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Excitement!

Happy New Year! I meant to post sooner, but life got in the way. Zoe is up and running!!! I can’t tell you how excited I am!

I had a private weaving lesson yesterday with a local Raveler from Denver named Dee (I will leave her last name out unless she wants me to add it in), and had a wonderful time! I learned so much, and I doubt I retained half of it! I learned how to warp Zoe from front to back, which wasn’t as hard as I expected. On the other hand, I had knowledgeable and experienced help! I’m guessing the first time I do it myself, it will be considerably harder! Dee also cleared up drafts for me. I’d been having a lot of trouble with that chapter in the book. Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler is the book that everyone recommended to me as a beginner, so of course I bought it, and it is a great book, but I read…and reread…and reread…and reread again the chapter on drafts and just Could. Not. Get. It. Where I was getting lost was the fact that the book kept referring to treadles, which, in my mind, were the foot pedals on floor looms, and which I don’t have, since I have a table loom…or so I thought! Dee cleared that up: yes, the pedals on floor looms are treadles, but so are the levers on a table loom. Basically, if it raises and lowers a shaft, it’s a treadle! That made a lot more sense to me!

Zoe, warped and weaving!

She explained the entire draft to me in a way that I finally understood and could read, at least enough to get an idea of what the pattern was supposed to be. I think when I get around to drawing one myself, it will take me a bit of time to work out the logistics of it, but I have a better chance of getting it right now than I did before.

There was so much to learn just to get Zoe warped and weaving. What was supposed to be a two hour lesson turned into five hours for poor Dee! But I so appreciate the time she spent helping me, and my husband’s patience in keeping Aneira and Bryony occupied so I could do this. He even made the girls lunch!!

By the time Dee left last night, I was actually weaving on Zoe! I was grinning from ear to ear and bouncing just like the kids on Christmas day. As I am…ahem…Rubenesque, or fluffy (or big-boned, if you are a South Park fan), I imagine that wasn’t a pretty sight, but I didn’t care! Zoe was my very first textile weaving loom, and the only one that had never been warped, because I didn’t have a clue how to get started! Getting the warp through the reed wasn’t the difficult part. But on River, the reed and the heddle are pretty much the same thing. No, not “pretty much”, they are the same thing, since River is a rigid heddle loom. On Zoe, the reed and the heddles are two separate things. Well, five separate things, really. With River, you use the heddle as a beater, and you raise and lower it by hand to open the shed in either direction. On Zoe, the reed is part of the beater, and there are dozens of heddles on each of four shafts, so you have to know where to put each warp string. It’s a lot more complicated than River, where you’re only threading what amounts to one shaft. The amount of time it must take to warp a sixteen shaft floor loom boggles the mind!! Dee says I can put a 300 thread warp on Zoe, who has a 24-inch weaving width. That made my jaw drop. Three hundred threads?! Zoe is a lot smaller than your average floor loom. Just the thought of warping one of those, now that I’ve done Zoe, makes my back hurt! And I only put a sixty thread warp on yesterday!

I did manage to make a mistake that it took me awhile to fix: as I was weaving, after Dee left, the whole warp felt really loose every time I beat it, and I couldn’t figure out why. After about six picks, it finally hit me: the brake wasn’t set on the warp beam, mainly because I’d had no idea there was even a brake there. I found it, finally, and stopped advancing the warp every time I beat the weft! Talk about a novice mistake!

One of the other things that kept me off the computer is that Aneira started using her braiding disk the day before yesterday, and wanted my attention and help, which I was more than happy to give, of course. She didn’t need much help, and has been doing very well with it! She seems to enjoy it quite a bit; I’m hoping that she develops some art interests. Her Nana was a very good painter, and her dad can work in any medium you put in front of him, and I’ve got the beads and fiber arts interests, so it’s a good bet that the girls will find some interests of their own. In the meantime, Kumihimo braiding gives Aneira a good excuse to hang out with mom in the studio without her baby sister!

Detail of woven mug rug

The other thing that kept me off the computer was that I, like a moron, fell down the basement stairs. This is the third time it’s happened since we’ve lived here, and that’s only been since September! The first time, I was helping Bryony down the stairs, and she went down with me. She wasn’t hurt, but it scared her good! This time, my shoulder rammed into the metal handrail on the way down. Ow, ow, ow! Accompanied by a few choice, unrepeatable epithets, naturally. It’s not lack of balance, either. It’s my going barefoot in the house. My foot slips on the carpet, and wham!: I’m on the floor. But socks irritate me in the house, unless I’m freezing.

When I was a kid, we had a much taller staircase that led to the basement, with no carpet, and my brother and I used to slide down it on our butts by choice! But I am considerably older now, and, as mentioned, a lot fluffier than I was @##%$^ years ago!

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