We're great believers in ergonomics, no matter what the field. And weaving seems to be one of those things that just screams for a bit of discussion on the topic. One hears stories in so many cultures about weavers who become "too old and beatup" to weave, and are relegated to spinning with the 6 year olds... The shame, the humiliation, and most of all the waste! Being engineers ourselves, we have a good idea of how much keyboarding abuse the human body can take for instance, and there are many good ideas developed in the electronic sweatshops of the late 20th century that could really improve the mechanics of older sitting skills such as weaving.
So one of us here is your standard-issue female person, absolutely average US size. She buys shoes with abandon, without any more thought than that of her bank account. But the other is one of those large solid peasant types, with feet to match. Good thing she's into sensible shoes, or she'd be buying high heels at drag shops. And our friend Alfred is even worse, he's tall, he's wide, he's got the paws of a St Bernard puppy. His knees bang in the beaters, he teeters balancing on benches, the only amazing thing is watching those fingers thread the most delicate of heddles. Both of us have had problems with treadles. They're just too close. We can see that they can't be too far apart or we'd be swishing back and forth like orangutangs. But it's not funny when we have to hold our feet sideways to delicately press a middle treadle. You should have seen the contortions when the broken toe couldn't do without the hospital bootie. It's all perfectly ridiculous, and not a good way to treat your body. And Alfred also suffers from a ballet-level turnout at the hips, which makes it uncomfortable to hold his legs too close together for very long. This is a problem we've also seen in old ladies with hip dysplasia.
Alfred has figured out an easy way to adapt a twill treadling to a more big-body friendly configuration. You remember, don't you, that the standard treadling tie-up goes like this:
1 & 3 1 2 3 4 2 & 4What Alfred proposes is the following:
1 & 3 1 3 2 4 2 & 4This allows you to alternate feet, swinging them more naturally, and to keep them at least one treadle apart almost all the time. Neat, eh? And this principle can be kept in mind when designing tie-ups for most any pattern.
Alfred insists that I tell you that he didn't invent this, it's all been done before. But he did think of it by himself, so I think he gets credit. At least for unventing in an Elizabeth Zimmerman sort of way.
First published: 7/18/02
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