Grandma's Legacy: Learning How to Use a Loom
Learning how to use a loom let me use Grandma's instrument to weave generations together with homemade rugs.
I didn't want to see Grandma's loom leave her garage, much less the family.
illustration by Michele Tremaine
As a child I was fascinated as I sat watching my grandmother make rugs. I watched as she sewed strips of material together, and my sister and I often helped roll balls of cloth strips for her to use. As an adult, I always intended to have her teach me how to use a loom. Now, it was too late.
About a week after my grandmother passed away, a woman contacted our family wanting to buy Grandma’s rug loom. We needed to sell the loom for financial reasons, but I didn’t want to see the loom leave Grandma’s garage, much less the family.
My husband listened patiently as I wailed about losing my grandmother, who was very special to me, and now her loom. I worried that we couldn’t afford it. I also could not imagine where we would put it. It’s not small. When the price was set, I actually could afford it. But where to put it? How would I ever learn to use it?
What I wanted just didn’t seem practical. If I couldn’t learn to weave, we would just have a huge keepsake sitting around taking up space – a lot of it.
My younger brother encouraged me to buy it, and I knew I would forever regret not doing so. I jumped in with both feet and told Dad I wanted to buy the loom. My husband and I brought it home and put it in the garage.
After years of sitting idle in Grandma’s old garage, the loom needed work. I cleaned and polished the wood until it shone. But neither my husband nor I had any idea what to do with it.
Much to my surprise, my husband decided to build another room at the side of the garage just for the loom. When my grandson asked what Papa was building, my husband told him it was a room for Grandma. My poor grandson was very upset and asked, “Is Grandma going to have to sleep in the garage?”
I was very proud of my loom room. But I still didn’t know how to use the thing. We found the original owner’s manual in one of Grandma’s kitchen drawers, but it was useless to me. Warp, weft, shuttles and heddles? The book may as well have been written in Greek.
Finally, I found people who were more than willing to help. I became a part of a group of fiber artists. Until this time, fiber, to me, had been bran and oatmeal. This group of women taught me an appreciation for art forms I never knew existed, and I am in awe. These artists are constantly learning something new, and they can knit, crochet, weave, quilt, spin, tat – any number of techniques that we might consider skills of the past.