How on earth do you say …

Blanaid McKinney?  She’s the author of the collection of short stories that is my current “train read”.


Technical talk – help!

 So, if I have asked you to help TLM and me with assembling the loom, this is the bit where we are stuck.

Q1.Do the chains hang straight down from the sides of this beam  or do they cross over the beam first, as shown in this picture?

Q.2. Do the “wires” from the two smaller rollers/beams hang straight down towards towards the heddles or do they cross over first?

Then we move onto the shafts and heddles, which I have just learnt can also be called healds.loom-d.jpg
The “eyes” are in different places on each shaft (if the shaft is the “frame” that holds the heddles and moves up an down, rather than the “slot” (like a lift shaft) that it goes up and down in.

The pictures show an oblique view and also a side-on view.
Q.3. Is it possible to put the shafts in upside down? How do you work out which edge should face up and which should face down to the metal lamms?

Q.4. Have these “eyes” just been put in randomly by whoever screwed them in, or are those slight differences in position vital to the working of the loom?

That’s probably enough to be getting on with for now. It’s Monday night so I must gather up the rubbish in the house and  put it out for the bin men. What a shame to be brought down to earth from all this lovely loom talk.

More tales from the Loom Room

Have you ever been faced with a task that looked impossible? Like dismantling a giant loom? Well by now most of you know that that is just what happened to TLM (the loom monkey) and me this weekend. In the corner of someone’s spare bedroom lurked this piece of carpentry and engineering, much of it covered with sheets of antique brown paper and the rest of it sporting a substantial coating of dust that would have made Quentin Crisp proud.


It was a gargantuan task trying to decide which part to tackle first, because, as is the nature of the beast, every part is interconnected. I was the brave one. I stood with my feet firmly planted on the floor and said in my most heroic voice, “I think we will have to cut the warp off.” My goodness I sounded as though I might actually know what I was talking about. This skill was honed in a period when I had to field rather a lot of calls from IT salesman and I learnt that if you learn a paragraph of jargon almost parrot-fashion and regurgitate it at the right moment then you can call their bluff and they crumble at your feet as they actually think you know what you are talking about.


The seller’s son went off to fetch a pair of scissors and then the cutting began. Out came the roll of masking tape and everything dangling from both warp and cloth beam (see what I mean about the jargon) was bound to within an inch of its life.


The next day, when we were reassembling the loom, I made another royal decree, “I think we should undo everything on the warp and cloth beams. Perhaps I should have used my best Captain Picard voice and said, “make it so”. We chopped away again and


Abracadabra bimbambazoo

instead of just a few inches of weaving we found…..



it must be my lucky week.

…… or not ….

just had a  frantic email from son of loom’s previous owner… please can we return rug that was on loom! I can’t say I am surprised.




TLM. The Loom Monkey. Every home should have one. It does help if you have the body and flexibilty of a praying mantis and the helpful nature of Polyanna. What on earth will I do when he disappears off to uni in the autumn? Not only did he help me dismantle the beast, from where it had been residing since 1979, and bring it back to be adopted by me, but he had a determination that we would have it re-assembled today. That determination may well have sprung from a fear that we would forget anything we thought we ever knew about how it was all put together.



So, with the aid of my labels, that had things like “breast beam left” written on them and TLM’s labels that sported such legends as “arrow 10” (sorry haven’t got time to work out out to make the blog print special characters) and photos taken with my digital camera and TLM’s phone, we had what we thought was a fairly good idea of what went where.


We managed the pedals and lamms. TLM eventually sussed the brake, wind-on mechanism, pawls, springs and all. But when we got to the shafts and heddles (and possibly the healds, if we could actually work out which bit they were) we couldn’t decide whether or not we had them upside down, inside out, back to front or all of the above.


I put out a desperate plea to my “grown-up” virtual weaving friends but they were obviously all tied up in their warps and like Superman II, who was on TV this afternoon, they have given up helping newbie weavers in distress to be with the girl loom of their dreams.


Watch this space, or should that be “watch this shed”?



Mid-life Crisis


I’ve bought a loom ! It was so close to me, about 5 miles away and expert weavers that I asked said it was a good ‘un and I HAVE just had a  big birthday and those of you who know me have probably been speculating for ages about how long it would be before I succumbed.


I’ve just been with No.2 son (my personal IT support) to dismantle and collect it. It took three and a half of us nearly two hours to dismantle it and load it into the car. The half person was called Oliver and wasn’t old enough to speak but still did a marvelous job of wielding screwdrivers and spanners and supervising the rest of us.


Now the beast is in the car. When I see IN what I mean is it practically IS my car. There was hardly space for G and me to drive the  thing home. As well as the loom I now have a loom bench,  shuttley bits and L O A D S  of yarn. No warping thingy but anyway I have to get it all back together before I can mess around with all that.


If you never hear from me again you you wil lknow that my disappearance has something to do with my new acquisition.




I’m famous – sort of!

Dawn of Crafty or Crazy alerted for to the fact that Craftzine had mentioned my pouchy baggy thing that I blogged about on June 7th. You can see the link to my work on Craftzine here. It seems as though people are keen to have more information about how items are made so I will add a few lines about how I achieved my woven pouchy baggy walletty thing.

I can’t remember where I saw the object that set me thinking. I think it was actually made of woven comics which meant that the weft provided by the newspaper was brightly coloured. These days some of the free newspapers, especially those available on the trains into London, are full of photos. This means that newspapers are now longer plain old black and white. I was watching some mindless programme on the television when my eye was caught by the red, blue and yellow that filled the pages of “The London Paper” and I remembered the woven pouch I had seen somewhere.

I used a cheap old picture frame, one of those that’s costs about 99p and then you break the thin glass as you are carrying home and instead of being cheap you have just wasted almost a whole pound. Of course you can’t throw it away, that would be far too tidy, so you just prop it up somewhere where it gets on the nerves of any tidy freaks who dare to cross your threshold. Ten and a half months later when it has gathered its share of dust and dead spiders you have a brainwave that you can use it as a sort of weaving frame and you leap up, thereby missing the arrival of a long-lost step-half brother’s ex-wife’s , presumed dead’s son.


colourful newspaper

improvised “loom”

fine, strong yarn (not actual parcel string as someone thought I had used – though why not)

glue stick (to stick edges of newspaper pages together)

something to BEAT with (what DID I use? – I think it might have been a wooden kebab stick)

I started out using one of those stiff plastic things that allows you to “bind” several sheets of paper together as a loomstick but it didn’t work out so I just stuck to simple over, under, over weaving of the paper.


I might take up Dawn’s suggestion of folding wider strips of paper so that they are several thicknesses, then I wouldn’t need the glue stick and I wouldn’t have so much paper flying around the room. This would probably also make the edges of the strips straighter and allow me to “beat” the strips/weft closer together.

Now I seem to remember that the original had several “rows” of woven thread/yarn after several “rows” of paper. I think this would also pull it together much tighter.

When I had finished I held all four sides together with masking tape on each side and then cut the weaving off the loom.

Then I machine stitched just inside that masking tape so that all the newspaper couldn’t escape. Then I decided how I was going to fold the pouchy thing and cut up some fabric to make some binding. If I had tough close-woven tape I think it would have worked better and been much tidier but I’m a freeform gal and messy to the core.

My Darling Little Dragonfly

Mouth open as usual to answer back! You wouldn’t expect any more from a teenager, would you? Off to her last exam (for now) Unfortunately she takes after her mother in the Maths dept so I know how excruciating this morning will be for her.

Never mind, Dragonfly then has all summer to fly around. Have a wonderful summer!

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