40 years of Handwoven: Musings from a former editor

Before there was Handwoven, there was Interweave (the magazine). In 1976, I had just moved to Colorado and taken a weaving class from Deborah Chandler, then Debbie Redding, who introduced me to Interweave. I found everything about it exciting and interesting. In the fall of 1979, Handwoven hit the newsstand and I fell in love again. I enjoyed the projects and the instructions that accompanied them.

The cover project of this issue of Handwoven, was Jane’s inspiration for her Luncheon Napkin Fabric.

Back then, weavers disparaged “recipe weaving” as a lesser way to engage with the craft. I never really got this. Isn’t it okay to use a recipe for cooking? You can weave from scratch just like you cook without a recipe. But you need a lot more experience and time to create a project that might not work out. On the other hand, if you use a recipe, you are almost always assured success, plus helpful tips that a beginner can build upon.

I loved seeing a project in the magazine and then weaving it. I used the project information in another way as well: I might have a particular project idea in mind and could use the instructions in the magazine to help me plan. For example, if I wanted to weave dish towels with 8/2 cotton in a twill structure, I would look for a similar project in the magazine as a starting point for sampling. This got me a lot further along in the process, eliminating quite a few steps.

Cover of the September/October 1986 Handwoven

I became a Handwoven subscriber and devoured every issue the moment it arrived in my mailbox.

Then, a few years later, with a stroke of luck, I found myself working at my dream magazine . . .  and a few years later, I was its editor.

Today we have Ravelry, Facebook, and other online communities for weavers. Back in 1980, the year I started at Interweave, we had Handwoven. It created a different sort of community and I always felt as I worked on the magazine that I had a responsibility to that community. I would ask myself questions: Will the reader understand that? What is the reader interested in? How can I help bring weavers together with calendars of conferences and happenings around the country? Have I provided a balance of content for beginners and seasoned weavers alike?

Cover of the May/June 1987 issue of Handwoven

We take immediate communication for granted. It is easy to find someone on Facebook or their website and send them an email. But in 1980, most communication was by letter. A question would be asked or an article suggestion would be made, and I’d send a response by return letter. Once in a while, I’d talk to someone on the phone, but this was rare. Today you can look on Instagram to see what is trending; back then it was more of a feel from little dribbles of information. It might be a suggestion from a reader on a topic. It might be an idea for an article submitted by different readers within a few weeks of each other. This happened more often than you might think, and was always a clue for me to pay attention to that particular topic.

Cover of the November/December 1988 issue of Handwoven

What hasn’t changed is the enthusiasm of weavers and their quest to grow as weavers and to make and share with other like minds. This always inspires me and warms my heart. Handwoven is a big part of this community, and I hope it continues to inspire weavers for a very, very long time to come.

Jane Patrick

Jane Patrick is our Creative Director and former editor of Handwoven. She is an accomplished weaver and author of publications such as The Weaver's Idea Book, Simple Woven Garments, Woven Scarves, and various videos and DVDs.