Friday, September 05, 2008

Best Deal Ever

You might have thought the spinning wheel was enough. You might have thought that I had acquired enough fiber hobbies to last more than a single lifetime. You might be correct. That won't stop me.
At the lab, people are constantly moving and in out of the area and the country. They often have things they need to buy or sell, and the grad student mailing list sometimes becomes an unofficial craigslist (not that craigslist is all that official, but you know what I mean). When people send out messages, I usually browse what they have for sale. Most of it is IKEA crap they're trying to sell for too much, but occassionally you get really good deals. I got a very nice DVD player for $35.
This time, as I browsed, there was something the seller called a "tapestry maker" for $20. I sort of expected it to be a cheap kit like you would buy at a hobby store, but for $20, I was willing to take a risk.
Best Decision Ever.
It actually wound up being a pretty nice Schacht rigid heddle loom. I had seen one of these at the craft fair I bought my spinning wheel at, and the lady had explained the basic principle. I thought it was pretty neat, and that maybe in the far, far distant future, I would look at weaving. At that point, I completely put it out of my mind. Then this "tapestry maker" came up, and even you would take this for $20. The guy really didn't think he would sell it at a physics lab, but he underestimated the number of crafty people here (I know at least 4 knitters scattered throughout the lab, and those are just the ones brave enough to knit on site).

Not only was it this complete, good quality loom, it also came with 4 shuttles, a little thing to brush the yarn into places, a complete set of warping pegs (things used to measure out the length you need to put on the frame), the manual, two beginner books, and several magazines.
I remind you, this was $20.
Luckily, about a month before I had run into that lady at the craft fair, or I would have absolutely no clue what was going on. There are all sorts of crazy new words you have to learn for weaving, like warp, weft, and heddle.
The warp is the bit that goes up and down. You have to measure out the full length all at once, and this is by far the most annoying part of weaving. If you're doing something long, you have to wind it all up at the top wheel with sturdy paper (from grocery bags, in my case) between each layer so you don't get all tangled. It looks like this.

It gets threaded through the heddle, that white bar towards the top of the frame. Half of the strands go through slits between plastic teeth, and the other half goes through holes in the center of the teeth. When you move the heddle up or down, only the yarn going through the teeth moves, the ones in the slits just hang along for the ride. When you lift up all the teeth, you move up every other thread. Then you can pass the shuttle through without having to go over and under each strand individually. When you do this, you make the weft, the horizontal bit. Then to go the opposite direction, you push the heddle down, which moves the strings in the opposite direction, making the normal looking weave you're probably thinking of. Each time you do this, you push the weft strand into place with the heddle, which slides all the way down, or use the little brush thing if that didn't do it tight enough to suit you.
It took a long time to figure out how to set up the loom, but naturally I did it the first day I got it, and wove up a little piece. As usual, it matches my mom's kitchen, so it went directly to her. She was *ahem* supposed to take a picture for me since I forgot. But really, there was a pretty steep learning curve and I still managed to get it done in one (rather devoted) night. Plus, the Olympics were on, so I wasn't going anywhere anyway.
So in the first picture, you can see I've started on some dishcloths for myself to practice. It turns out you can do some really complicated-looking stuff right away. It leads me to ponder about the directions of things, which I suspect will have to be another post.


Anonymous said...

Talk about being in the right place at the right time with the RIGHT amount of money.

Almost makes wish I worked! ! !

Must be a brain cramp

Enjoy weekend Carol

Carrie Penny said...

WOW! Great buy! Weaving is on my list of eventuals..