Sunday, October 4, 2020

About time, warped.

Here's a weird thing I've discovered about being retired, now that I've been at it for a couple of months: A whole lot of my routines and habits were structured around my working life.

To be clear, I'm not talking about setting a morning alarm, commuting to and from work, and all that stuff. Those are the most obvious trappings of a working life and and we're all used to shedding them when we're on vacation. 

Well, assuming we actually go on vacation when we go on vacation, instead of simply scheduling fewer meetings and phone calls than we would during a regular workweek. You laugh, but I just got done working for twenty years for attorneys who would do just that. One guy always spends a week with his family every summer at a resort in the Adirondacks where there's no wi-fi, and no cellphone signal unless you get in a canoe and hike up to the other side of a mountain or something. A few years ago, I learned he's begun driving into the closest little town during this nominally unplugged week to get some work done. 

Come to think of it, that's about when I started keeping an eye on my work email when I would go on vacation.

Anyway, back to my original point: It's easy, and obvious, to turn off the alarm on the weekend. More insidious are the hidden compromises on your time. For instance, I got into the habit of doing laundry very late on Sunday nights. For several years I lived in an apartment building with shared laundry facilities; if I started my laundry late enough, I wouldn't have to wait for a dryer. I considered a 1:30am bedtime on Sunday nights a small price to pay for that luxury. Besides, I could sleep in on Saturday and Sunday in preparation (assuming the cats would let me).

Another example: My go-to time for grocery shopping gradually became 8:00pm on a Monday night. The produce section would be kind of picked over, but almost nobody was in the store then and the checkout lines were non-existent -- and shopping in an empty store became much more important once the virus hit and the mere thought of leaving the house could fill one with existential dread.

I don't need to make those compromises anymore. Moreover, if I don't get something done one day, it isn't a big deal if I let it slide to the next day. Or the day after that. Of course I have certain deadlines -- the rent is still due on the first of the month -- but it doesn't matter if I don't get up in time to go to the farmers' market. There's always next week.

Which is partly why it took me two months to figure out how to use my ginormous new loom. 

Alert hearth/myth readers will recall that I took a two-day weaving workshop a couple of years ago. I had to buy a rigid-heddle loom for the class, and I've used that loom for a couple of projects since then. But the cloth my little loom turns out is only 15 inches wide, max. I figured out pretty fast that there were only so many 15-inch-wide projects I was going to be interested in making; if I wanted to weave something more practical, like cloth for a garment, I would need a wider loom.

So when my attorneys asked me what I would like for a retirement gift, I suggested they get me an 8-shaft table loom. After several rounds of negotiations, plus consultations with the retailer when it was clear I didn't know as much about table looms as I thought I did, we settled on the medium-sized loom. However, that one was on backorder; the largest-sized loom was not. And that's how I ended up with a ginormous loom.

There are a number of differences between a rigid heddle loom and a table loom, but one of the biggest is the way you warp it. This has nothing to do with Star Trek. If you look at a piece of woven fabric -- say, a dress shirt -- you can see the threads that make up the fabric go in two directions. Let's call them up-down and right-left. To make fabric, the up-down threads have to be tied onto the loom; the right-left threads are then woven through the up-down threads. The up-down threads are the warp and the right-left threads are the weft. Tying on the warp threads is called warping the loom

With me so far? Okay. There are a few methods for warping a loom, but they basically fall into two camps. One is the direct method, which is what I've always used to warp my rigid heddle loom. The other is the indirect method, which requires the use of a thingum called a warping board. I asked for a warping board along with the loom, and the guys bought it for me. 

The order came in several shipments, some from the retailer and several directly from the manufacturer in New Zealand. Once I got everything, I put it all together -- loom, stand, and warping board -- and there it all sat, silently rebuking me, for about a month and a half. I was intimidated by the thought of warping that ginormous loom. It was easy to put it off for another day, and another day, and...

Finally, a few weeks ago, I set myself a deadline: Either get the loom warped by the end of September or fold it up and admit you're never going to do it. So last week, I sucked it up. I dug out a pattern for a small project I'd made on the rigid heddle loom, spent a bunch of quality time with YouTube videos, and figured everything out. Of course I screwed up a couple of times, but I made it work. The loom was warped! 

And now that I've done it once, I feel confident I can weave a full-width project. Maybe I'll even try something more complex than a plain weave. I'll keep y'all posted.

Speaking of deadlines, the folks at NaNoWriMo have been sending me emails every few days, reminding me that I can announce my November project any time now. Yeah, thanks for nagging me, guys. 

Actually, I got an idea for the new novel today. I need to roll it around in my mind a little more, but I think it'll turn out to be a fun read -- and gods know we could all use a fun read right about now. Stay tuned...


These moments of bloggy warp and weft have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay vigilant -- the virus is still out there. Social distance and wear a mask!

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