Building a Sample Collection

by | Feb 3, 2019 | Uncategorized

Sheila’s lace samples

New weavers are often advised by the more experienced to make and finish samples of their designs before committing time and yarn to the full project.  Few of us follow through with that suggestion at first.  It seems we have to learn from our own disaster, the scarf that was stiff as a board or the sleazy top fabric that wouldn’t hold together.

If you work from a recipe then the author has done the sampling for you and will give you the appropriate materials, structure and sett and finish.  The more you deviate from the instructions the more likely you are to have surprising results that can be good or bad.

If you work from your imagination and yarns bought at a thrift shop then the results will surely be a surprise so you’d better do some sampling early in the process.

 Sampling doesn’t just mean weaving a small section.  It includes wet finishing because the “magic in the water” can cast a truly evil spell on your hard work.

yardage sample

A collection of samples can be a valuable resource.  It is worth setting up a system for retaining samples and information so that they are easy to retrieve and interpret.  Don’t limit yourself to your own samples.  Broaden your collection with designs from other weavers.  There are several sources.

Guild of Canadian Weavers

 Before weaving software was common weavers shared designs through printed materials which often included a small sample of the cloth.  Today it is easier to check a WIF file and a photo in an on-line source but something important to textile artists is always missing.  For us the texture, drape, loft and sheen are just as important as the weave structure.  Sample programs like that of the Guild of Canadian Weavers still exist and many study groups have limited sample exchanges. 

If you have attended a lot of workshops with “round robin” sessions then you will have acquired an excellent sample collection to help you recall the lessons.  These can be the starting point for your own designs.

workshop notes


sample of pique

Take a second look at the first photo of Sheila’s samples to see 9 variations of a simple design with huck lace accents.  She has explored colour effects and played with the placement of the huck lace and has a lovely collection of mug rugs/samples.

sampling crackle treadlings

                                          MARCH SPINNING AND WEAVING CLASSES

Our winter workshops continue with spinning and weaving classes for those who have some experience and would like to increase they skills and knowledge.  Participants in the “Twill Treadlings” class will be coming home with a most useful sample, a guest towel with decorative rosepath.

guest towels

The spinning class will look at the history of spinning, wheels, various techniques and tips for spinning and plying plus an overview of yarn consistency and diameter.

spinning socks

For more information on classes contact us at

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