Monday, June 13, 2011

Questions About COE

I have been following a lengthy conversation about the problems of the HGA's COE program on a popular weaving group site.  This morning I put my toe in the water and posted a comment - not something I like doing as just about every time I say anything on this group website I get very negative comments.  

People are complaining that the COE is not run well and that weavers can cheat on the submissions and get away with it.  It has been stated that the COE judges are arbitrary in deciding what is good weaving and what is not and do not adhere to the COE rules.   After hearing these types of comments for years I basically have decided that the program is not for me.  Don't get me wrong I would love to say officially that I am a Master Weaver, but if the program is as flawed as it is -- I feel the title is not worth the paper it is written on.  Why bother with submitting myself to the unprofessional rigamarole if the title is now meaningless.

I am wondering why we don't make a change and let the local guilds develop and grant a Master Weaver title to their deserving members.  Local weaving guilds in 16th century England, Italy and Spain did just that - no nationally run program was needed.  Yes there are arguments for both programs...I will leave those arguments for others to discuss.

Ah well, so much for kicking the hornet's nest....

Don't have any pictures of weaving this week.  Thought I would show you a picture of our new ATV taken last Fall up in the Wasatch Mountains near my home.  Right now there is so much snow still covering the mountain trails we cannot get up there to ride.  Snow Bird Ski Resort is still open and people are skiing - over 100 inches of snow on the ground up there!  It is mid June!  WOW

Hope to finish the towel warp I have on my Gilmore this week, we will see ...

Happy weaving!


  1. I can't speak to the COE but can to the Guild of Canadian Weavers master weaver certification program. There are 4 levels (basic, intermediate, senior and master) and I have completed the basic level. By doing this level I have learned the various weave structures, can weave to size, weave a balanced cloth etc. While I had plans to carry on with the next levels, my health has put a stop to that.
    It's not overly expensive, you submit once a year and there have only been 30 master weavers since 1947. "Foreigners", or overseas weavers can join the guild as a member and we have many Americans who do.
    So what's the difficulty?
    You set the start and end date! Its all student driven. You, your loom and a copy of Mary Black's Key to Weaving (as your base book, amongst others)

    See information at
    You could download the test booklet and just do it alone at home as a homestudy course.

    I must disclose that I am a past president of the GCW (2003-2007) and as of now just a regular member. If you have more questions you could write me directly Martha.

    Yes, I think you could do this quite well!

    :) Susan

  2. I much admire the Canadian program and don't see there is any difficulty with that program for either the GCW or its members.

    My comments were solely about the American COE program and the poor way it is run. I have had a lot of private comments from fellow weavers this morning (people who do not wish to post pubicly because of the negative responses we get) - all those who have written me feel the same way I do. I think the majority of us "little guy" weavers are basically tired of being pushed around by the "cheerleader/sorority/know it all weavers" who fail to see the writing on the wall. The American COE has failed us and it is time to change.

    I thank you for your response and your kind invitation to join the GCW and work on that Master Weaver program.

  3. It seems that programs such as COE (or insert here any other name, including the GCW) are started and the originators have the best of intentions but along the way people and politics get in the way! It seems to be universal...but that's a whole 'nuther subject...

    I forgot to mention in my earlier comment that the GCW has a US representative on the Board of Management and her name is Sandra Swarbrick. I think you might know that name from the HGA. If you ever decide to try being a member, or the test program, or want information about the GCW as it relates to American members, then she's your link to the Board. There should be a link for her at the web site or contact me. If you take the tests and submit them, then they have a mentor for advise and an administrator to contact as well.
    They are in the process of building a new web page that's a bit more eye catching but as with any volunteer based group... it takes lots of time.

    :) Susan

  4. First off - kudos for speaking your mind!

    I had been half heartedly following the COE conversation on that list. I gave the program consideration over 20 years ago but I was looking at it as a learning tool for myself, rather than thinking it was a certification that really meant anything to anyone else out there. I finally decided I didn't want to spend years on it to spend time on the techniques I've haven't explored fully because they don't really interest me. But I do think it would make a great self study tool for some weavers whether they submit their samples or not.....just use it as a self-study guideline.

    As for judging, yes, very subjective which is something that has always bothered me. And getting a certificate doesn't necessarily mean anything on a resume for teachers as not everyone can teach. I had never even given thought to someone submitting another's work, but yes, that could very easily be done.

    One of our local guilds has a 3 level certification program, although no where near the extent of the COE. It is meant to be a learning tool, constructive criticism. Having been in charge of it for many years (not any longer) all but one judge (who I dumped) did a great job of being neutral, judging on only the criteria. The 3 judges were very helpful with providing more reading information on techniques and hints for improving one's weaving. But, most participants, which were few, did not really like their work being examined and commented on, they just didn't get it that they were to learn from it, they just wanted to pass and get a certificate (which really has no real meaning). They missed the boat on using it as a learning tool which is what I've always considered it.

    Maybe from all the discussion out there on the COE program HGA will think about revamping it and bringing it up to date.