At the very beginning of your weaving adventure you will probably make weavings that are not… great. 

I definitely did. 

This is ok. 

Actually, it is more than ok, and that is the whole point of this post.

Making these “bad” weavings is one of the best ways you can learn how to be a better weaver.

That is because those “bad” weavings are not really bad.

Also, let me define bad so there are no misunderstandings.

“Bad” weavings are those that do not turn out the way you want them to.

This could mean any number of things, but really it is all about how you feel about the weaving, not me or anyone else. Your definition could also change over time. The images in this post of my own weavings that just do not meet my personal criteria anymore or are different than I wanted them to be.

So hear me out here.

You should make bad weavings.

FYI: You should also cook bad food and write bad stories etc. etc.

Basically, doing anything either the wrong way or just not up to par will help you to learn. Part of learning is not only knowing what you should do but also what you should not do. 

It could also be as simple as doing everything right, but just finding out that the style is not your thing or the colors just do not really do it for you. These are OK and in fact, make you a better weaver because learning makes you better.

The thing is, though, that they are not always a way to learn more about weaving, but sometimes a way to learn more about yourself. I love always adding some weaving philosophy for you.

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Why you should make mistakes in your weaving

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My first weaving ever. The magazine was put there to hide my wonky selvedges. You know what? I now use paper in my weavings on purpose.

Every time you make a mistake you will learn from it.

Learning from a book, website*, or video are all really great options for learning how to weave. 

*I am glad you are here!*

The thing is that I guarantee no matter how many times you read or see someone doing certain things, you will not remember all of them unless you try it yourself. Doing is the best way to learn.

Then the first time it does not work, it will actually help you to understand the mechanics of the technique that you are trying to use.

This is because it helps you to figure out how to fix it. Understanding the mechanics of something is how you really learn how to do things. Otherwise, your knowledge is only surface level. When you do this you will be less likely to make the same mistake more than once.

If you do make that mistake more than once? Well, now you know how to fix it and you will be able to do it easier.

My weaving teacher always called these “teachable moments” and that always stuck with me. When it comes down to it, a mistake is really only a mistake if you do not learn from it. 

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In the image above you can see one of my very first weavings.

Yep, I made that.

The selvedges are pulling in and it was supposed to be a tapestry, but the warp is clearly visible in many spots. This is due to both the fact that my EPI was not really correct in the first place and it got even tighter as the warp pulled in. (Make sure to click to learn more about warp density.)

This weaving, though, was a crucial part of my weaving journey. It taught me about taking my time to watch my selvedges and just how much your straight selvedges can affect your EPI. It also was my first attempt at using alternative materials in my weaving. This weaving taught me so much and I show it to my students on the first day of every one of my classes for that reason.

(Check out THIS POST if you want to make plastic bag yarn.)

I can not say that I never made a weaving with pulled-in selvedges ever again – but I slowly got better and better. Learning more from each “bad” weaving that I made.

If you want to learn about how I now keep my selvedges straight make sure to check out THIS post!

The amazing thing about happy accidents

learn from bad weaving
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“Ugh. I did not mean to do that.”

One accident does not make a bad weaving. In fact, an accident can actually save a weaving from being generic.

Sometimes accidents are just accidents. You notice them. You fix them. You learn from them, then you move on.

Other times a weaving accident could be better at making decisions than you are.

Let me clarify that a bit.

Weaving accidents could be as simple as using the wrong weft yarn on a pick or beating your weft differently. These things probably are not intentional, but they might add something to your weaving that it was missing.

Happy accidents are one of my favorite things about creating. Sometimes I get really interesting moments in my weavings that were honestly made by mistake. 

That mistake could be more interesting than what it was actually supposed to be.

As long as it does not mess with the integrity of the weaving you could embrace it and possibly do it on purpose in the future!

Bad weavings are a great starting point

turn bad weavings into samples
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Your “bad” weaving does not have to be the end result.

There is no rule that says that just because a weaving was not supposed to be a sample it can not become one.

Part of being creative is knowing when to realize when things work and when they don’t. While the saying “cut your losses” almost applies, I would like to instead suggest “find your wins”.

Ok, so maybe don’t keep weaving if you can see it is not working and you can not fix it. So yeah, in that case cut your losses.

Then figure out why it did not work and take note of what did work. I can almost guarantee that it was not all bad. Did the EPI work? How were the colors? The overall structure of the weaving?

Learn. From. It.

That “bad” weaving is the beginning of your next great one.

A bad weaving does not have to be a sample, but if you can get your mistakes or happy accidents over within your sample it will definitely make weaving your finished piece a more enjoyable experience. 

I have done many samples that did not work out, but I was able to learn from them. The samples shown above were supposed to be a proof of concept for a weaving. Are they bad? No, not really, but they are not what I wanted them to be.

I kept trying and trying and with each one. The funny thing is I actually got some more ideas for different weavings in the process.

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No one – and I mean no one starts weaving great weavings from the very beginning. This learning curve will test you. It will let you know if you are a weaver or not.

If you can make it through the part of your weaving journey where you make “bad” weavings then you are a weaver.

That being said, a real weaver does not only make perfect, great work even when they are no longer new. If you are always making something that works then you are not pushing yourself and your weavings to be better.

Making “bad” weavings means that you are trying new things. That is never bad.

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