Thursday, September 3, 2009

FTB vs BTF Debate

Coral weft

The annual (bi-annual?) debate on front to back or back to front beaming is raging on at least one of the chat groups I belong to.

It generally begins by a frustrated newbie posting a) they've dropped their cross, can they salvage it; b) their warp is a snarled knotted mess with broken ends, what can they do; c) they hate dressing the loom because it takes forever; d) they are having terrible tension problems and sometimes wind up hanging several pounds of bling off the back beam trying to 'fix' it.

In regards to the dropped cross, I never have understood why so many ftb'ers hold the cross in their hand. Even when I dressed the loom ftb I always used the lease sticks. No danger of losing the cross when it is held in the lease sticks.

And the truth is that I did dress the loom ftb for quite a few years. I even taught that method, thinking that it was easier for a beginner to understand what was going on.

What I didn't realize was that some people become so emotionally invested in the first method they use that they don't ever want to learn another method with all the ham-fisted, fumble-fingered clumsiness that comes with being a 'beginner' again.

It gradually came to me that ftb works for some of the people, some of the time. Btf works for most of the people, most of the time. I now teach that.

The process, whichever way it is done, requires a lengthy series of steps that have to be done in a particular order. For me, though, ftb became limiting, and I began to encounter more and more difficulties with finer threads, longer and wider warps.

My main focus has always been to work as efficiently as possible. With finer threads, longer and wider warps, btf became the method of choice. And now I use that exclusively, no matter how fat the threads, how short or narrow the warp. For me btf is hand's down faster and easier. A narrow warp gets pulled on with one hand holding the warp, the other cranking the beam. Wider warps get weighted with water jugs.

Some people find the thought of attaching the jugs (or bricks, or whatever) down right silly. But for me they make beaming a warp very fast and easy - well worth the time it takes to attach the weights. A thread under tension is a thread under control, after all!

Bottom line is - if a weaver is happy with the results they are getting dressing the loom ftb, there is no reason for them to change. But if they aren't, then they need to know that there is more than ftb - that btf has been around for centuries, used for fine silk to fat wool and everything in between. Knowing both methods allows the weaver to choose which they will use, when.

Currently reading The Mystery of Imperial Purple Dye by John Edmonds and Borderline by Nevada Barr


Suz said...

Well said!

Dorothy said...

I was wondering where it was that you were reading abut murex purple - now I know you have found the great expert. I don't have any of John Edmunds books, yet, they are all on my wish list for Christmas!

The discussions about warping methods puzzle me a bit, I think I need to use the method that's right for me, my loom, my warp. I do it a bit different each time, trying new things, but I never yet tried dragging it through the heddles. I have never had lessons or gone on a course though, I just feel my own way. It's a slow way to learn.

barbara said...

Laura, I am amazed at the speed your read books. I am working my way through "Color - Travels Through The Paintbox". Great read, though I can only read so much at one time, as there is a lot of information. I find it very, very interesting.

When I am not warping by sectional, my method of choice is "back-to-front", which I learned when I started weaving ... never could get the hang of "front-to-back". I agree, do what works best for you!!! As in all things in life, do what works best for you.

Enjoy the Labour Day Weekend, we are going to have a beautiful weekend here on P.E.I.

Weaverly yours ..... Barbara

Sharon Schulze said...

I'm kind of amazed that the debate never fails to rage on so passionately. Weaving is such a solitary pursuit that I want to say "ok, I'm doing this in the isolation of my little weaving room - why would anybody care about what I do?" hee hee - I don't know why but I surely do know that the care A LOT!

Of course people don't want to just be right for themselves... we tend to want to be RIGHT all the TIME. It's kind of tiring!

I have the stuff to put a warping valet on my ceiling but I think I'm going to wait until I can get my father to make the pieces nicer than I will be able to make them myself. Of course, that means that I then have to deal with the aggravation of moving my weights every yard or so when I'm beaming... or maybe I'll see if the home improvement store has some kind of really small, really sturdy, really tall stand of some kind that I can use until Daddy can get the pieces made up all pretty?