Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Replacable parts

I am sure that you know that every part on a Macomber Loom is replaceable. In our plastic throw-away culture, this is truly a unique phenomena. When people ask me about getting parts for old looms, I reply, YES! I even had a request this week about parts for a loom built in 1939!  
Loom built in 1939

My Macomber Looms Manual has received good reviews. Many thanks again to Sue Jensen for her part in organizing the materials. You can order this PDF download here...just look for the buy now button to your right. I'll send you the download within 24 hours. Thanks to everyone who has purchased the manual so far! I truly appreciate your support.

And here in my studio, I continue to wrap up "Woven Voices"  and to focus on my thesis for the Masters of Art and Healing. My website has a mini-blog that has more studio news. Check it out!

Thanks to each of you for your kind words of support and compassion. I feel so incredibly fortunate to be amongst this tribe of supportive weavers. I welcome your questions and orders.

Happy weaving! Sarah

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

From tidal wave to charting a new course

Me and Wes on our trans-Atlantic crossing
As a sailor, I know that one can set a course, navigate to the best of one's ability and still not make your destination. As in real life there are many influences to throw one off course. The course I set back in July, on my last blog post, was to take three months off to conclude "Woven Voices: Messages from the Heart" , to evaluate my relationship with Macomber Looms and to complete my thesis for my Masters of Art and Healing. It seems that the universe had other plans for my three month sabbatical. On August 18th, my dear brother Weston was tragically killed at a constructions site in Searsport, ME. Needless to say this event altered my intended course in an unexpected and new direction. You can read how this event affected Woven Voices by checking out the project blog. As far as my thesis, well, I have had little to no progress. For much of the past three months, I have felt like I have been submerged by a tidal wave. If any of you have had a sudden and tragic loss such as this, you know that it feels hard to breath, you feel disoriented and turned around.
Fall colors
The good news is, that I am emerging. Slowly and surely each day, I make motions to move forward with intention, love and purpose. Thanks to everyone who has reached out during this difficult time with kind words of support.

As far as my relationship with Macomber, I am returning to sell parts for looms. However there is one change, all reed and heddle orders will directly go through me, payment via PayPal or check. Prices for these items will remain as listed in the price list.


Now for the REALLY GOOD NEWS....drum roll here.....an angel has stepped forward to help create the long over due Macomber Looms and Me blog/manual!! Sue Jensen is my angel. She reached out to me about a month ago and has compiled all the blog posts into one document, including photos and any comments/questions. I will be posting this PDF soon, available for a small fee. Thanks Sue!!


So that is it for now. Thanks again to everyone for reaching out and for your continued support of my efforts on this blog. I look forward to hearing from everyone.

I know that over these three months, the process of weaving has kept me from going way off course. I hope that for each of you, the time you spend with threads brings a quality of peace, grace and hope to your days.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Times they are a-changin'

As the great folk poet Bob Dylan sang, the times they are a-changing. Beginning August 1, 2011, I will be taking a sabbatical from my job as a sales rep for Macomber Looms. There are a few reasons I have decided to take this break, but the primary one is that I must focus more of my time and energy to "Woven Voices: Messages from the Heart", the global community peace project that I launched almost four years ago. This project is at a pivotal point and demands my full attention.
Community woven prayer flags

In addition to this global peace project, this fall I will be completing my master thesis for my degree in Art and Healing from Wisdom University. 

So for at least until early November, I will no longer be taking orders, answering questions or problem solving for you dear weavers. I feel very torn about this decision, but I know in my heart it is the right thing to do at this time.

I will continue to follow and support folks who have placed orders and are still awaiting delivery.

So if you have orders that you would like to place before I sign off....please give me a call or email me until  Saturday 8/1/11.

You can keep up with my work my projects and my teaching through my other blog and my website.

Peace and goodwill to each of you ~ Sarah

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Celebrations, summer and a flash back!

Happy Belated Peace-filled Independence Day!

I have been busy in the studio overseeing the Woven Voices weaving project...and we are making peace flags like crazy! I have about a dozen weavers coming over the course of each week! Special thanks to all you Macomber blog readers who responded to my Kickstarter project....we made our funding goal on Sunday!!

It is summer here in Maine and the living is easy, full of amazing opportunities to be with family, friends and nature. Today I took my (almost) daily swim in the near by salt water cove (with wet suit!!) and little dog Faye was right on my heels the whole 3/4 mile swim!

Mom weaves a prayer flag 2008
This week my mother celebrates her 90th birthday. She is an AMAZING woman. She treated herself to a hot air balloon ride as a birthday present!! For her birthday the family is gathering at her home in Yarmouth, Maine. Happy Birthday Mom!!

And while I was preparing for her birthday, I was going through old photos to make a collage for her. Look at this vintage clipping I found! 

Me at age 29, weaving at the Macomber shop. For a few years, I ran weaving classes in the upstairs of the barn shop. Geez...I look awfully young!
Local news story about Macomber Looms 32 years ago!!
Woven Voices prayer flag in South Africa Buddhist garden.
I hope you are having a fun summer, finding time to celebrate the loving connections of family and old friends while enjoying the beauty of nature.

I enjoy hearing from each of you and if you are in Maine this summer, look me up!

Happy Weaving ! ~~ Sarah

Monday, June 20, 2011

The dawn of summer


I have two dogs. One dog is a long term visitor. Meet Avery, a Labradoodle. She has been with us off and on for five years while her owners circumnavigated the world. (yes, her family is the one I sailed across the Atlantic with).This week she will return to her family who have landed back in South Freeport, Maine, having completed their voyage. We will miss you Avery!
Avery the dog.

Faye snoozing on the couch

Our resident dog is Faye. She is an English Cocker. She weighs about 22 pounds, but being the alpha dog...she rules the homestead with her bossy-pants attitude!

Both of these dogs keep me on my toes. I recommend a studio dog...because they make you get up about every 20 minutes to open the door and let them in or out.  This is an excellent habit for us weavers who tend to sit too long in one position. So dog or no dog....try to get up and stretch about every 20 minutes!
Riley modeling his doggie coat
Keith's loom

Do you have a studio dog?? Here's one from Canada sporting his new hand woven outfit!! Here's what Riley's owner, Keith says "Here are a couple of pictures of Riley’s tartan doggie coat on my Macomber and on the model.  It’s 18/2 superfine Merino in real red, emerald green and pewter grey woven as balanced twill at 23 epi on my 40 inch Macomber. The cloth was woven by yours truly and wet finished with Eucalan in tepid water. Mrs. Melanie Mitchell, a staff member at the N.B. college of Craft and Design here in Fredericton made up the coat. There’s a layer of polyester felt between two layers of the woven cloth joined with bias tape. The coat fastens with Velcro at the neck and under the abdomen. Riley is our 11 year old West Highland white terrier. Hence, the tartan (Riley’s plaid)."


So if you have a studio assistant that has four legs, send me a photo! Especially send  images that show these companions in your studio. Now if you have a chicken or other critter, great! All photos welcome!

inserted eye heddle
Now on to the more serious business of weaving! I was recently asked about heddles. Right now, as far as I understand there is only one kind of heddle available in the world. It is the inserted eye heddle shown here.

three kinds of heddles
There are other heddles still on looms that are older and different. Liz from CA sent me this great photo of three kinds of heddls that she has on her loom. Older Macomber looms have heddles like # C. Then for a spell looms came with #B. And now the inserted eye heddles # A come on all looms. There it is, the abc's of heddles!

Today is the day before the summer solstice. As many of you know I love summer! It is a time of year that we Maineiacs wait for all year! I have been swimming once already in the ocean (with wet suit!).

This summer in my studio, I am offering a Grand Finale to my Woven Voices community project. As a part of this Grand Finale, I will be busy weaving 1000 prayer flags with the help of community volunteers. This project is being supported  by a Kickstarter fund drive.

We are still looking for funds to reach our goal, as this is all or nothing funding. Please check out the 2 minute video

"Woven Voices" is a grass roots community project that uses weaving to lift the human spirit. Thank you to everyone for all the amazing support! ~  Sarah
every prayer flag gives joy

P.S. I have a weaver looking for photos of the wheels or castors on a loom. If you happen to have these on your loom....please send me photos so that I can post them! Thanks!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Who said you can't....

The old maxim..."Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks" works perfectly for old looms. Here is a terrific story sent to me by some inspiring blog readers.

This is an OLD Loom!
The Loom over view
"My wife and I bought an aging Macomber 40” loom about twelve years ago. Contacting Macomber, we were able to ascertain that it had been built in Saugus in 1953. 

Undaunted, we disassembled it, cleaned and varnished all the woodwork, and renewed the fasteners. The loom had only four shafts, but a castle that would accommodate ten. As a metal sculptor, I was able to duplicate the  existing shafts, jacks, lamms, and treadles such that we now have a ten shaft loom. My wife (the weaver; I am the LT --- the loom tech) has turned out scarves, blankets, fabric and many other beautiful woven objects. She has always wanted to weave a rug, but was uncertain as to whether that would work out well on a jack loom. We decided to gamble on altering the existing loom to make it as compatible as possible with the somewhat more robust demands of rug weaving.
 

The first step, in order to provide greater tension on the warp, was to increase the distance between the shafts and the back beam. We were able to move the entire back beam structure---as it was---to increase the warp depth by some 30”. The supporting horizontal black metal bar can be raised to give access when dressing the loom. At the same time, we put sturdy metal braces on all four corners of the castle structure to reduce any side-to-side motion. The entire loom is also bolted to the floor and to the studs in the adjoining wall. The apron ribbon on all three beams is “Mule” tape, a tape used by electricians. It has a breaking strength of 2500 pounds, is very thin and does not stretch.
 

Turn buckles on harnesses
breast beam "catch" for front side rod
From a discarded loom we were also able to add a second, plain warp beam to the already existing sectional beam, and to create a second back beam to accommodate the warp from this second warp beam. The raddles, and temples we made ourselves and we were fortunate enough to have an extra 12-dent reed, which we altered to a 6-dent one.

The rods that connect the jacks and lamms have always distressed me with their tendency to bend and stretch. To correct them such that their tension is equal and the lamms lay in a smooth line, we spliced small turnbuckles, available from the local hardware store, in line with the rods. This allows tightening or loosening of the rods as needed.

Following Peter Collingwood’s recommendations of “a pound of beater weight per inch of warp” we added two 20 pound steel bars to the beater, and to make it easier to handle, also added a handle.  
 

Of all these innovations, my favorite is the catch for the movable bars that allow the breast beam to be lowered to the floor when dressing the loom. With a simple notch filed into the bar and a screw in the vertical wooden member, the bar drops onto the screw as the breast beam is lowered, a huge help for those of us limited to having only two hands.

A successful sample has been woven. The linen warp in the pictures is for the first finished rug, which will be soon started."

Best wishes,
Reese T.


Thanks Reese for sharing your story! I still have so much to share...and so little time!   Check out the local newspaper story on my trip. I have been busy with teaching, but now...alas studio time!

Thanks to all for your orders, questions and encouragement!

Happy Weaving ~ Sarah

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thread by Thread

Giraffe love
"Thread by thread" is a standard phrase I use to remind myself that weaving is a slow, repetitive process that in the long run offers me time and space for reflection and encourages me to be grounded in the present moment.

As many of you know, this winter I sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Simonstown, South Africa to Barbados in the Caribbean. This seven week ocean passage offered me a similar opportunity. Through the repetition of daily life on board a 43' boat, the landless wide horizon and living under the stars, sun and moon, I found myself able to just hang out in the beauty of the present moment. To just sit and watch the horizon for hours was a precious gift.

I have much to share, many photos of our passage and of course Macomber Loom news. Thanks to everyone for keeping in touch with me. I realize that my last blog posting was in December. So I promise to do my best to share images, memories and news.

Elephant family on the move
Prior to leaving South Africa, our crew went on a short safari. Don't you just love the eye lashes and horns on this giraffe?? We had a wonderful extravagant 5 days in the bush. We were able to witness up close all of the Big Five (leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros), as well as many other beautiful animals, birds, trees, and flowers.

I have posted a short video on UTube of some lionesses we watched lounging in the hot South African sun. Check it out!
weaving in the produce
We left Simonstown, South Africa on January 26th. Here is an photo of my "weaving" the produce into a shelf to prevent it from flying around the cabin while we were under sail!
Land Ho! Approaching St Helena
Since we were East of The Cape of Good Hope, we had to scoot around this point and we now know why this point used to be called "Cape of Tempests". The waves, the wind and the current all combined to give our boat, Bahati, a rousing entrance to the South Atlantic. After about a week the seas calmed down and we had a lovely 2 week passage to St. Helena. This little rock of an island is where Napoleon was exiled and died. Here is a photo of our approach to St Helena and Longwood House, the estate where Napoleon lived during his exile.


From St Helena, we sailed for seven days to arrive at Ascension Island. This small island is mostly a military and communication outpost on a volcanic rock. The landscape on Ascension was a strange combination of red dirt hills, white sandy beaches, grey volcanic rubble and green lush jungle. This tiny island is where green sea turtles swim from Brazil to lay their eggs. We were there during egg laying season and watched these giant creatures lumber up on shore to dig a nest in the sand and deposit their eggs. You can see more images of this bizarre landscape by checking out the Ascension Island website.

Mars-like Ascension Island
We departed from Ascension Island and sailed
for 24 days to reach Barbados. I will continue to share images and stories of this amazing trans-Atlantic voyage.

Thanks to all of you who continued to place orders for Macomber looms and parts in my absence. Kudos to my dear husband Ben who learned more about this stuff than he bargained for!
Harriet Tidball threading her loom.
Notice the front beam is dropped down to allow easy threading.
So just like Harriet Tidball who is threading her loom, I continue to believe in the power of weaving to keep me grounded in the present moment.

And I continue to discover the beauty thread by thread, warp and weft.

Happy Spring from coastal Maine ~

Sarah