Saturday, September 19, 2009

Minimum Input, Maximum Output

Colour gamp test warp

One of the things I try to do is have the maximum amount of output for the least amount of input. What that means is that I try to do the various tasks associated with weaving with the fewest hand motions possible.

Two years ago, I watched as Syne Mitchell sleyed a warp. It was a colossal duh moment. She was sleying in much the same manner as I threaded. How could I not have seen that sleying could be done in much the same way?

When I got home from that trip, I immediately put the new (to me) manner of sleying into practice. It took about 6 warps to erase the old muscle memory and make this way of sleying into my new default. Yes, I had skipped dents, or doubled dents the first few times, but seriously? - I had those at times with my old way of sleying. :}

Notice the positioning of my hands. My left hand pretty much stays behind the beater, while the right hand stays pretty much in front of the beater.

What makes this method work is the hook. It is made by Harrisville and has a smaller hook on one end for threading, and a larger hook on the other for sleying. It costs just $10.95 US and is worth every penny as far as I'm concerned.

The hook is held downwards instead of upwards. It is gently rounded and never (or rarely) splits the ply of the threads. (It can split the ply of a very gently twisted yarn such as the Bambu 7.)

To sley I separate the threads into their groups, then put the hook through the appropriate dent, capturing the threads for that dent. The hook then keeps that loop of threads on the shank while it dips into the next space to grab onto the next group of threads. Then all the threads are pulled through at once.

I can do up to four dents in one pull. This particular warp the threads have been tied into groups of four, with two threads per dent so I'm just doing four ends (two dents) at a time here.


barbara said...

I have always sleyed the final time much like you; only my left hand grabs a group of threads and I can use my index finger (usually) to flip and hold the next thread I want to catch on the sleying hook. I just purchased the Harrisville hooks and love them. I have only used these on a couple of warps, they are keepers. I sley one dent at a time with the number of threads per dent. Every once in awhile, I have to reach over the reed with my right hand and hook to get the thread that is next to be sleyed. Always so neat watching your videos Laura - great learning tools. Weaverly yours ... Barbara

marie said...

Interesting. this is pretty much how I don it.. except I put the reed flat in the beater so I don't have to reach over it...

Laura said...

I used to do just one dent at a time, but doing 2 or 3 or 4 at a time makes it go faster. :) What you can't see in the video is that I also interleave my fingers in the threads, putting the next set of threads to be sleyed on my index finger for easy hooking.

I think that whether one leaves the reed in the beater or lays it flat depends a lot on the weaver and the equipment. Neither of my looms makes laying the reed flat feasible. Having long arms means that I can easily reach over. :)


Restless Knitter said...

Do you have a picture of the hook? I looked on Harrisville's site and couldn't find a picture.

marie said...

OK I KNEW there had to be more to this.. the hand position I see, but not the 3-4 dents at a time.. how does that work with the sley hook? I use a brass one I think some people call it a fish. I has a hook at each end and fits nicely in my hand. What's yours look like??
Short armed marie

Laura said...

I blogged about this earlier with still photos, and you can see the hook better.


marie said...

OK I see that now. I'll try it on the warp I'm threading now. I already hold the hook face down and I TRY to interlace the threads like I was taught. We'll see how it goes with the multiple denting. Thanks (as always) for the tip.


Sharon Schulze said...

I read this post just before I started sleying the reed. I had tried to do what you describe and it always just felt kludgy. But I guess reading it one more time did the trick since I sat down and it went zip-zip-zip, smooth as butter!

Not sure if it was 6 warps worth but something surely changed. Now I feel like I am much more comfortable with every single part of the process, and although I'm not sure if comfortable always translates into faster I know that in many instances it does.

Now if I could just hit on the right setup for a warping valet. I'm putting tension on the warps and as long as they are 4-7 yards long it's ok. But I want to do a 14 yard warp that is already wound and I think I need something that will let me weight longer lengths. I'm not worried, though - inspiration will come. :-)

Laura said...

Hi Sharon,

Glad it 'clicked' for you. :)

Sometimes it just takes a little time for the brain and muscles to process a new skill.