Book Review for Weavers: Colour and Texture in Weaving

Margot Selby is the master weaver featured in the wonderful BBC series Mastercrafts, which you can watch on YouTube.

The Cover of margot Selby's book Texture and Colour in WeavingInterweave published this book in 2011.

Colour and Texture in Weaving: 150 Contemporary Designs by Margot Selby

Now that I know how much effort is involved in learning to weave I appreciate even more the journey taken by the Mastercrafts apprentices. I also know, from my own experience, much swearing, unweaving and how many broken warp threads were involved, that never made it into the final program. The omission of this material allowed the documentary makers to focus on questions of craftsmanship and quality, how to market traditional wares and the personal dramas experienced by the apprentices, all of which make for an interesting and fast-moving program.

I recommend watching the entire Mastercrafts series, which covers thatching, blacksmithing, green woodwork and, of course, weaving.

I do not recommend buying Colour and Texture in Weaving before you’ve taken a good look inside. I suggest you borrow it from the library, and buy it if you feel it meets your needs. My guess is that it won’t meet your needs if you are interested in a ‘how to’ book. I am thankful that I didn’t give out any of my hard-earned income for it because I crave information, and have no shortage of inspiration.

Update: In October 2015 I found a brand new paperback copy of this book for $4 at a discount book seller. I cheerfully handed over my small change and am happy to have Colour and Texture in Weaving on my reference bookshelf.

The summary of this book on Amazon says:

Beginner weavers will find helpful guidance for color warping and a plethora of expert weaving inspiration.

That statement is probably about right, again, more because of omission. The book does not give you the actual tie ups and gives no projects. I am not a textile designer, except as a happy by-product of making weaves. If I wanted to replicate one of Margot Selby’s designs from the information provided in this book, I would be hard pressed to do so.

I can hardly improve on the excellent Amazon review provided by ANC, which says it better than I can. I suspect ANC is a much more experienced weaver than I am.

Inside Margot Selby's book Colour and Texture in Weaving

There are a number of things that frustrated me about this book. One is that the warp colour pictures are presented above the pictures of the finished weave and the two images have an identical width. It was only the second time I took a look inside the book that I realised that the scale of the two images was different. This is a page design/layout related issue that is down to the editors of the book, not to Ms Selby, but it’s an excellent example of why the book is a frustrating read. The annoying names she (or her editors) give the designs is another. Three weaves are called Bowie, Rex and Floyd. My goodness.

On a more positive note for this holiday season, I managed to secure a second hand copy of Handloom Weaving Technology by Allen A. Fannin and will be reviewing it soon. I am very impressed with it so far and am delighted to know it will be on my bookshelf to reach for whenever I have a question about why a particular approach is recommended in a book or by one of my teachers.


5 responses to “Book Review for Weavers: Colour and Texture in Weaving

  1. I agree. I also found this book frustrating at first, and I have 30 years of experience weaving. I thought maybe the way it was written up was a British thing, or an industrial way of giving instructions. However, when I went back and read the front part of the book more carefully it became more clear. The tie-up/treadling is written sideways from most other weaving texts. Enjoy your weaving and don’t give up.

    • Thanks very much for sharing your experiences. I’d be interested in hearing what your favourite book is, or your top picks.

      I certainly won’t be giving up – I have one floor loom and two table looms at home, plus an inkle loom, and will be going to weaving summer school in January on rug making techniques. There’s no shortage of will or inspiration here, but my day job gets in the way sometimes.

  2. I appreciate your review of this book- I don’t know if you’ve seen the Malin Selander series of weaving pattern books from the 1950s, but it sounds like Colour and Texture would be very similar to them. In order to just print a few pages in color back then, they put about 10 fabrics in each picture, with one caption giving the design names (Ping, Parrot, Putte, Picasso, Pong, etc.), and it’s really hard to figure out which name goes with which picture. And then the draft page doesn’t always show the fabric! Maybe this author thought she was following that tradition, but I would much rather see a standardized draft than a “creative” one.

    • Thanks so much for the comment. I have not seen any of Malin Selander’s books, but I do have a few other Swedish weaving books of that era, and you’re right, a colour picture was a precious thing back then. Now that I know a little bit about weaving I am finding that The Big Book of Weaving by Laila Lundell and Elisabeth Windesjö keeps getting better. I particularly love the illustrations/sketches in that book.

  3. I am a new weaver, and purchased this book because I was so in love with some of the designs inside. However, my weaving mentor and I are finding it a real challenge to figure out the treadling. Barbara Mitchell, although my weaving mentor figured out that the tie-up is written sideways, we still cannot figure out what the treadling would be. It would be wonderful if someone who has figured out what the treadling would be, would post it somewhere, so those of us who purchased the book can actually go ahead and create these projects!

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