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Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
It's not perfect, and I don't care.

The Loom Rabbit Hole

I thought I might be in trouble when I called the Ashford SampleIt "my first loom" on Ravelry.

I knew I was destined for at least one more loom the first time I held a boat shuttle. It's the mini shuttle from Schacht. I told my sister, "You have got to hold one of these. It feels like it grew in my hand."

"I feel the same way about spindles!" my sister replied.

I took the shuttle to my knitting group and passed it around, trying to spread my obsession. It hasn't worked...yet.

There are practical reasons for me to have a loom. Physically, it breaks up my somewhat repetitive motions of spinning and knitting. Idealistically, it opens up color and fiber combinations that might not work as well in knitting. Practically, it uses my handspun stash in a way that's beautiful, satisfying, and efficient.

Using a loom for my handspun yarn means that I can knit the yarn I most enjoy knitting (relatively boring, commercially-available yarn), spin the yarn I most enjoy spinning (yarns with more texture and color), and not feel guilty about either one.

So, my new loom arrived last night. It's a 25" Schacht Flip and I got it with the 8-dent reed and a stand. I put the stand and the loom together in about 30 minutes. It's really not hard, even for someone like me who always has to search the house for a screwdriver.

I pulled out two batts worth of worsted-weight handspun that I made during the Tour de Fleece this year. I've been saving it for a larger loom. I wasn't sure exactly how much yardage I had, so I divided it into two fairly even balls using a kitchen scale and tied on the first ball at the center of the loom.

I direct-warped from the center to the left until I ran out of yarn. Then, I tied on the second ball and worked from the center to the right. The warp ended up being almost completely centered on the loom. So, that was a success!

I cut apart a set of 25-inch mini blinds to use as tension sticks and conscripted a helper to keep tension on the warp as I wound on.

The stand made everything a lot easier, since we didn't have to work around a table while warping. I now know why some people go to lengths to have a stand for even very small looms.

Also, and I know this isn't a big deal to a lot of people, the ratchet system on the Schacht is REALLY quiet. Frankly, I love the Ashford SampleIt, but it is kind of loud when winding the warp. This is true both while setting up the warp and advancing the warp while weaving. I'm usually watching t.v. or a movie with other people when I weave, so a loud loom can be an issue sometimes.

I was very happy after I wound the warp...and then I went hunting for weft yarn.

I must have had a moment of new-loom-fume-induced amnesia, because I thought I had two batts worth of natural-colored yarn to work with. But, it turns out that not only had I only spun ONE of those batts, there was only ever one in the first place.

I stash-dove a bit and fretted. It was time to go to bed, and I did, but I worried a lot. Would I have to BUY yarn to finish my first piece of weaving on my new loom? The mind recoils.

The light of morning cleared everything up. I thought my warp yarn was all undyed wool and tan alpaca. But, in reality, there are small flecks of gray in there. Which is perfect, because I have a mystery skein of what looks like 8 oz. of medium-gray Corriedale (or BFL?) Don't ask me how someone who has been spinning for as little a time as I already has mystery yarn in her stash.

I sleyed the reed, wound up bobbins of the gray wool, and wove about 6 inches of weft this morning. Along with the header (in lovely red acrylic from my friend Joyce) and hemstitching, the whole endeavor took a little over an hour.

There is a lot wrong with this first piece. I have skips in the weave. The weft isn't packed in tightly enough (I'm checking it every couple of inches and adjusting that). For some reason, my boat shuttle "sails" just fine through the shed when I throw it with my left hand, but my right hand really can't seem to make it work.

Maybe I finally found something that my left hand is better at doing? Who knows. Practice is in order.

There is a lot wrong with it, but it is mine, and I love it.

P. S. - If you are a Ravelry member, you can see how I went totally bonkers photographing the loom/web this morning.

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