I went up to see Sharon on Sunday. She suggested that, if I were planning on doing color changes in the weft, having the complex network drafted pattern would probably be too much, visually speaking. After looking at the printouts and simulations I decided that she was right…so I switched back to straight draw for the threading. This went quickly, and I’m already done sleying, tying on, debugging, and am up and weaving!
I had an aha! moment when sleying the reed. Normally for 40 epi I would use a 20-dent reed and sley it with 2 ends/dent, but because I was working with delicate threads in the warp I decided to use a 10-dent reed and sley 4 ends/dent. (This with some trepidation, since I’m told it can lead to problems.) Anyway, sleying four ends/dent meant only ten groups per inch, and it went fast. So fast, in fact, that I finished sleying in under an hour!
This was my a-ha! moment, the instant in which I finally understood “how the other half weaves”. I have talked to lots of weavers who find fine threads frustrating and/or intimidating. I never understood this because I have always woven with fine threads – my very first weaving project (after a small sampler on a table loom) was with Jaggerspun Zephyr at 5000+ yards per pound, and most of my projects since then have been with finer threads than that. So to me, fine threads are “normal”, and I’m used to the fact that it takes ten to fifteen hours spread out over 3-4 days to warp my 24″ wide loom.
But sleying at 10 dents/inch was amazingly fast! It made me realize that, for weavers who typically weave at 25 epi, weaving at 40-60 epi is very, very slow. If you’re used to warping up in a few hours, fine threads must be frustratingly slow. And if you’re used to weaving projects from a recipe, the process I use, which involves developing drafts, weaving samples, doing Photoshop simulations, etc., would seem glacially slow indeed.
And so that’s my realization for the day: “hard” or “easy” really depends on your expectations, and what you’re used to. Something more complicated than your usual project is “hard”, something simpler is “easy”. I normally work on the complicated end of the spectrum, so my “usual” project is several months to over a year. (I’m guesstimating 18-24 months for this one.) Someone who does simple projects might finish in a day or two. To that person, my projects might well seem daunting.
This all ties back into a thought I’ve had for some time: the mind is a muscle. Doing difficult and complex things is all about about practice, and training yourself to do progressively harder things. Sort of like training for AIDS Lifecycle (a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles) – when I started training for it, a 30-mile bike ride seemed daunting, and by the end of my training I was tossing off back-to-back 100-mile rides like they were nothing.
This is not to suggest that everything needs to be complex or difficult; not everyone wants to work like that, and that’s OK! But it was an aha! moment for me, realizing that most weavers work at a very different style and pace, and therefore think of my work as complex and difficult. To me, it’s just the way I normally work – in other words, it’s what I’m used to.