Book review – the Handweaver’s Pattern Directory

17 05 2008

As many of you know, I was hesitant to appreciate this book. Change does not come easy for some. The book is worthy of a spot on the weaver’s library shelf. It cannot replace “Mastering Weave Structures” by Sharon Alderman, nor Marguerite Davison’s “A Handweaver’s Pattern Book”, which was my fear. Anne Dixon has given the 21st century weaver a naughty little bathroom book for weavers. It’s the book you will sneak away into a quiet corner with to be aroused into weaving something you would otherwise not consider. Why would you do this, you might ask. Because the book shows patterns with pleasant lines, and a variety of colors and fairly simple to understand directions on how to create some of the weaves. There is a broad selection of patterns covered and some hand-manipulated techniques also. The fact that the weaves are in so may different colors, and that some of the ‘standard’ weaves are also shown with ‘color and weave’ effects is food for thought for new weavers and old.
Why will this book not replace Davison’s?
Davison’s book demonstrates a greater diversity of treadling options for twill variations, and she documents many historic weaving patterns like Blooming Leaf, Murphy’s Diaper, and Lee’s Surrender. Hang on to Davison, and enhance your library by purchasing Dixon also.
Why will this book not replace Alerman?
It’s goal seems to be to offer some inspiration, through color, and simple instruction. It is also more of a manual on taking a basic recipe for design, and demonstrating several ways to vary that recipe to create your own designs from the original. Alderman, however delves deeper into the basic structure of a weave. What makes a Huck weave ‘huck’, and how can the weaver come up with her/his own huck designs, without losing the integrity of the fabric. Alderman speaks the language of a seasoned weaver, an architect of fabric. It’s not what Dixon is attempting. Dixon takes the initiated weaver through the basics of how to create the weaves, not what defines the weave and it’s structure.
I like Dixon’s book, and it has it’s place on our shelves. Anne Dixon has done a nice book, and I haven’t, so kudos to her, before I ‘criticize’ the book. Let’s talk about what its limitations are. Although the book can inspire, and instruct you how to weave a variety of patterns and structures, it doesn’t go into any depth explaining the various structures. The explanations are vague, and to my own understanding, some are (ahem) different from what I have been taught. For instance, does Anne say that woolen spun yarns are made from fibers that are carded, which makes the fibers “lie in different directions”? That just isn’t my understanding of carding. “Crammed and Spaced” is variable sett weaving. Let’s just call it what it is, and keep life simple. Anne also shows some of the post-loom treatments, but now how to accomplish them. For instance, how does one hem-stitch? These are minor criticisms, however, as I think the book will tempt me into a private corner for some enchanting daydreams of weaving the beautiful tricolored hucks on p. 166, or the Danish medallions on p.159. Thank you Anne Dixon for this inspiring little book, and the time it must have taken you to put it together. You have my respect. Thank you Lisa H. for giving me the book as a gift.

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