next 11 meter warp for placemats
When I chose weaving as a career in 1975 I immediately ran afoul of some of the attitudes of the time in the weaving world.
#1 When pricing, figure out how much you paid for your materials and multiply by 3 (or 4 if you were feeling cocky)
#2 Do not under any circumstances use any equipment more efficient than a standard floor loom
I rejected #1 out of hand because it does not recognize one's labour - the largest investment in any hand woven textile - nor overhead costs - all those expenses that continue regardless of production or actual sales.
Other weavers were aghast at my temerity. Some told me to my face - trying to be kind I suppose - that I'd never sell my textiles because my prices were way too high.
But I persisted and lo and behold, my textiles sold. And sold well, thank you very much.
The next brick wall of attitude I ran into was when I bought my AVL with dobby, fly shuttle and auto-cloth advance.
A chorus of "You can't label your textiles hand woven any more!" arose. Which perplexed me enormously. That attitude came with a sub-text: How can you do that? Don't you get bored?
The truth is I didn't get bored with it. I did get tired, but not bored.
Then came the introduction of computers and computer dobby's. Once again a chorus of "You can't call your textiles handwoven" arose again. I bought one anyway.
During all of the years of my career, I have sought out and learned from people who weave efficiently. I bought books, initially, because that was the technology of the day and took workshops. As many workshops as I could afford. Along the way I picked up nuggets of information that I incorporated as best I could when I saw that they would improve my performance.
I continually analyzed what I did and where the bottle necks were. If it was an equipment issue, I saved up enough money to buy more efficient equipment. If it was a physical issue, I tried to figure out how to make my body work more ergonmically, more efficiently.
The goal was always to do what I do faster and/or better. Speed that introduces error is not efficient. But when learning a new process, one must also allow for time at the slippery end of the learning curve. Eventually I decided that if I couldn't make the process work for me after 6 warps, it probably wasn't for me.
I have tried over the years to share what I do. When teaching workshops I offer to demo how I hold and throw a shuttle and talk about other efficiencies. So often I hear muttering in the background "I could never do that".
I know it's hard to unlearn something. Muscle memory is stubborn! But it can be done. It just takes conscious effort - purposeful study.
Over the past few years I have seen a growing interest in the weaving community in weavers wanting to learn more efficient methods. Conferences are now booking me to present seminars and workshops to address efficient methods. Since I started accepting private students, there has been some interest in that, too. When I teach beginning weaving classes, I now teach my methods, not the ones I was taught lo these many years ago.
I'm still waiting for the contract from NEWS, but I think I can go ahead and announce that I will be doing a couple of seminars there next year on issues of efficiency. And it's official with the John C. Campbell Folk School. I returned the contract to them last week. The workshop there will be January 9-15, 2011.
For this year I'll be teaching a beginning weaving class at the Folk School in Joplin, MO. Contact info is on the schedule page on my website. I'll be listing the 2011 events once I get the NEWS contract.