I was explaining the Autumn Splendor project to a coworker today, and mentioned that I’d been working on it since April. Â He said, “Six months and it isn’t done yet? Â Don’t you get bored, working on the same thing for months at a time?”
The short answer is that no, I don’t. Â In fact, quite the reverse: I find long projects fascinating precisely because they areÂ long; they give me time and space to explore different ideas. Â A weekend project, by way of contrast, is far more boring because there is rarely any meaty content to a weekend project. Â If I can get it on and off the loom that quickly, it’s because I already know exactly what to do…either because I’m following a recipe or because I’ve done that kind of project a bazillion times before. Â In short, I can only do a quick project if I’m not exploring, and because it’s the exploration that interests me, the quicker it is, the more boring it becomes.
That is not to say that a longer project couldn’tÂ bore me. Â When I used to knit, sweaters were a real challenge because they involved doing the same thing over and over again, without learning much. Â Socks were easier because they were shorter projects and I could try out new ideas faster. Â I tried a crocheted tablecloth once, and that was a Â total disaster. Â The key, to me, is to keep myself learning and experimenting through the entire project. Â This typically involves doing a variety of things – with Autumn Splendor, I’ve been through devore, cross-dyeing, drafting my own sewing patterns, etc. – all new (or relatively new) to me and always changing. Â I rarely do the same thing more than two days in a row.
Sometimes the learning can be subtle. Â I don’t mind weaving long lengths of yardage in fine threads, even though it’s “the same thing over and over again”, because I use the time to fine-tune my weaving technique – how I hold the shuttle, the rhythm of my hands as they move from throwing the shuttle to beating to catching the shuttle on the other side. Â I have not got this perfected yet, and I doubt that anyone who does notÂ weave lots of yardage can get enough practice to achieve a really smooth “beat”. Â It usually takes me at least half an hour to “settle in” and another half-hour to achieve a perfect rhythm, and even then it’s not consistent. Â It takes sustained weaving time over several days to really feel like I “get it” – time that I wouldn’t get if I weren’t weaving yardage with fine threads. Â So I enjoy it very much. Â It’s like doing T’ai Chi – aiming for that internal body awareness and unified motion of the whole body, fine-tuning slowly as I go.
And, in case you’re wondering where I am in my dyeing/weaving, I finished unraveling the blank yesterday morning (my, that went fast!) and am about 18″ into the weaving:
I like it so far! Â There is color variation, but it is subtle, and the color transitions are coming out nicely. Â There were some ominous lighter patches towards the bottom of the blank, which may not look so good, but I’m hoping I can adjust it somewhat in the second dyeing. Â We’ll see what it looks like, first.