Where to start. . . I have been doing all kinds of needle crafts for many years. I actually knitted skirts with matching tops when I was a young woman. I was never into the traditional knitting of sweaters and such. At this point in my life, I was too busy working and living my life for any kind of needle or fiber arts. I went back to school, got divorced, had lots of fun (lots of outdoor sports - learned to ski and play tennis, etc.) and then began to settle down again in my late 40's to early 50's when the grandkids began coming along. So I started knitting and crocheting again when my grand daughter Kendal came along 10 years ago and the fibery obsession has really grown since then.
A work associate, who later became a friend, was talking one day about 4 years ago about spinning on a spinning wheel. That really intrigued me. I joined her at her spinning guild meeting the next weekend. Someone offered to loan me a drop spindle and I was instantly hooked. The possibility that I could make my own yarn was an instant draw. I think, at that time, I believed I could save money by making my own from raw fiber. I HAD NO IDEA how addicting this fiber obsession would become nor how much money I would invest in tools and fiber! The next thing I knew, I had bought a used Ashford Joy spinning wheel from one of the guild ladies and off I went. Next thing I knew, I had bought a fleece and a drum carder. And that was only the beginning. Before that first year was up, I had a room full of fiber, another spinning wheel and lots of little tools to help me along. OK that's the spinning part. My friend Vicki, who got me in this whole thing in the first place had been traveling in the Northwest on a vacation and had brought a loom home. I remember distinctly thinking she was crazy. I felt I was over my head in tools and fiber already, I couldn't imagine getting into another fiber craft at that moment. After watching her make some beautiful shawls on her loom, eventually, I started thinking about getting a loom, in the back of my mind.
In the meantime, my husband had been talking about getting into weaving for some time and I just poo-pooed him. Eventually I started looking around for a used loom. I found a Schacht Mighty Wolf loom in Redmond, Washington, several hundred miles away from us for about $1000 - which was a fantastic deal since new, they cost around $3000. We took a 3 day trip to Washington State and picked it up. It was a great trip and the loom was fantastic. O.K. this was my first loom. I did several projects on it and since it was so large, decided to get a small workshop loom. I found one on eBay for about $120, which I snapped up. It's a LeClerc Dorothy loom and weaves 15" wide. I think I did one project on it. At the end of last year, my friend Laura decided to get a Gilmore, 8 shaft, 22" weaving width loom and decided to sell her Baby Wolf loom so I bought it for $500. I have woven one project on it so far and taken it to one workshop.
The latest thing that has occured in my weaving world is my husband's company got bought and he exercised his options and came into some money. He figured this might be his last chance to buy a large computer controlled loom since that money wasn't accounted for in anything yet and was kind of free money in a way. We did quite a bit of looking around at dobby looms and he felt that the LeClerc Weavebird was the loom that fit the bill the closest - so he ordered it at the end of 2007 for an early 2008 delivery. Well, it was a bit late in getting here but finally came in total last week - 22 boxes, 750 pounds later. Wow! It is fantastic.
Notice, I have omitted the whole part of having to clear out a room, getting rid of furniture and having to put in attic stairs and moving all the fiber and tools up into the attic. Just this part took 2 months. Poor Jim. I don't think he realized how much work it was going to be to revamp that space! He had to first put in attic stairs (no small task) being is he had to buy a hoist to install in the roof to haul the 200 pound attic stairs up to the ceiling. And before he did that he had to re-frame that part of the ceiling so that the attic stairs would fit across several joists. He then had to bring electricity up there so he could see in the dark - then move air ducts around, put in flooring, etc.
So now, skip forward, where we have cleared the room and put all the fiber and tools up into the attic and it looks pretty good at this point. The loom is coming the next day and Jim takes out the rug cleaner to make sure the rug is clean before putting this monster loom in the room. The danged rug cleaner is broken. Before he could start putting the loom together the next day, he had to go out and buy a rug cleaner and clean the rug and hope it was going to be dry the next day (it was by the way).
Long story short, Jim stayed home the rest of the week so he could get the loom put together. By Friday, he had it entirely put together but we had no computer. I wasn't sure what we were going to do for a computer in there. I thought in the back of my mind that we would buy a laptop for it but had no idea where the laptop would live while we were weaving on the loom. Something very interesting to me is when you see these looms in the shows or in a workshop, a laptop is strapped to a beam in front of the user's face so she/he can see the screen while weaving - usually AVL looms. But on the Weavebird, there doesn't seem to be any built in place for a computer. Now does that seem like a really good design to you? If you were designing a brand spanking new loom that is designed to be computer controlled, and if the best place for a computer screen is in front of you so you can see the screen (so you don't get a neck ache from looking to the side) wouldn't you think someone would have thought of putting a shelf in front of you for a laptop computer or at least a monitor? I don't know, maybe it's just me. Oh, and there is another interesting thing about this loom. They haven't upgraded the port to a USB port. Do you not think that is strange? We had to go out and buy a serial converter so the computer could talk to the loom. Weird! It's like LeClerc wanted to get into dobby looms but had outdated information when designing it.
Anyway, Jim has gotten the loom and the computer on speaking terms. Yay! We got a 32 shaft pattern from www.handweaving.net and tested the loom on all 32 shafts. Sally from Weave-It is amazing. In no time at all, she had fixed the 24 shaft program to see the 32 shafts and we were on our way. We have yet to put a warp on it because it still needs a bit of adjusting. The cords to the shafts have a bit of slack in them on certain shafts.
O.K. this is a first 'catching up' post. From now on, I will probably post at least weekly, if not more, depending on what fibery thing is going on in my life at the moment.