Thursday, July 29, 2010

On Soapboxes

about 30 yards of scarves....

I have two soapboxes - one for each foot, obviously. :^)

One is wet finishing. The other is issues of ergonomics/efficiency.

Handweavers can in no way compete with industry and looms that weave hundreds of picks per minute.

A handweaver is therefore by definition making 'slow' cloth.

People tell me they aren't interested in working more efficiently because they don't want to 'hurry'.

Working efficiently isn't hurrying. It's working with the least amount of wasted effort as one can.

Working ergonomically is working with the least amount of damage to the body. Quite often the two turn out to be - if not the same - closely related.

One of the big issues I see when I teach workshops is that people sit on chairs/benches etc., that are too low. This is very bad for backs. Another issue is how people hold and throw their shuttles. If a weaver only ever weaves narrow fabrics it's not terribly important. It becomes much more important when warps become wider - and longer. Throwing with poor technique can cause lots of problems with necks and shoulders, wrists and thumbs.

Weaving takes time. Lots and lots of time. I don't want to do it any more slowly than I absolutely have to. I've spent years studying, analysing and tweaking my technique. I am more than happy to show others what I do and how I do it. And why I do it so that they can decide if my techniques (I say 'mine' but many other production weavers do as I do) are appropriate for them.

To this end I produced CD Weaver which shows how I wind the warp, beam it, sley it, and how I weave it off, including video clips so that the processes can be seen in motion.

I also present seminars and workshops.

Next year I've been asked to be at the John C. Campbell Folk School Jan. 9-15 for a workshop called The Efficient Weaver. You don't have to be very experienced to take it - just interested in working more efficiently/ergonomically.

You can contact the school here

NEWS has also contracted me to do seminars on both my soapboxes. I don't think their webite is ready yet, but I'm sure it will be soon.

And last, but not least, I have video clips posted both here (click on the video clip label) and on my website

Currently reading A Darker God by Barbara Cleverly


DebbieB said...

Any time you need help climbing up onto a soapbox, you let me know - I'll be glad to give you a hand, because I learn something each time you do.

Ergonomics becomes more and more important to me as I grow older - I want to continue as a spinner and weaver for however long I have on this earth, and I want to do it pain-free and with as much mobility as possible!

Sharon Schulze said...

I love weaving efficiently. I love doing everything as efficiently as I can. But sometimes I also like to do things that are "trickier" - like weaving a cotton chenille scarf that includes a tabby. I know that efficiency is relative to the task but every time I put on a multi-shuttle weave I end up thinking "oh how I wish I could zip through this, get the rhythm going..."

It will be ok after the first dozen or so inches but my point is that efficiency can have drug-like qualities in addition to all the health-related benefits!

Michelle said...

Weaving efficiently is an attractive idea. My attempts to weave efficiently usually involve putting the pattern in the warp and weaving with a single weft. Do you have suggestions for efficiently changing the weft?

Laura said...

Weaving with more than one shuttle is going to be slower than weaving with one. Which is why I hesitated to put this warp onto the loom for so long! Like Sharon I love getting into the 'zone' of my weaving rhythm, and really have to bear down in order to weave with two shuttles!

That said, you have to develop a rhythm with two - how you set the shuttle down, how you pick it up, how you wrap the wefts around each other so that the pattern weft is laid in right out to the selvedge.

I don't use a floating selvedge because they slow me down even more so to keep the wefts in order I 'rotate' the shuttles around each other.

Perhaps it's time for another video clip? Perhaps when I get back from my trip next week....the computer is being upgraded and I ought to test the new video software anyway. :D


Sharon Schulze said...

Oh goody! Video! :-D

My Baby Wolf has a Wolftrap - a little sling that hangs off the breastbeam - and that made weaving with multiple shuttles a lot easier.

But the loom I'm using now doesn't have a Wolftrap and I haven't gotten quite the right solution to prevent continuously dropping or knocking the shuttle I'm using off the loom!

Sharon Schulze said...

Um, I meant the shuttle I'm NOT using at the moment. That one I can hang onto. It's the second shuttle that keeps falling

Annie said...

I've been using very slow weaving techniques in the past, because I couldn't afford to buy weaving materials too often. So I was happy when the technique slowed me down. I've been using pick up techniques, multi-shuttle techniques etc. Everything to slow me down and make the warps last longer.
And I enjoyed it. It also gave me all the freedom I wanted, especially the pick up weaves on 4 shafts.
Now I have a 32 shaft Megado, and a stash of weaving materials. Sometimes I find I'm longing for my old pick ups...