The Shoe’s on the Other Foot

I have a tabletop hand loom that I bought from my high school art teacher (Miss Zola, if you’re out there, you’re the bomb), and I honestly haven’t touched it in probably 20 years. I’ve made a few placemats, but that’s about it. Still, I’ve hauled the thing across this great country of ours, through the three states we’ve lived in, in the crafter’s eternal hope that one day I’ll use it again. When I have more time, of course.

This weekend, our local fiber guild hosted a hand weaving demo day at the library. They provided half a dozen different standing and tabletop looms, and were very sweet and approachable to everyone of all ages that showed up. They offered to let me try my hand at any of the machines, and even though they looked intimidating with all their wires, strings and moving parts, I gave it a whirl. It was really fun and not hard at all. Having someone else do all the setup so all you have to do is sit down and go is quite a help, but I’m fairly certain they don’t come like that out of the box when you buy it.

Yup, those last four rows are all me, baby.
Yup, those last four rows are all me, baby.

My teacher was very knowledgeable about hand weaving, even though she said she’d “only been at it 3 or 4 years”, and answered all my questions.

Because I had a lot of questions. A lot. As she sat me down to explain how to get going, I had to stop her every three or four words to ask, “What does that term that you just used mean?” “I’m afraid I don’t know which part of the machine you just mentioned.” “What do those numbers on the chart mean?”


And she answered every one of them, very patiently. And as I sat there with no real knowledge besides what I had taught myself in high school twenty-fi<cough> years ago, I had a startling realization.

“Is this what I sound like when someone new comes to my knitting club for the first time? Do I throw all sorts of knitting jargon at them so it sounds like I’m speaking another language?”

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat on that particular side of the learning curve. It gave me a fresh perspective on the educational part of what I do. I feel like I am appropriately welcoming to everyone without them thinking I’m some kind of cult leader prepared to abduct them on the spot (I am fully confident they will want to stay of their own accord within five minutes of trying it). But am I explaining the basics without overwhelming them? Sometimes in my love of sharing my craft I don’t always consciously think about that. I will certainly be doing so at our next meeting, and hopefully after that. I learned a lot more than I expected when I walked into that room yesterday.

On a side note, I had no idea that by comparison to hand weaving, knitting is a cheap hobby. Just the machinery itself starts at $200, for the basic, no-frills table option, and can go up to several thousand dollars for “the good ones.”

So while it was fun to test drive all their looms, I think that I’ll stick with my needles for the time being. Of course, I’ve still got my tabletop one just waiting to be dusted off.


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