Weaving Rave: LoftyFiber

After the absolute fiasco of dealing with wacky Gist Yarn, I still wanted to get my reeds!

I did another search and found LoftyFiber and placed an order for both reeds, six cones of yarn for $218 (including $11.40 shipping) on Friday 11/18. That order was here, including the reeds(!!!) on Monday 11/23. One cone of yarn is back ordered because it took forever for me to check out but that’s okay!

The reeds were the suggested retail price of $69. They also carried what seemed to be the full range of Brassard cotton, including variegated for $2 less/cone than Gist charges for the exact same yarn.

I was not in a huge hurry for the reeds but LoftyFibers keeps them in stock so they ship out with the rest of your order. One less thing to be on my mind.

I could not be more pleased with how smooth this order went. Everything was packed well and USPS was speedy.

Now I need to figure out what my next project will be!

Weaving Woes: Gist Yarn

I have had a lot of experience dealing with people and stores over the years both personally and professionally but I’ve never had as strange a time doing basic things as I have since I started weaving.

I’ve found that a lot of weavers tell me privately about horror stories involving these producers, stores, and organizations after I ask them directly about their experiences after having poor experiences of my own. I know it’s not me being singled out but producers, stores, and organizations taking advantage of people and banking they will not say anything because there is no centralized way to do so and that is such a small community no one wants to alienate anyone.

I don’t like writing about this type of experience. It can be uncomfortable to be in these situations and say something but I do feel like people should be aware of what’s going on.

I’m hoping to go to the MAFA conference in June 2023 and noticed some of the classes required a travel loom (Wolf Pup checking in!), a small warping board (check) and specific reeds. The class I want to take the most requires a 10, 12 or 15 dent reed and since my Pup came with a 8 dent, I’d need a new reed.

I had just finished a scarf on my Wolf Pup so on 11/17 I thought I’d order a reed or two and treat myself to some new yarn to start a new project. I really want to be super experienced using the Pup before hauling it to the conference.

I googled ‘18” loom reed’ and one of the first sponsored shopping (aka ad) results on Google was for Gist Yarn and it had a 20% off coupon code right in their ad. What great luck!

I knew Gist’s price for 18″ Wolf Pup reeds is $10 more than what other Schacht dealers charge but with 20% off my total purchase I’d be coming out ahead buying the reeds and their own brand yarn from them over anywhere else.

I placed the order for two reeds and three yarn cones using the code from their ad. I got $50.80 off my total—a little under $32 off the two reeds and the remaining ~$18 off three cones their Mallo Cotton Slub yarn. My total with the discount was $215.40 USD.

Imagine my surprise almost five hours later when I get this email:

Hi Rachel

Thank you for your order!


I’m sorry, but it looks like you checked out on our website with a staff discount code that is not eligible for the general public or for fiber arts equipment. May I ask where you found the discount code? It seems like a website may have scraped our site for coupon codes, so we are just trying to figure out where because we know it’s not a good customer experience to be expecting a code that isn’t available!


Due to our agreement with Schacht, we are not allowed to sell their products at a discount. If you would like to proceed with the order, we can send you a link to pay the balance of $50.80. If you prefer to cancel the order for a full refund we can also do that.


I really sorry this discount code appeared to be publicly available! Unfortunately our small business is just not able to process the order for these reeds at a 20% discount.


Please let me know what you prefer to do, and thank you!


Sarah

What a strangely pointed response! The code didn’t “appear” to be publicly available, it was literally in their own ad. I went to Google to screenshot it and saw the ad had been taken down in must have been the 30 minutes between sending that email to me and my opening it.

This is where you would think they’d immediately send me a second email explaining that it was their mistake and to disregard the email quizzing me about how I got their staff code. They did not do this. They just took down the ad.

I responded “It was in a sponsored ad result on Google for Gist. You might want to look into that as it was one of the top results from googling 18” loom reed. It wasn’t “scraped” it appeared in a paid result on Google.

Honestly, I feel like this email is incredibly strange. You’re right, it’s not a good customer experience. All I did was click on your ad and use the included code that was right there in the sponsored result. I feel like I’m being accused of doing something shady when I all did was click on your ad. It looks like you took it down so I guess you know this.

I’m sorry there is some mistake on your end but that’s not really on me and I don’t find this a professional way to handle it.

So yes, please cancel my order for a full refund. What a bizarre scenario and email to receive.”

Her response:

Hi Rachel,

I’m really sorry the email appeared to accuse you of something shady, that’s certainly not what I meant. It looks like Google was having an issue today where it made a change to scrape all discount codes through our website provider, and we were just able to get them to turn that setting off. 

I’m not able to honor the discount for the reeds because of our agreement with Schacht , but would be happy to do so for the yarn if you would still like that. Or I can issue you a full refund for both reeds and yarn. 

Apologies again for this experience, and if my email came off as accusatory. 

Best,

Sarah

This is where I would think a lot of stores would offer to split the difference or let me have it for the discount they admittedly literally paid Google to offer customers but they didn’t.

Honestly, their second response doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. Here they are telling it was a mistake on their end by not updating or correctly setting up the settings on their Google ad. Of course, they are still trying to pass the blame to someone else, this time Google, as if they don’t get updates about changes—which I know they do as an admin on a Google ads account myself. Google shouldn’t be “scraping” codes from their site at all. As far as I know they can’t so that’s an odd thing to imply. The permissions for all this are set up by the person placing the ads at Gist.

This email reinforced to me that what they were really doing in that first email was accusing me of something, not worrying about $32.

My admittedly slightly testy and migraine addled response “I’m glad you were able to turn the setting but i shouldn’t have been involved in your site and ad issues at all. It’s seems weird to want to alienate a customer over less than $32 but okay. I hope you aren’t emailing other people in the way you have me.

As I said, please refund my money and cancel my order. Thank you!”

I don’t know exactly what’s true there. Either way, the problem is clearly on their end and they apparently realized this immediately after sending me the first email.

They didn’t cancel my order after my first request. Instead they asked for money again despite realizing it was 100% an issue with their own ads displaying a code they didn’t want public.

I finally got a return notice after all this back and forth.

It really left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t like it when businesses won’t take actual responsibility for their own mistakes. It wasn’t my mistake. It wasn’t even Google’s mistake. It appeared in ads they placed and paid for.

Even if it was a “staff and for non-equipment purchases only” coupon code, their site let me use it as a new customer on both yarn and the reeds. How did that happen if their site was set up properly? All of this is really on Gist Yarn and Gist Yarn alone.

A better response would have been to process my order and then ask me where I came across the code or investigate what went wrong themselves before contacting me at all. Not demand a customer pay them back for a coupon their store created and then try and figure out the problem.

They basically accused me of either hacking their site, shaking down a staff member for a code or using some nonexistent sketchy third party site that shares weaving store staff coupon codes.

They were also trying to leverage the fact that they are a small company and guilt me into paying for their mistakes. That’s not really appropriate and makes me think negatively towards them. It is okay to admit when you are in the wrong. I don’t know why they refused to do that and instead pushed the blame to me, to imaginary shady third party site “scrapers” and finally Google when it was their ad and their code they mismanaged.

I am sympathetic to Gist being a small business but how many people could have used that code in the few hours it seems it was up before they realized it? I’m willing to bet it was just me and that’s why they were trying to get to me to admit I did something weird to get it.

As for the money—I wasn’t charged on the 17th when I placed and then canceled my order. I was hoping they would just void the order like most stores do and it wouldn’t go through but no, they did charge me on on the 18th. I had to contact them again and that money was out of my account until the evening of 11/22.

If you have followed all this, there is even a stranger twist—I had sent a message to Schacht saying I had a strange experience with Gist while trying to buy reeds and asking about finding another dealer.

Schacht’s response was surprising! I don’t know what is going on in the world of weaving but it looks like Gist told them a very different story than what they told me.

Hi Rachel,

Your email was forwarded to me. I am sorry you had a negative experience. Unfortunately, GIST was hacked with a bogus coupon code. This created a lot of confusion on the end of customers and staff that had no idea what was happening. This is very unfortunate that anyone would target small companies that are so focused on service and the customer experience. My apologies for the confusion. GIST is a wonderful company and didn’t deserve the cyber-attack. I know they would be happy to have your order for a heddle, but if you need help finding an alternate supplier I am happy to help. Again, I am sorry that you were affected by this incident.

 

Cheers, 

Stephanie

Gist was clear to me that it was a staff code and that they hadn’t properly set up their Google ads. Not a “bogus” code. I guess Schacht contacted them after my message and Gist told them they were the victim of some “cyber attack”?? What? What a bizarre story to make up and tell a company you partner with. Did they tell them I hacked the site? Some mythical third party?

They know it was a code they created and accidentally put in their ads! They told me this. Why tell Schacht some made up story? Unhinged behavior.

Natural Dyeing Final Thoughts

I’ve been thinking a lot about why there are so many variations within natural dyeing. I never found two sources that gave the same times for any part of the process. I found a little more similarities when it came to the properties of mordants but really, it was hard to get a consensus on pretty much anything.

That’s a pretty high barrier of entry to someone new to the process! I know some people are very into experimenting and don’t care how a project turns out but my time is valuable to me as are all of the components needed to dye.

This was not a particularly cheap project despite trying to keep it as low cost as possible. I bought 2 skeins of yarn ($20), a stainless steel steamer ($40), alum ($13). Since I used edible flowers and walnuts and alum is also used in pickling I felt okay using my own cooking thermometer, stainless measuring spoons, measuring cup, stainless tongs and basin. Even using all that, I spent almost $75 on this project! I can use the pot and alum again for other projects but you can see why I’d want some guidance.

Besides the obvious reason of natural dyes being one of those things that is handed down so “this is how I do it” and “this works for me” is common, I think the cost does keep people from doing more experimentation.

Coming from the cookbook publishing world as an author I know that publishing pays authors very little and gives no budget for recipe testing. I can only imagine that’s equally true in the even more niche craft arena. These books and blogs are a labor of love, not a money maker. It takes time and money to take a scientific approach to figuring out natural dyeing methods. Lots and lots of yarn, time, and money. Most people don’t have that. Even bloggers who are not beholden to publishers have the pressure to churn out new content and new projects all the time.

Ideally, a dyer could say “this is what the scarf looks like at 30 minutes, at 60, at 90” and either decide what is best or present the info and leave it to the reader to decide. I don’t think they have the luxury of during this. Very very few people are paid to experiment in natural dyeing! I think it would be a fun project to make and publish if you were a textile student at a college or university but I can’t imagine many other people being able to do that.

Baring actually replicating their techniques and documenting variations, I do think these authors should either include how they came to the conclusion this was the best or correct way to do the project (bizarrely virtually none did) or simply say, “I can’t test all the variations but this is what works for me” (which a few did).

I read a book that I believe was a PhD thesis, Weaving Rag Rugs: A Women’s Craft in Western Maryland by folklorist Geraldine Niva Johnson, that was published in 1985 and sue mentions that there is talk of funding craftspeople who have skills that were once common or even that are regional and obscure to continue doing them and perhaps teach others. I know Maryland has a folklife grant that does this but it’s not enough to live on. I’m not sure if other states have this program but I do think it’s needed. That’s the kind of funding that could really solidify and advance something like natural dyeing.

I am very motivated but having to piece together information that contradicted each other on a subject I knew little about was very daunting. For most of my life I would not have had the funds to to spend on a “fun” project like this or even take up something like weaving at all. For something like natural dyeing where you can literally forage for the dye or grow it yourself, there should be as few barriers in place as possible.

Natural Dyeing Adventures- Black Walnut Scarf part 6: This is the End?

Our last post found me holding a loaf of bread in one hand and pulling off maple leaves on the side of the road with the other.

I brought them home and refrigerated them for a couple days while I debated using them.

We had some unseasonably warm days so I went for it.

I damped the scarf and the cotton towels again and rolled the leaves into it. I put the “bottom” of the leaves directly on the scarf.

I boiled them for 1 hr in my steamer pot with 1/2 teaspoon alum, turning every 15 minutes. I left it rolled for 24 hrs and then I unrolled it and let it air dry.

I did get some good leaf prints! I think I achieved my goal of foraging fall while out and about in my everyday life and turning it into something.

Do I love it? No. I was hoping for an abstract sort of print and I think I did do that but I think the alum darkened the scarf too much during the leaf printing. The scarf started out much lighter and got muddier looking as the project progressed.

You can see how much lighter the yarn is than even the blank spots on the scarf. I think it would have looked better with more contrast. I thought the alum might change it a bit but I wasn’t expecting it to be so much darker and muted, everything I read said that alum “brightens” color while iron darkens it which is why I used alum. I would not call this “bright”.

I can’t see doing anymore printing on the scarf but I feel like it needs something else. I might embroider it a bit? I don’t know how much more time I want to devote to it.

Natural Dyeing Adventures- Black Walnut Scarf part 5: The End?

I’ll be honest. I’m not sure if this is the end or if I might try to do something else with it. It’s been done for over a week and I keep going back and forth.

I don’t love brown or earth tones so I was hoping the eco printing would add some vibrancy to the walnut-dyed scarf. I used what I could find and while it did add color, it was mostly yellow and green shades. I left it wrapped up 24 hrs and the colors are really dark so that’s good at least!

This picture is it in really bright light and backlit. Indoors or worn it really looks more like a natural leopard or cheetah print and less like mold.

I can’t decide if it looks as bad as I think it does or is it just that I don’t like the colors.

I did “forage” some bright orange maple leaves the yesterday outside of the local Italian market. I was debating about eco printing it again with them it but the splotches from the flowers really are all over the scarf. Would the leaves make it look worse? It doesn’t seem like I’d have to mordant it again so it wouldn’t be a big project.

The big question is did I ruin it by the eco printing? I was hoping the red and gold flowers would add red, not just yellow. I wasn’t expecting clear flower outlines because I used squishy, fluffy marigolds and mums but some color variety would have been nice.

Maybe adding leaves would fill in the gaps and make it look more intentional?

As my guild reminded me when I mentioned I was working on it during our last meeting, it is supposed to be an experiment and learning experience but I also want it to look good!

Natural Dyeing Adventures- Black Walnut Scarf part 4: Eco Printing

It took a few days but I got the scarf woven and off the loom. Man, that was tedious. The yarn was basically the same color as the loom, my hands and the table and it was really difficult to stay focused.

I did some simple fringe. As you may recall, I had some issues warping so one end was a little short but short fringe is fine!

When I was in Frederick I “foraged” some marigolds and a few mums to do the eco print. I stuck them in the fridge overnight so they didn’t dry out.

Sunday morning, I whisked together 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon alum and 1 cup water in my big pot. I brought it to a boil. I then added about 2 quarts of water, the scarf and 2 clean, new “flour sack” towels from Aldi I had on hand for craft purposes and simmered it at 180° for 20 minutes.

I pulled them out of the liquid and into a basin.

I took them right outside to my big table and laid out the scarf. I sprinkled it with flowers and topped it with the the towels, folding the towels to the width of the scarf.

I placed two skewers on the end (one would work but I only had shorter ones) and tightly rolled the towels/scarf around the skewers. I tied it shut with kitchen twine.

I dumped out the alum water and added fresh water to cover the bundle. I boiled it for 1 hr, turning it every 15 minutes.

I removed it from the pot and placed it in a basin for 24 hrs.

I did a lot of reading about eco printing. Like everything else with weaving and dyeing there was no real consensus on how long or how exactly to do anything. A manufacturer of alum had you soak the cloth cold, other sources said you had to heat it. Some had you steam or pressure cook the bundles, others had you boil it for 15 minutes, an hour, two hours, four hours, soaking overnight. Some used a mordant like alum (which I chose hoping it would be more colorfast and bright) some did not. Some used iron, some used nothing.

I decided just to do what made sense and hope for the best. I didn’t want to monitor a pot for hours so I didn’t. I couldn’t fit the bundle into the steamer compartment so I boiled it. I don’t know how people boiled or steamed larger bundles! This was a small scarf in a 8 qt pot and it was tight. I did see one example where they wrapped around hoses because that was what they had on hand and that seemed to work rather well because you could form it into a circle and fit it in the pot more easily.

Some sources had you keep the bundle wrapped up for a week! I don’t know where they live but that sounds like a recipe for a moldy project to me.

After I planned all this out and started executing the project a book I ordered from the library came in, The Modern Natural Dyer: A Comprehensive Guide to Dyeing Silk, Wool, Linen, and Cotton at Home by Kristine Vejar which has a similar project but eco printing on old wool fabric/blankets to turn into an a sewing kit of some sort. Her instructions were a bit different than what I ended up doing, timing-wise but it was good to see what I pieced together was on the right track.

Fall Frederick FiberFest!

Today was a perfect fall day and we drove the hour or so up to Frederick to go to the FiberFest. It’s totally free, there’s a raffle, plenty of parking, food trucks and real bathrooms. What more could you want?

We went in the spring and I think we had better luck today!

One of the reasons I thought it would be fun to spin is because there isn’t a ton of things for weavers at these festivals but they are fun. There is always a lot of fiber for spinners though! We live in a area with a lot of farms and producers.

I’ve been busy with my black walnut project and haven’t spun much but I’d like to have some fiber ready to go once I can move off of my practicing. It’s so much more fun to see and touch it in person and as a bonus there is no shipping costs.

This time I bought 8 oz of alpaca from an alpaca named Raven from Artemis Grange.

I was tempted by some rabbit fur but passed.

I did get some fiber from Polymorph Dyeworks. I talked to the owner and she said last festival they didn’t sell any but it was selling fast today. It really was. I saw what I wanted early and came back for it about 15 minutes later and most of it was gone.

I think the vendor with the best idea was Northwood and Pine which had vegan fibers (cotton, bamboo etc) that you could chose from and they made a batt for you right there! Super cute idea. I don’t think I will be ready to use it for a bit but I couldn’t resist. I love an interactive moment.

I also got a vintage latch hook kit. It’s a Christmas ornament that bizarrely says “Hello”. I did latch hook as a kid and thought it might be something easy to do on some dark night. Fingers crossed it’s in good shape. The box doesn’t look like it was ever opened.

My only disappointment with the festival the festival doesn’t seem to have a mailing list or actual website, just a Facebook page and that really gets lost in the shuffle. Apparently there was a spinning class today but I didn’t see it until too late. I put it on the calendar in the spring to check the page before the spring event in case they offer it again. They did have a rigid heddle demo and a fiber crafting demo this time which I feel like was new but didn’t require signing up. It’s still a very cute little festival but a spinning class would have taken it to the next level.

We actually went to the downtown area and got sandwiches at Crabapples and ate outside then returned to the festival for the one o’clock drawing. I feel like we have to make the most of these sunny days when we have them! Especially since we aren’t doing many indoor activities and winter is long.

While walking to lunch I “stole” some marigolds and mums that had overgrown into the walkway near some businesses. I think it might be just enough to eco print my walnut scarf!

Then on our way home I noticed someone in the neighborhood had posted they were sharing some flower arrangements in squash for free and we swung by! A mysterious voice from the house told me to take two. How sweet is that?

All in all a very successful day! I’m still hoping to go to the Alpaca festival next month but at least I got some fun things now in case it’s too cold or the event gets canceled.

Landis Valley Museum Harvest Days

We visited the museum back in August and enjoyed it. I had checked out their events and class calendar (I wish we were a little closer, their classes all look great) and noted their biggest event was in October. Since it was nice weather this past weekend we thought we thought it was worth a drive.

We went to Flying Fibers and then drove about 25 more minutes to the museum. I wasn’t sure what to expect, the descriptions were a little vague—food, demonstrations, pumpkins—and it said it was family friendly. Family friendly is great but when you don’t have kids it can be a red flag—is it code for “this is really for toddlers”? We came up with some back up activities in nearby Ephrata and figured it was worth the risk.

I’m glad we went! It was actually a lot of fun. It was kid friendly and they had some small kid activities but it was largely groups of adults and older elementary or middle school aged children. One little girl was dressed in an old fashioned dress and bonnet with a cloth doll and seemed very excited to be there which was fun to see.

Neither of us were really expecting vendors but there were a lot of niche vendors what sold niche crafts and were showing off their goods. we bought a sassafras bowl/dipper from a cooper (who also teaches coopering at the museum at times!), some wool from a spinner, had a long chat with a woman who canes chairs (my husband now really wants to do this) and a woman who made jewelry out of human and horse hair like Victorian hair work. I think she might be a good speaker for my weaving guild next year! It was very interesting to see the weaving process. There were also farmers with pawpaws and different types of apples, potters and gourd artists. One table was selling tape looms (even fancier than the ones we had bought at the museum before with an extra decorative hole section), pot pie noodle rolling pins (I was tempted) and other wooden handcrafts.

The museum had a lot of artisans out doing cooking demos in the wood ovens, butchering and making scrapple over a wood fire, apple cider pressing and the Lancaster Weaving and Spinning Guild was there. They talked to us about their sheep to shawl competitions in the PA Farm show and we bought one of the shawls they made during practice runs. I never really thought about them practicing but it makes sense, it’s basically a relay race but with sheep and wool!

The woman we talked to suggested I join the guild because they have frequently talks with guest speakers and it’s all over Zoom. Apparently they have some members who live further out in PA and only make the big in person events so my hour or so away in MD isn’t that big of a deal. Honestly, it is quicker for me in Northern Baltimore City to get to the Lancaster area than it is to get to the area where the “Greater Baltimore” weaving guild meets/holds their shows heading down towards DC/Columbia.

I went ahead and joined. I can’t imagine I could come to too many in person activities but their offerings are plentiful and still largely online. The woman told us how having them via Zoom has been a boon because they don’t have to pay for travel and lodging for their guest speakers because people can remote in from anywhere. I love my current guild and of course will remain a member there but for $25, the membership benefits of the Lancaster guild are great. They even have a private YouTube channel with old classes on it.

I’m really glad we went! It was a beautiful day, everyone was so nice, we were so inspired and I even foraged some black walnuts to try to dye some yarn for my local guild’s dye challenge.

Playful Peg Loom Weaving: A modern approach to the ancient technique of peg loom weaving, plus 17 projects to make by Stéphanie Fradette

I was excited to get this ARC from Netgalley! I read a lot and regularly review books but there are rarely craft books on there.

It was a major record scratch moment when I saw this book. I had to “wish” for it and that wish was granted. I enjoyed using my peg loom recently but wasn’t sure what to make next. There aren’t too many books or patterns out there! The Facebook group is largely made up of people making rugs out of their own fleece which is not my situation at all.

This looked like a colorful, modern approach to peg loom weaving and I wasn’t disappointed.

I really appreciated the very clear photographs of the different stitches. So many books are vague and only have drawings which can be difficult to follow. I’ve actually never even encountered a book or pattern for the peg loom that had you do anything but the most basic weaves. This incorporated a lot of modern tapestry techniques which I really enjoyed. Several of the projects used weaving sticks (which are basically the peg loom without the stand) to make smaller projects which I liked. I need to get some narrower sticks!

I really liked how she organized the book into how long the projects took. I really like projects I can do while watching a movie or listening to a podcast and there is a whole section on weeknight crafting.

I am interested in learning more about the UK weaving and craft scene! This is not the first UK based less conventional weaving book I’ve come across, I also have a rag rug book by a different author that is very good and I’ve checked others out of the library. The US weaving scene seems large but I don’t see that many books coming out and not many about these more unusual smaller looms and techniques. Here Noreen Crone-Findlay seems to have basically cornered that market, her books are fine but I don’t generally see myself making any of her patterns and her videos are hit and miss. I don’t know if it is our publishing houses that aren’t putting out these books or if these types of crafts are just more popular in the UK. Here the focus really seems to be on floor looms and some rigid heddle.

The book isn’t out yet but you can pre-order it on Amazon. I normally don’t like craft books on the Kindle but this one works well in the format, I didn’t notice any formatting errors.

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 .