Tuesday, November 17, 2009

From One Extreme....

plain weave - alpaca weft

cotton warp, Tencel weft

.....to the other.....

Was tagging the stuff that was wet finished over the weekend, and these shawls followed each other in the pile - one woven in plain weave with that bane of a new weaver's existence - tracking showing up in the wet finishing - and the other woven in a multi-shaft twill. I don't remember anymore if the second shawl was 12 or 16 shafts. :)

But it kind of summed up for me the spectrum of what weaving can be if one wants it to be - as pure and simple as plain weave (which surely needn't be just simple - as Tien's article in WeaveZine pointed out) all the way through to as complex as one wants to tackle.

Truth be told, the multi-shaft twill above isn't even all that complex. It's just a drawn line over as many shafts as one has, changing direction every so often, then woven in the same order - tromp as writ - or in this case some variation of a twill treadling sequence. One doesn't even need a lot of shafts to accomplish something fancy - just the desire and the will to create the complex threading and then follow it with the treadling.

Since I have a Compu-Dobby, it isn't even difficult to achieve. Which is one reason why I got a dobby loom in the first place and then up-graded to the computer driven hardware in the second.

It's a matter of efficiency. The computer allows me the freedom to try out a whole lot more options for cloth design in the same amount of time I used to spend making one or two draw downs by hand. Instead of which I can take that same amount of time and run through 30 options.

So has the computer saved me time? Not in terms of designing. But efficiency isn't just about saving time, it's about being productive with what time one has available. So the computer has allowed me to expand my horizons and become a better designer.

And that, too, is efficient use of my time.

So many people believe that being efficient is all about saving time. Of being fast at what one does. But speed at the expense of accuracy is a false economy. So any procedure or piece of equipment that speeds up the process but introduces 'flaws' is not efficient.

On the other hand, there are methods and equipment that are more efficient than other methods and equipment. If a weaver has never been taught those methods or shown that equipment, they will do what they have been taught. How can they do otherwise unless they make a point of analyzing what they are doing and trying to do it more efficiently? Or seeking out other teachers.

For those people interested in learning more efficient and ergonomic methods, there are resources. Peggy Ostercamp has collected a vast amount of data on various methods one can use. Once one knows different ways of doing things - winding a warp, dressing a loom, holding and throwing a shuttle - it is then up to the student to choose those methods and tools that will work best for them.

Ultimately it is up to each person to choose how they work - slow or fast - and what tools and equipment that will best suit what they wish to accomplish.

Personally I want to work as efficiently as possible in order to try to bring into material form (pardon the pun!) the ideas I have swirling around in my head. Not to mention use up as much of my stash as I possibly can.....so I can buy new stuff to play with!

Currently reading The Shaman's Bones by James D Doss


Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

Amen to that!

The first time I heard anything, er, believable? about using weaving software was when Sigrid Piroch visited Stockholm in... 1985? (well, *ages* ago). She said just that: the computer was helping her being a better designer, because she had the time to make so many more "tries" without using too much time drafting them by hand. Made perfect sense then - makes perfect sense now!

Peg in South Carolina said...

Well, Laura, I just really love that plain weave piece, and it does not look plain at all. It has a great deal of personality. Or perhaps it is that each has a great deal of personality, but I prefer the personality of one over the other!
Good post about speed and efficiency.
As for computer designing. yes the software is wonderful and allows us to explore virtually all sorts of stuff. But what the novice weaver needs to realize is that the software does not do away with all the on-loom trials and testings, as both you and Tien so well know! Besides, that's where the fun really starts!

Sharon Schulze said...

I like tracking. Non-weavers look at it and think it's some complicated kind of pattern. ;-)

Actually, weavers think that sometimes too. Somebody was showing a plainweave baby blanket at a one of our guild meetings and several people asked what the structure was - it was plainweave with tracking and added a lot of depth to the piece.

Laura said...

I like tracking, too, if it is evenly distributed so that it looks like it was done on purpose. This shawl was. :D