Friday, December 16, 2011

Pay Attention

The end of the scarf with one more sample, this one woven in twill.  Notice the little 'waves' in the fell.  This is due to the difference in characteristics of the two yarns - the wool has a much higher elasticity than the Tencel.  Since the whole point is to have a cloth that 'collapses' this difference is not a problem and in fact after wet finishing, the white wool will be shorter than the Tencel causing the bubbling in the purple stripes.

If there is one bit of advice I would love to give to every new weaver it is this:  Pay Attention!

New weavers often get frustrated with their results - the cloth coming off their looms isn't 'perfect' and they don't know why.  Rather than sit down and analyze what they are doing and change it, they get fed up.

As an 'old time' weaver who started weaving long before the internet, my first inclination is always to head for my books for assistance when I run into a problem.  I was incredibly fortunate in that I had an actual teacher who was able to show me things, but not everyone was that lucky.  Frankly I can't imagine learning how to weave from a book, or even a video for that matter.  But I digress.

Once I got the basics from my real live teacher I spent many months studying what I was doing and the results I was getting.  I did not expect to learn everything about weaving in a weekend.  Somehow I knew that learning to weave was like getting to the heart of an onion - it was going to take the peeling back of many many layers until I became proficient.

Ultimately the adage that sums it up best for me is the one that says:  If  you keep doing what you've been doing you'll keep getting what you've been getting.

Unfortunately if you've been doing a physical activity for a long time, change isn't done at a snap of the fingers - there is muscle memory to be erased and a new position or motion to be repeated until it becomes the new 'default' mode.

But in order to decide if you need to change something, you need to pay attention.  Are you physically uncomfortable?  Maybe you need to sit at a different height or a different distance from the edge of the bench.  Maybe you need a different seat altogether - an adjustable office chair, a large ball, a tall barstool might fit your body and loom better.

Threading killing your back?  Maybe you need to remove the breast beam (if dressing the loom back to front).  Maybe you need to raise the shafts.  (I found a shoe box raised the shafts on a Baby Wolf to the point where I wasn't killing my neck to thread the loom.)

Threading takes forever?  Maybe you need to use a different method of threading.  Yes, there is more than one way to thread the loom and more than one way to hold the hook.

Not happy with the way your cloth is turning out?  Maybe you are not making the best choices in your yarn selection in terms of fibres or colours.  Maybe you need to learn how to wet finish differently to get different results.

Before you can improve, though, you need to pay attention. 

And don't forget my You Tube channel.


Laura said...

You're right on (as usual!!). I'm still puzzling over tension problems I had on my small loom (a Dorset). I was using knitting yarns that I had in the inventory that just weren't selling. The good news is that the last two were much improved over the first ones, so now I have to figure out how what little tweak I did can be made even better...

I have re-taught myself to throw the shuttle as you do - what an improvement in economy of motion.

Thanks - for your insights, your knowledge and your support of weavers everywhere!

Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

"If you keep doing what you've been doing you'll keep getting what you've been getting" - amen!
Can I steal that? (oops - I mean "borrow", of course!)

Laura said...

It's not original to me - feel free to share! :)

I think I first heard it from Wayne Dyer....