undyedyarnpire: cartoon voodoo doll, looks like knitting needles stuck everywhere (Default)
Having put my loom away for almost 2 weeks, I am almost ready to try again. My experience was so horrible the first time, but I think a lot of that has to do with being a beginner and mis-understanding the instructions. I hope that is the case.

I will not need to assemble the loom again, which should prevent the heinous disaster I experienced. People at knitting group laughed when I told the story (since I meant for it to be funny, that is fine) about how I was supposed to melt the ends of the texsolv cord to prevent fraying and thought since I was only doing 4 cords, I might just use a match instead of lighting a candle. I burned my thumb, dropped the match, and set some papers on fire. Luckily I was able to blow the papers out and did not need a fire extinguisher, but you might guess that my opinion of the loom instantly dropped to a bitter negative one. 

Next came the actual using of the texsolv cord. In the assembly instructions, the word "loop" is used at least three different ways. You wrap the cord around the beam to make a "loop" and stick the end through one of the "loops" in the other end of the cord. Next you make a "loop" with the cord to attach the tie-up bar. But that one really meant, "Pinch a fold of the cord in the middle and put this through the hole at the loose end of the cord." So, not only was the explanation vague to the point of incomprehensibility, it says nothing about the extremely tight nature of the texsolv cord. It was so tight that in my imagination I kept hearing the cord scream like an abducted  virgin heroine in an historical romance. Accomplishing that maneuver with a burned thumb was painful. 

Anyway, having warped once and a half times, I should avoid the obvious pitfalls that resulted from instructions that were written "Do A B D E repeat across, oh, by the way, make sure to do C every time too." Anyone who had warped a loom before would know C, wrap around tie-up bar, but I had no idea and had to unwarp a lot of very finicky yarn. 

I had problems with the warping, but the second time it mostly worked. However, layers of warp intermingled during the winding on, so my tension was wonky when I started weaving. (I did not notice during the process and it was only by reading the Ravelry group where someone else had a similar issue with wonky tension that I found the explanation. The instructions actually say that no warp wrapping is needed.) The warping is ridiculously tedious and a complete pain in the entire body. It is honestly horrible. And this is the "direct warping" that makes rigid heddle looms "so much easier" than multi-shaft looms. I warped about 9" and cannot imagine owning a 32" wide loom. Some of the warping and sleying (putting the yarn through the holes of the heddle) problems were because the tools provided with my loom are inefficient and completely pathetic. The "sleying hook" does not fit into the slots of the 10-dent heddle without forcing it. And the sleying hook is under 2 inches long and plastic. It is, actually, a strangely shaped guitar pick. There is no reason why what comes in the box as an "everything you need to get started" should not work together seamlessly. They probably should ship the looms with the 8-dent heddle unless they find another sleying hook that fits better. They actually recommend using dental floss threaders for the 12-dent heddle in the instructions.

The other problem with the winding on is that was when the ratchets started grinding the under-surface because the instructions do not say to set the loom with the front edge hanging off of the table. These instructions give a diagram of a slip knot, but never mention anything about where the clamp that holds the loom stable is supposed to go. The clamp is not even in any of the pictures. I was mostly able to figure out what I should do based on the pictures and the fact that there is only one place to put the clamp (on the underside of the loom's front stabilizer brace.) But if the instructions had mentioned this, there would have been a lot less destruction of the pad I had placed under the loom. I am mostly thankful that I had taken extra precautions. 

So I was extremely angry the whole time I was weaving the first project. Some of that was because the stick shuttle gave me splinters. How difficult would it be to actually sand a flat piece of wood? That is inexcusably bad quality control. 

Now I have little rubber feet from the hardware store to raise the loom up and protect the table from the ratchets if the clamp slips (which it does frequently unless you are willing to damage your table tightening the clamp) and I have come up with a way to indirect warp (where one measures and cuts the warp threads and sleys them afterward instead of during) which will save me from having to lean in to do detail work then immediately stand and walk around the room before hunching back down again. Plus I know better now. I know how to position the loom to use the clamp and avoid table damage. I know how a correctly warped loom should look. I bought some warp separating bamboo mats to help reduce intermingling the warp layers during winding on. 

I hated my loom because I did not have what I really needed to make it work. I lacked in experience. I lacked in understanding the directions. I hurt myself and damaged property during the assembly because of the instructions.

In my opinion, corners were cut in the design choices and those choices affect the versatility of the loom (it is extremely difficult to use this loom on your lap because of the ratchets). If the lumber on the ratchet mounting sides had been wider, then the loom could be folded and stored flat on a tabletop when not in use, but that cannot happen since the ratchet teeth stand proud of the surface in every orientation. The loom does not fold up well at all, the knobs are strained when the loom is folded. The pegs holding the loom in the open configuration (it can be folded while warped) splintered the wood in their holes. The wood feels unfinished, though it might have some sort of clearcoat. It certainly is not professionally varnished for durability and long-lasting service. I feel like what came in the box is insufficient to make the product work correctly. 

Many of these problems have been addressed by fixing the user and aftermarket solutions. But I must heartily recommend against this loom due to the instructions, the ratchet teeth, the poor quality finish, and the lousy included tools. If this loom was $80-100 and marketed as an unfinished loom for experienced weavers, I think it would be fine. Since it is assembled, I will feel no guilt selling the loom should the second project go anything but silkenly smooth, provided I explain to the buyer how the loom should be mounted. I am still considering weaving as a potential hobby, but this is definitely why everyone keeps recommending try-before-you-buy because everyone-is-different. I will see if I can try out other rigid heddle looms in person before buying the next one. 
undyedyarnpire: cartoon voodoo doll, looks like knitting needles stuck everywhere (Default)
There is progress with the loom. I have had a lot of adjustment issues that it really seems like should have been covered by the instructions. The instructions include a diagram of a slip knot, so why would they not show you where the clamp that holds the loom in the right position should be placed? 

loom with scarf
undyedyarnpire: cartoon voodoo doll, looks like knitting needles stuck everywhere (Default)
 My Emilia arrived today. It is much bigger than I expected. I sincerely doubt I would want something larger than this without a dedicated stand. 

The final assembly is a real pain to do. The instructions made very little sense. Luckily they were accompanied by pictures so I found a way to make it look like that. I heartily dislike tex-solv cord. If this is the miraculous wonder material that has saved weavers from a lifetime of struggle and toil, the previous stuff must have been, "Harvest your own varicose veins and use them to tie...." 

Anyway, one must attach the tie-up bars to the beams with tex-solv. Cutting "14-inch" lengths of tex-solv, burning the ends in an open flame (which it does not tell you that you need, I guess this is not a dorm-room friendly assembly!) for each hole in the back and front beams. One wraps the beam with the cord, one pulls an end through the first hole in the other end of the tex-solv cord, one feeds that resulting tail through the hole in the beam. Then one pinches the middle of the loose half of the cord and shoves that loop into a hole at the end of the cord. One quickly inserts the tie-up bar into that loop and snugs the loop up tight. The cord-loop does not go through the hole in the tie-up bar and just sort of hangs out. Repeat for all beam holes. However, tex-solv cord does not like to have things stuffed through or into its virgin holes. Since the beams and tie-up bars are standard, I am really unclear on why I had to do this. It did not save them any room in the carton. 

The entire point of having me attach the tie-up bar seems to be, "Frustrate her as much as possible right up front. Make getting started extremely difficult so she gives up. She has already bought the loom and it is not returnable."

Warping the loom was not fun. I have already failed at it once. The first step is to mark the center of the heddle. Why is this a manual step? It could easily be done at the factory. Then one is supposed to center the size of the warp across the heddle and mark those points with threads. Fine. I do this. I follow the instructions about tying the warp yarn onto the tie-up bar, I follow the instructions about fishing the yarn through with the sleying hook. I pull the warp loop around the warping peg. I "keep doing this". Then I read, "... making sure to wrap the yarn around the tie-up bar after each slot." That is like a recipe that goes through 45 minutes of prep, 30 minutes of waiting, and after final assembly when the cake cannot wait or it won't rise, saying, "Bake in an oven preheated to 350F." Without having mentioned heating the oven up earlier when there was time. So I had to laboriously unwind the warp I had painstakingly fished through a dozen slots. 

Later I changed warp yarns and began again. I did it correctly. I followed the steps to the halfway point and I am now ready to fish from slot to hole.

loom picture

This has been incredibly irritating and I am convinced there must be a better way than this, because this is ridiculous. I cannot quite imagine a better way, but there are books which should arrive at some point and they might help. There are probably YouTube videos as well. 
undyedyarnpire: cartoon voodoo doll, looks like knitting needles stuck everywhere (Default)
I have a complaint about how words were used. If you can mentally hear the guy in The Princess Bride saying, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." That might help. 

If you have a website and you say something is "in stock", especially if you give a count of the number of that item which are "in stock", I do not think that should mean, "We will call the manufacturer and have it drop shipped to you at some point in the nebulous future." If something is being drop-shipped at a date uncontrollable by your store, then it is not "in stock". If you have to call the manufacturer to check whether the item that was ordered and expected to arrive this week is actually available at all, then you completely misunderstood what "in stock" means to the customer. You are also in violation of my expectations of privacy because you are disclosing my personal data to a fourth party (store, shipper, now manufacturer).

Although I am resigned at this point to getting the loom I settled for, I am extremely angry at the purchasing experience. If I had known they were going to lie about the availability, I would not have bought the 13" Emilia, despite the deal. 
undyedyarnpire: cartoon voodoo doll, looks like knitting needles stuck everywhere (Default)
Sadly, today my top choice of rigid heddle loom is for sale, used, locally, on Craigslist, for about half the retail price (after all the extras are included). 

Can I admit that I want to buy that too, just in case the small one is insufficient for my needs? 

What if I let this one go and do not like the tiny Emilia that is not here yet? I did get a confirmation email this morning but it said they would email directly if my item was "backordered", like they do not know if they have it? So are they going to wait until someone else buys the used loom on CL before telling me, "Ha! Ha!"? 

I also had a spot of concern because that is a hefty discount and if I do not like my loom, I want to be able to resell it for much closer to my purchase price. But there were still people paying full price for Flips and Crickets on the various Ravelry groups, so probably it is the CL underpricing. I will be sure to list my loom in the appropriate Rav groups first. 

Plus at that price, the CL loom was probably gone instantly, so I would not have gotten it. 
undyedyarnpire: cartoon voodoo doll, looks like knitting needles stuck everywhere (Default)
I bought a loom.

I had 3 choices I really liked.
  • floor loom, Glimakra Julia. But honestly I've never woven and $1K is a lot to try something out. Plus the space, the space...
  • rigid heddle loom, LeClerc Bergere, but it doesn't have a stand available, it doesn't fold up and it's kind of big. 
  • rigid heddle loom, Glimakra Emilia. I loved the 19" version but couldn't find anywhere that actually had them. They were the vaporware of looms.
Most people said that RH looms are better with a stand unless you get a really tiny one like a 15" Schacht Flip. 

So when Paradise Fibers sent a Year End Clearance coupon code good for 10% off almost everything (except LeClerc looms and some spinning wheels) I went and looked. They had the 13" Emilia. So I bought one on the spot. I figure it will not need a stand because it is small enough and if I need to do big things, I probably want a floor loom anyway. 

It has been more than a year of looking and and handwringing trying to find the right choice. I hope this was it, but certainly with the sale price, I can resell it for closer to my cost. 

I started looking for a loom because someone, somewhere said weaving uses up gobs of yarn. I have a lot more yarn than I can possibly knit in my lifetime. (I am a very slow knitter and easily distracted when something is not for me.) But I love yarn and want to keep spinning, so I needed to find something that would help. 

I expect to be rather happy with my purchase, and there will be pictures. 



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undyedyarnpire: cartoon voodoo doll, looks like knitting needles stuck everywhere (Default)
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January 2015

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