I’ve heard this several times recently and it sparked several thoughts and ideas that have sent me to the keyboard.
Many years ago, as you may know if you’ve read the ‘About Me,’ I happened by a woman that was selling drop spindles at the ‘Arts in the Park.’ She had a list of classes in spinning and weaving.
Did I have any idea of where this chance meeting would lead me over the next 30 plus years? No, not at all. Did I know it would change my life and that of my family? That it would support us and our farm? No and no again.
At that time, I had no idea what the future would hold. I can’t really remember that I had much of a lifetime goal other than to watch my daughter grow up (only one child at that time), spend time with my husband and our families, and do things I loved doing.
I had never before thought about spinning my own yarn, nor about weaving my own cloth. But why not try it out, so I purchased a kit with a drop spindle, wool, and instructions. She showed me how to spin for a few minutes and we were on our way. When my family returned home, I opened the bag and started spinning the rest of the wool. I liked it, it was fun! I then signed up for both classes she had at her farm.
I fell in love with weaving! I really, really loved weaving. I not only finished the class projects in the first 2 weeks of the 4 week class, but added my own first project which was a baby blanket for my brother’s first child due soon. Now that might not sound like a big project, but I did a double layer weave on a 20 inch wide loom so the blanket could be 36 inches wide with fringe on all 4 sides. That was not a new weaver project, but I didn’t know that at the time and just did it.
After I returned the rented table loom, I wanted one of my own. But I didn’t want a little loom, I wanted something that I could weave on for years to come, that was wide enough for any project I could imagine at that moment and have 8 harnesses (the little one was 4 harnesses, and I know you likely have no idea what I’m talking about, but trust me, it would give me more options for designs).
As with most young families, money was tight. The fees for the classes were manageable, but a loom that could cost over several thousand dollars, well, that was a long ways out of the budget. But I kept dreaming of the loom I wanted. I didn’t know ‘How’ I would have a loom. I just knew that was the direction I needed to go.
At our local library, I found many weaving books. That was long before the internet. To my surprise, I found books on how to build your own loom. I checked them out and my daughter and I went home. I poured over the plans. The building of the loom did not scare me, I knew how to use tools, I had learned as a child with my father, so that didn’t stop the idea from growing. Neither did the fact that my husband and I had only some basic tools. The only power tool we owned was a power drill, the plug in kind. Cordless kind weren’t out yet.
I found the plan I liked, I knew how I would modify it to make it 8 harnesses and the kind of loom I wanted. I had renewed that book for over 2 months. I would work on the ideas and study the plan each evening after our daughter was in bed. I had a materials list ready to go.
The good part about the house we were renting at that time was it had a one car garage. Sure it still had things that we had moved stacked in it, but with some work, my husband and I cleaned it out. Then one Saturday afternoon, after we cleared off the work beach, he said, “Ok, get the wood.”
My daughter and I were in the station wagon in 5 minutes on our way to the lumber yard for the biggest purchase of wood I had ever made.
Was I scared? Sure. What if I got the wrong thing? What if it didn’t work? Was I really ready to build a loom? Was I making a good investment of time and money? As I pulled into the lumber yard, I remember taking a deep breath and walking in. Now we are talking in the mid 80’s here. Women did not walk into the lumber yard to get lumber on a regular basis, so they were a bit taken back by this 5 foot 4 inch woman with child by her side wanting 2 by 4’s and 2 by 2’s and 1 by somethings. They were very nice and actually very helpful.
Getting home, the three of us unloaded the car and this dream had come that much closer.
Over the next 3 weeks, I sawed those boards by hand using a miter box. I drilled the holes to bolt it together and all the little holes for the bucket of screw eyes that were needed. I glued and fitted and pieced it all together. My daughter played in the front yard as I worked. She would help with the screw eyes for a time then run off and play more then back again for a little more helping mom time.
Each evening when my husband came home from work, he would ask “What’s for dinner?”
My response was always the same, “I don’t know, but come see what we did today.” And we would take him into the garage.
My loom has seen many projects created on it over the years. Many winning ‘Best of Show’ ribbons and in 2016 helping me be a featured artist at a large fiber arts show.
Was I ready for all the things that came after? No, most of us aren’t. But I do know I could have passed up that opportunity when it knocked at my door. I took that baby step, then the next, and the next, and never looked back.
Over the next 25 years after building the loom, each time we moved, my husband (for the rest of his life) would ask, “Where‘s the loom going?” He asked about where the piano was going too, but that’s another story. The loom is just part of our family and it still is.
The picture of me at the loom was taken in December 2009.