Monday, January 25, 2010

New Book by Alice Schlein

New Book by Alice Schlein

I was thrilled to get Alice Schlein's new book, The Liftplan Connection, this week. Alice and I wrote The Woven Pixel together, which was a wonderful experience, learning from each other as we offered information to others. I knew I would want to use her new book, so I started preparing a few weeks ago. I wound a cotton/linen warp and put it on my AVL dobby loom. My loom had been taken apart for quite some time, and when we moved to Vermont Mark and I got it mostly assembled, but it has sat quietly, taking up space, for the year and a half we have lived in this house. It is so nice to have an inspiration that made me want to use this loom again.

What I have done is threaded the loom on a 24-shaft straight threading, and first I am weaving plain weave (all those harnesses for plain weave!) to make curtains for Mark's studio. Then I can use the remaining warp to do studies using Alice's book, and then I can tie on a new warp and do some other work.

I fell in love with this loom when I first saw it--and I still think it is one of the prettiest looms around. But I have hardly used it in the almost 20 years that I have owned it. I remember early on, complaining to a senior member of the AVL team about threading the loom, how difficult it was for me, and his response was, don't you put on 200 yards and just weave, then tie on a new warp? I guess this was their intention, a loom for production weavers, but at that time I was usually making 3 or 4 yard warps, each different for my work, and usually threaded differently too. So no, I couldn't put on long warps and when done tie to it. In hindsight maybe I should have realized that this wasn't the ideal loom for my needs and just loved it far afar. But I didn't, I bought it, and have dragged it around the country with me, taking it apart each time, putting it back together, just to have it sit idle, but pretty.

I have tried to sell the loom on and off, right now it is on, and just after I threaded the loom (still a struggle, I just don't enjoy that aspect of working on this loom) I got a call from someone who might be interested. I have just started weaving and I do think the action is fantastic--so light to lift 12 shafts, and everything is working smoothly. I have a compu-dobby box for the loom, but since I am doing plain weave, I am leaving the manual dobby attachment on the loom until I have a need to do fancy designing in the lift plan. Even then, I might just peg some designs before switching out the dobby boxes. Meanwhile I am reading Alice's book and thoroughly enjoying it.

The book is not a replacement for The Woven Pixel. We have information in there for dobby looms, but not as much as for jacquard design. This book deals exclusively with dobby design and also it has more information on Photoshop Elements than in our book (though it is in there too). Personally I would recommend that all weavers have both books on their shelves.

AVL Dobby Loom
24-shaft compudobby,
currently set up with manual dobby

I got some offline comments from friends about my discussion about functional work versus my art work. I want to make it clear that I did not say anything about good, better, best in my comments. It was not a value judgement--but I definitely think the two types of work demand different ways of thinking and acting by me, and it was those differences that I was referring to.

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