At Loose Ends

November 25, 2008


Over the last months I have been listening to Weavecast, starting with the oldest episodes and slowly working my way toward the more recent.  Syne Mitchell confesses to an early fear of warping and, in the last episode I listened to, fear of tapestry.  Fear of warping makes sense to me, but what I seem to be suffering from now is fear of treadling and shuttle throwing.  Weird!

More specifically I am afraid of discovering that I can’t weave on my loom any more.  Sensible me says, “Warp it and see.  The worst that can happen is you’ll have an unwoven warp.”  Cringey me says, “Yes, but what a waste that would be, and as long as I don’t weave, I don’t have to face the bad news.”

My last project aggravated a couple joints and they seem to be bearing a grudge, no matter how sweetly I remonstrate with them.  I know I mentioned the treadling problem, but I failed to mention that tying off the bunches of fringe (not twisting, just tying!) on two scarves resulted in not being able to use my gimpy right index finger for nearly two weeks.  I need that finger for my mouse!

The project was to be a sampler for three baby blankets in Summer and Winter.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to tackle all those blankets, which made the sampler feel kind of dreary.  Meanwhile two of the babies are swiftly passing the gift stage, and the third will be arriving any time.

My problem?  I am stuck immobile between weaving a preparatory sampler I don’t really want to weave, for a tardy project I doubt I am physically capable of; and ditching both the sampler warp (too short to be anything but a sampler) and the blanket plans.

Der Mann and I talk about these divergent aspects of our personalities.  While Der Mann enjoys starting things, I enjoy carrying them to completion.  I don’t experience pleasure in simply starting a project.  In fact, I have trouble understanding it even when he explains it to me.  The birth of the idea itself isn’t the fun part for me.  For me, the reward is in seeing how the idea grows up to become something.

Arbitrary activity bores me to the point of hives (I have loathed board games since I was a kid) but when I am on the trail of an end result that interests me, I can pursue it to ridiculous lengths, happy as a clam.  This isn’t perseverance, as Der Mann thought it was before I told him my secret.  It’s a sort of addiction to the narrative of making things.  Like a child with a story book, I demand a proper beginning, middle, and end.

It’s different from being goal oriented.  I happily abandon half-read books, half-walked trails, unreached summits, boring movies, vacation plans.  Goals seem very arbitrary to me most of the time.  Ideas do not.  It makes me nervous if the idea of a blanket already exists, but the possibility of the physical blanket has disappeared.  What happens to the idea, then?  Does it float away harmlessly, like a stray balloon?

According to my husband, yes, this is what ideas do, and he has the boxes of sketchbooks to prove it.  To me an escaped idea feels more like one of those sets of plastic rings from a six-pack of pop that you’re supposed to cut up so it doesn’t tangle the sea creatures.

While hosting negotiations between sensible me and cringey me, I have been marking time with my rigid heddle loom.  I decided to make a rigid heddle scarf for my mom and each of my aunts out of the bits of yarn remaining from Great Granny’s stash.  They were all quite close to her.


Yes, I have been weaving while standing at the kitchen counter.


11 Responses to “At Loose Ends”

  1. Suzan Says:

    Oh no! I sure hope it has nothing to do with spindling? Your rigid heddle project is beautiful – it’s all about the textiles, isn’t it?

  2. Jane Says:

    Oh T.

    Would it help your fear to weave in short increments at the big loom? Perhaps for 20-30 mins each day rather than a looooong stretch on one day and then hurting for several after that?

    If you are able to take it, maybe an aspirin prior to working as a way to handle any inflamation before it takes hold?

    At my home, my Beloved and I refer the above as “energy management.” If I capitalize on low pain days and go like gangbusters, then I’m stuck down or away from activities for several days after. When I discipline myself and engage in the same activities in smaller time increments — in the end I actually get more done, and feel much better.

    Don’t know if I’m articulating this very well. Just know that I empathize like crazy and that your fear is certainly reality based.

    You shall prevail, and No, you are not becoming a creaky-crickety-aging-woman-who-is-better-suited-to-rocking-away-her-life-on-the-veranda.

    Love the rigid heddle scarves, and what treasures for your mother and aunts!

  3. humblebumble Says:

    maybe your seat is too low, or too high. the first warp i wove on my medium loom cause me no problems, and it was 3 metres, and i worked for almost 8 hours straight, but then i retied the pedals and lamms and started using a different chair, wove half a foot and walked with a limp for 2 weeks. i can still feel that funny way in my left knee

    it does put a person off though doesn’t it?

    i think pedals should be hinged at the front of the loom rather than the back

  4. Actually, pedals hinged at the back are much easier on the knees.

  5. Taueret Says:

    poor you, sore bodies are the worst. I find Voltaren to be my fountain of youth at times.

  6. i’ve found front hinges don’t have me raising my legs so much. different strokes maybe

    i dream of dobby boxes

    seriously, i do

  7. Leigh Says:

    Well, it’s hard to do anything without motivation. Physical pain (or fear of it) is certainly a big motivation killer. Lots of good suggestions here, but what if you could look forward to a different project? Would that help?

  8. deborahbee Says:

    Bodies which have always been trouble free don’t half give out shockwaves when they misbehave. Without sounding trite I feel for you, I have struggled with my post-op hip and rebelled at being unable to be the boss when it comes to mobility. Pain-killers (anri-inflammatories) give muscles a chance to take a break. Also lay off weaving for a short period. Although my hip improves by the day I can get fearsome backache after weaving. All that sitting and waving upper limbs around to throw the shuttle!!The other bloody minded and do it anyway!!!
    I will need your advice in tying up the other 4 treadles when there are not enough holes for them…I do have your notes but still not quite ssssure about the knots

  9. I’m so sorry to hear of your pain, and that it’s bad enough to put the fear of weaving into you. On the recent recommendation of a friend, I’ve been investigating the Feldenkrais method, which uses very simple exercises to encourage the brain to create new neural pathways for handling the body, supposedly resulting in an improved range of movement and coordination. I found a plethora of books and videos on the subject from my library, but most of them have been gathering dust in my house, as I can’t seem to tear myself away anything weaving-related. I hope you find some way to vanquish the pain!

  10. trapunto Says:

    Never fear, Suzan, the spindling is theraputic!

    Thanks Jane; you get it, don’t you? I’m going to add “energy management” to my vocabulary. I do it, but I don’t usually think of it in positive terms.

    My treadles are front hinged, humblebumble. It’s the only kind I’ve used, aside from those twenty minutes in the weaving store. I’d like to try on some more looms for size, one day. Interesting: there’s both the lifting and the pushing down going on, isn’t there? I’m not sure which is my problem. Pushing down I think, though it is the lifting motions that hurt once the joint is inflamed.

    Leigh–thanks for your perceptivity. It would probably help a lot. Now if I can just pry my sweaty little fingers off the balloon string…

    I’ve heard of Feldenkrais, SpinningLizzy. Funny you should bring it up. My mom loaned me a cassette tape long ago, but I never got around to listing to it.

  11. trapunto Says:

    Oh, and I wish you and your hip the best, Deborah. I think you and Jane are right about strategic resting.

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