I have been hearing quite a few intriguing radio segments on neurobiology (in its lowest common denominator form – I’m sure) and how our brains are happy and soothed by crafts (A rehash of the “This is Your Brain on Crafts” article of last year). No surprise – I always maintain that any costs I incur with my weaving obsession must be less than the cost of therapy I would need without it. But I have been dragged away from the loom lately by many editing/drafting/planning/writing jobs that make me think about the incredible richness of weaving as “brain balm”. This has been my loom substitute lately.
It is amazing that if you “weave”, you may find yourself cracking the chemistry of dyes, handling and learning the many facets of fleece, messing with math, considering color theory and delving deeply into drafting – all this in addition to sitting at the loom and meditatively making cloth. It really is a hobby/vocation/avocation that has something for every part of your brain. I have been particularly aware of this as I develop projects for the “Moving Threads” class I will be teaching at Vav Stuga in the fall. “Moving Threads” is a great, wide open playground. And it is really gratifying to be able to sweat at the computer until I am burned out on drafting and planning (changing from the U.S. Standard measurement system to metric, rising to sinking and draw down to draw up – is definitely a brain throb!) shift gears into winding a warp and watching the colors come together, finish just when it is getting too boring to endure, then get to dress the loom and look forward to the rhythmic, soothing, largely brain-freeing activity of actually weaving the cloth.
I have been gathering drafts that have a float/plain weave juxtaposition that allows for the shifting, curving effects that I like so much. And have been finding a treasure trove. Some are from Swedish and Danish weaving books that I got a chance to peruse at Vav Stuga (Becky’s library is one of the unbelievable benefits of weaving at Vav Stuga!) And some are drafts I have developed, and some are old drafts that I have seen updated in wonderful modern ways by designers like Eleanore Pritchard and Margot Selby. By September I am hoping to have a really varied, beautiful selection of projects. Exciting!
New weaving question:
What are the arguments for and against beating on an open or closed shed. I typically beat on an open shed, but am changing sheds while the beater is traveling. Becky, who was a production weaver for many years (and is FAST!) does a kind of double beat – she places the weft in the shed, changes shed and then beats. The first placement isn’t really a beat, but it gets the weft in position for the beat. Most of my looms are jack, and Becky’s are countermarch/counter balance. Hmmm – should that make a difference? Laura Fry has a good video of how she beats (and she is also FAST!) here: http://laurasloom.blogspot.com/2009/07/wider-weaving.html