What the word for when someone stands over you? When they block all the light and suddenly look about a foot or two taller than usual? Sounds like of like the name of that wailing bird you find on northern lakes at dusk? Right, loons. And looms.
At least two of my housemates felt the need to demonstrate that they knew the verb form of the latter when I brought my new toy home – the noun form of the word. They were having way too much fun . . . . looming over the loom.
I Got a Loom!
And no, it hasn’t been the reason for my long absence from writing, but I always find it tedious when bloggers try to excuse themselves for the long silences, so I just tell you that I had an attack of Real Life, and move on.
Herself got onto the email list of one of the LYS, and one day in mid-January, she forwarded one of the newsletters on to me. ‘Want a loom?’ her addendum said, and the text of the newsletter said that one of their customers had a table loom she wanted to get rid of! I emailed the LYS right away, two days after the newsletter first went out, but it was still there! And for about the fifth the price of a new table loom! It looked kind of like this, except that mine is made by Toika Ky. Really, it looks like this!
Looms have thread or yarn going in two directions. The warp is the thread going vertically, from the front of the loom to the back, and it is wrapped around the round bars at the front and the back so that the weaving can progress. The warp starts all wrapped around the back bar, and slowly gets moved to the front bar. Or, that’s what supposed to happen. My loom came with about six inches of weaving all ready done, and then everything had been wound around the front bar. So the first thing I had to do was tie the warp back onto the back bar, and rewind it. And, not unsurprisingly with that many threads, I didn’t tie it exactly the same way the other person had tied it, so there were several threads that were at different tensions. This meant there’s a section, right where I started weaving, that is full of loose threads and odd loops as I worked to even everything out.
The second direction of yarn in weaving is horizontal, the weft. This is the yarn that goes back and forth between the layers of the warp. The warp needs to be prepared in advance, but the weft is prepared and utilized as the actual weaving progresses. Usually, this is done with a shuttle, making it fairly easy to slip the weft through the warp yarn. But if the loom doesn’t have a shuttle, as this one did not, you find you have to pass the weft through in a wadded-up little ball.
It’s not so easy, particularly if you are also trying to get all the warp to have the same tension.
The blue was the previous weaver, and the white is where I started. It was a very rough start.
But then! Mama came to visit and fixed everything!
I picked her up at South Station, and we drove out the the first of three waving supplies stores I had looked up. The first was very friendly and helpful, but had nothing in stock, and did we want to call back on Tuesday to place an order? We took down their number and went to the second place.
And we found the right address, too! And it was a very nice large house. In a residential neighborhood. With nothing around that indicated it might be a weaving store. And we really didn’t feel like knocking on some stranger’s door and asking if s/he had a weaving shop in the basement or something. I called Himself, who looked it up for us, and it was the right address, and here’s the number, too. I called and left a message, and then we drove around the block again. Mama said, “Wait! There’s a loom in the window!” So we parked, and my phone rang, and the woman on the phone said “Yes, we are here, come in, where are you?” as we walked onto her porch.
We spent a long time admiring that woman’s looms. Beth and her shop are just lovely, and I highly recommend them, even if they are difficult to find. She has a room upstairs of some of the smaller floor looms and table looms on legs, and then another room downstairs with the larger looms. And she had shuttles in stocks! Mama bought me a 9 inch Schacht shuttle, and ten bobbins to put in it.
You wrap the yarn around the bobbin, and the put the bobbin into the shuttle, and then pass the shuttle through the layers of the warp, leaving the weft behind. The first time I explained this to Himself, he wanted to know why I was twisting my yarn. It took a few tries to straighten out the meaning of the word ‘warp’!
I wasn’t really looking forward to winding the bobbins by hand, but Mama said not worry. We got home, and she told me to go find a drill bit I didn’t need anymore. She had me wrap the end in duct tape a little, and then stick in in the drill, and the bobbin on the drill bit. Instant bobbin winding machine!
I was very impressed. My housemates just about fell over laughing, but it worked really well! I got all ten bobbins wound in just a few minutes! I turned expectantly to Mama to see what she’d do next. She wandered off into the kitchen and returned with a couple of tea-tins — which are exactly the right size to hold bobbins and the drill bit!
Starbucks tea-tins, to my amusement. I may have mentioned, one of my roommates works there, so we usually have several both empty and full on hand.
So I was all set to work. But, just a few more pictures before I get back to the weaving.
The side and bottom of the shuttle:
And a tool that my mama made me to help warp the loom for next time, which I am going to show off and explain in another post later.
Oh, we also bought the wood and hardware for a warping board to make the next warp, but I haven’t cut it up and put it together yet.
And then, Mama fixed the loom itself! She showed me which threads needed to be replaced so that my harnesses, the pieces that separate the warp so the weft and go between the different layers, would move up and down more smoothly. And since my harnesses were moving too far up and sticking, she showed me where there were little hooks underneath the harnesses that could be tied with elastic so the harnesses could move up, but wouldn’t move too far.
Those little white elastic bits running from the hooks up to the holes on the wood right about the center of the photo? Mama’s idea.
Anyway, so off I wove!
And really pretty quickly, only two weeks perhaps, I was done. I pulled everything through to the front, untied it from the bar, and tied off the ends. I then unwound the front bar all the way, and untied it there and tied off those ends. And so, finally, I was all done with the first piece of weaving I’ve done in ten years! Clearly, not as even as I hope to do later, but taking over someone else’s project is always complicated, and it’s a good practice piece.
Someday, although not on this loom, I hope to be able to weave like this again. This rug lives in our front hall, and has for years (except when the cat dashes down the hall and ruches it up).