We volunteered – rather I was Shanghaied – to help take apart and reassemble a computerized loom. Be careful what you agree to do. Be very careful!! There are a lot of moving parts. A lot! I took along blue tape and we numbered each section with matching numbers as they came apart. (The tape faced the same way and the numbers matched. Brilliant!) To be sure, the reassembly was hell. But my numbers matched despite disagreement on how it should be. READ: The numbered blue tape is immutably located! I prevailed and the job was done in mere hours. It did not rattle and there are only a couple extra bolts lying around. It could’a been worse. Yes, let me say once more, it could’a been worse. A lot! Computerized loom? I don’t know. They cost upwards the price of a small car. Me? I’ll take the car.
The Saga: Colleen has admired the Rick Reeves handmade wheel – whispers, dreams. In a house full of spinning wheels and looms, what would be the impact of one more wheel? Don’t laugh – too hard. The internet revealed a Reeves wheel for sale – the one and only, and on the day I searched, the only one for sale. Package and ship cross country? The cost was nearly one third the price of the wheel. The box was substantial and the packing weight was nearly equal the weight of the wheel. Safe? Yes! As you can see, there was much joy!
The Amish are odd because of their habits – no buttons or zippers on their clothes. And they do not use electricity or machine power. The hay baler is not powered, I guess. We all live amonst one another in peace. No pictures please. You know me. There’s never been a rule I didn’t try to break. Sorry. The rule in “Street photography” is that in “public” you are fair game for photography. It doesn’t mean I will photograph if you are in an embarrassing position. But otherwise…. that weaving device was one of the few I did not buy. What is it? Dunno. It would’ve been a good conversation starter.
That would be past tense of killed. I’m a dead husband after this post. Oh well… we laugh a lot around here. What do you do during a pandemic and you’re home alone? My brother was once a stock day trader from home dealing with the big stock brokers and would laugh to trade shares over the phone wearing just his underwear. Yeah yeah, you get where I’m going. Someone got distracted early one morning and started winding a warp before breakfast. I don’t think there’s any family who follows my blog regularly. They will (all, I hope) miss this. Meanwhile, just about any and everybody else in the world will know.
Que? … that we have and eat healthy fruit – banana, grapefruit, apple …. you’re all peering at the background, right?
Me? Dead ham. I’m dead ham. If I didn’t mention you’d never notice….
… the opposite of minimalist. I wish. Ha! We are close to clutter. But not! Call it cozy. Call it busy. What weaver wouldn’t kill for a studio like this? Barn loom and four modern looms. I have cameras – lots. Looms (five) are bigger and standout in a room. Alas, we have looms in the living room. Don’t forget the great wheel! And we have beer mugs – lots. My Nantucket baskets await. I shall give them away one day. Ha ha.
Consider it home. We (truly) live in it. It’s a happy home. Did you peek into the background? There’s something to catch your eye everywhere. Meaning and memories abound, stories to regale you of adventure and fun, not clutter, but about love. If there were only one beer mug it would just be a representative of the genre, a commemorative. But, each one after is a memory of place and travels. Yes, we’ve been around a bit. …making up for lost time. Yup, stuffed…with love.
During covid I am down to two chief subjects, my cats and flowers. Boring is good. It means we are safe and sound. I have joined Colleen in obsessing over weather. I have four different weather apps open and one beach cam. And we cook and eat. …repeat. Colleen asked me to photograph her handicraft and mine. We completed these projects among others. Spinning fiber to yarn; weaving yarn to material, scarves; weaving Nantucket baskets. I’m not bragging; the girl’s got talent. Me? I’m better than I was but not as good as I’m gonna be.
Weaving. Colleen wove this in a week. It was a sampler demonstrating double weave. ??? I think. Who knows? I was on my own to explore Amish country. Quaint. It is a clash of modern vs old. Horse and buggy, bicycle without pedals, modern hay baler pulled by horse, clothing without buttons, it’s just so dyssynchronous.
There are many who gawk. (Guilty, me.) The folks are oblivious. They tolerate. There’s no choice. They are out in the public. Or, that would make me rude. Sorry. A camera and me? There’s no way i pass up a photo op. I just do my best to be discrete.
Since I know Colleen we have been taking pictures of barn looms. I shoot to see the tie up and set up. Fascinating?! Well, we bought a real one a couple years back. It dates back to the revolutionary war period – old, real old. And then we won another one in a chance pick up from a man who got a pile of wood at a government auction and didn’t know what to do with it. (The name – they kept them in barns, or the construction of the loom was like constructing a barn.) No one knows. After a couple of years, it works. I built the harnesses. And we tied the heddles – hand tied – my surgical skill came in handy. It works! Did I say that? We actually… Colleen is actually weaving with it. Ain’t that grand?
What to do on a rainy day and with no where you can go? Hey? Have you considered all the gas and money? We’re spending no money at home. And we’re not driving, so, no gas consumption. It’s good, right? Colleen set up her loom. This one was a trade-out. She swapped looms with a woman. Neither (woman) liked theirs (loom, not husband, silly). It’s been a while (months). It just takes time to set up. It would help if we could find the manual. But… at last, product! It’s placemats. Colleen likes table linen. We have a lot of placemats. So, alas, gifts – it seems I never get to keep the gorgeous product around to show off her skills. Someone is gonna be a very pleased recipient.
The beauty of inviting anyone to dinner is that you have to straighten and clean. Our tables were covered – with projects and stuff. Of course! The aftermath of cleaning: It’s still cluttered. And there is a screen of drying wool locks – we took it away later. I daresay we have a way to go in order to be minimalist. (I don’t think that is ever happening.) Shhh… it’s all hiding – the stuff. Tomorrow we shall begin again – to take out what we work with. And upstairs, behind me, is the office I use. There’s no path thru the room. I have things on the floor while I sort and search. Yes, the great room is full of weaving implements – too numerous to name… and ah! bundles of artificial flowers! What to say: “Home!”
As long as we are talking technique, let me mention background. Most folks forget to look at the clutter in the background. You know, the stuff behind your subject. … like the light pole sticking out of some loved one’s head. Clutter. Distraction. Ha! I often find myself looking at the background to see the clutter that got “snuck” into someone else’s photo. Oh well, no one likes a messy background. It’s distracting and shows that you were not paying attention when you tried to focus on your foreground subject.
No one likes a cluttered messy home. “Minimalist” is “in” these days. Me, us, we seem to have accumulated an assortment of weaving and spinning things that would do any shopkeeper proud. Nice stuff. Displayed. We do work with most of the stuff you can see. (There’s more!!) Since, we are not entertaining in the near future, anything goes. A lot of fiber equipment is out and in use. This is not a display so much as it is a workshop of “in progress” projects. It’s home. And, it feels like it, though I laugh because not even the cats can make a straight line across the room.
… two spinning wheels, two looms, winder, lazy kate, carder, great wheel, fiber, ball winder… we’re not showing off. We – mostly Colleen – have many projects simultaneously in progress. …and, nary a cat in sight. And, I daresay any picture (in this room) unless it’s a closeup will have distracting background to be considered.
Nutley, so named because, he’s NUTS!, has a habit of getting on the loom while Colleen weaves. His place/choice of “lying down” spots makes it impossible to weave. Cute! You bet. Everything pauses while we/she waits to continue onward.
Nutley. He’s aptly named because he is – nuts. Curious… curiosity killed … cute as hell, a bit dim in the brain department. I could go on… and on. Suffice to say, he’s a special kitty…very!
I bet you never heard of them. Obvious, it/they are to place under your mug/glass to keep from staining the table beneath. Practical and eminently useful, they are in fact a fancier coaster. And they sell. I see them occasionally in stores. But, since Colleen weaves, we have our own. As in, the shoemaker’s kids have…. They are indeed quite a lot of fun – to make and to see and to use. So, here’s the latest batch fresh off the loom. Someone in our house has talent. Yes!
These are snapshots, out of focus, poorly composed, grab shots if you will. The spinning wheel is an Ashford, akin to a comparable Nikon camera. It is a venerable wheel, well respected among spinners. Who knew? I don’t. But here are the only three owners this wheel has known. Colleen is the third owner. Ha! Of course, how do you pass up a bargain. The previous owner knew the original owner and I met them all at the sale. Imagine that? It’s a small world.
I made these (heddles and the jig)! The jig was supposed to look more professional. This is the experiment – the jig made out of scrap before the final design is agreed upon. Heddles? Any weaver knows. They are made commercially. But we have an old barn loom. The request was for a handmade look. I’ve made/built the harnesses. Why not go ahead and make a jig for heddles too? Are you with me? No? Don’t fret. I have to tie the 8/2 cotton with (surgical) knots to create a hole/eye at the top, bottom, and middle. They need to be consistent. i.e. they need to be uniform. Damn! It ain’t easy. But yes! I started tying the heddles up and realized that my precision tying surgical knots gave me a distinct advantage. Don’t ask. I started. Then I was told there were four harnesses and that each harness required 200 heddles each. Maybe 400. But 200 for now. Per/each! Damn! I got myself into a load of work. Maybe I should make a nicer jig. Nah! No! That would change the eye holes. Yarggggh! Oh well! I’m back to work (OR). Remember that book? – Everything I learned in life, I learned in kinder garten. The very good news is that this operation can take days/weeks as opposed to an operation which is finished in the same calendar day. Oh yeah! I bet you have trouble even knowing what a heddle is? I’ve got about 750 to do as I write this post. Oh boy oh boy…
It (she, the barn loom) was not happy in the basement. Barn loom? You might envision a loom so large it needed to be housed in a barn. Nope. It was made from substantial timber because the builders were used to building barns. This lumber was the material they were used to working with. Oh?! Yeah, me too. I was relieved that it was not a large loom. Big enough. And heavy! Yup, the SOB needed to disassembled and transported upstairs piece by piece. The back beam is a roughhewn tree trunk. Dry, but still one heavy SOB. We squeezed it into a room with four other looms. Why do we need so many (looms)? Ha! I got cameras (digital, don’t ask about film please) TNTC – too numerous to count. But why do we have such a bulky hobby? Well, short answer, you do a lot of different things. Yeah, right. Don’t we all. Bottom line: sunny and happy!
Blown glass, woven fabric: anything lends itself to interesting inspection. The pattern on this woven garment was from individual dyed fiber. It was not printed. The pattern was done with a computerized loom. No, it was not a computer. And it was not done mechanically. It was all done by hand. But the plan and weave were aided such that a more complex pattern could be undertaken. Puzzled? Just take my word that this was a pretty good weave that I could never do in a million years of trying. Do ya think it’s easy? Huh? Ok?
Built them. Me. It was another simple (learning) project. Ha ha, you can’t even see the wood (mistakes). We have a lot of cones of yarn. Projects line up. You can never have enough “stash.” Just ask any weaver. I’ve been to a few estate sales. There were tons of cones on sale for pennies on the dollar. I would have to say that the cones move from home to home circulating from weaver to weaver. Sometimes things are made… Anyway, there is a lot of stuff and an excellent color palette. And I hope some product is forthcoming. Meanwhile it’s nice to see color in the room. Oh! The cords are all up out of the reach of the cats.
Made it. Me. I made it. Them. I recall the words of Barry Schact of Schact Spindle Company. The company started by making spindles from door knobs. It’s pretty simple really. You need a dowel and a round (knob) object. The funny thing is that we visited The Woolery. They had spindles from $12 to $100. And I am sure they are even more expensive as the intricate artwork is embellished. See: “Golding” (like the Ferrari of weaving gear). Duh! So I got an old spinning wheel part (broken and discarded) and a round disc (Michael’s). The dowels are from Lowe’s. We don’t go to Home Depot anymore. They are bad politically. Hooks too. A little stain and finish, done. I guess the price was about $10 – the pair. Oh! Sorry! I got dowels in Michael’s; these were made from wood knitting needles (Michael’s). Dead simple and eminently more economical. Thank you Barry. (We actually met him in Boulder about this time a year ago.)
We took a tour of a factory. Schacht Spindle Company started making spindles and are since famous for their weaving products of which they make well known and well regarded looms and spinning wheels. Barry, the President cordially met us when we showed up unannounced. He personally gave us a tour. The hand made products are made and assembled with highest regard to quality. Improvements are constantly being made. It’s a fine operation. There’s something nice about watching the care and craftsmanship so abundantly on hand as we toured. The sheep were photographed, reproduced and later painted from a trip to Scotland many years ago. Many thanks Barry; we were so impressed.
Fiber, it’s a new world for me. I’m following the process. The interim step is the spun fiber. It’s made into wondrous things – cloth. Pattern is a big part of the process. And this requires multicolored and multi-textured spun material. It’s a fascinating process. I like the graphical component. I like order. Some of the material seems ethereal. Try to focus. The woven products are myriad. Industrialization has made cloth inexpensive. We take it for granted in the everyday products we purchase for almost nothing. Synthetic and throw away it’s hard to believe that the craft is ages old. We value the handwoven and pay pennies for our everyday cloth. You shop Walmart for the price not the quality.
A long long time ago… I was in Peru. Recently, I remembered this image. I shot it for the graphics and color. We were visiting a llama farm. Native women were costumed and weaving. I shot the color and not the technique or style, or loom. Sorry. It was not important to me then. I suppose more detail and the hands would have been a nice touch too. But one image must suffice. It illustrates all. A single image is always an incomplete story. I can recall the trip and the place we were in. The image is an anchor. I remember much of the day. David had llama for lunch later. I would tell you it tasted like chicken, but no, it was more lean and stringy like beef. And in the big picture, we were in Peru because we had attended a wedding in Lima. This leg of the trip was to Cusco and on to Machu Picchu. I took a lot of pictures throughout the trip. This was my weaving photo. One image, a lot of memories….