When I was teaching decorative painting, one of the first things I taught my students was to learn their colors. We didn’t mix paints in the beginner’s classes, so instead I taught them to do their own color charts with the paints prescribed for the project. This was also a fun way to teach the brushes and tool techniques, and we often made brushstroke samplers before we started our projects.
A similar exercise can be applied to almost any craft, including hooking and punching. I have collected a variety of wool plaids and tweeds that are of different weights and weaves. I am not sure just how these will look once they are punched because I don’t have the intuition only years of experience can provide. I also don’t know which needle is best for which fabrics, and I definitely don’t know how far apart each punch should be given the width of the cut or the heft of the wool.
Cutting them in different directions can dramatically change their punched appearance too, so with all the factors involved, the cut, weight and weave, testing them in a sampler would be very useful. Many of my books say that the wool should be cut on the grain, but I can’t figure out why once the wool has been properly fulled or felted. Cutting on the diagonal really shouldn’t make a difference, but these tests will help diminish some of the hard lessons I always seem to encounter.
Playing with these wool samplers is like a between meal snack when you’ve spent an afternoon working on a one-color background. And I’ve always loved making my own books to organize a particular craft. It’s a great way to document craft experiments and have something to refer to once I’ve forgotten the results. And I always forget.
I think making a sampler of my wool fabrics will offer many surprises. It’s a good use for the extra monk’s cloth that was cut away from my last project, and I was wise to save even the smallest pieces (like collars and pockets) that will be great for the fabric samples as well as the examples after they are punched.