?
- WPI: Wraps per inch
- EPI: Ends per inch
- Total ends: The total number of ends you warped.
- Warp yarn & weft yarn: I like to list where I got it, the name and size of the fibre, and the colour, including the number.
- PPI: Picks Per Inch will tell you how tightly or loosely to pack your warp - if my pattern has a ground thread and pattern thread, I’ll record the number for each.
- Draft: I either draw it out on graph paper or print off a copy of my computerized draft. I also note where I found the draft and what page it was on.
- Width in reed: This is important for figuring out shrinkage.
- Length: Measure your length in the same conditions in which you are weaving.
- Finishing techniques: How are you finishing this textile? Is it hand washed or machine washed? Warm or cool water? Finished width: Measure after washing.
- Finished length: Measured after washing - I like to record the finished length before hemming.
- Notes: I write loads of notes - if my project take-up was more than expected, I make a note. If my warp was breaking a lot, I write down that information and what I did to solve it. Anything about the weaving process or finished cloth that may be useful for the future, I make sure to note!
I always record these fourteen points about a weaving project, but there’s lots more information that you might want to keep. Here are a few more ideas:
- Warp calculations: I write down all my calculations (and recalculations) in my records.
- Warp and weft samples: I tie or tape a little piece of my warp and weft to my weaving project notes so that I have a small sample of the unwoven fibre.
- Warp length: This might information might be useful to you if you want to redo a project or increase the number of items you want to weave (IE make 4 Citrus towels instead of 2!)
- Type of Weave: Marking whether this is a plain weave, overshot, twill might be a useful organizational category for you. You can also record whether you were aiming for a balanced, warp, or weft faced weave.
- Shrinkage: Having these numbers ready can help you plan a similar project using the same materials.
- Loom: If you have more than one loom, you might want to record which one you used for the project.
Tips to Help You Keep Better Weaving Project Records
I have a wonderful colleague that keeps the most intriguing notes in meetings - she writes in little bursts across the page, cramming things in and making little groups or bubbles. It looks unintelligible to me, but it makes perfect sense to her, and I think the same goes for weaving notes! If you keep your weaving records in whatever way makes the most sense to you, you’re more likely to actually keep notes and then be able to use them when you need them. That being said, my five tips to keeping better weaving project records are…
- Keep them together: I use a spiral bound sketchbook to keep my weaving records organized and in one place, but you can also keep your records digitally or print them out and keep them in a 3 ring binder - whatever suits you!
- Store your samples with your records: Depending on how you keep project notes, you might be able to staple or attach your samples right to your records. As I shared in my article on making samples, I attach a tag to each sample that includes some of the basic information like material, sett, etc. Each tag also has a number on it that corresponds to the project records in my notebook - so that the full details are easy to find when I need them.
- Collect more information than you think you need: One thing I have been very guilty of is thinking “I won’t need to know how wide this was/what sett this sample is made at/what yarn this is - I’m just trying this yarn out.” Let me tell you - this has come back to bite me more times than I would like. Now I try to collect all the information for everything - even when it’s just plain weave in one colour and one type of yarn. I like to think I am going to remember how I made something two years down the road, but it just isn’t true.
- Take notes while you weave: I keep a little pad of paper and a pencil on my weaving bench - it’s within reach and not precious, so I can scribble things down as I’m working and cross them out and not worry about making a mess of my main weaving project records. Once I’ve cut a warp off, I make the time to take this pad to my desk and transcribe the useful information from it in to the main record.
- Number or categorize your projects: I give all my projects a number, because I find that identifying my projects in an objective way is important - “blue tea towel” is just a bit too vague when I’m trying to find an old project. Numbering helps me link similar projects made over time (IE, I can make a note that reads “See project 55”), and can help categorize projects too. I also know some weavers like to keep similar project notes together, such as having all their rug projects in one book, scarves in another, etc.
How do you like to keep your weaving project notes? What sort of strategies have you developed to organize your projects? I know there are a ton of great ideas out there, and I’m always changing and updating my own process to suit my needs as I grow my skills and become a better weaver. If you’re new to keeping records we’ve made up a handy downloadable PDF with some of the basic categories on it and a handy empty graph for drawing in your threading, tie up, and treadling. I hope it helps! If you have any great suggestions on keeping weaving records, let us know! Get in touch with me on Instagram or by email and share your favourite ways to keep weaving project records.
About Amanda Rataj
Amanda Rataj is an artist and weaver living and working in Hamilton, Ontario. She studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and has developed her contemporary craft practice through research-based projects, artist residencies, professional exhibitions, and lectures. Her textile focus of the material and conceptual nature of vernacular, everyday objects used for the home and body; her work (and weaving patterns) are available at her website, and at Guildworks, or by commission.