Friday, April 01, 2005

Weaving is Applied Mathematics

This thought popped into my head in those wee sleepless hours this morning. I know it's true, and I know what it means to me. But it is true to varying degrees for different weavers, different weaving, and it is inclusive: dyeing, knitting and other handcrafts involve math skills too.

I think of what I do as intuitive. Although it does involve some calculations, they are simple ones: adding, subtracting and multiplying. There is some geometry in the graphic images I use, but it's mostly all about color, in plain or simple weaves. And adapting, when complications arise, rather than planning so well that they don't arise.

All of this being said, weaving still involves that math part of the brain, and I'm counting on that (pun intended) to keep me from early dementia. If I keep doing those mental math calculations, simple though they may be, perhaps I can stave off confusion. One can hope!

Today I set up a simple copper pipe loom to weave some silk bookmarks:

copper pipe band loom

This is a variation on Archie Brennan's copper pipe loom, with some adjustments made based on Rachel Brown's Hopi Loom. Sarah Swett, in her upcoming book Kids Weaving, has great instructions for making, warping and using a loom like this.

I'm trying to find out the best dimensions for a band loom. Usually I make it about 30" x 12". Outside dimensions of this version are 18" by 12" with the weaving area being 14" x 12". This is as small as is practical, shorter than this and the shed is too hard to pull; a longer weaving area would give a better shed.

Now see, math skills might have been able to calculate this: I did it experientially. But I also get nice silk bookmarks in the process!


Blogger Colleen said...

Ummm, call me crazy, but why a copper pipe? Just aesthetics? What you had lying around the place?

5:12 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

oh! because it's easy, cheap, and accessible. I can build without real building skills. It's portable, and break-downable (creating language as we speak), and it's effective. It's like tinkertoys. Exchangeable parts.

5:42 AM  
Blogger said...

I'm curious: why what looks like a tensioning cord around the bottom bit?

1:03 PM  
Blogger said...

Oops, I think I get it: is it because the bar to which both the tensioning cord and the band are fixed isn't itself fixed in place? (I think I need a good dose of 3/1 twill cardweaving--I'm feeling a bit foggy-headed at the moment....)

1:06 PM  

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