Thursday, January 28, 2010

Weaving Efficiencies

Industrial cone winder - winding off of large mill cones to smaller re-sale cones.

From time to time people will comment to me about how productive I am. I'm sure that some of them think I'm chained to the loom for 14 hours a day. :}

The fact of the matter is that - since choosing weaving as a career in 1975 - I have spent a lot of time learning the most efficient (to me) and ergonomic ways of doing the various tasks associated with weaving. Not to mention purchasing efficient equipment - like the industrial cone winder.

I rarely spend more than 5 hours a day at the loom, usually much less - especially since all my health challenges. :(

What I do I do efficiently and effectively. The biggest investment in the creation of hand woven textiles is the labour so I have spent a lot of time analyzing the movements and refining them so that my body works as ergonomically and effectively as possible.

I have adopted with alacrity new techniques when I find them, constantly working out where the bottlenecks are and how I might minimize them - a la recently tweaking how I dress the small loom using the warping valet. A very minor change that has reaped enormous rewards in significantly reducing the time it takes to beam a warp.

But I am not unique in this. Anyone - and I do mean anyone - can learn to be more efficient.

First they have to realize that they are not working as efficiently as they might. Then they have to find out what part of the process needs to be changed. Finally they have to spend the time to unlearn deeply embedded muscle memory and make a purposeful effort to learn new motions, taking the time to make those motions their new default.

What I do is not magic; it is simply the determination to streamline the process so that I don't waste any of my time, or injure myself with repetitive motions.

When I'm teaching workshops I always offer to demo to the students. Many times I hear muttered comments "Oh I can't do that." Well, yes, you can if you want to. I understand how painful it is to wallow at the low, slippery end of the learning curve. But I don't have time to spare to do something slowly if I can do it efficiently. So I am willing to stumble along feeling fumble fingered for the 5 or 6 or 7 warps it may take for me to learn a new physical task.

It was heartening to watch the 5 private students who have come to me in the past while - all determined to learn how to be more efficient. All left after their 3-5 days having made significant progress in the areas that concerned them most. (If any of you are reading this and want to comment, feel free - if your comments are too long for the comment section email me and I'll do a guest post.)

I have been approached to teach seminars on working efficiently. As soon as I have signed contracts those events will be posted to the Schedule page on my website.

In the end, if you are happy with the results you are getting there is no need to change anything.


Silky said...

I love your blog you are a good teacher. I haven't figured out a way to speed up double weave on a jack loom yet but I'm working on it. Since its not for production slow is ok right now

Laura said...

Some things are just slow - but we do them anyway because it's the only way to get the results we desire. :)


zlamushka said...

wonderful machine. Where can I get one like that? :-)

Laura said...

It's an industrial cone winder - if you can find a company selling off old/used industrial textile equipment you might be able to get one.