Friday, October 28, 2016


In a comment on a post I wrote on October 19, Laura Fry wrote, "I'm done fringe twisting and hoping to get to the loom tomorrow. It's been far too long and will take a while to get back into the rhythm again."

Rhythm is SO important if  you want to be efficient both in time expended and in physical wear-and-tear. Personally, I expect to weave for a good long time, and I know that Laura does too.

Spending some time honing an efficient weaving rhythm has helped me believe that the expectation will be true.

Here's a link to a short video in MP4 format (which should be compatible with most computer and tablet systems) that shows me weaving on the 24-shaft dobby loom. Yes, I have a computer dobby, and a shaft lifting system build by DH. On a treadle loom, this speed wouldn't be possible for me. In any case, efficiency needn't always equate to high speed, just smart use of the loom's and the weaver's physical abilities.

The lifting system is activated by a tap of my foot, and that motion is synchronized with the beater reaching the fell to press the new pick into place. So, tap, throw and catch the shuttle, beat and tap, over and over.

That rhythm is what makes it possible to work with the fine threads I love, even when a single scarf might require thousands of picks. The current warp is 20/2 rayon at 30 epi and ppi, and each scarf is woven to 80 inches because I know from prior experience how much rayon shrinks. Plus, I like long scarves. These will be about 72 inches after finishing, plus a short fringe. Thirty times eighty comes to 2,400 picks per piece.

Another optimization I'm learning is the method for finishing the ends of the scarf. Because of osteoarthritis, I'm reluctant to continue with plied fringes - too time-consuming, and very hard on my hands, even with a battery-powered helper. So I'm getting lots of practice with hemstitching, which takes less time and is easy to do right on the loom. (I thank the weaving gods for magnifying goggles, and a weaving chair that is adjustable so I can sit at the right height for the job.)

I clearly remember a workplace adage that said, "Don't work hard, work smart." Something to take to heart.


Laura Fry said...

"In any case, efficiency needn't always equate to high speed, just smart use of the loom's and the weaver's physical abilities."

And that is really it, in a nutshell. Working smarter, not harder. Being as kind as possible to the body - because it is the only one we get. :)

I like hemstitching, but it's hard on my neck. Using a lower chair might work
'better'. Hmmm...

Peg Cherre said...

I'm not interested in a computer assisted loom or a shaft lifting system (I don't live with someone who could build or repair), but do love watching others work, so loved the video. For a professional weaver, someone who sells her work, efficiency and correctness of movement, not necessarily speed, is critical. If I was a hobby weaver, I don't know that I'd care so much - although that would probably be a mistake, too.

Goatberry said...

I'm hoping to weave again. I'm finding that the arthritis of my younger years has gone exponential & every bone/joint had been affected.
I'm hesitant to get "back on the horse", even though I have two small table looms to work on. Yr work inspires me. Thank you.