Listening to Your Loom
Back a couple years ago I wrote about my first time warping my floor loom for a set of Finnish twill dishtowels. It was a harrowing experience as my air conditioning-free house was about 90 degrees and there was a rooster across the street that for two hours straight would not stop crowing. Still, eight hours later I finished warping and collapsed onto my porch swing. In that moment, I hoped I would eventually learn the language of my loom. As a baker I can read my dough, and I believed that if I wove enough I could get to the point where my intuition would take over and I could read my loom.
Flash forward roughly two years into the future. I have now refined my warping process where it only takes me a few hours (as opposed to a full day) to warp my loom. I even have managed to enjoy the process. I love listening to an audio book or my favorite podcasts as I sley the reed and thread the heddles. I understand how to tie on for even tension, how to check for twisted threads, and that it will ultimately save time if I double check each threaded heddle at the end of a repeat or two and fix errors then, rather than waiting until the end of warping to discover a mistake. I have learned to be more efficient and in doing so warping has become a pleasant experience; a chance to commune with my loom before the act of “weaving” begins.
Now I have managed to cut my warping time more than in half in only two years or so of weaving on my big loom. Imagine what I could do with twenty or more years of honing and refining the process? This is concept behind Laura Fry’s new video The Efficient Weaver. Laura, like me, has used her time at the loom to figure out how to make warping and weaving more efficient and more enjoyable.
I have a feeling some of you might see the word efficient and think, “Oh, why worry about all that when you should be focusing on weaving instead of getting it all done as fast as possible?” “A-hah!” I would reply, were I able to read your mind, “Efficiency is not the same as hurrying, as Laura has pointed out before. It is all about making things run smoothly so you can worry less and weave more. Just like prepping everything you need to make a meal before you start cooking so you don’t have to run around looking for the nutmeg.”
As I am writing this my life is still packed in boxes, although now they are New Mexican boxes. This, sadly, includes my loom. I’m hoping to have it all set up and ready to warp by the weekend so I can sit down and warp up something, anything, and get back to weaving. When I do, I don’t want to deal with twisted threads, uneven tension, or having to rethread the heddles because I made a mistake. I want to sit down in my new studio, pick up my warp, and spend some quality time listening to my loom.