Book Review: Learn To Weave With Anne Field, by Anne Field

cv_learn_to_weave_with_anne_fieldAvailable in selected bookstores now.

Weaving is great fun. But like all crafts it has its learning curve, and its jargon. I’m a self-taught weaver, and I really wish that I’d had this book when I first began messing around with looms. It’s great.

The first part of the book deals with the very basics of how to choose and warp (thread) a loom, and the fundamentals of weaving. Only shaft looms (table or floor looms) are covered, not rigid heddle looms.

The first chapter is about the looms – how they work, the different types with their advantages and disadvantages. The jargon is introduced gently, with text boxes in the margins.

The second chapter teaches the reader to wind a warp and thread the loom. The method for beaming on (getting the warp onto the loom) is a variation that I’ve not tried – so I tried it. It worked well. Variations to deal with special types of yarn are given, as are ways to correct the inevitable small errors.

The third chapter teaches the basic techniques of weaving. As well as dealing with shuttles and getting the beating right there is an introduction to the way that weaving instructions are written – the ‘draw down’. As the chapter progresses the reader can work along to produce a simple scarf. Again there’s a trouble-shooting section.

There are a lot of pit-falls for the beginner in weaving. These first three chapters are a fine introduction – although the text is dense and will reward re-reading it is very clear.

loom_hand_weavingUndoubtedly it would be helpful to have a more experienced person around to help the first time that a loom is threaded and tied up, but with or without a helper these three chapters have everything that you need.

The second part of the book consists of step by step instructions for eleven projects. These extend the learner weaver’s repertoire in many directions. Each project develops one particular skill through a fully detailed set of instructions, and suggests ways in which the reader may explore the skills and techniques being developed further. A wide variety of yarns is dealt with to introduce their respective properties, uses, and pitfalls. The projects include table runners, mats, cushion covers, dish towels, and wearable scarves, wraps and a jacket. Along the way the weaver – – no longer a mere reader – is introduced to such techniques as twill, overshot, wandering warps, reversible fabrics, pattern, and block weaving. As well as producing a particular article, suggestions are included for ways in which the techniques can be extended and explored. There is a collection of reference material and sources of materials at the end of this section.

As well as the step by step instructions, the book is stuffed full of practical hints and advice gained in Anne Field’s decades of weaving and teaching. Any beginning or intermediate weaver will find new ways to do things – as too will many more advanced weavers I am sure. Throughout the book the author speaks directly to the reader, recounting some of her own early errors, and explaining why to do things as well as how to do them. It really is like having her right there helping.

Anne Field, a doyenne of the NZ spinning and weaving scene, died in May last year. At the time this book was nearly finished, and her daughter Jane Clark, also a weaver, has seen it into print.
The book is liberally illustrated with photographs and diagrams – some of the best weaving photographs I have seen. The layout is clear, and production values are high. The text is sparse and direct, with not a word wasted.

The no-nonsense approach, careful selection of projects and the wealth of experience Anne Field brings to the task of teaching and captures in print make this a book that every beginner or intermediate weaver will benefit from. It’s fantastic and I’m really glad to see it.

Reviewed by Gordon Findlay

Learn To Weave With Anne Field: A project-based approach to weaving basics
by Anne Field
Published by David Bateman Ltd
ISBN 9781869538316