I am a fairly new, self-taught weaver. When I see other weavers making comments such as "Oh, that's a profile draft" or "Obviously that’s overshot; you need a tabby,” they leave me a little befuddled. I so envy those who had a formal training in textile arts! While I love learning HOW to do overshot or turned twill or crackle or..., I really want to understand the whys, wherefores, and hither tos of weaving. Can you suggest resources to help me build a more solid foundation?
I’m smiling to myself when I try to picture the “formal training in textile arts” you mention. There haven’t been a multitude of places where you could have taken a class in textile arts that would have given you the background you are looking for. Most of us have had to learn it on our own, with the warm and wonderful help of other weavers and weaving-workshop teachers, mostly provided through shops and the guild system, AND through our valued weaving texts. And, since these texts are not all that easy to understand on their own, we’ve studied them in guild study groups. You are beginning a quest that we have all be on, one that can last a weaving lifetime (or two).
So, what you need is a weaver’s library of books that explain weave structures. For general structural information, I usually recommend:
Atwater, Mary M. The Shuttle-Craft Book of American Hand-Weaving. Eugene, Oregon: Shuttle-Craft Books, l986.
Davison, Marguerite. A Handweaver’s Pattern Book. Swarthmore, Pennsylvania: Marguerite Porter Davison, 1971.
Dixon, Anne. The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory. Loveland, Colorado, Interweave Press, 2007.
Strickler, Carol. A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns. Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press, 1991.
van der Hoogt, Madelyn. The Complete Book of Drafting. Eugene, Oregon: Shuttle-Craft Books, 1993.
Two of these, Atwater and Davison, were written long ago, so some of the language and drafting formats are not easy to follow. If you use them with the others, though, you’ll be able to understand the information they are giving you. You do need to know the very basics of drafting (such as you learn in Deborah Chandler’s Learning to Weave, Interweave Press, 2009). If you start on this path and everything looks pretty foreign to you, go to your local guild and ask for help. If there isn’t already a study group you can go to, you can spark one into existence. Don’t forget, too, that the videos about specific weave structures available at shop.longthreadmedia.com can be an invaluable aid to understanding how they all work.
You are starting on a very rewarding path. There will be a lot of uphill moments, but vistas well worth the climb!