Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Looming Madness

Three days to go! I am scrambling to get everything done. But this trip will be more than just a return to Washington. I will also be attending 5 days of weaving classes at The Weaver's School and hopefully, learn some new tricks with my floor loom.

Last year, I found it increasingly difficult to walk without experiencing extreme pain. You know the routine — my doctor prescribed months of physical therapy, cortisone injections, and finally, prescription pain medication. When nothing worked, my insurance finally authorized an MRI which revealed severe and irreversible damage to my right hip and femur. Bottom line ---- extensive surgery which included a total hip replacement. After I was released from the hospital, I found myself stuck at home in a hospital bed for several weeks.

To cheer me up and help pass the time, my husband purchased several magazines he thought would interest me. Knowing my love of fiber arts, one of the titles he included was "Handwoven", a magazine dedicated to weaving. I have owned and enjoyed weaving on a rigid heddle loom for many years. However, Handwoven opened a whole new world of patterns and woven structure using a loom with shafts and treadles.
I was intrigued with the beautiful patterns. I was also incredibly bored with the entire hospital bed routine. "Why", I thought, "a new loom was just the thing to cheer me up!" (A word of caution here – reading fiber arts magazines when you are bored and depressed is a little like going grocery shopping when you are hungry. Everything looks good and before you know it, you have two shopping carts full of things like canned hams and gourmet string beans and a $298.99 grocery bill.) I carefully studied all of the advertisements. I then got on the Internet and researched all types of looms. So many brand names – Leclerc, Schacht, Toika, Ashford.... So many choices – 4 shaft, 8, shaft, floor, portable, folding.....

I couldn't treadle because of the extensive surgery to the hip, so I decided a 40" eight shaft, computer assisted Norwood Floor Loom would be the perfect choice for me. Happily anticipating weaving a table runner and matching place mats as my first project, I called John at the Solvang Village Spinning and Weaving Shop and ordered my new loom. John arranged to have it drop shipped to my house at no cost to me – John pays shipping above $250. The loom arrived exactly when promised and that's when things started going downhill.

UPS delivered a box roughly the size of 52" big screen TV while I was at a physical therapy appointment, which they thoughtfully (/#?^%!) left on the doorstep directly in front of the door. Now, this was not a box I could simply pick up and carry inside. I’m not sure King Kong could have picked up this box. As I briefly contemplated hiring a crane or simply building a room addition around the box, Dave Hernandez, my wonder neighbor, came to the rescue. Dave is retired and has the most organized garage I have ever seen. That garage is also similar to a magician’s hat because whatever you need, Dave’s got. He simply walks over to the magic cabinet, opens the door, and viola!!– the object of your desire instantly appears. In this case, I needed an appliance dolly with a strap long enough to encircle the giant box. Dave had one.

After he helped me wrestle the giant box safely inside my home, I started unpacking. John told me that the loom would arrive almost fully pre-assembled. All I would have to do is attach a few small parts per the instructions.

However, unlike my knitting machine, which came with extensive instructions for assembly and even included beginner's lessons, the loom arrived with a TWO PAGE instruction "book". The front page showed a drawing of the loom. The back page stated "Instructions for Assembling Your New Loom". The first step was "Assemble loom and tie up treadles". That was it. There were no pictures and no hint as to what that meant. The second step was "Install heddles". I stared at the huge collection of cords, wooden slats, and bags of funny looking wires spread out before me and made a quick decision. I called Norwood Looms and they walked me through the assembly. They were very helpful and super nice.

But once assembled, I had no idea what to do next. I could warp the loom (sort of) but this loom had eight shafts where my rigid heddle only had one. Another complication arose when I discovered I had no earthly idea how to read the patterns. The grids were as foreign to me as knitting symbols would be to someone who has never knitted. So back on phone to John and the Solvang Village Spinning and Weaving Shop. Five days later two books and two DVD’s which promised to help me learn to weave arrived. After much experimentation and a fairly large dent in my stash, I have learned to weave a decent table runner. But now I want to expand my skills so hence---The Weaver's School.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Kathleen

Can you follow up on your experience with the computer assist Norwoood?