It’s A Mechanical Skill!

Echoing in my mind are the words of Bob Bailey, “Training is a mechanical skill.”

Mat work with Adam

When I look back at my old training notebooks I’m continually amazed how disorganized it is.  Today I’m not as organized as I wish I am and to be honest its just plain hard to quantify some things like matwork where I’m using what I call “The Tube Of Joy” (a gootube filled with canned dog food).  Sometimes it is better to qualify things so that you can work on your own skills.  Other times, you really need the numbers to see where you are in training.  But it all requires that the human work on their skills.  Clicking at the right time, presenting the food in the right place and not doing things like reach for you bait bag before clicking.

Spinning Is A Mechanical Skill

Our crafts we do are also mechanical skills.  Those with better fine motor control have the advantage of being able to pick things up easier and more accurately while those of us not so blessed take a longer time to hone their skills.  Above I’m working on my yarn handling skills.  This is something I learned fairly recently and I still need to concentrate on it.  Now watch this video.

See how smoothly the spinner winds the yarn onto the spindle.  Look at how the weavers warp using simple sticks to produce a very tight, even warp.  This shows the skills these spinners and weavers have learned over years and years of spinning and weaving.

Beginner yarn is, well, beginner yarn.  You have not developed your muscles, your eyes and your touch to the point where you can draft and spin a yarn that you want. And it is an ongoing process.  You don’t learn overnight  to spin worsted and then switch to fine lace and then to a controlled thick and thin to be a part of a novelty yarn.  You also don’t learn overnight to reach for the right tool for the right job.  Since I have more than one wheel and spindle I know that I’ll want a different one for fine silk, while I’ll reach for my Louet S-10 to ply a bulky yarn.

My Fleece Runner

It’s even more important when learning to weave.  Throwing a shuttle and selecting the right treadle are easy compared to making decisions about warping, materials, the loom, and what is the right tension for the job.  The tension for linen or a rug will be different than what you use for a superwash wool baby blanket.  The reason weavers have lots of tools is because different jobs while weaving require different tools.

Your mom may love your early weaving no matter what it looks like, but over the long haul you need to hone your skills.  Sloppy weaving is just plain sloppy, shoddy to use the more accurate term.  I would never take the fleece runner above to a show.  The beat is uneven, I realize now that Icelandic was not the best choice I could have made for the locks used and believe it or not, I didn’t use a temple.  This little piece was done on the rigid heddle, but I still could have used a temple.

Easter Basket Scarf

Here is another piece I wish I had used a temple on.  It’s my very first piece on the rigid heddle loom and I was anxious to get started.  However, I did put it in the gallery for SOAR 2009 because this piece showed the yarn off so well.  This picture really shows the uneven edges.  Temples are tools and you can still get an uneven edge using one, but it helps me a lot.

I could go on about knitting , quilting, or any other craft.  Its a mechanical skill no matter if we are talking about your physical muscles or your mental muscles.  And what does it take to become proficient?  Practice plain and simple.  Many hours of spinning, many warps, many throws of the shuttle, many hours spent with pencil and paper calculating warp and weft needs before you ever even order the yarn.


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