Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fitness and the loom


I have woven standing at one sort of loom or another for the last 5 years.  I started tapestry weaving at Northern New Mexico Community College (now Northern New Mexico College) working on Rio Grande standing looms.  Then I made one and wove in my own studio.  Now I am weaving on a Glimakra which has been raised on 2 by 6’s.  The secret to weaving standing up (unless you have a walking loom) is locking treadles.  I highly recommend locking treadles on any loom wider than about 36 inches on which you are going to weave tapestry.  Of course if you are one of those “normal” tapestry weavers who uses an upright loom (where you can actually see the piece you’re working on and sit without hunching over like you’re 90 years old), then you don’t need to heed my suggestion.  Your loom already has “locking treadles” anyway.  I’m hoping I can figure out some way to put locking treadles on the Harrisville rug loom I just acquired.  If you’re a carpenter and need a project, let me know.

I like the biomechanics of standing while weaving.  It feels easier on my body, though still hard on the neck and shoulders.  As I approach the tender young age of 37, and considering the prior post about McDinner and Yoga Journal, I have been thinking more about fitness (yes, I know that as a health care provider I should have been thinking about fitness much earlier than 36… but we all think we’re immortal for much of our lives, don’t we?). 

I’ve got this bug lately to learn a little bit about rock climbing.  This may have come from a chapter I read in an adventure book by a woman who solo climbed Half Dome.  Now, I have no desire whatsoever to find myself on a multi-day climb sleeping 1000 feet off the nearest horizontal surface (or at least the one that gravity would take me to should that little piece of metal stuck in the rock upon which my weight is resting fail)… and really that might be more about the questions surrounding the guy who is hanging on his little hammock just ABOVE me on the rock.  I mean, I totally expect that he would pack out his poop—climbers do this on long climbs, right?   But what guy isn’t going to pee over the edge of that little shelf he is sitting on?  I don’t want that particular shower.

But perhaps a climbing wall would be an appropriate place to start learning to climb.  My legs are in fair shape considering I haven’t been inside a gym in at least 9 years—and all that standing at the loom has to help, right?  But my arms are whimpy little twigs that wouldn’t hold me up for a second.  So I was hoping that climbing might increase my upper body strength—you know, so I could look like those gals in the Athleta catalogs.  But I have disturbing flashes of myself hanging from one hand, other arm and two legs flailing for purchase, me hoping that my screams of terror aren’t disturbing the 5-year-old who is 15 feet above me on the wall, and the person belaying me yelling, “You’re only 2 feet off the ground!  Let go!”  Maybe there is a private climbing gym for those of us who don’t own anything made by Prana and who don’t think we could manage this activity with a paper bag over our heads… you know, sort of a private climbing wall for the inept.

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