A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from someone on the west coast. This happens often believe it or not, or I’ll get an email from someone who Googled Tools of the Trade Looms, which I have a lot of, or Structo Looms, because not only do I have a lot of them, but they get mentioned frequently on my blog, so I’m apparently the “it” girl for looms of those brands.
Anyway, my friend on the west coast, and I say friend, because I recognized the name on the caller ID, she had taken a number of workshops with me in the past, works with a weaving school, with more looms than I can even count, and found a number of small looms and assorted parts, unused and unloved, in a closet, and called me to pick my brain. Again, not unusual.
Turns out, after sending photos back and forth, she had three Leclerc 10″ sample looms, from way back, like the little green ones I love and have two of. They don’t often some up for sale. And she had three little Structos, which I have a lot of, like I said, one was the standard four shaft, perfect condition, no rust, one an eight shaft (woo hoo!) and one was one of the original black ones with the wing nut tensioning devices, which I hate, and usually am not interested in. As a matter of fact, as I recall, there are a couple like that in my attic, which I stripped for parts, and actually, I wondered what’s up there…
Meanwhile, the discussion went back and forth, and after asking her to check out the cost of shipping (USPS was the cheapest by far, with 2 looms in a box for $147 each box), this happened.
They were packed and dropped at the airport last Friday, which is a holiday weekend, and were on my doorstep 9am Tuesday morning, in perfect condition, after a 3000 mile journey. Yeah USPS… The Post Office, go figure…
I paid a good amount with the shipping for these looms. When I posted the whole episode on Facebook, the comments were quite hilarious, including one person who really wanted to know why? Why did I need more? It is a legitimate question, and I thought about my answer for a long time. I don’t really need to explain, we all have our vices. I had 23 small looms already, between the Structos and the two Leclerc Sample Looms. And maybe like some people rescue stray animals, I have this thing about rescuing looms, rehabbing them, and bringing them back to life. A loom has a soul, and an aura, and there is definitely an energy, a really positive one, when it gets loved and used frequently.
But the real reason, sort of dates back to a time before Covid, when I was using my Structo collection as a traveling studio, along with my daughter, teaching for my guild an annual beginning workshop (we got a lot of new members that way) and regularly scheduled beginner classes at Silk City Yarns, part of Lion Brand in their Secaucus outlet. I was constantly asked after a participant had taken the class numerous times, for a Part 2. I kept thinking about when I took Madelyn van der Hoogt’s class on Whidbey Island back in something like 2018, where she had 32 looms, prewarped in a structure each, and participants went loom to loom and explored all kinds of different things, over the five days of classes. That will never happen in my studio, but I did have these Structo’s, just not enough of them and still be able to teach beginners.
Covid changed all that. Lion Brand closed its outlet and moved its warehouse to Georgia. And I swore I would not ever travel to teach again. I’m thinking though, that in service to my guild, I really should do another Learn to Weave class, because that’s how new weavers are born.
Meanwhile, I took about 10 of my Structos and started warping them with various structures, which I talked about earlier in the year. I was looking for gamps that would allow treadling exploration, and though it was for my own purposes, those little Structo spools hold a lot of 20/2 cotton warp, and those warps will probably outlive me…
I think about having a group of students come in for an evening weekly, or whatever, and I can fit a half dozen at my dining room table…
Anyway, as I think about these things, the looms to make that happen are showing up in unexpected ways. I had an alarm system contractor up in my attic upgrading my heat and smoke detectors, and while he was up there, I dragged out all the odd Structo parts I had stuffed up there. And I re-evaluated their status.
It took quite a few days to carefully unpack all 6 looms, which had their castles removed for easier shipping, and I started to assemble. The Leclerc looms were fairly straightforward. As was the four shaft Structo.
I replaced some of the parts on the eight shaft, like the reed mechanism, which was not standard. I’ll still need to upgrade all the rusty heddles, which I’ll do when I decide what to put on each loom, depending how many heddles each structure needs, but the little black original Structo kept haunting me.
I looked at the parts from my attic, and I looked at the one that had been shipped from the west coast, with the wing nut tensioning devices and I started stripping them allowing me to create a perfect 8 shaft FrankenStructo with real cranks. And I can swap out the hex beam from one of the other four shaft ones I have and fit spools on it. I have lots of spools, and no, I’m not sharing.
And, though I wouldn’t use a loom with the wing nut tensioning system, I did manage to piece together a seventh loom from leftover parts. So, as expensive as this whole escapade was, I got a lot of looms, which will totally do the job should I really want to do both a level 1 Learn to Weave, and a level 2. I suspect the universe has this plan and is not allowing me to say no.
That leaves this poor little rusty 2 shaft Structo from my attic, which is so old that all the movable parts are riveted, so not easily changed out for more contemporary beams, cranks, beater, etc. Every time I walk by it sitting on the counter, it cries out, “Please don’t put me back up there…” I need my daughter, who has mad metal skills to take a look and see what we can do with it. She is in Idaho at the moment at a large animal sanctuary, finishing up her finals for her Vet Tech degree.
Meanwhile, my gardener, whom I can’t live without, brought me outside this morning to discover this.
How we missed this, is beyond us.
The activity in an out of this wasp nest was constant, and after a bit of research, we decided that this is a rarely used area of the property, only the lawn crew use that south side entrance, and that wasps are actually beneficial. They will all die out once winter sets in anyway, but it was remarkable. Then my gardener, who was pruning one of my Kousa Dogwoods found the remnants of a wasp nest, and I brought it in to dry it. What a remarkable piece of nature. The nest is actually chewed up wood pulp, built in layers. Wasp Spit! I don’t have the heart to have this nest removed.
Meanwhile, after sitting on a panel last week for Spinning and Weaving Week, that had to do with getting into juried shows, I thought a lot about my response to the question about one good piece of advice to anyone wanting to get into juried shows. I commented that it is all about having good images, because that’s usually what a juror sees first.
Back in 2006 for the Grand Rapids Michigan Convergence, I actually put together a seminar on Photographing your Work. I know my way around a camera, or rather a film camera, since that was my second concentration in art school. The first was of course fiber…
I gave that seminar to many guilds and conferences over the years, but stopped because technology changed so much in the last 10 years, that I really wasn’t in the mood to rework the whole thing. So I stopped offering the monograph as well. After sitting on that panel, and remembering how important good visuals are, I decided that as a public service, I’d dust off that monograph, because the main content is still very valid, and offer it in my eShop for free. So if you are interested, the link is here.
While I was at it, I’ve spent most of the last couple weeks, along with all my other adventures, updating all of my digital monographs, checking links, adding images when I have something better to show, and eliminating the print versions. Largely I’m tired of printing, shipping is getting ridiculous, and if any of the links or content changes, then the book is outdated. The digital version I can keep fresh, have an index, and include live links you can just click on in the PDF file. I’ve also posted in the description of each of the digital monographs the date of the last update. So if you’ve bought any of my digital monographs, and still have the email with the download information, you can get the updated version anytime. Many of the monographs that have to do with sewing with handwovens, all now have links to my YouTube videos that talk more extensively about that particular topic or technique. I’m always upgrading something…
And finally, one of the questions on my facebook page about the acquisition of 6 little looms was from a couple of different friends who know me and know my space, “Wherever are you going to put them…”
I thought about this as I assembled all the little looms, and wandered around my studio for a couple hours. I decided that one of the shelving units, that had some Ikea bins full of spinning fibers and equipment would be appropriate, if I could find someplace else for the spinning detritus. There was space under the work bench that had looms, a bobbin winder etc., across the studio. those are the square cubes on the floor.
The shelves weren’t high enough for the Green Leclerc Sample looms, so I could put them on top of the book cases, replacing Structos up there.
Then I was able to perfectly fit 8 more looms on the shelving unit in the corner. I still have to replace aprons, and some of the heddles, (fortunately I have a good supply and no, I’m not interested in selling any of the heddles, looms or assorted parts) but that can wait until I know what I’m actually doing with them.
And there are more Structos here… I think I now have 30… 🙂
Life just gets curiouser and curiouser, and I’m not one to question what the universe has in store for me. The last three years have shown me that. I’m busier than ever, and really having fun, and yes, the studio is now bulging at the seams, but I’m a good garment maker and know how to let those seams out…