Generosity of the Craft Community and a Book Review
I have been fortunate enough in my life to receive many things through the generosity of others. My grandma gave me all of her craft supplies getting me started on my life adventure of pattern writing, craft leftovers, fiber arts, and now teaching classes and workshops. When my sewing machine broke (again), it was someone I didn’t even know at the time, a reader of Craft Leftovers, who donated her Baby Lock Encore to my cause. And another reader donated just enough money to cl that week so I was able to cover Alice’s shipping costs. Perfect. There are instances every week. A tip about “they need a knitting instructor” from the owner of my lys got me a great job not just teaching knitting, but a variety of fiber arts classes. The main point is, I know, for a fact, that if it weren’t for other people being nice to me, I would be where I am, living this dream, working for myself, and surrounded by so many great handmade things.
I think the high point of generosity was this past early spring. I’m pretty sure it was February. I was in one of those “right places, right time” sort of situations. I was at a drop spindle class at Ester’s Place in BigRock, IL and we were checking out and the woman at the counter says “does anyone here weave? Does anyone want a loom?” I practically jumped out of my skin “PICK ME PICK ME”. I said “I do, I weave a whole lot, but I don’t have a loom”. Well it just so happened that someone had just called and she was moving soon and she hadn’t used her loom in 30 years and wanted to give it to someone who would use it. Jason and I found ourselves heading to Arlington Heights, IL to pick up a 56″ 4 harness floor loom… for free. You see, I just happened to have my parent’s van and Jason just happened to be in town that weekend, and we actually were planning on going to see his friend who lived in elgin, il (30 min away from arlington heights). Crazy right? For the most part it’s in good working condition, had most of it’s essential parts, and was fairly rust free (except for the reeds).
Along with the loom the previous owner gave me all of her book, yarns, yarn winder, yarn swift, and shuttles. I know I’ve posted little bits here and there about how I’ve been weaving again, but the thing is, I’m weaving again because of this one woman’s generosity. There is no way in the world I would be able to afford a loom this size, or a floor loom at all really.
About three weeks ago I cleaned it all off, bought all the bolts and wood I needed to get it working, brought it inside (well, Jason and our friend Owen brought it in), and started warping it. It took me about two weeks (clm went out in the meantime, so it wasn’t all weaving things) to get it completely dressed. Then three short days found all my warps gone. I just focused on getting my selvages even, played with twill, and got used to my new to me loom in general.
The next project. What to do? It was time to crack open those weaving books I was given and see what was what. Well what a treasure I found! A Handweaver’s Pattern Book by Marguerite Porter Davison (copyright 1944, revised edition 1950). I love old books first off and secondly, even more, I love good books. And this is a good book. I read it cover to cover over lunch and then headed off to my lys. It turns out that this is the shop owner’s favorite pattern book for weaving too (and she is an expert weaver) and stocked 8+ copies in her shop. It is still in print! Rosemary (the owner) told me that Marguerite has been long since dead, but the book is still a standard in weaving.
After reading it, here is why I think that it’s still an amazing weaving pattern book:
Grouped Threading Patterns. I haven’t looked at a ton of pattern books, but for me, who up until now has always made my own weaving patterns, this was an amazing revolution of sampler goodness. You just thread your heddles and tie up your shafts according to the draft, and then there are anywhere from 2 – 21 pattern variations for that one threading pattern! Amazing!
And for me, the other great thing about this book, is it is all 4 harness loom patterns! Over 200 pages worth. As much as I fantasize about getting the other 6 harness kits for my Ad-A-Harness Loom (Macomber), I’ve come to realize that will most likely not happen as Macomber is out of business. And the 56″ loom in general is rare and I doubt someone(s) has the harness kits for it just laying around. I’m sure someone does, but how to find them is another matter.
(right there, that’s where 6 more harnesses can go)
Anyway, so, I had always kind of been told “oh you can’t do all that much on a four harness floor loom”. Well, no more do I think that. There is such a lovely variety of twill structures and patterns in this book that I know I will have plenty to keep me busy for awhile. And besides, I love plain weave anyway, so I know I’ll be working with that a whole lot! I find it so beautiful in it’s simplicity.
So if you weave, and if you have a four harness loom, and you don’t have this book. Get it. Period. I linked to amazon above and you can get it there used for under $23. Not bad at all.
I was going to say here “and I’m heading to my lys to measure out my warps”, but my camera battery died and I realized by the time I charged it, took pictures, edited pictures, and added pictures, it would be well past the time that I could do that. So I took off and measured out my warps and now I’m actually going to start dressing my loom for the next project. Twill combos here I come!
Have a good night! See you all tomorrow!
++ Kristin Roach ++