Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weaving Coaching

This summer I've had the treat of having several students come for weaving coaching. All of them have been interested in improving their physical skills, with the aim of increasing their productivity.

Sharon has a busy life and a satisfying but demanding job and therefore her time to weave is limited. She was interested in using that time wisely and well and had a feeling that she could not only weave more efficiently but also more ergonmically.

She had not woven on my type of small loom before, so I set the loom up with a tea towel warp and let her get used to the loom. And then, without her being aware of when I was doing it, I video taped her to get a benchmark of where she was with her current weaving skills.

Video #1

After watching her weave for a while, I stopped her and made some suggestions. We discussed holding and throwing the shuttle, and how to treadle - what muscles were being used, how to track your place in a treadling sequence and so on.

And then I let her weave some more. The next day I video taped her again.

Video #2

Sharon had worked hard on changing her method of throwing the shuttle, and worked on her treadling. We also talked some more about rhythm and the over all motions involved in weaving. We discussed ways that she could break out of her 'default' motions, even though that meant slowing down even more in order that she could isolate the motions and concentrate on the new movements.

And then she wove some more.

At the end of Day 3, Sharon had a breakthrough and hit her stride. She had designed, wound, beamed, threaded/sleyed and woven off an entire 5 meter long warp before dinner at 5:30 pm.

Video 3

Video 3 was done about half way through the shawl Sharon beamed the morning of Day 4.

Sometimes what we think we are doing and what we are actually doing are two different things. Having someone take a video tape while you are weaving can be tremendously helpful in order to discover where you might make some small but significant changes. Discussing your technique with an experienced weaver can also help, and having a video clip or letting them watch while you weave might help sort out where you need to adjust in order to improve.


Benita said...

What a great idea! I'll have to set up the video camera and see what I am doing in order to work on my technique! My back always hurts after a day of weaving and I know there is something I can do to change that.

Sharon Schulze said...

Seeing the videos was an amazing experience. It was a grace and a gift that Laura didn't make me watch the first video until the second was was done also - I would have been mortified! I thought I was doing ok but it looks like I'm just toying around. Her words were kinder and gentler than the video alone would have been. The big breakthrough on day three seems to have been the rocking back and forth as I wove. I put it all together in a little dance and all of a sudden my legs and arms and abdominals weren't all fighting each other.

Getting another weaver to look at the video is also of IMMENSE value. I could see that I wasn't doing particularly well but it was very helpful to have someone else say "try this instead" until the actual video matched the video in my mind's eye.

One other little detail: It always seemed so much faster in the doing than in the video. I think that's because my body was doing all it could so it felt faster than it looked in the video. BUT... on the last piece I wove (the third video) Laura was weaving on her AVL and I was delighted to have several moments when we were weaving at the exact same pace and rhythm. Of course, every time that happened I would notice, get self-conscious, think "HEY! I'm weaving as fast as Laura Fry!" and the mess something up, like dropping the shuttle. But being able to hit that pace - even if only for a few picks - after only three days felt like a tremendous accomplishment and that alone would have made the trip worth every second. There was tons of other great stuff, but that increase in speed and efficiency was absolutely worth it.