Tuesday, July 1, 2008

No Frills

As I've been threading my 720-end warp, I've been thinking about the fact that I'm a no frills weaver...

I use a basic 8-shaft 10-treadle Schacht Mighty Wolf loom without any of the accoutrements that many, if not most, weavers use these days -- a raddle, a sectional warp beam, computer dobby, jacquard loom with numerous shafts (up to 32 or more), temples, fancy apron setups, whatever else. The only thing I've changed on my loom since I've had it is that I replaced the slick rectangular apron rods with slightly-rough-to-the-touch dowels, which do a much better job of preventing the warp from slipping on the rod thereby affecting the warp tension -- despite the fact that these are round. Go figure! I also use WeaveIt Pro 6 weaving software, but I've hardly put a dent (pun intended) in its capabilities.

This no frills orientation of mine is a result of two separate but related threads that have run through my life...

One, I've always preferred to do things from scratch. I don't even know if that phrase is used any longer, so for those of you who may not know what it means, it refers to making things from the ground up, as it were. For example, once I learned how to bake, nearly 40 years ago, I never bought a cake mix, and I still wouldn't. When I was baking bread, I mixed the dough by hand in a big bowl, let it rise, punched it down, etc. etc. -- I wouldn't think of using a breadmaker. Once I started sewing my own clothes, eons ago, I rarely bought anything off a store rack (although I stopped sewing clothes a very long time ago). So making things without the benefit of technology has been a big part of my life. I like to do it myself. It's done better that way, anyway. I trust my capabilities, don't like to or need to rely on things being done for me that I know I can do for myself.

Two, I've been making art on a shoestring for as long as I can remember. Although I do purchase materials as often as I'm able to, expensive, more technologically-advanced tools have always been out of the question for me. I've operated on a do what you can with what you have basis forever, it seems, even though a part of me wants more-better-different. But do I really need bigger, better, more advanced tools? Will they make me a better weaver? or just create more chaos for me because of the exponential increase in design options available?

So I've been thinking that perhaps, at least in my own schema, I'm a sort of folk hero. Creating what I create against financial and modern-day technological odds. Which makes me feel like I'm an old school kind of gal. I wonder how many of us remain in this quickened-pace world we live in?

9 comments:

Katherine Regier said...

Count me in as "old school" and "no frills". Ack! I'm turning into my parents! I have been thinking much the same, and your post inspired me to write on this topic.
Kathy

Meg in Nelson said...

I bought a break maker after thinking about it for a year or two. We have a small kitchen and don't have space for gadgets, and I don't think I'll use most kitchen gadgets two weeks after I buy them anyway. But one year, a reasonable sized one was on sale, and Hubby said we'll get it. Because usually I tire of thinking about a gadget before long, so thinking about a bread maker as long as I did was a good indication I'd use it. And I don't regret it. In the winter I bake more often and we seldom buy bread; if I didn't have the bread maker, I couldn't possibly bake that often. I'm short, so I have to do a lot of strange things to adjust the height of my dough vs where I am, and I get a bad shoulder ache. And I can use the bread maker in different ways, e.g. I can just let it knead if I like, and I do bake ciabatta from scratch.

I have a rigid heddle (though it gets loaned to wannabe weavers quite often), a 4-shaft jack, and a 16-shaft monster, and I love all of them in different ways because they allow me to do different things. And I don't apologize for the computerization, and one day I might need a fly shuttle. I have played with the idea of investing in a 24- or 32- but that's a very long term plan, and I don't need it just yet. Or never. Or, if electricity gets much too expensive, as fellow Nelson weaver Sue Bateup said, we might have to go back to fool looms, in which case I'll have to find a 8-shaft quickly. Sometimes I'm more innovative on the 4-shaft because of the restrictions. And I think it's nice that we all have different ways of making differently beautiful cloths. Because as much as I love weaving, I don't think I can cope with a back-strap, for e.g.

As for cake mixes... I just can't get cakes nice from scratch. I found out that New Zealand butter has a higher fat content, if that's possible, so using American and English recipes with NZ butter inevitably comes out greasy and unattractive. So when I remember to reduce butter, I do OK, but I've had some "why don't you just inject butter into my veins" stuff out of my oven.

Connie Rose said...

I loved your last comment, Meg, about injecting butter directly into veins!

DEEP END OF THE LOOM said...

I think that I'm an old soul, I do a lot of things from scratch and yes we still use that term. I understand that technology is a must, but I also think it's a dumbing down of people's minds. My hubby and I have always thought that the previous generations were so much more resourceful inventive, creative and innovative. They didn't have computers or tv to keep their minds occupied so they used their minds and brains. Just think, if all the computers, pda's and cell phones would disappear from the face of the earth, I think there would be mass chaos and people couldn't deal with it. I often wonder what would happen if we had another great depression in this country? Could we survive it? Then the old ways and going from scratch would be priceless.

Connie Rose said...

I think we may be headed toward that depression, so we'll see how all the newbies cope with life without their toys. I know us old school folks will thrive!

Peg in South Carolina said...

I've always believed that it is the challenge of limitations that allows art to be created. Limitations can come in many forms: number of shafts, tools available, focusing on a particular aspect of weaving such as a particular structure, color, kind of yarn, weight of yarn etc. Not limiting oneself is one or more ways results in scattered explorations with no mastery of anything. And creativity requires at least some degree of mastery.

Connie Rose said...

Thanks Peg, I loved your comments. Especially as the world spins faster and there are more and more options in places where we don't want or even need more alternatives, focusing is a healthy thing to do. Besides, I already know that there are several lifetimes of weaving experience and knowledge out there to be gained, and I only have this life with about 30 or so more years.

Bonnie said...

I am totally in, but am currently in the middle of a big downsize move. I believe this is my second lifetime as a weaver, so I know just how few of us there are. It is great knowing you are out there.Weave On!

nancy john said...

I love innovative and inventive frills