The Horses Would Not Balance

(Thursday, June 23)  It’s great to have Ingebjorg Monsen around again as a weaving instructor – her focus on technique is so instructive.  She’ll walk by the loom without missing a step and say, for example, “Hold it in the middle,” meaning it’s best to pull the beater forward by grabbing the center.   With a quick look at your loom she diagnoses a host of loom (and loom operator) problems.  She gives advice in adages that stick.  For example, when tying up the pedals near the floor, I asked about whether the cords should all be evenly taut.  “Play it like a piano,” she advised, holding down the pedals to ensure that they all “play” equally.  I asked her how the treadles should be tied up and it turned out that it was the same as another loom in the room.  “Look under the looms and find your old acquaintance,” she advised.

I was struggling with a loom with a pulley mechanism that pulls up the various heddles on the loom.  (The pulleys are called hester – horses.)  But nothing was balancing on my loom; everything was a tilting mess.  “Ooooh,” Ingebjorg said as she neared me, “Did you look at your old acquaintance?”  I hadn’t noticed that the loom at my back was the same type.  The problem is, even if I had examined my old acquaintance closely, I wouldn’t have figured out that some of the pulleys on my lop-sided setup were backwards.

We are weaving a number of samples of overshot weaves, monks belt and skillbragd and rosenbragd (rosepath).  It’s good experience to work on a variety of looms, including the ornery one with the pulleys.  The first one I used was a small Oxaback from Sweden (pictured).  It was dreamy; solid and tight and well-balanced.  I would love one of those as a second loom.  I met a Norwegian weaver a few years ago who said that Glimakra was the Mercedes of Swedish looms, but the Oxaback was the Rolls Royce.  That’s probably why it costs $2400.  And I need another loom?

In my world of Norwegian weaving today progress was made.  Rows were ripped out.  Mistakes in threading were corrected.  As I walked to class in the morning, I saw a boat in the Bergen harbor. That looks like fun – why am I going to sit inside and work out frustrating thread puzzles?  For my husband who might read this, I’ll wait for the boat ride with you, and don’t worry, there isn’t even room for another loom.