Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why I don't FTB

I seem to be in 'beige' mode...

Sharon asked why I don't dress the loom front to back.

The truth is that I dressed the loom that way for several years when I was first learning to weave. Since I was slow at everything associated with weaving, neither process seemed faster or slower than the other. Front to back seemed, at the time, to be a more direct logical process.
And it worked - within the parameters of the cloth I was constructing.

Unfortunately it stopped working when I pushed beyond those parameters......

In my experience those parameters in which ftb works best are:
Using a yarn thicker than a 2/8 or 2/10 cotton grist
Using a yarn that is strong - not fine or singles or highly textured
Warps that are less than about 5 yards in length
Warps that are narrower than about 20 inches in width
Warps that are not densely set

One of the reasons ftb stops working is that once you cut the loops at the end of the warp it is extremely difficult to tie the individual ends back together and now have slack - or difference in length - introduced into the warp chain.

This slack or length difference then has to be eased the entire length of the warp to the other end. Not a big deal if the warp is less than 5 yards, but starts to become a nightmare of gigantic proportions if it is longer than that, wound from fine/tender/textured yarns, or is a wider warp.
I have found that warping back to front easily deals with every situation I have confronted - very fine threads, textured yarns, long/wide warps.

It is now my default process. If I can beam an 11 meter long warp in less than 20 minutes with minimal combing, tangles, headaches.....I'm all for encouraging people to at least consider learning it.

I also want to share a comment from the book I'm currently reading because it seems so appropriate:

The learning curve shows us that, while practice will always help improve performance, the most dramatic improvements happen first, with diminishing returns thereafter. It also implies that with sufficient practice individuals can achieve comparable levels of performance in a wide range of tasks, but only if the learner does not relax as soon as an acceptable performance is reached. Rather, expertise comes solely from a continuous process of structured, diligent study. (my italics)

It is a philosophy I have followed for over 30 years. Analyse my results. Am I happy with those results? Can I change my process to improve my results? My latest tweak in the process of beaming has given me a small but significant improvement in how much time it takes to do that stage of the process. Why would I do something more slowly than it needs to be done, given that I'm trying to earn an income from my efforts?

I do understand that not everyone has the same goal of generating an income. I also understand that Life is 'busy' for most people. Time is precious. We can never make more of it. If we 'waste' it by choosing to use processes that are artificially slow, that is the choice we make. But often times, people don't know that there are different choices that can be made. My message is that there are choices. Choose what you want, don't just do it because that's the way you learned originally.

OTOH, if people are happy, nothing more need be done. But for those people who are not happy, who are finding that they are pushing beyond the parameters of a process, look around. You may just find that there is a different way of doing something that will bring greater satisfaction than what you are currently doing.

I'm just saying.....


Sharon said...

Thanks, and that makes sense. I'll have to buy some apron rods first (Gilmores don't seem to have them), but I will try it again. If at first you don't succeed.....

Laura said...

Do you mean sticks for packing the warp? There are many different things that can be used - thin lathe strips are most common, but I use bamboo blinds with the hardware stripped off it.

Cardboard or vinyl blinds need to go into the warp perfectly straight - bamboo blinds are flexible.

If you mean an actual apron rod, you can by metal rods at some hardware stores. Some looms have wooden dowels.


Restless Knitter said...

The Gilmores, or at least mine, don't have rods but a thickish piece of wood. Because the twill tape is stapled to it, you can't slide it out to put the loops on. I bought metal rods at the hardware store and lashed it to the wood.

I still consider myself a newbie weaver. I learned ftb and was happy with it but still wanted to learn btf, which I have. I do tend to like it better though it doesn't work well for one of my looms due to an unremovable breast beam and beater bar. It's just too hard to reach that far into the loom to thread the heddles with those other things in the way. While I can remove the reed from the beater and kind of fold the breast beam down, it's still difficult. Luckily I'm still in the short warps (5 yds or less) phase.

I don't mind friendly encouraging of learning specific techniques, and I'm glad there are those that do it, like you. I don't care for the self appointed weaving police because it discourages me. Thank you for giving your views and explaining without being condescending.

Laura said...

One thing you could do is make loops in the twill tape so that the wooden stick could slide?