6 ways to get out of a weaving slump

Most weavers have experienced a “weaving slump”. You know – when you just can’t seem to get excited about the project on your loom, your next project, or ANY project for that matter. You might leaf through a weaving magazine without finding any project that piques your interest. You look through websites showcasing kits, but they seem to be all the same things that you’ve woven before. More towels, more scarves, more of the same old thing.

So what do you do, when weaving goes from exciting, to uninspiring?

Here are a few strategies that I use.

Walk away

This might be literal, or figurative. Go outside for a walk, play in your garden, pull out the watercolours that you haven’t used for a while. Take a break from weaving.

There is no rule that if you are a weaver you have to ALWAYS be a weaver. Weavers tend to be people who have a lot of interests, fibre related or not. Go play with your other interests for a while. 

Taking a break from weaving for a little (or long) while can help you reset your creative mind, and often, time off will have you wandering back to your loom before long, with the need to create with it.

Get inspiration from others

Check out online weaving groups (facebook, ravelry, etc). Try a search for “woven art image” or “handweaving”. Cruise sites like etsy for woven items. See what makes you look more closely at it to see the details. Don’t forget to check out weaving types that you don’t generally participate in, things like inkle, band, backstrap, tapestry, and basket weaving.

Stop by a local gallery or art show. Paintings, mixed media and other types of art installations might not translate directly into woven cloth, but it can be interesting to look at the work of others, and pick certain things that interest you. It might be a colour combination in an advertisement, a textural element that intrigues you, or maybe a new material that makes you think “I wonder if I can weave with that?”

Don’t copy what someone else is doing, of course – but seeing the work of other artists (and yes, you are an artist) can spark ideas.

Balance your life with your weaving

Life these days can be pretty complex. Weavers have families, jobs, friends, hobbies/interests and other obligations to contend with.

If your life is complex at the moment, go back to the basics. Dress your loom with a solid warp that is your favourite colour. Use a straight threading, and weave some plain weave. Take this part of your life, and simplify it, with a project that is comfortable and you feel confident in.

If your life is in a good spot right now, with things simply rolling along as they should, dive into a more complex project. Think of something that you want to weave, but seems too complicated for you. Start that project! Do some research or take a class if you need to. Take the time to learn about it, and truly understand it. 

Think like a child

Do you remember being in school, and told to brainstorm for ideas? Try that again, as an adult. Grab a piece or paper (or the digital equivalent), and start throwing ideas at the page. Don’t forget that this is for your eyes only, so there are no bad ideas. Anything that comes to mind goes on the page, even if it doesn’t seem all that related.

Keep your notebook next to you while you look around at what other weavers and artists are doing. Jot down a word or two for ANYTHNG that catches your attention. Put these words in different areas of the paper, and build off of them.

Try restrictions and rewards

Challenge yourself to use only yarn in your stash, a colour that you don’t normally use, a structure or item that you have never woven before.

Restricting your options can change your thinking from “I don’t feel like weaving” to “How can I make this thing work?” 

If you have project on the loom that is just not calling to you any more, but you want to get it off the loom, think up some rewards. I know a production weaver who drinks a glass of champagne when she takes a long warp off the loom! 

When you weave a whole towel, you get to have that new flavoured coffee you are saving for a special occasion. If you finish that cotton project, you “get” to weave the silk yarn that has been patiently waiting for “just the right project”. Maybe when you weave a certain length, you take yourself outside for a walk on your favourite trail.

Allow yourself to play

Is there some project that you are afraid to try? Have you been dreaming of weaving an overshot coverlet, but you think you aren’t advanced enough yet? Does deflected doubleweave seem “too hard” to try?

A lot of weavers feel that each warp MUST result in a finished project that is good enough to gift. Yes, weaving anything means that you invest time, effort, and materials, but if you can let go of the “Must end up with a project” mentality, it can open you up to a whole new aspect of weaving.

Make yourself a short(ish) narrow warp, and play with the technique that seems scary. Thread up an overshot draft, and start weaving. Just weave, don’t think about it too much. Learn to handle multiple shuttles, play with different yarn weights and colours. See what happens when you change the tabby order. Look for the parts of the weaving process that you can change. 

Tip: take a LOT of notes about the things you play with, when you play with samples like this, you often come up with variations that are interesting enough to play with more, and good notes make it MUCH easier to remember what you were playing with!

You are likely to end up with a piece of fabric that doesn’t resemble a project of any type, but remember, the GOAL here is not to end up with a project. It is to play, and learn about whatever it is that you want to learn about. A sample like this IS useful, and you can keep it, and refer to it often. 

Sitting down to a warp with the intention to use the WHOLE warp up, by playing around, and trying whatever idea comes to mind can feel like a whole new weaving experience.

I hope that if you are in a weaving slump currently, one (or more!) of these ideas will spark some excitement for you, and get you back to your loom. If all else fails, try cuddling your yarn!

Photo by Ann Baggley

Happy Weaving!