WeaveZine: an online magazine for handweavers—Archives

Weaving for Beginners

by Peggy Osterkamp
406 pages, Lease Sticks Press, 2010

My first thought when I beheld Weaving for Beginners was “That is one beautiful book!”  It’s hardback and bound with the encased-coil binding that is all the rage these days.  My second thought as I started flipping through the pages was: “I thought this was supposed to be a light-weight beginner’s text!”

Disclaimer: I served as a technical advisor for the rigid-heddle chapter (# 14).  Peggy sent me that chapter to review before publication and I made suggestions for improvement.  Since I was involved with that chapter, I’m going to skip commenting on it.

The rest of the book was a complete surprise.  I’ve been a fan of Peggy’s previous information-dense books: Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle , Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps , and Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth .  In fact, I learned how to warp easily and efficiently from Peggy’s books and video .  They are not quick reads; being so full of information that after a chapter I’d have to sit for a while and have a think about all I’d just learned.  So when Peggy announced that she was writing a book for beginners, I assumed it would be a thin volume, “Peggy light”, as it were.

Boy was I wrong! Weaving for Beginners is a hefty 406 pages, and as chock full of information as her other books.  The difference is in the approach, it’s a bit less academic, a bit more approachable than her previous books, and the focus is more broad.  Instead of intensely examining a narrow topic, she covers all of the things a beginner needs to know.  Her years in the classroom serve her well here, she covers everything a beginning weaver might ask.

But although it is a beginner’s book, it’s not “information light”.  For example, in the discussion of sett, she covers Ashenhurst’s rule (and if you don’t know how cool that is, you need to read the book.)  If you are self taught, or have learned weaving ad hoc (as I have) you may have gaps in your understanding of how cloth comes together; this book is the antidote.

Clear descriptions, a plethora of illustrations, comprehensive information: this is a book that would enhance the library of any weaver.

Another thing that sets this book apart is the coverage of timely topics such as  computer software and using computer-assisted looms.  It’s a bold new weaving world out there, and with more beginning weavers embracing computerized looms, it’s time for weaving books to catch up.  Bravo to Peggy (and her guest writers Nancy Alegria and Deborah Holcomb) for these new sections.

Which brings up another point.  Peggy invited five other weavers to write for the book, so it’s not just Peggy’s voice you hear throughout the text.  Which will be either a joy or a disappointment depending on whether you like the style of the other writers.  I believe Peggy did this to ensure high-quality coverage of topics she herself was less familiar with.

One thing missing from the book is drool-worthy color photographs.  This is more textbook than eye candy.  But if you are looking for a solid foundation to your weaving education, tons of great information that’s been rigorously proofed, Weaving for Beginners will delight you.

Convergence 2010 Note: Peggy will be signing copies of Weaving for Beginners at Convergence, so if you're lucky enough to be going this year, you can get your book personalized there.