She commented on my last post, “I’m afraid I also couldn’t stay in for the long haul with 22 yards of weaving the same warp”.
Well, I’m not sure I can either, but I figured there’s only one way to find out, and that’s to try it! And, so far, I’ve actually found it to be a great learning opportunity. I haven’t been weaving very long (2 years and 3 months), and while I’ve learned a lot about structure and design, I’m still relatively new to the mechanics of weaving. So weaving lots and lots of the same fabric will allow me to take my focus off of design and onto the mechanics. So I view it as an opportunity for “effortful study” of the weaving process.
And I’ve learned a lot in the first three yards, experimenting with a new shuttle, a new way of beating, different ways to handle the shuttle when beating, and so forth. If I were a more experienced weaver I might be more bored, but I find that I’m very intellectually engaged in the process of weaving, at least for now. (We’ll see how I feel when I’m 17 yards in.)
Also, the mechanics of weaving on a computer-driven loom are quite different from that of a traditional treadled loom: there’s no treadling to keep track of, and therefore (oddly) less boredom. Because I don’t have to be mentally chanting “1-2-7-8-4-6” for the treadling, I can let my mind focus on other things than the treadling pattern, like the flow of the shuttle as it moves back and forth or the condition of the selvages or watching for skipped threads in the weave. (I’m sure it’s possible to focus on both if you have enough weaving experience, but I don’t.) I worried about this when I first moved over to a computer-driven loom – whether it would be more boring if I didn’t have to track the treadling – but in fact it’s turned out to be the reverse. So that helps as well.
And finally, I also find that it’s a question of intellectual vs. Zen. Nobody can think hard all the time; it takes too much mental energy. So there has to be Zen time, a quiet time to unwind. For me, this has always been time spent working with my hands, usually in fiber arts but occasionally in other media (like chocolate). Normally I combine this with some degree of intellectual focus (see comments on the first three yards), but this is a VERY busy time at work, which is soaking up much of my intellectual/emotional energy. So I am glad to have something on the loom where I can “just do it”, without expending a lot of thought on it.
And the fact that it is progressing well is a wonderful antidote to work problems. Ordinarily I have the patience of Job, but the situation at work has gotten me to a state of incoherent fury. (This is extremely unusual for me; in fact, it’s happened only one other time in the fifteen-odd years I’ve been working.) It’s nice to have something Zen to do, something that is going well and doesn’t demand much of me. If not for the easy weaving, I would be a LOT more stressed than I currently am.
So, that’s a good thing.
I am currently just over 3 yards into this particular warp, and can already see that I will run out of room on the cloth beam before the end. This is just fine since I would cut the cloth at the division between weft dyelot batches anyway. I’m just hoping that I have enough room on the cloth beam to hold the first batch of yarn! If I have enough space I would really like to get 10 yards on the beam, but I don’t think I will.
Meanwhile, having gotten a good idea of the width of the finished fabric, I am thinking about getting started on the muslins as well. I intend to do two mockups for this coat: one in muslin fabric to get the basic fitting right, and one mockup with a similar-weight fabric and the brushed mohair interlining to see whether it will be too bulky. (I have decided to use the brushed mohair interlining only on the body of the coat, to reduce bulk somewhat, so I think I’ll have enough mohair for both.) That may be overkill, but obsessiveness is a wonderful thing. 🙂 Also, I think this process is how the big couture houses go about it, and I think it’s a good idea if you really want a good finished product and can’t afford mistakes. So I will take the time to do it.
I find that once the loom – and the weaver – are functioning well, I drift into Zen mode and the actually shuttle throwing becomes a working meditation for me.
When only surface attention is required I can also plan my next project, article, workshop, whatever. It’s a quiet mental space to examine the facets involved in planning (for me). And besides, I just enjoy the physical activity.
Anyone who can bike 60 (or whatever amount you do!) miles in a day can surely cope with weaving 22 yards of fabric! :DDDDD
Sorry to hear work has been such a bear, but happy to hear the weaving is proving theraputic.
I’d forgotten about the computer-driven part of your loom, and agree with you that somehow not keeping up with the treadles makes for less boredom. My weaving consists of plain weave weft-faced ikat or tapestry. There’s just enough going on in my designs to keep me engaged yet still have that meditative quality.
Thanks for all you write about your process and how you get from A to Z.
Oh, and I really don’t go by She–just hit the key at the wrong time!
Pls, keep taking pictures of EVERYTHING. I am enjoying watching and hearing about your procrss and your progress. This is on my list of future projects, to weave a coat or a suit.
Peg in South Carolina says
Interpolating the making of the muslins into the weaving process will 1) help keep the boredom at bay; and 2) help preserve your body by giving it some breaks with a different activity. Yet you are still making progress to your goal.
Wow – this is such an amazing project. Dyeing the yarn, weaving all that fabric, and then sewing a coat! You go!!
Your sewing process sounds like what my very talented seamstress friend would do….so I don’t think it’s overkill.
I love the way the fabric looks already in the photo a couple of posts back. Can’t wait to see more!