Tuesday, December 24, 2019

PushingBoundaries2020 or a Tale of Two Looms

My tagline for this coming new year is #PushingBoundaries2020. A boundary is a line that marks the limits. I am comfortable within the limits of my job, my farm, and my craft. But there is more to be learned, and more to explore. Going back to college full time in September of 2018 got me back into the learning process. It stretched my ability to manage time. It reminded me that you get out of things what you put into them. And through my classes, I touched on many new ideas. My tagline for 2019 was Focus & Finish. It has served me well. More about that in some year-end wrap up posts.

Why Pushing Boundaries? Why not something brighter, like Exploring Options?
Well, I'm a curious person who likes to do and try new things. But, sometimes, I need a push, from myself, or from other sources, to go beyond my comfort zone and go through the process to get to a different level. Yeah, the options look interesting, but I'm comfortable, (and dog-gone busy!) right where I'm at. So #PushingBoundaries2020.

Weaving Fleeceyful Jacob Sheep wool
rugs with raw fleece on my Newcomb Loom
For example, you all know my Newcomb loom. I got it from my Aunt Jeannie and have been weaving on it for a long time. It is a big part of the development of my Fleeceyful Wool Rugs. I've been weaving rugs from my raw Jacob Sheep and mohair fleeces on this loom since about 2004. I've woven about 30 rugs a year on it for the last 15 years. That's about 450 rugs. A few are in my house, many are in homes across the United States. I love that loom. It's simple, it's sturdy, and it works.
About two years ago, when the Arkansas Craft School was in the process of moving to their new location, they had a pile of sticks and gears and metal bits that looked like something, but needed to go somewhere. My dad knew they were looms, but it wasn't clear how many, or what type. So he offered to take them home, to assemble them if possible, and see what was there. After much work on his part, the pieces were reassembled into a Union 2 harness rug loom, and a JL Hammett 4 harness loom - and lots of miscellaneous parts. The Union loom found a new home, for a donation to the school. And the Hammett hung out in my dad's shop. I asked the school if I could weave on it, and they said "Sure, for as long as you want." But I never did spend enough time in my dad's shop to even get a warp on the loom.

Newcomb with the latest warp finished.
The Hammett kept tugging on my mind. My home studio only has room for one big loom. The Newcomb is 54" by 48", the Hammett is 54" by 54". There is no way they'd both fit. I love the Newcomb, but the Hammett offers unexplored possibilities. With the concept of #PushingBoundaries2020 in place, I took a deep breath and asked my family for ideas on how to safely store the Newcomb, for a year at least. Shawn came up with the idea of disassembling it and hanging it from the ceiling in the wood shop. We picked up the bicycle hooks on Tuesday when we were in Mountain Home, and took the loom apart and hung it in storage on Saturday.

The Newcomb disassembled and safely
in storage in the wood working shop.
I wasn't sure when we would have time to go take apart the Hammett and move it to my shop, but first thing on Sunday morning, both Shawn and Lena said, "We're going to get your loom, you're lost without a big loom." I wasn't pouting, I know I wasn't, but they were right, there was a hole in my shop, and in my heart. So right after morning chores we went over to my dad's shop and took apart the Hammett. It disassembled much easier than I thought it would. My mom came out to watch the proceedings. In only about an hour, the loom was labeled and loaded into the back of Shawn's little truck. It only took a little more than an hour to unload it and reassemble it in my shop.

Hammett in my dad's shop

Hammett in it's new home in my workshop.

Tying up the treadles, still need to balance them.
I decided to start small, with a 26" reed and only 150 threads. I'm winding
a 12 yard warp to start.

The new loom is Daxie approved.

I chose to put on the short 26" reed and I'm only winding a 12 yard warp. With time off from work and school for the holidays, I'm looking forward to having it up and weaving by the new year. The are lots of possibilities here, and I'm sure some frustrations. But I'm excited to see what this loom, my critters fibers and my hands can produce on this loom. And I wouldn't have made the change without #PushingBoundaries2020.

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