Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Just Say “No!”

Last year, I brought home my first loom the day before Father’s Day.  Two months ago, during the week of Father’s Day, I had an encounter with an even larger loom.  The timing wasn’t planned, but I really wonder if there’s some cosmic force at work in June that affects me with loom craze.

The largest number of shafts I have on a loom is currently eight.  Leafing through weaving magazines, it’s easy to quickly develop a case shaft envy.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to thread so many shafts, but I do love the idea of having a computerised model to avoid treddling mistakes.  Last year, when I first purchased my Bergman loom, I also saw an ad for a lovely AVL production dobby loom (PDL).  Even at that time, when I had absolutely no weaving experience, I thought it was a good deal.  But knowing nothing about weaving, I thought it best to err on the conservative side of caution and spend a few hundred rather than a few thousand dollars on this new hobby (not to mention the fact that the AVL PDL is a loom with a large footprint because of its boxy frame, within which the weaver sits).  Imagine my surprise when the very same loom reappeared earlier this year in April, still for sale.  I had to learn more, and so began a month of friendly dialogue with the seller of a 16-shaft AVL PDL with compu-dobby.  I really agonised over that loom, as it was in lovely condition.  But I was very worried that if I did acquire it, I would not spend as much time with my other looms, my 8-shaft Bergman loom in particular.  That bothered me no end, because I know that even looms having no shafts at all can occupy weavers for a lifetime of beautiful creations.  I suspect that having a computerised loom with so many shafts would change my path as a weaver.  While that definitely can’t be viewed as a negative, I feel I would miss out on some foundational basics.  Plus, I feel as if I have some dues that must be paid, lessons better learned on fewer shafts.  I remember when studying watercolour, that beginners are encouraged to limit the colours in their palettes, in order to learn to mix the available ones more extensively.

After a month of e-mails with the seller, and talking with Syne Mitchell (who generously invited me to see her 16-s AVL PDL), I decided that the loom was not for me.

I wanted at least 24 shafts.

I thought I would settle back into my 8-shaft existence for a while, but barely had time to blink before I found a 24-shaft AVL PDL compu-dobby for sale in Canada.  So began another month-long correspondence, with a new seller.  I received pleasing responses to all my questions, and with exchange rates in my favour at that time, I thought the asking price a very advantageous indeed.

All was ready for our trip, but on the day we were scheduled to make the four-hour drive up to Canada, we found a radiator leak in our truck.  This is the same ancient truck that we use perhaps four times a year, only for local trips (usually to the dump), and that DH believes will break down at any moment.  Me, I’m more sanguine about it, and can’t believe such a thing.  The worst thing that ever happened with the truck was years ago, on the Friday before Labor Day weekend (the Labor Day holiday is the first Monday in September, coming upon us again).  We were fully loaded with furniture we were delivering in Oregon, when something like a belt snapped and wrapped itself around an axle (I’m not clear about the particulars), and, well, the truck broke down in the middle of a four-lane highway an hour north of Portland.  We managed to get the truck towed to a small repair shop that afternoon.  The auto repair shop was preparing to close down early that Friday, in preparation for the holiday weekend, in which case we would stranded until they re-opened on Tuesday, but they took pity on us and fixed the truck by that evening so we could continue our trip and return home.  DH recalls it as a near-death experience (he was driving), and has never trusted the truck since, but I see it as a brush with the miraculous .  I felt we had the break-down because we had recently returned from a long-distance trip to Idaho only weeks before, and had not taken it in for inspection afterwards.  But, back to the AVL: we purchased a radiator temporary patch kit and sealed the holes ourselves.  Four hours to set and cure the patch, then another four hours of travel, and we were in the presence of the loom.

It had been stored for almost two years, and was already taken apart in pieces.  I had only the barest familiarity with AVL looms, and hoped all the necessary parts were present in the dusty boxes.  I handed over the money, and we started to load the loom into our truck.  I chatted with the seller as we passed the loom parts into the truck.  I didn’t realise that the software was for the mac, and wouldn’t work on my pc.  I had assumed, from my little exeperience buying software, that both versions were always bundled together.  I balked, knowing this would be a large additional expense.  “Your’e getting a real bargain here, Elizabeth”, the seller told me.  I knew this, but something about her statement didn’t sit well with me.  I paid more attention to the grimy parts, and started to calculate how much time would be needed to clean everything up.  Then I found a back beam that had a groove in the round part of the wood; the wood was slightly split.  It looked to me as if the part had been glued at least twice before, but the split was still apparent.  The seller said, “That can be fixed with some wood glue.  This is a really good deal, so if you don’t want it, I’ll give you your money back.”  The loom was still coming home with me, but I was beginning to think I a re-negotiation of the price was necessary.  The final straw came when I found that the wood of the box structure encasing the computer dobby to be mouldy.  When the seller said, “Oh, a little sandpaper will take that right off”, it was more than I could bear.  I do happen to know that mouldy spots on wood grain do not come off easily; in fact, it’s difficult to sand away all the mould and more so to re-stain the wood to it’s original colour.  At this point, I conferred with DH, aka The Voice Of Reason, to make it clear to the seller that a price cut was in order.   DH’s opinion was that while this loom might have appeared a deal, it wasn’t cheap.  If I wanted to spend so much money on something that was most likely for enjoyment, then why not spend more to get something that suited me better?  I confirmed that I wanted to be in the business of learning to weave, not fixing up looms, and that this loom would cost me a lot of time in cleaning, repairing, and refinishing — something I did not relish.  (Not to mention the possibility that the loom might not work after all that effort.)    DH went on to remind me that my priority was our son, and I simply did not have the time (or the space) to easily perfom any repairs on such a large loom.

The seller didn’t budge, and reluctantly, neither did I.  My money was returned to me, but I still wanted the loom!  The seller was very upset, and didn’t say another word to me as we unloaded the parts back into her garage.  I moved numbly; everything felt surreal to me.  When the last part was returned to her garage, the seller pressed the button and her automatic door started to close down on us.  I jolted back to life, and called to her that her door would hit some boxes that I had unloaded from from my truck (it might have hit one of us first).  She opened the door again, and we hastily scrambled to take our things and ourselves out of the way.

During the trip home, my body started aching; the moment I stepped out of the truck, I was sick.  Within a week, I had pneumonia, and my husband and son also became sick (to a lesser degree, thankfully).  “I’m just getting over a bad cold,” I recalled the seller’s first words to me when we met.

When I exchanged money at my bank for Canadian funds, I thought I would get an exchange rate close to what I found on the internet.  For example (these are similar, but I don’t recall the exact numbers), if the rate was 1 US$ to 1.2 CAN, I thought my rate would be something like 1.15.  Not so.  In this example, what the bank would give  would be closer to 1.03.  With a transaction in the thousands of dollars, that’s a serious chunk of change to lose.  Unfortunately, when you want to give the bank back the exact same Canadian dollars that they gave you two days earlier, they get to ding you again.  All told, I lost a little over four hundred dollars by playing this game.  (I used to know the exact figure, down to the cents, but I’m pretty good at sublimating this kind of pain.)  Factor in the hundred dollars that my gas-guzzling truck ate for the trip, and that’s the most I’ve paid for something I didn’t get.

I think it took me too long to become outraged, because this was the first time I’d met an unscrupulous seller.  All the loom and weaving transactions I’ve had prior to this have been such marvelous experiences.  Two transactions are extra-special, as the sellers have become friends; I’ve maintained contact with several others as well.  Just last week, I met the sweetest woman who insisted on driving sixty miles to deliver a loom to me, then returned the next day to pick it up as it wasn’t what she thought was in the box (neither of us had opened the box to check).  She repeatedly refused my offer to pay for her time and gasoline, and even hugged me several times before leaving.

The owner of the 24-s AVL had posted on Craigslist, but I found her first through a weaving association board.  We had been in frequent contact via e-mail and telephone, so it was exceptionally discourteous of her not to inform me she was sick, at least to give me the option not to expose myself and my family.  During my month of  e-mail correspondence with her, I had asked very specifically as to damage, if any of the wood parts needed repair or polish; or if there was any rust on any metal parts, including the reed.  The response was very emphatic as to the excellence of the loom’s condition; that nothing needed repair, and no rust was to be found.  I did not recall any of this when I was looking at the loom, and I certainly didn’t remember this when the seller passed the very obviously rusty reed for me to put in the truck.  I guess I saw only what I wanted to see.

I lost time, money, and even health over that fiasco, but I am so grateful not to have purchased that loom.  DH said, “How lucky that she didn’t lower her price by $500 — you would have found it difficult to walk away.”   I said, “I would have been hard pressed to leave if it had been only $100!”   I’m fortunate to have found out in time how rude and deceitful that seller was, and feel blessed I own no object that was hers.

Now being separated from that misadventure by two months’ time, I am astonished anew by how well the situation resolved, despite my own follies in the matter.  I’m also very satisfied with the life I have among my motley assortment of looms, my Bergman being foremost in it.  I still believe there is a 24-or-more-shaft loom in my future, but I’m in no hurry for it.

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27 August 2009 - Posted by | Weaving | , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. Oh my gosh. Every loom buyer should read this story. My heart started palpitating when I got to the part where the seller said “a little sandpaper will take that off” about the mold. I’m so glad you escaped. That took tremendous will power.

    My own much smaller table loom fiasco left me with the same let-down-by-human-nature feeling. “She seemed so nice. She’s a wholesome weavery person. Therefore she couldn’t have cheated me. But she *did* cheat me.” Since I posted about it I’ve discovered mistakes loom’s design (so big I didn’t think to look for them) that prove it was not a working loom when I bought it.

    I was already aware that many people have the ability to unconsciously lie and exaggerate to themselves about what they’re selling; they can do this doublethink thing of both knowing they’re selling crap and believing they’re doing you a favor by selling it to you, let the buyer beware etc., but I had expected better of weavers. The money you lost in the exchange really takes the cake, though. And pneumonia!!

    You’ve got a great attitude. It seems to me from my own experience that after a scary near miss like that one, odds are you will find exactly the loom that’s meant for you. I even predict that it will miraculously cost $400 less than you expect to pay.

    Comment by trapunto | 28 August 2009 | Reply

    • “I had expected better of weavers” — you hit it right on the nail.

      I’m curious as to the further defects you found in your loom, and whether you will be able to make the repairs needed to make it work. You may find yourself better off to donate it and move on, painful as that may seem. Rid yourself of the bad karma, and prepare the way for the good.

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 30 August 2009 | Reply

      • Maybe so. Hm. Since I may not blog about this, I’ll tell you: basically, I found out the back beam and breast beam are 2.5″ too high. When the shafts are at rest, the tensioned warp threads make a v, with the bottom of the v being where the eyes of the heddles drag the threads sharply down. There is no way to advance the warp without thread-eating friction through heddles. The beam height is not alterable, so I raised the shafts to rest on blocks at the correct height, but now the lifting mechanism won’t work as intended. I may be able to fiddle with it to make it sort of functional. I’m also suspicious of the warpbeam circumfrence varying, as it was made by planeing the edges off a 4×4–seems to be about an eighth inch difference one end to the other. I won’t know for sure if it matters until (if) I actually get to the point of a trial warp. Somebody didn’t know what they were doing when they “copied” the mt loom design for this loom!
        I hope your winemaking is going well.
        Best, Trapunto.

        Comment by trapunto | 4 September 2009

  2. I’m glad you posted this….and can only imagine the level of emotion associated with the experience if you can only post about after two months time has passed.

    Am so sorry for your experience….wishing you many happy warps.

    Comment by Valerie | 31 August 2009 | Reply

  3. Your story makes for tense reading. I really admire the way you drive long distances in the hope of buying something you really wanted. I am appalled at the casual manner in which this person seemed to think it OK to fob off something which was not nearly as good as she led you to believe. Absolutely well done in turning down the purchaseI would have been very interested in your experience if you had bought it,I don’t think I will ever get into computerised loom territory but I am completely ignorant about them.
    I hope that you have been able to put it behind you, but somehow I think you will go on keeping an eye out for lovely looms.

    Comment by deborahbee | 2 September 2009 | Reply

  4. What a story. It takes courage to walk away in a situation like that, but I’m sure you made a good decision.

    I’ve been thinking recently how difficult it is when you assume someone is trustworthy and discover that is not the case. It happens to all of us.

    Some people spend their lives deceiving others, I have learnt to my surprise that the best deceivers have deceived themselves first, created an artifical & false view of things, a whole new reality they prefer to the truth, and then they don’t even know themselves that they are lying.

    Comment by Dot | 16 October 2009 | Reply

  5. Brand new to weaving. Just had first lesson. Trying to decide on what size portable loom I should get. I’m considering the Ashford 12″ knitters loom that folds versus the Kromski 16″ that also folds.
    Plan to weave scarves, table runners and placemats.
    Any suggestions from experienced weavers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    Comment by Mara | 21 February 2010 | Reply


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