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The Story of A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns
December 15, 2008In 1988, when I was working as an editor at Interweave Press, I had an idea that there really should be a pattern book for eight shafts, similar to Marguerite Porter Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book.
Perhaps, I thought, we could do like Ms. Davison did, elicit the help of our weaver friends to weave the samples for the book. We tested the waters by publishing a call for samples in Handwoven magazine. The response was overwhelming with a total 266 weavers submitting swatches!
The job for curating the collection fell to Carol Strickler, who at the time was my technical editor for Handwoven. Carol was a perfect choice. Unlike me she could weave a draft in her head. As my technical editor she was invaluable—able to immediately spot an error in a draft just by studying it.
Carol in turn called upon her friend Ardis Dobrovolny to help her sort and review the samples on an almost daily basis. And finally, many local weavers wove samples to fill the missing holes in the swatches that had been submitted.
Countless hours were spent in creating the drafts for the book using a very primitive program—all done by Yezhen Li (Yezhen, a master weaver in China, contacted us at Interweave inquiring about an internship with us—little did she know what she was getting into—all the way from China to check and make drafts for the book), not to mention all of the production staff, photography, and handling of hundreds of samples.
If all of this wasn’t remarkable enough, the behind-the-scene heroics that made this book happen was a miracle of sorts. For, almost immediately after having accepted the job to help create the book, Carol learned that she had ovarian cancer. She battled the disease throughout the entire process, only succumbing shortly after the book was published.
This is not as depressing as it seems. A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns was the pinnacle publication for a weaver who dreamed in weave structures and loved to figure stuff out. Carol’s passion to make the book a reality gave her hope and purpose at a time that was most difficult indeed.
I have written about this before, but the aid and love Carol received from her fellow Handweaver’s Guild of Boulder members made me deeply appreciate them myself. I would never have known how goodhearted and generous this group of weavers was had it not been for this project. To me, it was the truest meaning of community and in no small way contributed to the completion of this gigantic project. So, every time I use the A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns I’m reminded of Carol and the scores of the friends of Handwoven who made an idea a reality.