Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ergonomics = Efficiency

This is a photo showing how I catch the shuttle as it exits the shed. The point slips through my index and middle finger, and my thumb acts as a gentle brake on the bobbin so that it doesn't over run and let off more weft than required. I catch and throw my shuttle this way regardless of the width of the warp I'm weaving.
I know it's hard to relearn muscle memory if you have been doing something physical another way, but working ergonomically is much kinder to the body than working akwardly. The other bonus is that ergonomic motions generally mean increased efficiency.
The last few days I've received a couple of emails from people that have warmed my heart.
Elaine R writes:
I've been weaving on the shawl on my Kessenich and practicing your technique. While I don't have it down pat yet, I certainly got a lot more woven in a short time than I have before on such a wide piece.
With each bobbin change I try a different shuttle, and I think I've figured out which one works the best. I will have to have Rick flatten out the end a little to get rid of the point so I can push it better with my finger, but that is easy. One of my goals this year is to do more weaving and use up many of these cones of yarn. I mainly do scarves, shawls and table linens, and with
your good guidance, I should get a lot done.
A good shuttle will encourage the holding and throwing of it in this manner. There are many shuttles available that are awkward to catch and throw this way due to the shape and size of the point of the shuttle. What I recommend to people is that they try holding their shuttle this way and if it is awkward, try different styles until they find one that does feel comfortable. My shuttles are all Leclerc boat shuttles. I use the regular ones with my Fanny and the low profile ones on the AVL because the shed on that loom is smaller.
Sharon S writes:
Laura, I have dramatically increased my speed of dressing a loom thanks to your CD Weaver words and videos.
After winding a couple of longish (for me) warps back to front I did a 4 yard warp front to back and even though it went fairly smoothly I still had a few popped threads while beaming and it wasn't nearly as relaxing. So I'm thinking I'm becoming a back to front warper, at least on the standard loom but maybe on the Baby Wolf, too.
But the biggest thing that got faster was my threading. The last threading i did was an 8-shaft lace weave that was threaded 1-8-1-2-7-2 1-6-1 2-5-2 1-4-1 2-3-2. The method you show in CD Weaver was much faster than what I did before but I noticed tonight that you mention the method is best for 4-shaft threadings that are basically "in order" (not so much for the block weaves). I agree with that assessment.
My question, though, is what do you do for block weaves? Is it just slower and I should accept that or do you have some lovely tricks that work in those situations?
I've gone from taking a week of working a couple of hours each night to thread 320 ends to threading 450 ends in two sittings - maybe a couple of hours each? That's nowhere near your speed but it's still a substantial increase in my own speed and I'm enjoying my weaving a LOT more because I'm getting to the cool part quicker. I guess I'm sold on getting better!
Thanks again for the CDs, for your blog, for being so willing to share.
I use the Harrisville brass hook that has the threading hook on one end and the sleying hook on the other.
While threading block weaves is slower than twills if you hold the hook like a pencil, you only need a tiny hand movement to thread. You don't need to move your entire arm and shoulder. This method of threading requires less physical effort on the part of the weaver and is less tiring.
Using the hook in much the same manner, you can sley the reed the same way. A small flick of the hand passes the thread(s) through the dent - no large arm/shoulder movement. Again much less effort required, and less taxing on the weaver's body.
I'm all in favour of working smarter instead of harder and accomplishing more by doing less. :)


Gwen said...

This post is very timely for me. I'm just starting to learn to weave, so I'll try to learn your method of catching the shuttle right from the beginning! Thanks! :)

Linda said...

I had to laugh. I've always loved my LeClerc boat shuttles, even as friends got "fancier" ones. I catch really similar to what you're showing - my index finger is more on the tip rather than the top of the shuttle. I'm going to try your way. Thanks!

Laura said...

After catching this way, the index finger then moves to the tip to propel the shuttle. It all works so well and seems so natural to me I can never understand why others don't do it the same way. :}

But I was fortunate in that it's how I learned right from the beginning. If you didn't, then it takes effort to focus on changeing.....

Sharon said...

More good news! I threaded 544 ends in under 3 hours yesterday! That doesn't include beaming and sleying but because the threading went faster I started putting an 11 yard warp on the loom on Friday and was weaving this afternoon - and I did other stuff this weekend, too.

Haven't worked on the shuttle throw and catch because I wanted to revel in the fun of quicker threading. :-)

OH! I also discovered an error in a pattern in a book and figured out why the error was causing the pattern alteration I was getting! That was especially gratifying - like maybe I'm even understanding how this weaving thing works... ;-)

Laura said...

Whoo-hoo! Way to go, Sharon! :D



Janet said...

I've spent the last five and a half scarves practicing this way of catching the shuttle and have decided I quite like it!

I have noticed that it plays out a bit differently with the end feed shuttles that I use vs. a boat shuttle. This has led me to a possible correction to make so that my two selvages look more alike, which I've talked about a bit over here.

I'm really pleased to have tried this. Thank you, thank you!