Ergonomics of the Mind
I’m Nancy Curtiss, and I needed some help. Well, as weavers, we know that we’re each a little warped, but when I attended the Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Conference in Chautauqua, New York over the weekend, I thought that I would mostly do just fine in my class called “The Efficient Weaver” with Laura Fry. After all, Laura was going to teach us about how we could weave with minimal wear and tear on our bodies. Didn’t I have a canted bench? And I was all ready with my knee pad for tie-ups. Not much more to it, is there?
Not so surprising to you, the answer was yes, there is more. Much more!
Over the course of three days we practiced our catch and send of the shuttle
and learned how to properly wind a stick shuttle. Notice the perfect figure eight?
We learned a lot more than that, but you’ll have to attend Laura’s class or check out her You Tube videos for that. We gained knowledge of how our bodies affected our weaving experience, and the fact that our choices could inflict either pleasure or pain over the long haul really brought home the need for proper physical ergonomics.
What I didn’t expect, and what I really needed, was mental ergonomics... getting my mind in the sweet spot to be willing to try something new – rather than staying in safe territory.
When I showed up at the workshop, did I try an easy set up like this?
No. I decided to test all of the ergonomic waters by setting up this shadow weave pattern...
... which is like telling a knitter to come to a party to work on the middle of a complicated lace pattern. Not a good idea.
Efficiency comes in many forms, and for me it was looking at a long treadling sequence, seeing the clarity of the draft – even noting how the treadling outlined the actual design elements... and yet sitting there weaving and unweaving the same 4 picks for an entire morning. Laura saw my funk, and knew just what I needed to get over that hump to begin the outflow of production. A life saver! (and something that she can tell you about, herself!) *see below
Right then and there I realized that what was uncovered was my fear of complicated treadlings. For every skeleton tie-up there are many more that need to be what they are... and I was afraid to go near them. I unwittingly chose to limit my weaving choices.
Now - medical science tells us that as we age we need to open our mental pathways by trying new things and by challenging our mental and physical acuity in different ways. With a fresh lesson in the ergonomics of the mind I open myself up to the hope of infinite possibilities that I started with in weaving, and with the right tools I can accomplish them once again.
As a weaver I need to be unafraid to get down on the floor and change the tie-ups on my countermarch loom. I have aids to help me with that. I now know that I need to be unafraid to try complex treadling. That dance on the loom will help my dance through life. I think I’m ready for the next song.
* With Nancy's very complex shadow weave treadling and all the distractions in the room I loaned her my iPad with iWeaveit loaded onto it. I bought the iPad and iWeaveit specifically for students trying to follow complicated treadlings in class - and yes, it really does help. :)