Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weaving Efficienies, part II

option #2 treadling/tie-up

Last night I dressed the small loom with a placemat warp and kept an eye on the clock to see if my new tweaked process was going to be faster than my previous method.

I dress the loom back to front, using a reed to rough-sley the warp. When I got an 'ordinary' smaller loom with plain beam a few years ago, I didn't have all the usual equipment needed - i.e. no raddle. I borrowed a raddle from the guild and found that it really didn't do the job for the 2/20 merc. cotton I was using. Just way too many threads in the 1/2" sections.

Remembering that Scandinavian weavers just rough sley a reed, I took the borrowed raddle back to the guild room and have been using a reed ever since.

The 11 meter 2/8 cotton warp had been rough-sleyed (four ends in a 5 dent reed) the night before so I just timed the actual dressing of the loom.

My process consists of the following steps.

>Insert reed with rough-sleyed warp into the beater.

>At the back of the loom, insert the apron rod into the warp loops, centering the warp onto the apron.

>Gently pull any pigtail curls out of the warp loops

>Go to front of loom, grab warp at the choke tie and gently ease the warp forward. Slide the lease sticks back and forth to encourage the warp ends to even out from the choke tie, around the apron rod and back to the choke tie. There should be no slack apparent in the loops

>Drape the warp chain over the warping valet. Give the warp a couple of tugs and attach the water jug to the chain to provide tension as the warp is rolled on. Remove choke ties.

>Move the lease sticks up the warp chain as high as they will go.

>Begin rolling the warp onto the warp beam. After one complete revolution of warp onto beam, insert bamboo blind.

>Roll on until water jugs reach warping valet or lease sticks reach breast beam

>Re-hang water jugs lower down the chain, move lease sticks up to valet removing ties as encountered

>Repeat until warp is beamed, inserting additional bamboo blinds as required (5 for an 11 meter long warp.)

>Keeping the water jugs (and therefore tension) on the warp, transfer cross to behind the reed, inserting sticks into Angel Wings.

>Remove water jugs.

>Cut loops, remove reed from beater.

Warp is now ready to thread.

From the time I began to insert the reed into the beater until the time I finished cutting the loops at the front of the loom less than 20 minutes had elapsed. I also answered the phone and had a short conversation during this time.

It took longer to type this blog out than to beam the warp. :^)

One of my students sent some comments I'd like to share:

Being Laura's student changed my life as a weaver, changed how I think of myself. But I don't do some of the things I learned from Laura. Is that blasphemy? I don't think so. I'm pretty sure Laura wouldn't think so, either, since the things I don't do are things that would make the process take longer, or be more uncomfortable, or not work in my space. There is so much I DO use - and learning to be more efficient also taught me to be more flexible.

And that's the thing. There is always - ALWAYS - something that can be improved. Things will always keep on changing and all the evidence points to the resiliency of human endeavors, spirit, and creativity despite change. Weaving has been around for at least 20,000 years and changing how you do some little thing or another won't ruin it all. Just try - try long enough to get good at the technique and then if you don't want to use it, well, at least you know that you can because someday your circumstances might change.

Thanks Sharon. I don't think I could have said it better!

We all have to work within our own particular circumstances. Our physical abilities and *dis*abilities. Our budgets. Our available time. Our space. Our equipment.

There are some items of weaving equipment I would not use if it were given to me. I don't find them efficient, and I refuse to work artificially slowly due to poorly designed or manufactured equipment.

But others don't find them a problem, and in fact, quite love them. Each to their own.

My message is that there are options. There are different choices for equipment, and processes. If you don't like the results you are getting, perhaps it isn't you, it's your methods, or your equipment. But a new weaver who doesn't know that there are options will struggle on, thinking it's all operator error.

While it's a bit early, I have received confirmation that I will be (possibly!) presenting seminars at NEWS next year on weaving efficiently. The paperwork is also underway to present a 5 day workshop at the John C. Campbell Folk School. If you have any interest in learning how I do what I do, there are two opportunities on the eastern seaboard of the US next year.

I'm also supposed to be teaching at the Ozark Folk School in Joplin, MO this May. One of the classes is a "beginning" weaving class. I'll present all my hints and tips there.

Currently reading Embracing the Wide Sky by Daniel Tammet


Sharon said...

Would you please talk about why you like to warp back-to-front? I tried it once and it was a struggle, but I know it's the production weaver's choice. I feel like a C student here.

Laura said...

That will take another post. :) Will try to pull it together in a day or two.

up to her ears in eBay auction paperwork - why did I ever volunteer to sell the guild library books? :} Oh well, it's going well so far - the guild treasurer should be happy!

Sharon Schulze said...

Sharon, remember that everything is going to be a struggle the first few times you do it. That's just part of learning.

Also - tension on the warp while beaming is a Very Good Thing and easier to do with back to front.

Plus with back to front there is one less set of knots to tie - you don't have to cut the warp in back so it can just slip around the apron bar, which then makes it easier to keep the warp even and taut from the beginning. That was a biggie for me - the back to front has about 4-5 fewer steps for me (based on how i have to do things in the space I have and with the equipment I have.)

Sharon from snowy North Carolina (go figure) :-)