Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Of Weaving and Patience

Shawl #3 at the back of the loom.

Upon finding out that I am a weaver, so many people exclaim "Oh you must be sooooo patient!"

Er - actually - Not!

I am probably the least patient person I know.........

During a discussion with Tien we both agreed that when one has deemed something necessary, no patience is required. You do what you have to do to obtain the results desired.

We did not discuss the other side of the equation, probably because we would have agreed on that, as well.

In other words, why would I do something that wasn't necessary?

The answer to this simple question - is what I am doing necessary or not? - has meant that at times I have ditched an entire warp. The biggest fiasco was a 30 yard long warp that was giving me fits right from the get go. We won't go into why - I don't like to air all my dirty laundry in public - let's just say that after fighting with it getting it beamed, threading it (48" in the reed, double weave warp of 2/8 cotton), I could tell within the first 6 inches of weaving that disaster lay that way.

So I cut it off the loom and threw it away and started over from scratch. (That didn't exactly make me a happy camper, understand - just that I knew when to cut my losses.)

My time is precious because it is limited. It is also the largest investment I make in my textiles. It is not worth it to me to expend dozens of hours on a warp that might cost me $200 or even $500 for materials when the cost of my time could multiply out into a much much greater sum.

It is the same with the processes I use in weaving. Why would I spend 10 hours beaming a warp using one method, when I can beam the same warp in half or a quarter (or less) of that time?

As Syne phrased it - I don't want to work artifically slowly. (Love that phrase Syne, I'm keeping it!)

So I have spent much of my career fine tuning and honing my physical skills. I have learned when 'good enough' is just that - as Margaret phrased it "Perfect kills good". When we over work something, we can wind up with a mess. A painter friend often talked about knowing when to stop painting a picture - that fine line between done and ruined from over working it.

I think weavers need to look carefully at their equipment and their processes. If they find they are requiring patience to dress the loom, or fighting with their equipment or work methods, then it's time to ask why they are using this particular equipment (perhaps it's not them, it's their equipment?) or this particular method. Analyse why something is not going smoothly and try to figure out how to change it to make it less of a fight and more of an enjoyment.


barbara said...

Beautiful looking shawl. I totally agree, sometimes it is easier to "get out while the getting is good". Laura, you always have such great words of wisdom, from many years of experience.

Weaverly yours ..... Barbara (who also lacks patience)

Sandra Rude said...

It doesn't take patience to do what you love doing, what gives you pleasure to do, or what makes you happy. That's what I tell anybody who makes the "patience" comment.

Laura said...

And I *love* to weave - when things are going 'right'. :) When they aren't I try to figure out why, and change what I'm doing so that I'm not fighting with my equipment, process or materials. ;)

Although once in a while, things don't go as smoothly as I'd like, and then it's back to the "Is this necessary?" question.....


charlotte said...

I agree totally with you, time is our largest investment. I also love the phrase "artificially slow". Sometimes I feel that some people expect weaving to be artificially slow, just because it is a traditional craft.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Yout lsst paragraph is worthy of copying, framing, and putting on top of the loom.

Sharon Schulze said...

A colleague where I work often says "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" which is another way of saying what you said, Laura, so it resonated with me.

After getting back from Canada I took a warp I had wound and finished it completely in less than 24 hours - and I slept and ate and did other stuff, too! That was such a joy and I'm so happy with how that shawl turned out. It was just a 4 yard warp but I realized that I enjoyed every step of it.

Now I just have to figure out what kind of trapeze setup I'm going to rig for myself. I've had several ideas of possibilities. First I'm going to finish all the cloth that's lying around almost finished (mostly I need to add hems, although a couple of pieces need more than that) which will clear out some of the psychological clutter as well as a good bit of the physical clutter. Then... on to the next warp! The next one is longer, something like 7 yards... or maybe I'll put on the 14 yard warp since that will use up delightfully large amounts of yarn and clear out even more clutter! I am one happy weaver right now.

Laura said...

Hi Sharon,

Sounds like you are going gang busters. :D

It *is* so much fun when you don't have to fight your way through the process! :DDDDD