Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Clara gets a loom... or does she?
Last week I finally found a new home for my knitting machine, ill-fated fiber fad number 3,614. Barely had the ink dried on the transaction when I succumbed to yet another fiber-frienzied acquisition. Encouraged by my blissful experience weaving on Julie's loom for a few short rows, as well as by the fact that another loom was available from the same source as Julie's, I got in the car and drove two hours northwest of here to a destination otherwise known as The Boonies.

The Road to Loomville

I'd already been in the car for three hours that morning for my weekly trek to Portland. But the loom's current guardian was leaving town soon, shutting up the house for the winter. Moreover, at any moment someone else could have arrived, pointed at my loom and said, "I'll have it." Therefore, as you so clearly see, immediate action was my only option.
Clara's loom
Up, up, up I drove, winding through ghost town after ghost town, passing endless closed mills ("ooooh," thinks Clara, "the real estate!"), slinking past perfect swimming ponds (did I mention it was 94 degrees?), over mountain passes (otherwise known as "big hills" to the rest of the country), and through several beautiful valleys until I reached my destination of Weld, Maine. The fall leaves were already beginning to change, making this beautiful town exquisitely bucolic. I passed the Ye Olde Post Office, turned down a bumpy dirt lane, and arrived at the 1700s cape that had been home to my loom since its arrival there in the late 1950s.

The Transaction

I met the loom owner's daughter, we chatted, she reminisced, I saw where the loom had sat for decades in a sunny downstairs corner overlooking fields and apple trees. We ventured into the attic, gathered all the materials we could find, loaded them into the car, assigned the loom a name (Stella), smilingly completed our business transaction, and home I drove, another two hours through the darkness back from whence I had just come.

I brought it upstairs into my Portland warehouse/studio and set it up without any trouble. It is beautiful, with the weathered patina that only comes from years of use and love. It was made by Rollo Purrington (aka "the elder"), who worked out of Dennis on Cape Cod for many years. It has six treadles, four harnesses, a 32-inch weaving width, and yet something appears dreadfully wrong. What could it be, I asked myself?

The Discovery

Where there should be harnesses and a reed, there is NOTHING. And without this equipment, my loom is nothing more than a big folding wooden ode to incomplete weaving tools of decades past. The loom owner is thousands of miles away in a continuing care facility. And her daughter is either still in town but not answering her rotary phone, which conveniently has no answering machine, or has packed up and headed home for the winter.

The Bigger Question

Will this loom work out even worse than the Great Knitting Machine Fiasco of 1996? Do you know of a good source for obsolete loom parts? (Oh yes, I forgot to mention that Rollo passed away almost 30 years ago and his son, not nearly as talented a craftsman as his father, gradually drove the business into the ground.) Do you have an equally tragic story you can share to help me feel less foolish? Send it to Clara AT knittersreview DOT com.

1 comment:

Lauree said...

Hello, I just returned from Weld, ME with a Rollo Purrington loom. We were not in the market for a loom, but what do you know we got one. I was searching the internet for some info about it and came across your post. How did you end up making out. Is it somethng you kept? Did you ever get the missing parts?