Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Weaving On A Budget Of Practically Nothing, And Feeling My Mortality

At a family barbeque two weeks ago, my brother asked me conversationally: “So, is that your latest loom you’re working on?” What could I say, except: “Ummmm… no?”

I’m currently the owner of six looms.  Remember, I started two months ago on Father’s Day.  (Edited to add: I wrote most of this post two weeks ago, but waited until now to publish it since I didn’t have pictures of everything at the time.  As of today, I’m actually the owner of eight looms.  Stay tuned for a post introducing the two latest arrivals…)

I was weaving on my Easy Weaver (size A, small), a rigid heddle loom made by Harrisville Designs. These come pre-warped by the manufacturer, using the ingenious method of attaching velcro on both front and back beams to quickly warp the loom.  Mine was used, and two-thirds of the warp was already woven.  I impatiently finished off the last part (letting my son weave a few picks) so I could tie on a warp I prepared for my first try at tablet (or card) weaving.

Before the BBQ, I quickly tied on that first card-weaving project, “Sample Band A” from Candace Crockett’s “Card Weaving” book.  I started the first picks in the car.  It caught the interest of one of my nephews (a belt), so I’m already received my first commission!

I’m very happy with this sweet little loom.  It does exactly what I wanted it for, weaving in the car.  (The passenger seat, silly.  I can already “weave” when I’m in the driver’s seat!)  It was inexpensive, since it was used and missing one shuttle.  It’s the older model, so there’s no heddle block mounted on the base to interfere with tablets.  And it is perfect for my son to use if he wants.  I had a little difficulty getting the warp tight enough with my tablet weaving, since the apron rods I added on tended to slip and loosen the warp and cloth; I will try drilling holes through the rods (for the cording) to see if that will keep them from turning.  I finished off the belt (it’s horrible, made of jute, with lots of mis-turnings) and beamed on a second during a four-hour road trip to Vancouver, BC.  Alas, I ignored the advice to avoid using jute in a first project, for it proved finicky to handle as well as too rough and bulky for belts; they might be salvaged as luggage straps.

The tablets I used were purchased along with others of varying sizes, tiny shuttles, heddles and a backstrap belt with harness for a few dollars at a garage sale:

Then I snagged this electric bobbin winder for even less:

It was cheap because the motor was Danish and made for 220v electrical; I took it into a repair shop, where I was fortunate to find a used 110v motor to replace the original.

The day after the Easy Weaver arrived in the mail, I was practically gifted this 24″ Kromski Harp, with stand, by someone who ordered it new but never got around to taking it out of the box.

With an decoratively flourished heddle:

I don’t know if I’ll keep the Kromski.  Somehow, I just can’t love it as I do Hedy (Schacht), even though the Kromski has a larger weaving width and can accept two heddles, whereas Hedy is limited to one.    I’ve been dragging my heels on the very last bit of the assembly, tying on the apron strings and rods — some bother about finding a candle to melt some nylon ends together.  The ornate woodworking of the Kromski just doesn’t move me as do the quiet, square lines of the Schacht.  Also, I’ve received a few offers for it already, so I may not have it long.  I will add a later post with pictures to compare these two looms..

Last, I came across this handsome fellow, a 25″ Rasmussen table loom that had been stored for thirty years in perfect condition.

His name is Gil (Hebrew for Joy), he folds for portability,

and he came along with four books, including “Warping All By Yourself” by Cay Garrett, and Marguerite Porter Davison’s “A Handweaver’s Pattern Book”.  I don’t understand why, when I take out the bottom screw that locks the castle upright, the hole it comes out of misses alignment (when folded down) with a third hole to lock it when collapsed.  The difference in alignment is very small, but large enough that I don’t believe the difference is due to any warping.  Plus, it’s the same on both sides.  The hole that doesn’t match up is the one pictured below on the upper left:

I think I tried removing the screw on the upper right (instead of the bottom one), and found it doesn’t work, either.  Or perhaps it didn’t make sense to me, since the castle would have to tilt away from and not lock down the reed, and would not collapse as compactly.  I’ll try calling Montana Looms, the company now manufacturing these.  Gil’s collapsing feature isn’t quick or easy compared to my other table loom (Bergman Treasures And A Reprieve), plus he is bulkier and heavier.  It’s more likely that I’ll end up taking out the booster seat and putting down the back seat of the car rather than collapse this loom again.

In compensation for spending practically zilch on looms, I have been bankrupting myself on books –Peggy Osterkamp’s second and third, and “Mastering Weave Structures” by Sharon Alderman — plus accessories.  I purchased two hundred new metal heddles for Gil (more expensive than the loom), to bring him to five hundred.  And placed an order for a Schacht auto-reed hook (shockingly expensive) that I can’t wait to use.

OK, so the budget wasn’t practically nothing, but only because I kept stopping in at The Weaving Works to badger the nice people about my Lendrum fast flyer (hence the new books and accessories).  I’m learning that even if one buys everything top-drawer, and retail, those expenses would be nothing compared to the time investment involved.  Rather, that even if all the looms, tools, education, and yarn were free, weaving is incredibly expensive, time-wise.  (And if so much time is to be spent doing this, isn’t it a necessity to use the tools one likes best?!)

I think I’ve just made the argument that weaving cannot be be inexpensive, if one values time.

Reading through the used weaving books recently acquired, I’ve found names written inside, and small notes.  Most of the used books are circa 1970’s, with pictures of authors usually in their 30’s or later.  Why are so many weaving texts out of print, where are these people now, are they still weaving, and did they fulfill their dreams?  I muse on these things, and when looking at the authors, realise that many of these women may already have passed.  At least four of my looms are older than I, and with care may probably last longer.  Perhaps it’s silly, but I’m wistful, at the thought that my time to use each of these looms is running out.  There will be some point when I too must pass them on to the next weaver.  How can I possibly weave enough when dressing one loom has taken me more than twenty-four hours?!  My slowness at knitting never bothered me.  I’m not slow at spinning; but I suppose recently I am, since I’m never spinning, but always weaving warping.  I touch these older looms, read these older books, and I see my life dwindling down and I wonder why I am doing this, what am I accomplishing, is this adding meaning to my life, will my family survive this, should I stop before I’m in trouble, and why do I enjoy this?  Because, I truly don’t need another scarf.


9 September 2008 - Posted by | Weaving | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Ah, you may not need another scarf, but don’t you need to make one? I’m still only two years and one loom into my weaving odyssey, and these issues have been on my mind a lot too–partly because I am such a S-L-O-W weaver. (and that’s not likely to change because I’m really slow at most things; it’s just how I’m wired.) Too slow ever to make money at it, even if I wanted to. Plus, weaving is a sideline in my case. Not my creative metier. Weird. So why have I pretty much committed myself to giving it years of my life? No answer, except that I am still in love with my loom. We’ll see what happens when the honeymoon ends!

    I thought the Anita Luvera Mayer interview on weavecast was interesting because she was the artistic cream of the crop, as far as those seventies craft weavers were concerned, and she’s still around. Now embroidery is her passion, but to her it’s all connected: family life, creative life, wardrobe. I think she would say you always need another scarf, if you want it. Woven, knitted, beaded, whatever.

    You are the queen of loom acquisition. I bow to your prowess.

    Comment by trapunto | 10 September 2008 | Reply

  2. I thought you have a rigid heddle as well, making two looms? You devote so much time to weaving, and helping us Bergman devotees — I’m consumed with curiosity as to what you would designate your creative metier. Or do you have another blog out there somewhere about that!

    I guess I **do** need to make the scarf — Thank You for putting that into words. It’s so different from needing the scarf, which I don’t. I almost don’t care whether I wear one or not; same with knitting. I spin because I love the spinning, not because I have a need for the yarn. But weaving because I have a need to is so much more exponentially expensive, time-consuming, and obsessive, that doing it feels… a bit dangerous, to me.

    Comment by SpinningLizzy | 11 September 2008 | Reply

  3. I forgot to say the color variation on your scarf is scrumptious, your cardweaving setup looks really practical, and your band looms made me drool!

    I wasn’t counting the elderly rigid heddle because I still wasn’t sure it was a functioning loom. Since then I’ve warped it up and it is. Stay tuned for the the rigid heddle report. (I’m interested in how those towels of yours are going, by the way.)

    The “creative metier” is anti-bloggable by nature, but I’ll bet you can guess. A hint: I have spent most of my life hiding it because as a kid I suspected that talking about it would ruin my productivity–the pursuit lends itself to superstition. Another hint: it involves paper.

    Comment by trapunto | 14 September 2008 | Reply

  4. Why yes, you need another scarf! A neck scarf, a dresser scarf, a dessert tray scarf, scarves for the lonely, scarves for the unfortunate scarfless! Hail the scarf!!

    What great loom karma you have. Mine own has been similar with great looms having come my way – one as an out and out gift. Love that! I do have a nifty little one that I love called the Card Weaver’s Surf Board. It is made especially for card/tablet weaving and it just rocks.


    Have to echo Trapunto — the color on your latest is scrumptious. Looks luminous.

    Weave on!


    Comment by Jane | 18 September 2008 | Reply

  5. hee hee, I guess it’s not about the number of scarves we *need*- I hope not anyway 😉

    Comment by Taueret | 7 October 2008 | Reply

  6. First, warping gets faster with experience, as does weaving.

    I didn’t start weaving until 1980, so maybe I don’t count in with those 70’s people you refer to. However, I own most of those OOP weaving books and make great use of them. They are a treasure. I’m 55 and as far as weaving goes, “I ain’t dead yet!”

    Your post is a creative way of exploring your creative identity. Are you a process or a product person? Does it matter? Can you be both? Or can you be a process person when it’s learning and designing time? Then a project person when the need is to have a finished item in hand that was conceived entirely by you.

    I see a whole new generation of weavers coming up. People like you and Syne Mitchell are taking an old craft and giving it your own spin. Welcome!

    Comment by Valerie | 7 October 2008 | Reply

  7. Jane, that loom is just adorable, and not too expensive at all. I hope I get to see one someday!

    Comment by SpinningLizzy | 7 October 2008 | Reply

  8. Valerie, Thank you for the encouragement! I’m so glad to hear of a weaver who has been weaving for many years and still wants to do more. I know it would be perfectly OK to pass along the equipment and books I’ve amassed, but I really hope my interest in weaving is more than a passing fad.

    Comment by SpinningLizzy | 15 October 2008 | Reply

  9. I just set up the exact same loom not 10 minutes ago. A friend found it for about $50 at a garage sale in Seattle. The newspaper wrapping the warp is dated 1978, and the start of an orange something is still hanging half woven on it. It only took me a couple minutes to set it up and it works great! Mine lacks the second set of holes for securing the castle when collapsed, perhaps a previous owner was trying an innovation? Keep us updated if you start to weave on it.

    Comment by Mo | 11 November 2008 | Reply

  10. Ooh, I love a deal! Congratulations on getting your loom, Mo! Are you also in the Seattle area? If so, the Weaving Works has a new Montana loom to oogle. I’ve got pictures of my first weaving on it in my post, “Raddle Me This”. Let us know what you do with yours!

    Comment by SpinningLizzy | 11 November 2008 | Reply

  11. I just discovered card weaving, have never weaved before (nor yet). What loom should I start with? Do you have a beginners one that I could buy? :)! My first project idea is a mandolin strap.

    Comment by Kim M. | 23 October 2015 | Reply

    • Hi Kim,

      Welcome, new weaver!

      I purchased my first card-weaving instruction booklet from Linda Hendrickson, who uses a very easy set-up of C-clamps to put the warp on. See her blog post for the tutorial. Have fun with your project!

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 24 October 2015 | Reply

  12. I just picked up a Rasmussen convertible loom (table loom with stand and pedals). I had to take it apart to fit in my trunk. Although I am familiar with looms, putting it back together took me all day. I should have taken pictures! I have gotten it together, but the table loom part has me baffled. By that I mean that there are still pieces attached to the table loom pedals that have no where to go. I’m wondering if you have any pictures that could help.

    Comment by Bonnie | 3 November 2017 | Reply

    • Congratulations on your Rasmussen! Have you figured out the extra pieces yet? What do they look like?

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 9 November 2017 | Reply

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