Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Decluttering: The Saga Continues

A week ago Friday morning.

The house was a mess. I was up to my eyeballs in weaving paraphernalia. And my son’s toys. It’s my first free morning in a month, and I’m supposed to be decluttering the house. What did I do? If you thought: “turn on the computer and search ‘loom’ on Craigslist”, Bingo!

There, on the computer screen, read “My Drum Carder for your Loom?”. Someone was interested in trading a brand-new Fricke’s Finest drum carder for a loom. Hmmmmm… trade something very large for something much smaller…? I would be: 1) cleaning up house, 2) making a lot more space available, and 3) letting someone make use of a loom that I had not been able to find time for. Sounded like a grand scheme to me!

I’d been storing this loom for several years. I had the idea that I would move it into the house, and perhaps sell my countermarche Bergman. But, I’m so emotionally attached to my Bergman, I couldn’t make it happen. Added to that, my Bergman folds when not in use, but this loom is like a large, open box.

Anyway, I wasn’t extremely serious about this to begin with. The Craigslister must be getting a dozen different offers from other weaving nuts aficionados like me whose burgeoning loom herd is clamouring for a culling. Plus my loom was in pieces, in storage, and I’d never assembled it before. There would be some work involved in getting it ready, and there was not an uncluttered square foot in the entire house — all that work and not be chosen?

I received a polite reply the same day, expressing interest in seeing the loom. It occurred to me that even if I didn’t trade away this loom, I might like to play with it for a while. Weave a thing or two before putting it away. When I brought this loom home, I knew it had extremely beautiful bones. Solid oak wood, and truly easy on the eyes.

By Friday evening, I decided I would move my car out of the garage and spend the next week setting the loom up there.  I awoke on Saturday, ready to start right away. There were a lot of pieces, but most everything was bulky rather than overly heavy. While taking the pieces out of storage, I found no less than three bags full of raw fleece (2 alpaca, 1 romney!) that I had completely forgotten about. Perhaps this was meant to be.

I was surprised because it didn’t take much time to assemble at all. Also surprised by the incredible workmanship involved in making this loom. This loom was handmade in 1974, and modeled after the Glimakra countermarche. I think it was the first and only of its kind.

The Shaw Island Fleece Company (Shaw Island in the San Juans) didn’t produce any internet hits.

The actual assembly went very quickly, but I spent a lot of time with the loom on Saturday, enjoying its beauty. I finished all the assembly on Saturday, leaving only the friction brake to connect later.

DH came to check on me every now and then while I assembled the loom. He, whose comments are usually something along the lines of : “I’d rather be tortured than do that,” (when he sees me weaving) sang a much different tune.
The first time: “What a beautiful loom!”
My reply: “Isn’t it?”
A bit after that: “Of all your looms, this is the most beautiful!”
I retort: “Gee, thanks, honey.”
And a little later: “It’s obvious that whoever crafted this loom knew a lot about woodworking. All the pieces were made to fit together perfectly. It’s not like today’s stuff where they just hammer and screw things together until they fit.”
I snap: “Uh, OK already, honey.”
And later still: “You know, this wood is not made of your average two-by-four. It’s probably not eco-friendly — it looks like old-growth wood; you probably couldn’t buy this kind of wood today.”
I exclaim: “I can’t take it any longer! Stop it, stop it, stop it! If you keep going on like that, I won’t be able to give up the loom!”
That shut him up. I think he was envisioning the space he’d reclaim when it was gone.

On Sunday morning, I tackled the friction brake. I spent some time unsuccessfully trying to puzzle it out. I was in a quandary. If I figured it out, I had to give up the loom. If I didn’t, I would get to keep it (I envisioned it working with counterbalanced weights…). But that was the sort of detective loom work I liked best, and I couldn’t give up. It didn’t make sense to me that the friction brake would not work. I kept thinking that this loom was lovingly handcrafted, and well cared-for.

As there is a brake pedal in the front of the loom, I just couldn’t believe someone would have spent so much time and energy to craft this loom and not have the brake working.

Finally, just when I had given up on a solution that day, DH came by again to comment on how very beautiful the loom was, and insight flashed into my mind. (A knot needed to be tied above the spring; what elegant engineering is this type of friction brake!) Solved! Rats! I was torn between pride and irritation. And I felt sad, because it meant goodbye to the loom. I was tempted to throw a quick warp on the loom, but finally decided against it. Weaving on it might make the loom impossible to walk away from.

I exchanged frequent e-mails with the Craigslister, Roxi, also a Raveler, who is probably the best choice for the loom if I had had to pick someone. Roxi wanted the loom, and made arrangements to pick up the loom the following Saturday.

During the week, I was overwhelmed with remorse — I really didn’t want to trade the loom. While a drum carder would be nice, it’s not something I really had to have, as I have a huge ready-to-spin fibre stash, and I’ve never had any complaints using hand carders.

I called my clutter buddy, Magda, for help. Magda has been encouraging and helping me to get my house into shape. Even with her busy schedule and a three-hour time difference, Magda made the time to talk me through this situation. I cried to her: “Waaaaaaaaaahhh! It’s special! It’s the only one of its kind, and I’ll probably never see one like it again!” She asked me if there was room for the loom in my house, even in the hypothetical event of everything being completely clutter-free. Unfortunately, the answer was “No”. Magda told me emphatically: “Get rid of the loom!”. It helped quite a bit, and I felt resoundingly comforted and relieved by her straightforward advice.

Yesterday, Roxi sent me picture of the space she cleared for the loom, and I felt even more reassured that I was doing the right thing, and very pleased by the confirmation that she is the right person for the loom. (Read about this trade in Roxi’s words.)

It’s now Saturday evening, and I’ve waved goodbye to the loom being hauled away earlier today:

Hello, new drum carder:

I feel a little shell-shocked, but not devastated. It was a major and difficult step for me. I think of all the times I have been blessed with unique, one-of-a-kind treasures, and I’m happy I can contribute to that flow of blessings and pass on some to others. And I’m very slowly making progress towards that goal of a clutter-free house.


1 October 2011 - Posted by | Weaving | , , , , , ,


  1. Aw….makes me a bit sad to see how hard it was for you to give her up. Non-weavers just don’t understand the attachment we feel for our looms. Thank you for letting me adopt her. I hope you will love your Fricke carder as much as I love mine.

    Comment by Roxi | 1 October 2011 | Reply

    • You wrote in your “Empty Nest” post that you’ll post pictures of the loom and weaving. I can’t wait to see what beautiful things you will create! I am soooooo glad that you love the loom too. That was important to me.

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 2 October 2011 | Reply

  2. Hopefully you will love your carder…….I adore mine and it is certainly a lot of fun…..knowing something goes to a good home is always a comfort!!!

    Comment by Julie Beer | 1 October 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Julie! I think I just needed to get the loom out of my system. It’s slowly dawning on me that I finally have a nice drum carder!

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 2 October 2011 | Reply

  3. I just noticed that your clutter buddy’s name is Magda. So close to the name I chose for the loom. What are the odds? Kind of spooky. LOL.

    Comment by Roxi | 2 October 2011 | Reply

    • Gosh, now that you point that out, it gives me shivers. For anyone reading this, Roxi has named the loom Agda, Swedish for “good”. This was meant to be on so many levels.

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 2 October 2011 | Reply

  4. Wow, it was really meant to be!

    Comment by ladyoftheloom | 2 October 2011 | Reply

    • Isn’t it amazing how that turned out?!

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 4 October 2011 | Reply

  5. That is so cool, the whole Agda/Magda thing. I was feeling so honoured to have a loom named after me and here I find out it was just coincidence. On the other hand, is there really such a thing as coincidence?

    The loom looks great at your place Roxi. Spinninglizzy, I hope you feel some sense of freedom having your garage back. I know how hard this was and I am impressed with your follow through! Congratulations!

    Comment by magdamakes | 3 October 2011 | Reply

  6. I’m glad you waited to post this because I would have said “NO!!!! Keep that beautiful Loom!!” I’m no help. You did a good thing. I’m sure Roxi will give Agda a great home!

    Comment by Delia | 3 October 2011 | Reply

    • Someone else has also mentioned that to me. If I could sit down for more than 2 minutes, it would be neat to set up a poll to see how everyone would vote!

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 4 October 2011 | Reply

  7. Good for you. It sounds like our decision was hard but well-thought. If looms stop moving they stop having adventures.

    Comment by trapunto | 19 October 2011 | Reply

  8. Hi Lizzy,

    Douglas Gilson here, founder of the Shaw Island Fleece Company, and designer/builder, along with partner, Brad West, of the ‘Swedish Countermarche Loom pictured in your blog.

    SIFCO no longer exists, except in our hearts, but the wheels, looms, shuttles, and other tools live in the hands of weavers and spinners all over North America.

    I would love to know how you came by this loom, now ‘Agda’ and where is Magda.

    I like to spin a yarn or two about thise old days, and this story appears to be a good one.


    Comment by Douglas Gilson | 26 June 2013 | Reply

    • Hi Douglas, it’s so thrilling that the internet can reunite you and your loom! I’m not sure, but I think the woman I got the loom from never wove on her, although I believe the owner before her did produce many weavings with it. The loom passed from me to a woman in Tacoma, and I’m not sure she was able to use the loom before she sold it on in late 2012. From my assembly of the loom, I could tell it has a very smooth action and stable feel. I’m sorry I did not have the opportunity to use it for any actual weaving, and hope the current owner will weave up a storm! My friend Magda is in Canada.

      Are we to be fortunate to hear more of your story? I’ve never seen one of your spinning wheels, but they must be gorgeous, if the loom is any indication! How many looms did you produce, and do you have any other memories associated with this loom? Were the 70’s a heydey of weaving and fibre arts?

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 26 June 2013 | Reply

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