Instant Gratification

It is no surprise that weavers have incredible patience, we by nature have to be the kind of person to whom process, no matter how slow, is the whole point. I will sit patiently threading 1000 ends, or painstakingly plod along following a complex treadling sequence, or methodically develop a new weaving draft. In garment making I relish the joy of a series of perfect bound buttonholes, a seam well sewn, a zipper perfectly installed. I’m not a stranger to ripping out, unweaving, or starting over.

I started this 3 color Baltic Pick up based on a new book I got from Annie MacHale. It is soooo slow. But with patience, I’ll get faster and really be able to follow the pick up sequence. I might edit the graph to be more in the way I like to follow pick up. Another few hours of work. No problem.

I just finished the third virtual conference in a month. I taught at the first one, the MAFA conference, but also took some classes, and I attended the second and third, the ASG conference with the American Sewing Guild, and yesterday and today, NEWS, that’s the New England Weavers Seminar. The second two were a series of lectures open to all those who signed up. I’m pretty cross eyed from all the Zoom meetings but the wealth of information and inspiration I’ve immersed myself in this past month has felt like I earned a 2 year college degree. So many techniques to explore and think about and appreciate.

When I come across something that makes my heart sing that took no effort at all, I almost feel like I’m cheating. It can’t be that easy…

I’d listened to ice dyeing programs and lectures before and was really curious about the spontaneity. There is nothing spontaneous about anything I do in the studio. Can you achieve anything decent from just tossing cellulosic fibers into a basin, tossing on ice and then some fiber reactive dye and get something that doesn’t look like you did the craft project du jour?

I listened to Jessica Kaufman in a two hour class I signed up for at the MAFA conference. This past week was the first chance I’d had to actually try this. I thought you needed a lot more equipment, set up, whatever. I thought as everything in fiber turns out to be, it would be way more complicated. Jessica is with Waxon studio, and she is obviously a pro at this technique and teaching it, and teaching it online.

I watched the replay mid week before the replays expired, and decided to gather up some yarn, fabric, scarves and an old vintage cotton napkin that I can’t imagine why was in my stash. The yarns were probably cotton, the scarves rayon, and the fabric a couple yards of rayon challis.

All I needed was some buckets, and some ice. Yes, I presoaked overnight, all the fibers in Soda Ash. I keep that in the studio because I regularly dye yarn with Fiber Reactive Dyes. Then I just scrunched stuff up, secured with rubber bands, and laid gently in hospital tubs. I acquired a huge amount of them during my husband’s long illness. The only thing positive about an extended hospital stay is the great tubs they give you.

I picked up a bag of ice at the grocery store, sprinkled some on, and then sprinkled on some fiber reactive dyes from Dharma Trading. And I let everything sit for 24 hours, as Jessica warned, 24 hours after the ice melts. Jessica also said to Trust the Muck. Meaning it is OK if the ice melts and all the dye pools around the cloth. Trust the Muck.

Well, everything was ready to rinse about 1am going into Friday morning. And yes, I couldn’t wait, so I stayed up and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed and then couldn’t sleep all night because I was so freaking excited by what came out.

Here are a few skeins of yarn…

Here are a couple rayon challis scarves…

Here is my new favorite thing in the whole world, my vintage table napkin that I now use with every meal.

And here is the most gorgeous rayon challis fabric, I’m just gobsmacked looking at this across my cutting table, I can’t wait to figure out how to use this, almost too gorgeous to hide inside a garment as a lining, (which was the whole point in trying this technique, ways to get interesting linings…)

And while I listened to lecture after lecture over the last couple weeks, I came across this drop spindle I had tucked in a bag, with an alpaca silk blend fiber that I had started to spin eons ago. The fiber was from Gale Evans at www.galesart.com and I was sad to read that Gale closed the shop in May of this year, to move on to another medium, giving up fibers and dyeing all together. I know how Gale feels…

And I actually finished a garment in the studio. I’ve been slowly working on handwoven garments, bits at a time while I write script and demo the techniques for my YouTube videos. We just finished shooting the last techniques for this dress, installing an invisible zipper which just dropped Friday, and one for next week on installing a neck/armhole facing. So the dress, which is made from the handwoven Antique Jewels Fabric I wove last year, the draft is a free download available here, is finished and I can’t wait to wear this. The fabric was perfect, it held its shape and was a joy to sew. The pattern is my 1000 swing dress. That’s available as a download (not free) here. It has pockets!

And so dear readers, my life is starting to fill up again, and I’m not sure how I feel about that, but the opportunities are just too much fun, and there are too many fun things to do out there. I managed to get into NYC for the day last week, to the MET, and the Jewish Museum, and to meet up with a dear friend and have sushi down near 28th street. Except for when I was actively eating I wore a mask the entire day, and had no problem doing so, even though I’ve been vaccinated for months. Scary times, covid cases are on the rise, and I’ll continue to wear a mask wherever I go.

Stay safe out there, and learn all the things!

I’ve seen the future…

This past month was pretty intense considering I really haven’t left the house in 16 months. I was reminded how crazy my life was before the pandemic and I kind of didn’t like what I saw. I had a couple of rapid heart beat panic attacks, trying to keep everything straight, and yeah, I don’t want to go back.

I was contracted to teach two in person classes at Peters Valley School of Craft this summer, one the beginning of June, and one the beginning of August (don’t bother to check that class is full!) The June class was beginning weaving, and when I had originally submitted the proposal, quite awhile ago, the world was normal and I planned to team teach with my daughter.

And so after having to shut down for 15 months, the Valley was able to reopen, and kudos to the fiber fellow and her assistant for a Herculean job of cleaning out a weaving studio that had been sealed up for that length of time, up in the mountains of rural Northwest NJ, in the National Park Recreation area. You don’t want to know what took up residence…

The Macomber looms mostly survived, I had a part in replacing all the heddles of all the looms with inserted wire eye, back in 2019, and that process did get completed. Each time I work with those looms, I find more things that can be tweaked and replaced. And I’m happy to do that for the Valley. Keeping looms in top condition is always important to me as a handweaver. I have another huge order into Macomber to upgrade some of the parts for the Peters Valley looms.

Meanwhile, the class happened, we all wore masks, and there were some changes and challenges to the way we use to do things, but nothing that couldn’t be worked out. The class seemed to have a wonderful time, learned a lot and produced some pretty great samplers/towels for their first time at the loom. There were a couple of weavers with some experience, but they were happy to actually learn some basics that they never got since they were self taught.

And of course Peters Valley has an extensive textile library, and in my quest to own all the books, any break I had I left Brianna in charge and sat in the corner checking out what I don’t own and placing a hefty order through Amazon, Biblio, Thriftbooks, and whoever had what I wanted at a price under $900! Seriously, some of these prices for used books is positively hilarious. It would appear that my book collection is worth way more than my 37 looms…

Anyway, I got through that weekend, first time away teaching in a long time, and realized how much I’m not going to miss in person workshops. I have one more to teach and then I’m retiring from traveling. I want to learn all the things. I want to be the one to take workshops, explore new things and play with all my 37 looms and my ever growing yarn stash and textile library. There is some pretty cool stuff out there to try…

Mid month I started a four week online class in Botanical Printing with Kathy Hays. I’ve always loved her work, and she has a self guided class, actually a number of different level classes available online. Always thinking of ways I can alter the surface of cloth for things like linings, and having an extensive property with gardens and ponds and a little paradise here, I wanted to see what was readily available right here just outside the door.

And so the first batch of homework netted some pretty lovely results. The second batch of homework is in the pot simmering as I write…

And then there was the conference…

Did you ever feel as though you are in the middle of experiencing something or some event that will eventually be life and history altering and make the world a better place as a result? This past weekend was the Mid Atlantic Fiber Association Conference, MAFA for short. Every couple years, the regions in the US hold regional fiber conferences, I’ve probably taught at them all, many times, given keynotes at many of them, and I had been originally contracted to team teach a workshop with my daughter for the 2021 MAFA conference, traditionally held at a University in PA.

Obviously that never happened. But most regional conferences either chose to not have a conference this year, or simplify it to just a couple of speakers over a couple of days over a Zoom format. Which is all fine. And I signed up for a couple of them, because why not?

Except MAFA had a very enthusiastic board of directors and a cracker jack team, headed by one of my favorite people, whom I have had the pleasure of working with in a number of classes over the years, decided to attempt what many people thought impossible. They hosted a full on full scale fiber conference, with 840 registrants, over 80 classes, all virtual. There was a virtual towel exchange, a virtual fiber exhibit, and fashion show, there was a virtual vendor hall, speakers, classes, hands on classes, morning coffee, a keynote, evening gatherings and social time, and even chair yoga twice a day. With barely 15 minutes between events, though everything was recorded for viewing later, I barely had time to pee, let the dogs out and back in, and grab food or tea or whatever else I needed before the next event. We started at 8am, and I finally logged off about 9 at night, for four days straight.

Yes, it was exhausting, but not in the way I feel when I do an in person conference. I loved this. I loved everything about it. I wish all conferences could be remote (I know that isn’t a universal opinion, cut me some slack, I’ve done more conferences in my 40 years on the road than you’ll ever do) but I got so much out of this because I could participate in everything. Yes, I taught four classes, two lectures and a two session hands on class in what to do with scraps of handwoven or other fabrics, and students created mats. I got images of many who finished.

I also got to take three lectures, one on botanical printing which was great since I got to see a different focus than the class I’m currently enrolled in, one on ice dyeing which I can’t wait to try, and one on selecting and harvesting basket making materials from your own back yard. I discovered that yes, my yard is full of stuff I can harvest, process, and store for making all kinds of baskets, but that it is all way more work than I probably want to do at this time.

The lectures between the sessions were all fascinating and eye opening, who knew that hemp was the main crop of the early United States, and that Sprang was the textile technique of choice throughout the world prior to the industrial revolution. And Jane Dunnewold’s Keynote address was hands down the best keynote I’ve ever witnessed, and I’ve witnessed a lot.

I’m only just now tapping into all the recorded sessions with the vendors from the virtual vendor hall. There are a lot of new products out there that are catching my interest. And books, yeah, that Amazon truck is showing up daily…

And the fashion show made me smile. All the entrants, including myself, prerecorded a video, submitted it, added images of the process, and gave a lengthy backstory for each submission. It was all put together into an amazing presentation that sets the bar very high for any future in person fashion show.

Yes, there were technical glitches that occasionally happened, but the team did an unbelievable job keeping everything moving forward and I was truly grateful to have witnessed the future of how we can as a community do things bringing people together for a common goal. The technology can only get better.

And so dear readers I’ve seen what we can do as a community, and what technology allows us to share. A year ago I could never have imagined I’d have a YouTube channel with a ton of videos and a lot of followers. A year ago I couldn’t imagine my creative life and one that didn’t involve me going on the road. A year ago I had just moved into my new studio spaces in the house and just started discovering all they had to offer. And the emails are coming in fast with those who want to come and stay for a five day private class in weaving or sewing, airline tickets are booked, and yes, that requires a trip for me to Newark Airport, but I get to then drive home with the student and teach in my own studio, sleep in my own bed, and be in my own creative space and give each student some one on one, personal time. As one person said to me recently on a Zoom gathering, “You mean, no more Daryl Alert?” (You won’t get the reference if you haven’t taken a workshop with me…)

So I’m slowly rewriting my workshop offerings, cutting out those that require me to be somewhere other than here, and though I’m still happy to do the occasional remote lecture for a guild, and possibly a one or two day remote workshop, I want to be here and creative and curious and stress free… I earned it…

What was my problem…

My dearest friend Ginnie says that things you put off get bigger than they really are. I completely identify with this…

Back in October of 2019, in a particularly hellious month of stuff happening, I warped a loom and gathered stuff and headed off to my weaving guild for a three day workshop with Deb Silver, who exploded onto the scene with a very cool technique called Split Shed Weaving.

I actually loved the workshop, and thought the technique was brilliant, and her interpretation of it and what she did with it and how she conducted the workshop were all absolutely brilliant. I actually talked all about the works in a blog post back in October of 2019, you can read about it here, but you’ll have to scroll pretty far down because that month was so full of stuff I’m thinking the blog went on for pages… (I actually cringe when I read some of my past blogs and realize how out of my control my life was most of the time.)

I was in the middle of what I thought was a pretty cool sample when the workshop ended, no problem, I’ll just pick it up when I get home…

Hahahahahah!

I think I left the next day for parts unknown, and when I got back, we started the plans for the possible studio rennovation. The looms got packed, yarn and books and shuttles and tools all got packed up and moved, shelving units were relocated, and the rest is history.

The loom was nicely set up in the new studio on an adjustable workbench from Home Depot, alongside my daughter’s version, she took the workshop with me as well.

And there it sat. In March of 2020 I hit the road yet again for Oregon, and of course, the rest is history. I have been home since then, reinventing myself and how I work, not sitting still for one minute, but every time I walk over to that loom, to dust or get a reed, which is in a rack right behind that loom, I look at it and feel guilty. It isn’t like I needed the loom for anything. I have 35 looms, or did at the time, now I have 37. Yeah, I know…

The problem is, I can’t remember what I was doing. There must have been 50 pages in the handout. Everything was tied together, there were four shuttles involved in this specific sample. Five if you count the one with the warp color on it. I even sat down one afternoon and tried to make sense of it. I quickly gave up.

My daughter of course wandered over after some very obvious vocal frustration on my end and looked and said, “Oh, you are doing polychrome Taqueté.” Really? I hate when she does that… And yet, there are times when I think I’d be lost without her.

And then I remember, I’m pretty good at what I do. I’m pretty good at figuring things out when I put my mind to something. I’m spatial and good with sequences and have good deductive reasoning. There is no earthly reason why this should vex me so.

I actually had a free weekend last weekend, with nothing technically on the calendar and I think it rained all weekend so there was really nothing to do outside or in the garden or going for my daily long walk. There was nothing to do but prep for upcoming classes, plan warps, update handouts, update databases, all stuff that forever sits on my to do list but really, I just kept looking at that loom and said, this will be what I do today if it kills me.

And so I unpacked the shuttles, started to study what shed they came out of, and the sequence they came out in, and looked at the information for split shed weaving, and the cheat sheet for Polychrome Taqueté. Just an FYI, this really complex looking thing is done on a straight draw in carpet warp on four shafts. Really. This is not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination.

Seriously, what was my problem…

Within 15 minutes, the lights went on in my head and I suddenly realized that there were only two possible sheds, and that this was a simple structure that was pretty easy to execute. I’m sort of embarrassed.

So I began. It felt good. Really really good. After almost two years, I figured it out. But of course, I had help.

Mulder the shop cat has to be into everything I’m doing.

He finally settles down and curls up on what I’m weaving. Sigh…

Once I encouraged him to move along, I just kept going. I watched the rain from the windows and kept weaving.

I got into a nice rhythm with four stick shuttles on a table loom. Once in awhile I’d realize I made a mistake, and I was proud of myself for being able to go back a row or two.

And by that evening, I was finished the sample and could cut off the warp.

I wet the samples, and a few days later stitched them across and cut them apart.

It doesn’t look like much, but I’m really really proud of myself for figuring it out and finishing. This whole experience has made me realize that there are so many fun things out there to try that I just don’t have enough hours in the day to ‘learn all the things’. This is becoming a goal of mine, to retire from teaching, hence the brain dump of everything I know about creating handwoven clothing into my YouTube channel, The Weaver Sews, and then being able to play, to create, to try all the things. My textile library is ginormous, and my resources and raw materials grow exponentially without much effort on my part. I do not know why…

And in case you were wondering about the progress on restoring the rescued Macomber, parts are starting to roll in from them, and as I get a package, I install the parts. New aprons, a new friction brake on the upper warp beam, 200 inserted eye heddles on each shaft. Lots of other little pieces replaced or repaired. A lamm depressor installed. Just waiting for the bench, and the most critical piece, the dog and spring for the sectional beam ratchet. Somehow that didn’t make it in the original shipment of parts. She is starting to look whole again.

And so dear readers, I made something that was no big deal into something that was overwhelming to me, until I realized it wasn’t and then I was pretty annoyed with myself for letting this thing get bigger than it really was. I wonder if I do that in any other areas of my life…

Stay tuned…

It’ll be fine…

My daughter has a snippy saying, when she has had enough, or doesn’t want to engage further, she will look at me and say in a really dismissive attitude, “It’ll be fine”. Sometimes it relates to I’m being overly worried about something, or sometimes it means, that whatever she is doing, it is good enough and I should stop thinking that she should do it differently.

It is one of those sayings that I have learned to embrace and hate at the same time. Really, in most of life, most things are really fine, they will be fine. But sometimes that statement can be a sort of shorthand for, “I’m really being lazy and don’t want to see what else I can come up with…”

This all started when I went wandering through my yarn stash, just to see what would spark my interest. I found a bunch of hefty cones of a Silk City Fibers Skinny Majesty, a very slippery rayon bouclé, in a color probably long since discontinued, probably part of a stash I purchased from another weaver long ago. There were probably 6 or 7 pounds of it. I really love the color and I had hoped, since many of Silk City’s variegated yarns are engineered with a repeat, that I could get an ombré effect out of it.

Though I usually don’t pick wefts, I always sample first, I had four cones of this beautiful Wool Crepe tweed on the right, which I recently purchased from the same Silk City Fibers during a sale. I like how Wool Crepe washes, it is very springy and does collapse a bit. I thought it would tame the very slippery rayon.

My four shaft Tools of the Trade 32 inch loom was crying for a warp, as of tonight I still haven’t received my shipment of parts to rebuild the Macomber loom (tracking stopped saying USPS was going to deliver it tonight), and so over the past couple weeks or so while I’ve been waiting, I wanted to warp up another loom. My looms are much happier when they are warped.

I pulled my trusty copy of Marguerite Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book and started leafing through and found this really lovely block huck structure called Julia Larrabec’s Linen. There was a lot of surface interest, in different blocks, but all on four shafts.

I tried for a couple of days to find a repeat in the Skinny Majesty Variegated. I gave up. So I searched for other Skinny Majesty yarns, in solids that would coordinate, for the separate block areas where there is a collapsing huck lace weave. I did a yarn wrap. I thought this would work.

I wound the warp in short order, and threaded the loom pretty quickly. At the start of last week I was ready to weave.

I really wasn’t impressed. There wasn’t a lot of contrast with the warp, and I was honestly disappointed, the colors were so gorgeous on the cones. I showed my daughter. She said, “It’ll be fine.”

I sent a picture off to my weaving buddies, and they encouraged me to send a picture of it washed. I really didn’t want to do that because I knew it would collapse, and I really wanted to use this weft, and I really didn’t want to cut off what I’d done and re-tie on, and I was being just really really lazy. It’ll be fine I said to myself.

But it haunted me. I knew I should push ahead and see if I could do better.

I asked my daughter what other colors of wool crepe she had hidden in her bedroom, she has her knitting machine stash up there, and will occasionally abscond with all of a specific type of yarn for projects on the knitting machine.

So there was a beautiful chocolate brown. Sigh.

I started weaving the fabric with the brown, and yes, it did look better. Sigh.

So I just got over myself and cut off the sample and tossed the whole thing in the washer and dryer with a load of clothes.

Yeah, of course it is lovely.

I actually thought that because it is blocky in nature, that I really liked the block with the twill and that might be better fabric, to just weave the whole thing only repeating one block.

So I tried that, and yeah, it was OK, but sort of boring.

So I’m back to the full draft, of two distinct blocks using the brown weft, and now I’ll agree that it’ll be fine. Sometimes ‘good enough’ isn’t really good enough when you were being too lazy to really see what the alternatives are. I should know better…

At least it is really easy to weave and now I know what it will look like washed. It really will be fine…

So I did a thing…

Last weekend I taught a three day class, a real honest to goodness three day class. In Indianapolis. From my studio. They all met in person, and I sat happily in my studio, on Zoom for three days straight, with my laptop focused on the classroom, and basically I just hung out, keeping busy watching the screen in case anyone came up to the laptop on their end to ask a question. The whole weekend went swimmingly well, from my perspective.

The group met together to create a vest from leftover fabrics, scraps, handwoven pieces, samples, whatever they had. They got, as part of the class, my 500 vest pattern, and the fusible backing and the pressbar, in a kit shipped to them. I lectured, was available for questions, and because they also employed the use of an iPad, they could carry it over to someone’s work station and really zoom in (pun intended) on what someone was working on, especially pattern alterations, and I could direct the student how to do the alteration I wanted them to do, with multiple people assisting. I could clearly see what they were doing, and the only glitch was because I was looking at my screen, through someone else’s rear camera from their screen, at a person sitting backwards, facing the camera, my orientation was completely off. I found myself prefacing a situation by asking, where is Florida? That seemed to help everyone know the orientation of what I was seeing and I could direct them accordingly.

They were to trace their size pattern and create a test garment, which I evaluated the first morning of class. I’m frantically creating YouTube videos to assist in this, so a lot of the work can be done prior to class. With the assistance of Mary Alice’s iPad, I really felt like I was there.

Anyway, once they had the patterns worked out, they cut a fusible foundation and laid out their pieces. Of course I have no pictures to show, but hope that they will eventually send me pictures of finished vests. Note to self, ask them to take a cell phone shot and email it to me every day. Duh…

So I created a sample for the class, prior to the class, and finished sewing it up earlier this week. Here are the images from my version of the pieced vest. I blogged about the components of this vest here.

But that’s not the thing that I did, referring to the blog title.

During the workshop, sometime on Saturday or Sunday, in a lull in activity, I checked my email. And there it was. Typically I get at least one email a week from someone who obtained a Tools of the Trade Loom, and has questions about it, because if they Google the loom brand, my name pops up. Probably because, the looms are no longer made, and I talk about them in my blog a lot, since I own 13 of them.

So this email was actually someone who had a Tools of the Trade Loom and was interested in selling it and did I have any idea of what it was worth?

It was a 12 shaft loom. I was a dealer for Tools of the Trade back in the 80’s. I love the loom. I have always loved the loom. And they find me. But I never knew that they made a 12 shaft loom, until I joined my guild and found out that one of my guild mates owned one, she isn’t far from me, she got it from a person in Oregon, and paid a fortune to have it crated and shipped back across the country to NJ. The loom was originally made in Vermont. She knows that if she ever dies, that I will pay her husband anything for that loom.

Anyway, I nearly had a heart attack, I have coveted a 12 shaft Tools of the Trade loom since I found out that Tools of the Trade actually made one. They didn’t make many, but here, I had a letter from someone who had one to sell. I asked how wide, this is sort of important, and crap… 55″ weaving width. Crap. I called my daughter to come into the studio, because I’m still on standby for my workshop, and she walked in and took one look at my face and said, “Who died?” I said, “Worse, take a look at this email…”

Long story short, my lovely beautiful brave, completely competent daughter got up very early Saturday morning, (tough for her since she sleeps till about noon) and ate the Taylor Ham, egg and cheese on an egg bagel I went out and got for her (It’s a Jersey thing…), packed up the Rav 4 with the trailer, and drove 5 1/2 hours to Rochester NY. She completely dismantled the loom down to just lumber, carried it all to the trailer, and reassembled it in the trailer, covering it with a couple of tarps, and tying it down to within an inch of its life.

She said the loom smiled at her when she walked in to see it. It is beautiful she said, barely used, gorgeous condition, but assembled wrong. The entire back beam assembly had been reversed. She corrected that for the trip home, and 5 1/2 hours later, she pulled into the driveway, I raised the bay door, and we moved it into the garage studio, making this shaft loom number 37, and there is no more room in the inn.

Earlier in the week I had a discussion with all my other looms, letting them know that the Macomber was coming to live with us, it was a rescue, and I expected them to play nice together. (See my previous post). Looms can get jealous, and sometimes they get uncooperative, but I expect harmony in my lovely studio. I have a feeling that while I was sleeping there was a bit of mutiny and my 13 Tools of the Trade Looms decided once and for all to cement their solidarity against this Macomber interloper and find me the mother of all looms, the largest one Tools of the Trade ever made. There is no other explanation…

And so dear readers, I am in the process of assembling the shafts, correcting some things that weren’t quite right. I’m putting 225 inserted eye heddles on each shaft, though that number is fluid. I have over 100 shafts in my studio that all take the same size heddles and I am constantly moving heddles around. I’m very efficient at this, every shaft is clearly marked with how many heddles it has, and I’m very careful and organized at how I accomplish this.

So I opened a bag that came with the loom and found this…

Sigh…

So for the weavers who are reading this, we need to have a discussion on heddle etiquette. I’ve taught many many times in weaving studios, and taken workshops involving round robins, so I’m working on other peoples looms. There seems to be a lack of understanding in the weaving community about heddle etiquette in general. NEVER NEVER NEVER just remove heddles and toss them into a bag. First of all, that pretty much ensures that the fine wire heddles will end up bent and misshapen. Secondly, each heddle is canted a specific way, and they all must face the same way. Heddles are canted so that they nest close together when a loom is warped.

THEY ALL NEED TO FACE IN THE SAME DIRECTION… I spent hours, days really, sorting and replacing all of the heddles on more than 100 shafts when I was involved with the donation of a dozen Macomber looms from William Paterson University to Peters Valley School of Craft. You cannot imagine what a mess. Apparently no one got the memo that all heddles had to cant in the same direction. Towards the right if you are right handed and towards the left if you thread with your left hand. You can easily make a loom cant left by flipping the heddle bars on any shaft. Takes about 15 minutes, depending on how many shafts.

NEVER NEVER NEVER just remove heddles and toss them into a bin or bag. Heddles are carefully slid onto holders, some use stitch holders in knitting, I’m particularly fond of old pairs of steel or plastic knitting needles. With a couple of rubber bands, I can effortlessly slide heddles off and on the heddle bars, storing them in a tidy fashion, canted in the same direction and they can easily move from one loom to another.

I spent about an hour per shaft tonight, resetting the heddle bar hooks, wiping down the shafts with Howard’s Feed and Wax, and fitting 225 inserted eye heddles all canting in a right handed manner. I’ve only got two shafts done. This will take awhile.

Meanwhile, it is Mother’s Day. My daughter gave me the ultimate gift by volunteering to drive to Rochester NY to pick up this beloved loom, and I let her sleep until noon of course. Once she was up and functioning, we headed out to the garden to do the Mother’s Day weekend planting of the vegetables. Our zone is pretty much safe to plant after Mother’s Day. Tomatoes, basil, peppers, cucumbers, all went in amongst the radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, and other greens. I’ve been eating garden salad every day.

I thinned the turnips, kohlrabi, and radishes, and brought in a bowl full of thinned baby greens, took a handful, washed and destemmed, and sautéed them with a couple of chopped anchovies for a nice veggie side dish with my turkey burger. I know. I love anchovies. Turnip greens sautéed with anchovies is just the best… I put in a whole flat of Marigold’s, and then scrambled to clean everything up because it just started raining. It has rained steadily on our new plantings well into the evening. Life is good. Or wet. Depending on your perspective.

And so dear readers, for those of you who care for another living breathing thing, be it a loom, an animal, a person, a child, a parent, you are all mothers. And for those whose mothers have gone on to another life and another world, know they watch over us, and guide us, and give us hope, and comfort and really good memories.

My delightfully curious cat couldn’t wait to explore that stack of shafts spanning the counter over the sink. Our fur buddies keep us smiling and on our toes.

So I did this thing, and now it is tough to move around in my studio, but this thing I did makes me really really happy and I am accumulating lots of good loom karma. I’m still waiting on the shipment of parts to get the Macomber loom functioning, and I am already winding a warp for one of the other empty looms. There is always a loom needing a warp. Sort of an ongoing thing in our house…

Stay tuned.