Robbie LaFleur

A New Small Tapestry Loom and Destruction in Minnesota’s Forests

The day before I put together a small tapestry loom made of galvanized iron pieces from the local Ace Hardware store, I read an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “As Climate Warms, An Exploding Larch Beetle Population is Transforming Minnesota’s Forests.” Because the warming climate is allowing two cycles of larch beetle reproduction each summer, and we aren’t getting enough frigid nights to kill them off, the beetles are killing off tamarack trees, about a third so far.  It felt extra disturbing to read the article about the impending changes to the landscape of my state after reading another horrifying article about environmental catastrophe two weeks earlier. “An Unyielding Menace” described the invasion of Minnesota lakes by zebra mussels.

This is only related to my loom in that when I read about the eastern larch beetles, I looked up their appearance and wove one, though not in anatomically correct colors. I’ve been reading about climate change, and about the effect on Minnesota’s climate and landscape.  Perhaps this beetle is only the first of a series about changes I never anticipated or worried about as a child.

Back to the tale of the loom.  It was very easy and fun to put together the galvanized iron pipe loom based on Sarah Swett’s excellent instructions. She describes a variety of iron pipe looms here. I made the smallest one very easily, by looking at her photos and taking along this list of pieces, posted by Tommye McClure Scanlin. What I did NOT anticipate is how expensive it would be; all the parts came to $107.  I had guessed it might be half that.  I purchased the pieces at an urban hardware store–perhaps it would be cheaper at a big box type of store, but not a whole lot less, I would guess.

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I like it.  Though heavy for its size, I can easily pick it up by the leash holder bars and haul it around. The cross beams of 6″ pipe mean that the widest warp possible is 5″. The 6″ pieces are the longest standard size that are sold in the 1/4″ pipe, but I think I can go to a specialty hardware store and get a 7″ or 8″ piece cut and threaded; I’m sure that would still be strong enough.

The loom stands firmly on a table in front of you, and seems sturdy for weaving.  The only thing I don’t like is that as you weave, you are working with your arms higher and higher (unless you go find a lower table, of course). For weaving up samples and small pieces, I may still prefer using a copper pipe frame loom in my lap.  I haven’t tried attaching leashes yet.  When weaving up small pieces it seems easy enough to have a small dowel in the warp to create one shed, and to just pick the other shed.

Here’s the loom and beetle.

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This is my last evening at Lake Bemidji, after a lovely weekend.  Well, while the weekend was lovely, the golfing weather on Sunday was not, with three downpours during our 18 holes at the Bemidji Town and Country Course.  It overlooks Lake Bemidji, as yet NOT infested by zebra mussels.

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This entry was posted on August 29, 2017 by in Tapestry, Uncategorized, weaving and tagged , , .
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