Monday, February 8, 2016

Watching Paint Dry

Weaving rhythm

Watching someone weave is a whole lot like watching paint dry.  The same thing, over and over and over again with the occasional 'break' to replace an empty bobbin with a full one or advance the warp.

And that is exactly how it should be.  Developing a weaving rhythm means working with the most efficient/ergonomic motions, motions that will pare the process down to the essentials all the while protecting the body from repetitive motion injuries.

Weaving doesn't have to be slower than it needs to be.  Extra motions can be eliminated.  Good posture encouraged.  Weaving by hand will always be slower than weaving industrially, for many reasons.  That doesn't mean it needs to take forever, or that weavers need to suffer for their craft.

When I travel to teach the one consistent thing I see over and over is the practice of weaving that means a slow pace and potential injury.  Weavers sit too low.  They sit with poor posture.  They have extraneous movements.  They work for too long without breaks.

Sometimes I feel like the worst coach/gym instructor/physical fitness leader ever, harping on good posture, sitting high enough, using motions that will encourage efficiency/ergonomics.

Different looms will require different physical adaptations.  A back hinged loom is going to be different to treadle than a front hinged loom.  A draw loom is going to be different than a dobby loom.  Different manufacturers have come up with different designs, different mechanics.  Some looms are just plain 'better' mechanically than others.  And of course weavers come in all sizes, so some looms are going to be too big or too small for an individual.

So remember these tips - sit with your hips higher than your knees, up high on your sitz bones.  Sit high enough that your elbows clear the breast beam.  Rock back and forth from your hips, not from a slouch (bent mid-back).  If you have a front hinged treadle loom, feet can slide back and forth or heel and toe to change sheds..  Sit with shoulders in neutral, not hunched.  Hold the shuttle 'under slung' not overhand (thumbs down position is 'bad' for the arm, neck and hand).

Work at developing a smooth transition between opening the shed, throwing the shuttle, catching it and beating in the weft.

Work at becoming paint drying.

1 comment:

Esther Benedict said...

Thank you for the ergonomics tips - a good reminder. I hadn't heard of holding and throwing the shuttle underhand before. I'm giving it a try. I've got the right hand down, but the left isn't cooperating yet :-)