Vermont Weaving Club Update!

While I enjoy my guild I’m finding the greater weaving community to be a little odd! First the unprofessionalism from Sheep & Wool and now I’ve had a strange experience with Vermont Weaving Supplies that I can’t really wrap my mind around.

I should have trusted my gut when it came to the unusual set up of the club.

I was leery because subscribers don’t know what is in the box until it is too late to cancel. At $70 plus $9 shipping, it would be nice to know! New subscribers have a few days after the “reveal” to sign up and receive that box. In July it was revealed that the next box was about weaving rag rugs which I was so excited about so I took the plunge. I figured I could always cancel then sign up again after the next “reveal” if I wanted. $80 is too much for a box that I might have little use or interest in. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive a few weeks later.

In the meantime I joined the Facebook group and got members of my weaving guild to get subscriptions too so we could work on our projects together. The kit was $20 cheaper if you didn’t want the community and class aspect of it but I thought it would be helpful.

When it arrived I warped up my loom which was very tedious because both the heddles and the reed had to be double threaded because the kit contained 8/2 cotton which is pretty fine and normally used for things like towels not rag rug warp. 8/4 would be more common for a softer rag rug but I’ve been seen thicker thread and even cording used.

The subscriber Facebook group sounded great at first and I enjoyed seeing other people’s projects. Then it got weird.

On a post where another subscriber said she was getting undesired results with her project which she had downsized into a runner/placemat. An admin responded and said she should have used thicker cotton thread for the header. I chimed in and I didn’t see that in the instructions about modifications section (which included placemats) and asked for clarification because I was thinking about making something smaller too. The admin replied something that didn’t quite make sense about how this was a modification and that the directions were 14 pages long and didn’t really address the question.

I posted that I found doubling up the cotton tedious to warp on and then tricky to work with because my threads from my thrifted sheet weft kept getting caught in my warp.

The admin said that she designed the pattern to use the same cotton the towels in earlier kits did, she’s seen it used this way as an alternative to rug warp* and that every weaver is different. I replied that’s true but I think there is a reason why patterns call for certain types of warping materials, sometimes you really need something specific to get the right result. All very polite and again, this was in the supposedly “helpful” weave along group on a post another woman had written about how this cotton warp didn’t hold its shape well enough to give her the results she wanted or expected despite following the instructions and this same admin telling her she should have used something stiffer (and not included in the kit) for the header/edges.

My comments all disappeared but the woman’s post remained. I thought it must be some glitch so I posted on the same thread asking what happened and then I was banned from posting.

I was really shocked. Surely this woman knows (and basically admitted as such in her response to me) that this is atypical cotton for the project and wouldn’t be upset about someone talking about how the project was going in a group that’s sole purpose was about working on this project.

The admin woman, Dena Gartenstein Moses, told me to message her about why she blocked me from posting. I did because I truly thought it was an error or that she wanted to help me directly and thought redirecting me would get my attention. What else could it be?

No she wanted to tell me she didn’t like my contributions to the group and that I was a problem. She said she was “sorry” the subscription “wasn’t for me”. She said I was on the only person who didn’t like the pattern and therefore I was contributing “bad energy” with my participation. She literally said she felt I was challenging her.

My comment was on a post where a woman was sharing the troubles she was having with the project! I did not start a post about issues with the project. I merely agreed and shared my experience. This woman’s response was so over the top it was nearly unbelievable.

I replied to her because I was truly confused by her reaction and she read my response and ignored me.

Adding to all this a weird, in light of this whole debacle passive aggressive, email went out to the whole subscriber list a couple hours after I was banned (but before I tried to contact her) about “community” and learning,

My learning process is not linear. I tend to start in the middle and work my way out to the edges. I absorb what interests me and ignore the rest. Over time I will circle back, gain more insight, and go deeper.

This is the approach that I have taken with the weaving clubs. Getting to bring other weavers along is a special treat. Learning about weaving happens in spirals. Concepts build on other concepts, but it is not linear. One often circles around an idea or structure a few times, each time filling in gaps, each time understanding in more depth. I have found that the best way to teach someone is to follow the thread of what they are excited about and provide education along the way in small and manageable chunks.

What’s Happening in September newsletter 9/7/22, Vermont Weaving Supplies

It seemed very pointed and was honestly a description of the exact opposite approach she took in the Facebook Group. She provided materials that weren’t well suited to the project, got upset when someone pointed out that the project would probably work better with actual rug warp (I did it in a less blunt way then I’m using here) and then banned me. She was also a little defensive with the woman who started the post about her project but I don’t think banned her because the woman, although clearly frustrated, took a more passive approach to saying that the kit didn’t work as designed.

I guess when the Vermont Weaving School means community, they mean groupies without opinions or outside knowledge.

I’m so sad I gave this company $80 and told anyone else about it. I admit I do expect a certain level of professionalism from people but this whole issue was really unexpected and escalated in a really bizarre way. How talking about a pattern in general, factual terms was warped into a bannable offense is truly beyond me. I was polite and not wrong.

I can only imagine that she knew and realized that she designed the project using the wrong materials (for whatever reason, the company also sells a better option) and was upset that anyone realized that. Maybe this person doesn’t the best temperament for moderating discussion groups around projects then? I have no clue who this woman is but this was a really outsized response to a nothing problem. I wasn’t attacking her or saying the project was bad, I didn’t ask for a refund. I said it was hard to work with and it was. Maybe the reason they don’t get bad feedback is because people know how oversensitive and ban-happy they are.

I’m really debating about not finishing the project. I spent a lot of time sourcing fabric and cutting it up for the weft and warping took a couple days but I’m really not loving the results. I might take the fabric and try it in my yet unused twining loom instead. I hate to waste all that warp though!

*I have not found this suggestion in any other rag rug book or pattern. I can see a weaver doubling it up to “make do” and use up what they have on hand but patterns normally call for thicker cotton because it is the right choice for the project for durability and structure .

Vermont Weaving Club: Rag Rugs

My birthday is next week and I got a little early present—a subscription to the Vermont Weaving Club! My in-laws normally get me a subscription box like FabFitFun each year but then I came across this one right before the July deadline so I signed up for that instead.

You can chose to get just the yarn and pattern or to get that and learning component for a little extra. I went for the learning version. I’ve been looking for some project kits to get me started so this sounded perfect. With the learning version you get “ a detailed weaving lesson followed by a Zoom session for show & tell and questions & answers.”. You can always drop that part if you want which is nice.

In line with my interest in upcycling, this box is a rag rug. They send you yarn for the warp (I wish it was thicker because we had to double it up) and you use fabric strips for the weft. I bought some flat sheets at the thrift store to use. It was finally cool enough to take them outside and cut them up. You’d be amazed how many particles come out of cutting up so much fabric!

I am maybe a quarter through warping the loom. It takes forever and I have to drag it out to use it and put it back before we eat meals or watch tv so I try to do the warping when my husband goes into the office. I’m paranoid something will bump it but it should be fine. It’s through the reed at least. I think it’s slightly off center and I’m debating about adding more before I get started to even it out but I’m also nervous I don’t have enough weft.

We will see! It sounds like a fun project.

Weaving Class Day 4

The final day! We spent about half the time weaving. Then our instructor’s friend stopped by to tell us about the dye garden here in Baltimore, Blue Light Junction, and how you dye things from indigo. Who knew you had to feed the indigo dye pot? It was really interesting! She also showed us some samples of work she did using the dye.

We talked about how to wash our weavings and how to finish them off. I was the only one who got to the end of my project! I am debating if I want to hem it using my sewing machine or create fringe.

I’m happy with how it came out! I did random strips of twill and then plain weave because my goal was to finish in class. We have access to the studio for the rest of the month but since I have my own looms, I don’t really need that. I know one of the other students wants to do a small second project and another wasn’t able to attend much of the classes so she has to catch up.

Weaving Class Day 3

Honestly, I did not feel great today! I made it to class but I’ve had either a migraine or a headache most of the week. I don’t know if it was the rainy weather or what but it’s been rough!

Today was mostly a work day so I was okay. Luckily it was just the two of us weaving so it wasn’t too noisy and it wasn’t too fiddly.

I learned how to read a pattern and did some strips of twill in between plain weave. Ideally I’d do more twill but I want to have something I can pull off the loom tomorrow in class! I wish the shop was open before class because I’d go in early tomorrow to weave. We do have access to the weaving room after class ends because the next class isn’t until May but since I have looms at home, I don’t really need that.

Somehow we both missed that I mis-threaded some heddles! Just two! That pink was a cute but bad choice because it was really difficult to see. It almost glowed. We just clipped them since it was a practice piece and hopefully when I wash it, it will tighten up.

When I got home, my used copy of the pattern directly we used in class arrived so that was exciting. I’ll have to try the pattern again at home.

Weaving Class Day 2

Today was mostly finishing up dressing the loom but we also got to start to weave! One woman had to arrive late but I think by the end we were all on about the same page. She is much faster than the other two of us!

The loom is older and kind of banged up and the track(?) the heddles are on were kind of squished together which slowed me down. I’m glad my looms at home are in better shape. I kept grabbing the wrong heddle (it’s an 8-shaft) because the two tracks were curved together in a weird way.

We did the tie up but I didn’t learn how to read the pattern for weaving yet so I’m looking forward to that. We can go in during the week to do it but I really want to do twill. Hopefully I will be able to weave enough Saturday during class to be able to finish Sunday!

The only thing I’m not enjoying about the class is how it is 11-3pm. We really don’t have time to eat (and no place to really wash up without leaving the studio) and by 3 I’m starving. I wish it was more like 1-5 pm. But it’s only two weekends so I can deal. I’ve been picking up a snack at a bakery and sneaking a couple bites then having a sandwich when I get home.

Weaving Class!

I was checking the hours for a local yarn shop (that doesn’t sell weaving supplies) thinking they might have some yarn to use as weft on my Wolf Pup I just warped (and future warp—with the 8 dent reed I can basically use knitting yarn) and noticed they had weaving classes this weekend!

I never hit register so fast! The price was a reasonable $300 (materials included) for 16 hours over two weekends. The limit was four students but we only had three.

Today we used a warping board (I am so glad I have a reel!) and slayed the reed. Tomorrow we will finish dressing the loom and go over pattern reading. I’m excited! The next set of classes was just announced but it isn’t until the end of May so it was great luck I saw it when I did!

I really could have missed it all together because the store doesn’t sell weaving equipment and when I asked them if they could order any weaving related items (like cone yarn, a reel) they acted like that was a bizarre question. So I didn’t bother getting in their mailing list or anything.

The class was great and the instructor is very nice and knowledgeable and does the social media for the weavers guild. She told me that the women in charge of answering emails/managing membership isn’t great about answering emails and that they were a little resistant to social media so maybe that explains the lack of response I’ve been getting from them. She also found it odd that it’s called Greater Baltimore but doesn’t meet near the city. Glad it’s not just me! I wish we could do a spin off “actually in Baltimore” guild!

The next set of classes includes a day of dying your warp so I’m a little sad to miss that but I don’t want to wait another almost 2 months to get going!

A Baby-sized Baby Wolf Update!

My new Schacht Baby Wolf did finally arrive! It has taken me forever to actually set it up because when it arrived it came direct from the factory and smelled like raw lumber.

Lumber is a major migraine trigger for me and I really couldn’t get close enough to it to fully even unbox it. The only room it fits in is the living room so that has been challenging.

Someone told me that got wood smell out of a new dresser by filling the drawers with coffee beans. That’s not really an option with the loom so I instead filled a cotton produce bag with beans and hung it from the top beam. The smell started to go away pretty quickly but it took over a month to be faint enough I could actually handle it.

I never dreamed it would be so stinky! Even unfinished IKEA furniture doesn’t smell this strongly. I guess since it shipped here straight from the warehouse it never aired out?

The directions were pretty easy to follow. I do wish they were a little more detailed and gave some more reasoning behind what you are doing. One end of the heddles were red and greasy so I assumed that meant they went on top but I don’t know. They were on tiny thin threads and one set wasn’t connected so that was a little tedious to thread on. There does seem to be a tiny difference between the “front” and “back” of each heddle but all the directions was to slide them on the bar. The video they direct you to is 10 years old and the heddles are not packaged the same. The video for the apron rod they tell you to watch is for the Cricket rigid heddle. How hard is it to update the videos or film 5 minutes on one of the Wolf looms? I just wanted to make sure it didn’t matter which way you looped them on.

One of the fold knobs arrived really loose and fell off. In the directions they just tell you to be careful with them or the whole loom will collapse. Not how to reattach them. Let’s just say it involved using a key to hook the hole the screw was supposed to go in and some mild panic to hold it all together.

I think it comes with an extra apron rod? I have three. The packing slip included rubber o-rings but there weren’t any in the box and I never found instructions that included them so I’m going to assume they weren’t actually needed. They said discard some from the jack pins so maybe they were supposed to replace them if you wanted to secure it again for transport? Or something? I don’t see anywhere on the loom they’d go.

I’m excited to finally get weaving! It really has been a more stressful and drawn out process than I’d expect. It does still smell a little bit it’s manageable.

A Story About a (Schacht) Baby Wolf

I talked a little about this in my weaving woes post but I had ordered the Schacht 26 Baby Wolf Loom from the Woolery back in November with an estimated 6 week delivery time. That would have put it at just post-Hanukkah but pre-Christmas. I was a little worried where it would fit as my Kromski harp forte rigid heddle, my sewing machine, and a narrow wooden table were in the spot where we put our food-themed tree. I folded up the Kromski with a warp on it, moved my sewing machine to my bedroom (blocking my dresser!), and moved the table to another spot in my living room. Then I got the Wolf Pup and was pleased with how small it folded up. I was able to fit it in our small living room at the same time as the tree was up. Still, the tree takes up some space so I wasn’t too disappointed when I was told the Baby Wolf would ship out directly from Schacht and would arrive before the new year but post-Christmas.

Since we had the tree up and I knew the Baby Wolf was coming, I watched my DVD and sort of casually thought about trying out my Wolf Pup but thought I’d wait for the Baby Wolf because it would be brand new and presumably come with instructions and everything in 100% working order. I know the two looms are very similar and I really got the (used, deeply discounted) Wolf Pup because it would be easy to travel with.

Then I was told that the Baby Wolf wouldn’t arrive until the last days of January so I thought I’d just get started with the Pup. I realized the Pup was missing apron rods so I ordered them and put together my new warping reel. I ordered a bobbin winder that’s on it’s way.

Then last week I got an update from the Woolery that the Baby Wolf had shipped via freight from Schacht and that they often use drop shippers to get it to our door. I eagerly checked the tracking each day. There was a delay due to weather in the midwest. Then on the day it said it would be delivered, I got an error saying that it couldn’t be delivered and to call FedEx. I was on my way out the door but I contacted FedEx and got transferred around and apparently, you need to schedule freight deliveries? Why didn’t anyone tell me this? I’m still not sure why an 80 lb item I ordered from a craft store is being delivered via freight.

Apparently, there are addresses in my city freight that won’t even deliver to so for a few minutes it looked like I’d have to go to some depot somewhere and get it. After some panic, I was able to set up a delivery for tomorrow! They told me between 12-4 pm but now the tracking says 4pm so who knows. It was supposed to snow today but we only got rain. Fingers crossed it actually arrives and we can get it in our front door.

I wrote to the Woolery to tell them the freight issue as sort of an FYI to help other customers because it was so unexpected and although they had been so good at updating me, they never said anything about having to schedule a delivery or the possibility of it being shipped but undeliverable to your address. I was disappointed they sent me back a condescending “I’m sorry for the confusion on Fedex’s end” and “freight is like this so they can make sure someone is home to sign for it and they don’t just leave it on the street” response. Okay. I have had many UPS and non-freight FedEx deliveries where I had to sign for to accept delivery (even for items much larger than this) and never have I had to call to make an appointment. I’m told the date via tracking or better yet, the company who is sending me the package tells me, I make sure I am there and that’s it.

I responded that I was trying to be helpful and thought that perhaps they would want to tell customers to make an appointment proactively or know it might not actually be able to be delivered to their address and they said they’d tell the direct shipping team. No good deed! I don’t think FedEx freight deliveries are very common for non-businesses and why would you expect something you ordered from a craft store that weighs under 80 lbs would arrive at your home via freight? I’m not a business or warehouse.

Not the biggest deal but when is the best response condescension and apologizing for “confusion”? I spent a massive amount of money and have been pleasant about repeated delays and was clearly trying to just give them a heads up in case this affected other customers. When I placed the order it didn’t seem like the loom always shipped out directly from the factory or via freight so I thought it would have been helpful info to have. A pleasant “thanks” would have been enough.

Now my latest woe is that I’m watching these Youtube videos about warping the loom and they are all starting with using a raddle. Is this something else I need that I wasn’t told? I don’t think Knisley uses it in his video so this is throwing me for a loop. From some googling, it looks like the “front to back” method doesn’t require it? Where are the videos about that? Sob.

I adopted a Schacht Wolf Pup!

Today I drove out to Red Stone Glen weaving center for their first ever sale. I was expecting to get some yarn, a weaving reel and shuttles because I ordered a Schacht Baby Wolf(!) to be delivered around the new year but they had a Wolf Pup for a reasonable price and I just went for it.

I know, bonkers. It’s the older model with four treadles and four shafts (this is the 2020 version) but they gave me a new reed and assured me it was in great shape and wonderful to learn on.

I have been thinking about applying for a Maryland Folklife Grant for weaving and tracked down a woman who is about an hour away who has a weaving studio on her farm and is heavily involved in Maryland Sheep and Wool. I visited her and she said she really recommended getting a floor loom, specially a baby wolf because they are easy to use, fold up and can be transported. I took a deep breath and ordered one because I can find them used much cheaper. She said she could help me learn even if she wasn’t my official “master” for the grant.

So why buy the smaller Wolf Pup then? Impulse? Really, when I saw them in person I realized I’m not sure if I could actually wrestle a Baby Wolf into my Matrix by myself for a class or to hopefully work with the woman I talked about above. This is much lighter and a bit smaller. Folded up, it’s actually smaller than my 32 inch Kromski rigid heddle on the stand! Heavier, but a smaller footprint.

Worse case scenario, I could always sell one myself, the resale value is really good on these smaller looms. I could find a Might Wolf pretty reasonably but I really don’t have room for that.

Now I have to figure it out! I bought a copy of the Tom Knisley video I had out of the library before (Red Stone Glen is his family’s studio and he actually lifted the loom into the car for me!) which hopefully will help! I’m nervous but excited.

I’m really excited about the reel. Warping my 32 Kromski has been rough and the boards seem confusing. Gwen, the experienced weaver, uses the reel and it made more sense to me when she demo’d it.