Back at the beginning of November, I got a new-to-me loom. It was one of those via-via things: the owner of the loom died last year, and her son was finally cleaning out her condo. The son’s partner is in an artist’s collective with a good friend of mine, who heard about the available loom and asked if I was interested, with the caveat that they wanted it gone quickly.
Did I want it? Of course! Could I transport it, and did I have room for it, and do I really need another loom? No, no, and no. But I really miss weaving. My jack-type Artisat loom is in the Room-Formerly-Known-as-My-Studio, and currently known as my bromate’s digs. There is no other place I can put the loom, since it has to be locked away from the cats (all those strings and threads and ribbons and dangly bits: can you say “vet bill,” boys and girls?).
The only place I could realistically put another loom was in the laundry room. But that’s a problem, too, since the laundry room is a communal space, and I rent out a suite in my house. It doesn’t seem fair to the tenants to clutter up a space they use as well.
But the lure of a free loom was too strong! I told my friend to tell her colleague to tell her partner that I would gladly and gratefully provide a good home for the loom. Two days later, the son showed up in a pickup truck with two of his friends and unloaded a Fanny counterbalance loom into my garage. Not only that, but there were three big garbage bags of accessories; spools of wool, linen, cotton, and acrylic; a dismantled tapestry loom; and half a dozen weaving books.
I offered to cut off the work-in-progress so the generous man could have his mom’s last work from this loom. He hesitated but then declined. I’m glad, because now I can keep working on the loom without having to retie everything and worry about the warp’s tension, but his hesitation means that when I am finished with this warp, I will give that initial piece to my friend to give to her colleague to give to her partner. Because I bet he really does want it.
In that first picture above, I’ve just hemmed the multicoloured piece the original owner was working on, and inserted a couple of spacers (the cotton ribbon) that she’d used at the beginning of the piece. After that, I had planned to insert a some brown paper spacers since I wanted to leave enough room to tie up the warp in cute little tufts. But it turns out most of my brown paper spacers are just an inch or so too narrow (I use liquor store bags, mostly). So I tore an old frayed pillowcase into strips and used that instead:
I only figured out enough of the tie-ups to get a plain tabby weave for the spacers, but there’s some complicated stuff going on down there. It’s hard to walk in to this warp partway through with no idea what’s going on. I’m not a particularly experienced weaver, so it’ll be a challenge to map the treadling onto a pattern (instead of the other way around). Worst case scenario, I can just use the plain weave (treadles 5 & 6, no problem!). Here are the tie-ups:
Once I placed all those spacers, it was time to advance the warp a bit to move the working area forward to where I like it. That’s when I discovered that the friction brake wasn’t working. I think this is the same brake system as on my Artisat loom, but since that one has always worked well, I’ve never really paid attention to it. The connection between the brake’s foot pedal and the spring at the back was unstrung, so I figured that out and fixed it, but the mechanism still didn’t work. Further inspection showed that the coils had slipped their tracks a bit. You can see here that the coil on the far side is up on the rim:
This is after I hauled out an old screwdriver, loosened the brake tension, and gently pushed the coil on the close side into place. I remembered to take a picture before I finished the job. The warp advanced beautifully once I’d sorted that out, so I called it a day. I’m all set up now to start a piece of my own on this warp.
I forgot to mention that I also had an electrician come in to install another overhead light fixture. The laundry room has always been kind of dim, so now there’s an extra light over the loom. My bromate donated a floor lamp from his room.
The little round black table covered in brown paper and equipment was my Danish grandmother‘s bobbin-lacemaking table. The yellow chair is from her kitchen. She taught me to make bobbin lace, to handspin, to use a drop spindle, and to weave when I was just a little kid. The only thing I really took to was the bobbin lace, but in the last few years I have started weaving. I don’t have any of her equipment, but I do have some of her books, which have been helpful. Plus it is so wonderful to see her old-fashioned European handwriting in the books, and to come across her little notes.
The laundry room isn’t ideal. But at least I have a place to weave again even though my studio is currently occupied!