Saturday, August 30, 2014


One of the things that has concerned me since the fall in March was the damage done to my spine/hip.  Apparently it (the damage) was significant and my body is not happy with me right now.  The x-ray also revealed the extent of the damage to my hip from over use.  Weaving on a floor loom with that awful side-step-depress motion to release the brake has taken it's toll.

Once I had recovered from the initial fall - and everything seemed to be ok - I was still a bit suspicious about my hip and had discussed with Doug on several occasions about converting the Leclerc Fanny to a live weight tension system.  After getting the results of the x-ray last week I realized that it was not something that could remain in the realm of theory and over the past couple of days Doug has been messing about with a cord and weights.

The live weight tension system is really simplicity itself.  So simple it seems like it shouldn't actually work.  It took quite a bit of weight before I felt I had the correct amount of tension on the scarf warp, but it seems to be working just fine now.  That's 25 pounds of lead on the heavy end, one pound on the other end of the cord.

Of course, how I beam warps may have to change, but we didn't remove the old Leclerc brake system from the loom, just locked it 'off', so it will be easy to remove the cord and lock the brake on again for beaming the warp with the trapeze.

I suspect more weight will be needed for cloth that requires a firmer beat than the rayon scarves I'm currently weaving, but Doug bought lots of weights of various sizes.  And we know where to get more.

Currently reading In Praise of Slow; how a worldwide movement is challenging the cult of speed by Carl Honore'.  I saw a TED talk with him a while ago, and of course the Slow Movement has crept into the world of textiles.  The thing that I noticed however, is that the Slow Movement is not solely about doing things slowly, but doing them at the correct speed.  If you have ever watched a chef prepare food, you will have observed that they do not slice and dice slowly, but very efficiently.  IOW, very quickly.

Handwoven cloth is by it's very definition 'slow'.  That doesn't mean that I want to work slowly (even when my body demands it!)  I want to work at a purposeful, efficient pace.  I want to work at the 'proper' speed for whatever it is I'm making.  Sometimes that means I go more slowly (ie. use a temple) in order to be more productive in the long run.

The big thing about the Slow Movement is that it wants people to stop rushing.  Rushing through their day.  Rushing through their meetings, their meals, their interactions with other people.  Stop rushing through their lives.

Being Slow doesn't mean wasting time.  It means using your time well, staying focused on what you are doing rather than always thinking about the next thing and the next and the next, forever not in the moment.  A lesson more of us need to learn, I think.


Marianne said...

Hi Laura,
Where did you purchase the weights? i am thinking of changing my looms to live weights, but need to know where to purchase weights.

Peg Cherre said...

Where does one learn about the live weight system? Sounds intriguing!

Laura Fry said...

The best place to learn about the live weight tension system is Kati Meek's book Dance with Your Loom. She details the warping valet (trapeze) and the live weight tension system. You can also do a search as several weavers have blogged about converting their looms. Tien Chiu probably has the best write up.

Doug bought the weights at a couple of hardware type stores that carry fishing supplies. They are cannon ball lead weights 'down rigger' type. They aren't cheap, you could use free weights if you have them on hand. They come in a variety of different weights so I now have a collection of 'cannonballs'. :) I expect that different warps may require different amounts of weights - a firmer beat will probably need greater weight to hold the tension I like to use to weave with.

judy said...

Sounds like a great solution. My friend Pat has the 24 shaft AVL with dobby, but no computer assist. It is hard to push the advance treadle. Do you think this would help?

Laura Fry said...

Not sure what you mean by the 'advance' treadle? Do you mean the treadle that opens the shed? The live weight system has to do with holding tension on the warp during weaving. The AVL brake system is a modified live weight system - more sophisticated, capable of holding quite a lot of tension.

When the treadle to open the shed became too heavy for me I upgraded to the air assist - well, I did it for the fly shuttle and since the treadle to open the shed wasn't very much more expensive we did both at the same time. AVL now has the e-lift which makes treadling much easier. It's not a cheap option, though. :(

Peg Cherre said...

I've ordered Katie's book, and your wet finishing video.

Thanks, Laura!

Peg Cherre said... that I've ordered it, I wonder - does this only work with an auto-advance loom? I hope not.

I have high hopes for this opening up new worlds for me. :-)

Laura Fry said...

No, my Leclerc is a standard loom.

fHelen Hart said...

Thanks for your writings. Even at my advancing age, Iwill look up the book In Praise of Slow Movement. Right title? I will order Kati's book. And try to look up Tien's notes on free weights. May I ask what SABLE is? NOMB really.

Laura Fry said...

SABLE is Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy. ;)