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We all know that the subconscious is a powerful thing.  Something I experienced today, and many times in the past, shows just how much it works in everyday things. 

I’m doing sample weaving at the moment, with lots of plain weaving and overshot picks.  I have a 24shaft AVL Compu-dobby loom.  For those new to weaving, this is a big loom, with 24 metal and wood shafts that hold the heddles (or eyes) through which the warp is threaded.  The heddles are metal as my loom is some 30 years old.  The action of the loom is a lifting one.  When I want to separate the threads to insert the weft yarn, I press a foot pedal which raises all the shafts that I want to use.  The gap between the threads on the raised shafts, and the threads on the shafts which stay down is where I place my weft yarn. 

So far so good.  The only problem is that when you are weaving plain weave on 24 shafts, you are lifting 12 shafts at a time – half the warp on one pick (row) with alternate ends, and half the warp on the remaining ends on the next pick.   As the width of the warp increases or the closer the warp is set, the weight becomes heavier because the number of heddles is increased.  I am weaving with 17” out of a possible 36” with the warp sett at 24 ends per inch.  So the lifts aren’t as heavy as they could be, but heavy enough.  The AVL loom has two pedals – the right one to lift the shafts, the left one to move the selection on to the next pick.  So my right leg does all the lifting.  And my right knee is beginning to complain after 13 years of weaving on this loom. 

I was weaving a series of samples where the first one uses an overshot pick after each plain weave pick.  Overshot is a weave where you raise blocks of threads in order to create areas of floats where the weft yarn doesn’t intersect with the warp.   These are comparatively lighter than the plain weave picks.  The second sample had two picks of plain weave between each overshot pick; the third and fourth samples had four picks of plain weave before each overshot pick. 

When I was focused on my weaving, everything went smoothly, but every so often, as with most people, my mind would wander a little, and I would lose my conscious awareness of where I was in the weaving.  If my subconscious was expecting a plain weave pick, and the next pick was actually an overshot one, my right leg pushed way too hard and slammed onto the ground as it didn’t encounter the resistance it was expecting.  On the other hand, if my subconscious was expecting an overshot pick, and it was actually a plain weave pick, the effort to push the pedal down to raise the plain weave shafts was really hard. 

It made me stop to think just how powerful the subconscious mind is.  We’ve all heard stories of mums who save their children through doing feats of extraordinary strength which normally they would never be able to contemplate.  So it just makes me realise how much our own minds can limit what we achieve.  If our subconscious believes we can do something, even though it would appear that we physically shouldn’t have the strength, we can achieve it.  Mental muscle!

Hmmmm.  Food for thought!!