Did I mention I got a new loom? Cranbrook made by Norwood Looms, 8-shaft, 60″. This loom is famous for being designed for Loja Saarinen at the Cranbrook School in Michigan. Its design has since been passed on to two other loom makers. (You can read more about the Cranbrook Loom’s history here.) It’s nice and sturdy and suitable for the heavier weaving that I tend to do. It’s been stored unassembled for the past two months and I had to completely rearrange the studio to accommodate it, but I finally got it set up.
For quite while now, I’ve been having trouble rug weaving on the Gilmore loom. By “for a while” I mean “ever since I started weaving”. While weaving rugs, it helps to have the project under high, even tension in order to pack the yarn down and keep the rug straight. Whereas the old loom required a lot of fussing and fixes to get things to work right, the new loom is designed differently, so some of those problems don’t occur. The old Gilmore loom is a great loom and I’ll be keeping it for other types of projects since it has some features the new one doesn’t have.
After a lot of research, I narrowed down my wishlist to three looms. I also decided that a new one of any of these looms was just not in the budget. So, I waited for a used one to come up for sale.
After a few months, I saw a listing that was a little more than I expected to pay, but pretty much what I wanted. I could live with that. In Bend, Oregon. Oregon’s not that far away, right? Ok, it would now be a 2-day trip, but I think I could do that. Also, everything in Oregon is separated by mountains, and since this was January, there would be snow and tire checkpoints. For those who don’t drive in Oregon, they have these really strict winter tire rules there. I don’t really have a lot of snow driving experience, but I think my Subaru is equipped to handle that. Oh, and the loom won’t fit in a car – I’ll need a truck or van. Luckily, our little island car rental place had a van. These little compromises just seemed to keep mounting, but none was a dealbreaker, so I gave in on all points and committed.
I drove the van, with it’s not-rated-for-snow-driving tires onto the ferry, through Washington and Oregon, and by detour around the worst of the mountains, hopefully avoiding any tire checkpoints. I planned to get there around 3 pm. I got there around 6 just as the rain turned to snow.
We took the loom apart and loaded everything in the van. By the time I was ready to go, the snow had stopped, leaving about 2 inches on the ground. Not too bad. But even better, the formerly wet pavement underneath was now solidly frozen. Other drivers could tell I was from out of town by the way I skidded around, barely in control. They all just politely stopped a safe distance away and watched as I struggled – are you supposed to turn into the skid or the other way? I stayed in Bend for the night as I didn’t dare do any more driving until morning. I eventually made it back the next day, but not before some rather harrowing, white-knuckle driving over unplowed remote roads and 30 miles of fog so thick that I could only see about two car lengths in front of me. Not really something I ever want to repeat.
When I got home, I had to put the new loom in storage so I could finish some already-planned projects. So, at the beginning of April, I spent a week painting, cleaning, moving furniture around, and setting up the new loom.
It is pretty massive and is held together with these wedges that you pound into slots with a mallet. Instead of crank handles to turn the beams, it has these pirate ship style wheels. (Special appearance of Rug No. 1 in the background.)
I have yet to weave anything on the new loom, and I admit I’m a little intimidated. I had buyers remorse that lasted for about a day – It’s new, it’s different. But I’m sure I’ll learn and adapt. Right?