Before I start, I suppose I should warn you:  I am not a crass person.  Not my style of humor.  But I do happen to think kids throwing up is pretty funny.  Growing up as the oldest of seven, with my closest half-sibling 6 years younger than me, I took my laughs where I could get them.

And to set things up even further: on Thursday, because a relative pressed money on us for helping them move, my husband and I decided to do something we never do–walk down town, have dinner in a restaurant, and see a blockbuster movie at the Regal Multiplex.

“Oh, so THAT’s why the last non-Japanese animated film we saw in a theater was Mulan, when we were in college,” was our general feeling.  At 10 on a weeknight we were the only people at Wall-E.  During the entire second half of the movie, bored out of my gourd as the plot cycled through all the requisite cartoon conventions, I kept thinking: this is just the same as when we watch a boring DVD at home, only at home we would be on the couch and I’d lie down with my head on der Mann’s knee and go to sleep.

The beginning was strong.  (They should have kept the whole movie in the garbage dump and not allowed the robots to talk.)  To get to the beginning, however, we had to run the gauntlet of the “Regal Kids” (was that what it was called?) marketing and movie previews for thirty minutes.  I mean “run the gauntlet” in the traditional sense of being beaten with armored fists and stuck with small knives by drunken Vikings.

Since our TV can’t do anything but play DVD’s, media culture tends to jar us.  We expect that.  Our eyes bug out when we catch a half an hour of television at my relatives’ once a year.  But the previews before Wall-E went far, far beyond a little eye-bugging.  My husband and I stared full into the abyss of orgiastic pandering that is children’s entertainment.  By the time the movie started, I was ready to scratch a hole in the ground, crawl into it, and wait for the cretinous Eloi and Morlock generations produced by these movies to grow up and eat me.

In other words, the tone of the previews totally undermined the cheery propaganda of Wall-E.

Our favorite place to walk is a trail in a valley with a creek and some woods.  We were very happy to discover it this spring, because it is the only natural greenway in our new city!  (The parks department here is good at sports complexes and bad at parklands.)  On Sunday we went there to stretch our legs and check on the progress of the caterpiller-treaded machines that are destroying it for posterity.

Very thorough, we concluded.  Then, since I was in a bad mood already I said, “Why don’t we go see Prince Caspian at the Kiggins Theater?”

I liked the Narnia books enough that I’d purposely avoided the movie version of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, but I was interested in Prince Caspian because it was supposed to be a throw-away.  People complained it went too far from the book.  In that case, I figured I could just forget about the source material and watch it as a fantasy action film.  And if we got bored we could leave because tickets are only $4 for a double feature.

The Kiggins Theater is a poured-cement art deco cinema from the 30’s that shows second run movies.  It’s a surprise it’s survived in this town.  I like it, though we’d only been there once before since it doesn’t usually have the movies we want to see.  It’s such a home-style place that you walk inside and buy your ticket (only there are no physical tickets) from the teen-or-early-20’s person running the concession stand.  And since the movie doesn’t seem to start until they’re done serving refreshments I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re also the projectionist.

There is something I really miss in modern theaters: big big screens with curtains.  Of course the curtains are totally pointless (dust reduction?) if there isn’t a stage as well; I don’t know why I’m so attached to the theatrical symbolism, but I am.  When all the munching masses were settled in their sprung seats at the Kiggins (many are mended with floral vinyl circa 1969) and the curtains parted on the huge screen in the huge auditorium, I felt the most wonderful “ah” of happy 1930’s expectation.  Like time travel without the Morlocks.  Like Life On Mars without the irony.

There were no previews, and Prince Caspian was the perfect movie to carry that feeling, since it begins with the classic cinematic device of a desperate royal escape: paneled chambers and swirled cloaks and a moonlit horse chase.

Since I wasn’t watching it as Prince Caspian, and the Pevensies didn’t show up for a while, I was totally enchanted.  It just happened to be one of those films (rare for me) whose faults are the kind I find easy to forgive.  As far as I’m concerned Caspian and Reepicheep carried the movie.  And the location scout.  And the costumes.

One of der Mann’s and my favorite things to do is get on line and read A.O. Scott’s New York Times movie reviews aloud to each other, preferably of a film we’ve already seen, the better to savor his bon mots.  We happened to read the review for Prince Caspian a few months ago and I remembered Scott commenting (though he disliked the movie) on the exceptional performances of both Miraz and the young Italian actor who played the prince.

Um, no.  I’d misremembered the review.  The actor who played Miraz is the Italian, and very good, but I went clear through the movie thinking the actor who played Caspian was this incredible Italian ingenue:  “Wow, his delivery is flawless!  He’s got an almost perfect feel for the cadence of English, yet without any of that stage-brat actorishness British actors tend to bring to heroic roles!” I marveled.  “They made a really good choice casting an Italian instead of a Brit!  And he isn’t even very good looking!”

The remarkable thing was the way Caspian (Ben Barnes is his name) could take the silliest overblown lines and utter them with perfect authority and sincerity–natural sincerity, not the over-wrought over-earnestness that most people use.   With a consistent accent.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kind of screen presence in an actor born after 1920.  It made sense to me that he would be Italian because it was just so . . . foreign to the usual experience.

This level of dramatic authority is very useful if you are the centerpiece of a movie with a bad script, bad direction, talking animals, and impaired fellow actors.  It would have been a shambles without him.  As it was, I enjoyed it thoroughly!  I’ve seen a single good stage actor rescue a stage play just the same way.

What was most interesting to me was that Prince Caspian had all the elements of a really good movie; it was as if they had just been misassembled.  If the powers had cut out some of the stupider bits (forced love interest, for example), and expanded a few of the non-stupid ones; added some more CGI where it would really help the story (conveying the feeling of “Aslan on the move”), and taken it out where it was wasted (gryphons clutching aerial spies), they could have made something really grand for exactly the same amount of money, with all the same sets, all the same costumes, and all the same actors!

Different director, naturally.  (I’d have voted for Alfonso Cuarón of the third Harry Potter movie.)  I think it is mostly the director’s fault that the kids’ performances were so poor.  They gave poor Peter a bad hair day for the whole movie!  No wonder he pouted like a rock star!  Their scenes were so short the kids had no time to craft them, and (I’m pretty sure) no help getting in the right place to jump in cold.  Edmund was the exception.  Like Caspian he was a pro and always had perfect presence.  I was really looking forward to the scene when he delivered the challenge to Miraz, and I wasn’t disappointed, even though it was too short.

Der Mann and I reminisced that we had both been really impressed by the idea of the combat on the links when we first read the book as kids.  Deadly, courtly single combat is something you just don’t find in novels for children.  It seemed grown-up and illicit.  The whole book had very much that feeling of a series of important vignettes, which I think would have been the key to a good adaptation.  We agreed that we would have liked to see fewer scenes crammed in, allowing the ones that were included to be given more weight.  They tried to do that with the combat.  Der Mann liked it, but I thought it became too stagey and intense by taking place in the ruins rather than on the grass–more like a passionate duel than a deadly contest.

On the whole, pretty much everything I didn’t like about the movie just made me laugh.  I laughed at the gryphons.  I laughed at the trebouchets (gotta have trebouchets!).  I laughed at the crude subplot of Peter’s and Caspian’s jockeying for male dominance.  I laughed when that bizarre pop anthem started up during the final scene.  These things were all so truncated and tacked-on, they were no more disfiguring to the overall movie than a mustache scribbled on a magazine model.  I tried not to laugh often or loudly enough to bother the people around me, though I think it would have been a fair return for all the noisy popcorn chomping and pop swilling.

Okay, so the Kiggins Theater puts me in a good mood.  But the movie really was a lot of fun.  The production had gone for the feel of the Pauline Baynes illustrations.  Or am I misremembering again?  Anyway, most of the outdoor scenes in particular were just like I remembered them from the book.  And I noticed all the costumes looked very good on the actors (except for the armor and the Pevensie’s traveling clothes, which I know are supposed to be too big for them, but all the same I think they could have provided something both outsized and becoming).  I loved the details–smocking and embroidery–and the designer chose one of my favorite palettes.  Bruise and wound colors.  Raw salmon reds, solid greens on the yellow side, umbery accents, all kinds of silvery and muted blues, dirty butter, old linen.  Everything greyed or browned but fleshy, not cold.  I would happily have worn any of Caspian’s shirts.  Doublets are coming back!  Definitely!  They made a bad decision putting him in a skirt for the last scene, but that was almost like a final hurdle for his acting ability.  Will he make it?  Can he keep his princely dignity . . . in a dress!  Kissing a 16-year-old?  He can!

I didn’t even mind the storming of the castle.  Nothing to do with the book, but a nice set-piece, nicely executed.  I liked the business with the flashlight.

And the giddy finish to this fabulous cinematic experience?  I got up and discovered my wallet wasn’t in my pocket.  Der Man had gone on out of the theater, not noticing I wasn’t behind him.  The house lights were extremely dim, my wallet is black, I wasn’t sure which row we’d been sitting in.  After feeling around the sticky floors I found it trapped out of sight between the upended seat and the arm.  Der Mann wasn’t waiting in the lobby.  I couldn’t see him outside under the marquee.  I decided to wait a little by the concession stand in case he’d gone upstairs to the bathrooms.

And then I heard the teenaged Kiggins employee (it’s run by a family) say in the most patient, world-weary voice:  “Aw, don’t worry about it.  I’ll clean it up.”

I never saw the parent he was talking to, because they had already scuttled their child off in shame.  But, right past the only doorway, damming a stream of exiting moviegoers, splattered on the tile floor under the marquee:

Fully formed disks of sliced hot-dog in a cream sauce with what I believe to have been cubed potatoes.

No wonder the parent scuttled!  For heaven’s sake–teach your children to chew!

(On second thought maybe I might have been wrong about the potatoes.  They might have been pieces of popcorn.)

There was another young Kiggins employee upstairs when I went to look for der Mann by the bathrooms.  I heard the concession-stand one reporting the incident to him over a walkie-talkie.  They were both so resigned.  And if you think about it; yup, that’s the movie business: kids plus quantities of bad popcorn plus excitement equals vomit pretty darn consistently.

And so my love for the Kiggins Theater and all the good movies and all the vomiting children that have graced it’s hallowed tiles sent me skipping out the door, leaping over the vomit, and laughing all the way home!

The End


A Year Ago

July 25, 2008

We moved here a year ago.   It was a big, grown-up move.

Grown-up in the sense of: the new job (my husband’s) came before the move, we stayed in a hotel instead of a campground while we looked for a place to rent, and we didn’t choose our new city by positive preference.

Big in the sense of: our first time renting a moving truck.  In the past we carried all our worldly goods in the bed of a pickup, wedged into a disintegrating pickup camper, by minivan relay, or in a trailer towed by a parent.

Before the move we lived in a progressive, friendly, quirky small city in a gorgeous coastal location, which also just happened to feature by my favorite gardening climate in the whole world (zone 4).  We had only been living in town for a year and a half.  Before that we’d been ten miles out in the county.

So why did we move?  Well, as places do, the gorgeous coastal location turned out to be ripe for the gentry’s picking–never mind that the nearest metropolitan area is two hours away.  When we arrived eight years ago it was just on the cusp, and we were clueless.  By the time we left it was making national news for some of the most inflated house prices in the country.

Surprisingly, this didn’t stop the quirky faction from hanging on with finger- and toe-nails to their houses, though the skyrocketing property taxes forced them to shop at the liquidation store for their dented vegetarian beans and drive their VW vans on bald tires.  Did the fact that they could never, ever hope to afford a house stop the college students from staying on after graduation?  Did it matter that the job market for the creative professions was so glutted in this artist-infested town, designers were working for peanuts (or not at all), just because they REALLY LOVED where they lived?  Nope.  But we decided it was time we skedaddled.

It was a love-hate thing for us, living in The Town Everyone Loves, because we are not townies by nature. We had given up our rented farm cottage under extreme landlord/road construction/mold infestation duress.  Desperation (and lack of anything cheaper) made us sign a lease on a house in town we could not really afford because we knew it would be temporary.  A last hurrah.

The city charmed us in that final year-and-three-quarters, despite missing our ducks and our garden and our leafy privacy.  How could it not?  It was fighting the good fight against gentrification, as much as any place so clearly on the losing side of the battle can do.  The little yards of our neighbors’ working-class Queen Annes were bursting with flowers.  People.  Actually.  Walked.  We loved being being able to walk downtown and to shop for groceries on foot!  Some days a walk to the post office felt like stepping into Richard Scary’s Busiest People Ever, with all the residents going about their business in cheery water-colored miniature.  We loved the friendly coffee-toting protesters; the art; the surprisingly good music venues where hippies, hipsters, and college students bopped side-by-side.  We loved the natural parks and greenways and made use of them daily. We loved the acquiring librarians at the local public library, past and present, for their excellent judgement.  We loved the reliably changeable weather.  I learned to weave.

We did not love being on the outside looking in at all this, which is what happens when you come to a place knowing you are leaving it.  We hated being exhausted and ill and unsure of the future–though this was coincidental.  We did not like having a fully, dully landscaped yard cared for by our landlords, and we did not like living across the back fence from their looming house.  It was unrewarding, forcing ourselves to be more frugal than college students in a place where there were actually good things to spend money on.  The huge condos and fake-old-fashionedy upscale retail spaces sprouting downtown apalled us.  It hurt to watch houses in our neighborhood being grotesquely realtorized for flipping.  (Though I suppose it was our own fault when we checked flyers to see how expensive they were.)  We did not approve of the people who moved into those houses, simply for the fact that they could afford them.  Nobody likes the nouveau riche when they invade Bohemia.

I can’t feel as invested in the fate of our new town, even though we have no plans to leave it.  It’s really hard to believe we’ve been here a year because we still feel like aliens.  –Schleppy, undercover, much-less-cooler-than-when-we-arrived aliens, but still.  We thought we were going to be the Bohemians invading the nouveau riche.  We found out it doesn’t work that way.

I’m grateful for a place to live at all.  And I’m glad der Mann is working in his field.  And I’m really, really, glad I don’t have to pack 24’ of stuff into a 16’ moving truck ever again.  Knock on wood.

Swedish Serendipity

July 17, 2008

I was a slow taker when it came to the internet.  I can boast that I was able to get clear through college (in 1999) without ever having had to do an internet citation, the same way my aunt can boast she graduated without ever having typed a paper on anything but a typewriter in the early 80’s.

For some things though, it’s perfect.  Like weaving.  You would think with my love of the obscure I would have got a lot more excited about the possibilities of a worldwide public forum a lot sooner.

I’m excited because Margaret Bergman’s great-niece in Sweden found my blog last week!  She sent me a link to an exhibit called Snilleriket that is open this summer.  The exhibit celebrates the local geniuses of a particular lake district in Northwestern Sweden.  On the website you can click on one of the faces in the bar at the top of the page to see a summary of the person’s achievements.  The only woman in the bunch?  Margaret Bergman.

I do think Bergman looms are on the cusp of a little renaissance.  I’m willing to take this Swedish serendipity as proof–although the looms and the wonderful history attached to them are enough by themselves to spark it.

I was curious what the Swedish take on Margaret Bergman would be, so I translated her profile on the Snilleriket website into English.  I haven’t taken it too far from a transliteration, because that’s what I always prefer when a translator isn’t sure of her idioms–and I’m not sure of much in Swedish.  Please forgive any translation mistakes.  I’ll be glad if you can offer corrections.


The Lady from Rörön Becomes a Genius in the Art of Weaving, Honored and the Recipient of Awards in America


Margareta Olofson was born in 1872 in Rörön south of Sventavik.  Her mother was clever at weaving, and Margareta divided timely modern interest with powerful talent.  Yet when she applied for a weaving course in Östersund she wasn’t accepted.  You see, the extensive admissions examination showed that she was more skillful than the teacher!

In 1901 she emigrated to the Seattle area in the USA to be reunited with her betrothed, John Bergman.  There she became Margaret Bergman and mother to six children, but little by little she worked on John, who was a carpenter, to build a loom.  In this way she entered into a successful career.

The rumors of her skill spread.  She gained standing.  She developed her own patterns.  She invited people over to tell them about and show them her weaving.  She was asked to hold courses around the western USA and Canada.  The culmination, perhaps, was that at 67 years of age she was asked to hold a course for teachers at the United States’ foremost craft school, Penland in North Carolina on the east coast.

In the course of her travels, the need arose for a loom that could be disassembled without the need to take off the warp. So she designed the Bergman Suitcase Loom.  It was little, it could fold when it was set up to weave, and it adapted well for demonstrations.  Her husband John made a little model that was sent with Margaret Bergman’s 1932 patent application.  The larger loom in the picture is her personal loom, and at the same time an example of her other invention, the Double-Folding Bergman Floor Loom.  It was patented in 1936 and manufactured by her son Arthur.  These looms were even manufactured and sold in Sweden by Margaret’s Brother Johan C. Iwald.

Margaret Bergamn passed away in 1948.  The year before, she was honored for her outstanding contribution to the circulation and development of the weaving arts in the United States by the National Weaver’s Congress in Salem, Oregon.  The special quotation of her philosophy that expresses Margaret Bergman’s gladness in life and at the same time a message to all weavers (and others):

”Öppna din hand och dela med dig av vad kan. Av en knuten näve kommer inget gott.”


“Open your hand and share what you can.  From a clenched fist comes nothing good.”


In the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, Margaret Bergman has her own exhibit. In the plexiglass case to the left stands the model that accompanied the patent application in 1932.

Folded up, Margaret Bergman’s loom doesn’t take up any more space than a piano.


*translator’s note:  The Bergmans cleared and settled a farm in what was then a very remote location on the Western Kitsap Peninsula.  Many of her early students came to her by boat.


There is one other little biographical article about Mrs. Bergman on the web that I know about, with some different but equally interesting information.  You can find it by visiting the profile of the Kitsap Weaver’s Guild on the the Association of Northwest Weavers Guilds website:

The link for the History of the Kitsap Weaver’s Guild will lead you to the Bergman article.

Bergman Beginners

July 13, 2008

I am really surprised how many interesting weavers and proto-weavers have been showing up in the comments section looking for information, especially after my Warping My Bergman With Mrs. S-G post of a few weeks ago.  It looks like I should be running an informational website rather than keeping a weblog!  I want to make a disclaimer, though.  I am not any kind of a Bergman guru; just someone who owns and loves a Bergman loom and has figured out (more or less) how to make it work.  I’m not keyed in to the off-line Bergman weaver underground (and I do hope there is one!  Drop by and reassure me if you’re a member!) because I don’t live in the lower Puget Sound area.  Seattle, especially, has a large and active weaving guild.  These looms are built to last.  If a local breed of loom is readily available generally in good shape, I think there will always be some local weavers weaving on it.  Perhaps you can sniff them out!

I learned how little information about the Bergman loom exists on the web two years ago.  I believe that is changing.  Just in the last month several ladies who want to put unused, stored, or recently-acquired Bergman Looms back in commission have visited my blog.  Hooray for loom rescue!  One of these lovely ladies, SpinningLizzy, will be chronicling the process of getting her own Bergman set up to weave.  Right now she’s making some gorgeous towels on her rigid heddle loom.  She is a new-weaver powerhouse!  You should all pay a visit to her blog and admire Beauty:

It’s difficult to respond to your questions in the comments section, since I don’t know where you’re coming from.  I want to ask: Do you know how a countermarche mechanism works?  Is this your first loom?  Have you ever woven before?  Have you ever woven on a countermarche loom?  Have you ever done the tie-up on a countermarche loom from scratch?  I think maybe some of the confusion (and intimidation) around setting up a Bergman loom is a result of the general mystification of countermarche mechanics among weavers.

My own wonderful Scary Weaving Teacher, who has been doing complex weaves for decades, had a hands-thrown-up, cautiously-backing-off attitude toward countermarches.  When I told her I’d bought a countermarche, the first thing she said to me was, “I can’t help you with that.”

I wish I had diagrams of my loom so I could show you exactly what’s goes on with a Bergman, because Deborah in the UK is right, photos are not enough.  There are a few differences between a Bergman and a normal Scandinavian countermarche.  But those will mostly just affect the size of your sheds and how smoothly your weaving goes.  Worry about them later.  Or rather, don’t worry!–check back at my blog because I plan to talk about these things over time.

The first thing is simply to learn the basics of how your loom works, set it up, and start weaving.  For this, the similarities between a Bergman and a Glimåkra are more important than the differences.  The Glimåkra is the behemoth of countermarches and the make for which there is the most information available in English.  Don’t wade through the whole morass of unrelated weaving books at the public library (though that’s fun too), trying to find out how to weave on your obscure 70-year-old countermarche!  You’ll just get bogged down.  Do some pointed research.

Here are the first two resources I would recommend to every Bergman rescuer and new countermarche weaver:

Your first stop should be Joanne Hall’s website: Elkhorn Mountain Weaving,  This Glimåkra dealer has written the definitive English instruction book for tying up a countermarche.  Her diagrams are extremely clear.  She has scanned some pages from her book onto her website, but the scans are fuzzy.  I can’t stress enough how glad you will be if you buy the book rather than trying to make do with what’s online.  Yes, it’s only 34 pages long, it’s spiral-bound, it’s expensive.  But it has a glossary, a sleying chart, knots, and invaluable sections on how to how to evaluate and adjust for tie-up related problems that may occur when you are weaving.  And you can take it with you under the loom.  I find myself opening it up pretty much every time I warp.

Vävstuga,, is another great resource.  Vävstuga also carries Joanne Hall’s book mentioned above.  Becky Ashenden, the co-owner, is the North American maven of Swedish weaving.  She carries a lot of Swedish weaving classics, all for sale in the books section.  One of these has been looking particularly interesting to me, because it seems to be a complete survey of how to weave on a countermarche for beginners: The Swedish Weaving Book: project planning, loom dressing, and finishing.  I can’t vouch for it since I haven’t read it, but Ms. Ashenden thought it was valuable enough to translate it from the Swedish and publish it herself.  It’s exactly the sort of book I wish I’d had at hand when I started puzzling out my loom.

Finally, I’d like to mention a bugaboo of most new Bergman owners: those scary wires.  They make your loom look older and creakier than it is.  Probably they are bent and sticking out in all directions.

Those wires are just the Bergman equivalent of the cords that suspend the lower lamms from the inner ends of the jacks, found on all countermarches.  Margaret Bergman designed her loom with wires instead of cords to cut down on space between the shafts.  If the wires are rusty, take them off the loom clean them up with some Naval Jelly.  Run them through your hands to straighten them out as much as you can.  When you your loom is tied-up and ready to weave, the weight of the lower lamms and treadles will straighten them out the rest of the way.

It’s always delightful to hear from a Bergman beginner!  Keep stopping by!

My chiropractor, a very nice man who is interested in everything, told me he would like to see a piece of my weaving.  A couple of weeks ago I took the blue and white runner along to an appointment.  He oohed and ahed.  The idea of making cloth astounded him; I had to explain how I used a big wooden machine with pedals.  He’d been thinking weaving had something to do with knitting.  He even ran out the front door with it to show my runner to another patient who was trying to leave with her young daughter.  (He thought she wove too, but it turned out she and her daughter crocheted.)

All this was pretty awkward.  I mean, I would never have dragged my runner around to the chiropractor’s office if he hadn’t asked!  It was also funny and flattering.  When he gave the runner back to me I noticed a big loop in the weft. “Oh, I should fix my mistakes before I show things off,” I said.

And then we talked about how yes, it was possible to fix your mistakes, and I put my my project back in the paper bag and took it home.

It mystified me that I could have missed such a big mistake.  I’d gone over the runner carefully not only before but after finishing.  At home I set it aside for mending without really looking at it.

Today, some relatives were here and wanted to see what I wove.  While I was showing them the runner, I noticed that the “mistake” was accompanied by a big dent in the selvedge.

That weft loop wasn’t an error!  It was a giant chiropractor-snag!

How did he manage to snag my runner in half a minute?  He didn’t even unfold it!

No harm done.  I worked the snag back into the cloth (though he did manage to snag a separate strand out of the yarn, as well as pulling the yarn out of the cloth!), and it’s just for my own table.  I would be more worried about something I was giving as a gift.

I guess some people are just death to cloth.  Whereas I am naturally . . . what?  Careful with nice stuff?  I don’t feel all that careful.  Reverent?  I hope not!  I think it must be something about how I was brought up–but more a feeling than a directive.  I probably got it from my Granny.  In words it would be something like:  There is a finite and ever-dwindling supply of ‘good stuff’ (attractive and old, unique, handmade, or well-made) in the world.  It is your job not to spoil it or detract from it, so that when it moves on to the next person, it won’t be in any worse shape.

This isn’t possible for everyone.  I know a people who just don’t have the ‘stuff sense’ in their hands.  They helplessly break things, run them through the hot cycle, sit on them, trip over them, and ram the vacuum cleaner into them–without a speck less appreciation.

Strange, isn’t it?

Has this happened to anyone else?

Empty Step

July 6, 2008

One of the best features of our duplex is gone.

Dobo isn’t dead, she’s in Tacoma, and that is a long way away.  She went to live with Thistledown’s mom.  We had warning of this, and were both surprised how much the prospect bothered us in the weeks leading up to her departure.  We are even more surprised how much we feel the lack now that she’s gone, because Dobo was possibly the most unmannerly cat we have ever met.

Dirty, diffident, prone to complaining, greedy, and frankly not all that attractive.  I’m sorry, there is just something about the splotchiness of a certain kind of calico that detracts from the natural grace of the feline form.  Breaks up the lines.  I would love a calico if I had one of my own, I’m sure.  They’re just not my first cat color choice.

But Dobo lived here, and we take what we can get with cats.  Der Mann is allergic, so a house cat is not an option.  We also grew quite fond of the 3 (respectively) brain-injured, feral, and thuggish barn cats when we lived in a rented farm cottage.  We courted the human-scorning cat next door at our last rental.  I guess we shouldn’t be so surprised that Dobo became a part of our lives.  Or at least a sort of homey hobgoblin haunting our carport.

Dobo is a cat with an eye for the main chance.  It was not enough to sit enthroned on her packing-blanket cushion atop our table in the car port, nor to lounge in her cardboard seedling box beneath.  No, whenever the door was was left open she had two methods of ingress: saunter toward it sideways as if she were really just heading toward her perch on the fence, then casually wander inside at the last minute; or make a lightning fast bee-line for the crack between the counter and the stove, which is almost always good for a few fossilized morsels.  If no one chased her out in the next 30 seconds, she was up on the kitchen counters.

We’d catch her at this and order her out, and she’d return each of our orders with a meow of irritable refusal.  After sharing the exchange for a few moments–but not until we’d resorted to stomping around and shoving her in that direction–she’d finally consent to walk toward the door as s-l-o-w-l-y as possible, making noises as if she were muttering under her breath at our stupidity all the way.  “All right, all right!  I’m going!  –*ssh*les.”

Thistledown calls Dobo a “he” even though she is female, because she has such a strong personality.  When Thistledown’s friend was looking after Dobo a few years ago, she bought Dobo a black leather collar with steel punk studs.  Thistledown left it on her, because it suited the cat so well.

Dobo is a serious hunter who prowled the vacant lot behind the house.  Rumor has it she’s brought down a squirrel.

Dobo likes dust baths.  She does not like to groom herself.

According to Thistledown, Dobo also enjoys shredding brand new sofa slipcovers in the middle of the night.

Dobo is not a lap cat.  She is too alert.  The tiniest noise, and she’s up on her feet, ready to go patrol the borders of her domain and (she hopes) kill something.  Very occasionally she will choose to assert her domination over you by letting you pet her while she perches unsteadily on your knee and digs her claws into your leg for purchase.  She has rusty purr.  I’d read about rusty purrs, but Dobo’s was the first I encountered.  There really is no other word to describe it: rusty, like a rusty, squeaking bedspring.

Dobo knows that humans are all about food.  Her seductive belly-baring and laconic greetings are all about food.  If the humans don’t provide a non-stop stream of food, she sees it as her duty to trick it out of them.

You can see how Thistledown might lose patience with Dobo-ownership, even though her two-year-old is crazy about the cat.  Last weekend we woke up to, “No cat go!  No cat go!”  Which sounds like I’m making it up, but that’s really what he was saying.  Grandma was taking the cat home with her.  I was surprised it didn’t get any worse.  I had expected a knock-down drag-out fit for sure!


After unsuccessful lap session

After unsuccessful lap session


Studiously ignoring one another

Studiously ignoring one another


Well, maybe a little

Well, maybe a little


But not for long

But not for long


I haven’t heard the little boy talking about Dobo since Saturday.  I wonder if he has already forgotten his weekday morning ritual of finding the cat in order to say goodbye to it when they leave the house.

Der Mann and I certainly miss Dobo whenever we go outside.  It’s like the duplex has lost its guardian spirit, and now it’s just an uncomfortable little hot-box we keep our stuff in.  I never realized what a dreary place it is to come home to.  Greeting the cat must have distracted me.  There is no reason to sit on the steps anymore.  If we aren’t watching Dobo keep tabs on the squirrels, or shooing her away from us when she is in the mood to cover us with cat hair and dirt from the driveway, what are we supposed to do there?  I don’t get to nag der Mann about his allergies anymore, either.  I don’t get to say “I told you so” when his nose and eyes start running.

There’s no reason to shut the door.


I wish I could have met Mrs. S-G, the original owner of my loom.  She was a fine weaver, a good designer, and extremely productive.  At some point in her life she became acquainted with Margaret Bergman and jumped into weaving with both feet.  Imagine you are a homemaker in the 1930’s (it’s still the Depression, remember).  Imagine what a self-defined person you would have to be to end up raising sheep, owning half a dozen looms or more, and running a popular weaving school within the next two decades.  Further, imagine the difficulties that you might face as a middle-aged family woman in the 1950’s who has decided to register and commute into the city for a textile class at the state university–perhaps having never taken a college course in your life!

I have only a few of Mrs. S-G’s papers and class materials, but they are enough to show me what an extraordinary person she was.  I get the impression she saw herself as an apostle of Margaret Bergman, carrying the Great Weaver’s teachings to the opposite outlying area of the region.  Everything I have read about Margaret Bergman suggests she was a extremely inspirational and generous woman.  Her students held her in awe.

Among the books, magazines, and papers that came to me with Mrs. S-G’s loom were some mimeographed copies of her warping hand-out.  She wrote it to help her students remember the way she taught them to warp in class, so it is hard to puzzle out on its own.

I was only able to understand the hand-out after putting it together with a typescript of instructions the Bergmans provided with their looms in 1969.  Unfortunately, these instructions didn’t come to me with my loom.  I didn’t even know they existed until I was deep in tie-up-adjustment perplexity!  I was so shy of “bothering” experienced weavers with my obscure problems, that I was pretty desperate by the time I contacted the same weaving guild Mrs. Bergman helped form in 1938.  It was a slim chance, but I hoped someone living in the area of the Bergman workshop might still be weaving on a Bergman loom, or at least be able to point me to a museum or archive with Bergman resources.

This was the first time I saw how small the weaving world is.  The guild member who received my email happened to be related to the Bergman family herself.  She was lovely.  It took her only a day to provide the typescript!

I can’t say the typescript of, “Getting Acquainted With Your Bergman Loom,” and “Warping Your Bergman Loom” made everything clear.  It bears the mark of a weaver who has explained a particular thing so many times that she’s developed her own short-hand terminology for addressing beginners.  To my ear, it also seems to be written by someone for whom English was a second language.  (I know a bit of Swedish and I can hear echoes of it in the rhythm and syntax, if I’m not imagining things.)   Like Mrs. S-G’s warping instructions, the Bergman directions really need to be accompanied by illustrations–or by the demonstrations of the teacher herself!

My point in all this?  Well, mainly that what you are about to see is my implementation (with a few extra tips) of Mrs. S-G’s method of warping a Bergman loom, but also of her teacher’s, Margaret Bergman’s.


1.  Wind your warp from 2 or more cones/spools at once.  You only need to make a cross at one end of the warp, but I am paranoid (you will see why in a few more steps) so I make crosses at both ends.

2.  Put a lease stick into each each side of your cross, and tie the lease sticks together at the ends with about 2” of space between them.

3.  Pick up loops of warp and pre-sley your reed with the grouped warp threads, working out how many dents to skip according to the number of cones/spools you were winding from.  (This calculation always sounds a lot more complicated when it’s written down, so I’m not going to try to explain it.  A picture in a good weaving book is worth a thousand words in this case).

My husband points out that “pre-sleying” makes it sound as if you are only going to have to sley your reed once, and you are getting it over with first thing.  Sadly, no.  Pre-sleying is when you use your reed as a raddle.  I have found I like to do this on a chair with arms, over my lap.

Traditionally the reed is propped up on edge using reedholders, on a table.  Two pairs of steel office-supply-store bookends will also (sort of) do the job.  Thread a stick through the loops of warp as you bring them through the reed, so they don’t pull back out again.  Here I’m using using IKEA bag clips instead.  Much easier to manage.


4.  Next you’ll prepare the loom.  Take your beater off the loom.  Lift your treadle assembly out of its peg-holes and put it aside on the floor somewhere.  Take off your breast beam and put it aside, too.  Lift the cloth beam to its upper position in the angled groves (first removing the cotter pins, if they are securing it).  Push the L-shaped wires clear through the holes in the front of the jack box to secure all the jacks.

5.  Now for some Bergman magic:  Lift your whole jack box down from the top of the castle and set it in the recessed area designed to support it at thigh level.  If your shafts/ heddle sticks are currently suspended from the jacks at this step, you will first use heavy twine or shoelaces to tie them together in a bundle, top and bottom, on each side, and let them come along for the ride (the wires that will attach the inner jacks to the lower lamms can come too).

6.  Put the beater back on the loom.  Tie the uprights of the beater loosely to the uprights of the loom; leave enough slack that when you pull the beater back toward you, it is cradled in position a few inches past the vertical: That is, it is leaning toward the front of the loom.

7.  Put your pre-sleyed reed in the beater and center it.  Replace your breast beam on the loom.  Flop your chained warp over the top of the breast beam.  Work your lease sticks back from the reed and tie the nearest stick of the pair very loosely to your warp beam on either side.

When everything has been done in the previous steps, your loom will look like this (with the exception of my beater, which is leaning the wrong way, and the white cord I keep tied to my castle, which isn’t holding anything at the moment).

8.  Now, if you have have two back beams like me, make sure you are using the one in the top position (the other should be stored out of the way).  Unwind the warp beam rod from the warp beam.  The lashings that hold this to the warp beam should be reeling out from the underside of the warp beam.  Take the rod and lacings over the back beam.  From the underside of the back beam, bring them forward to the reed.

Here is how this will look from the inside-back of the loom.

I have a piece of black elastic securing the lever of my warp beam ratchet to the nearest corbel.  That way the ratchet doesn’t lose contact with the pawls during the following steps.

9.  The object is to get all those loops you pre-sleyed through the reed spread out on the warp beam rod.  Likely, you will have to free the rod from the lashings and let them dangle off the back beam.  On my warp beam rod, I have marked the three places my lashings naturally rest with a pencil, so I know where they’re supposed to go when I thread them on again.

Place the warp beam rod through the loops the IKEA bag clips (or stick) are holding, remove the IKEA clips (or stick), and replace the lashings, making sure everything is centered and square.  Wind the warp beam a little to get some tension on the lacing, bringing the warp beam rod level with the back beam.  Keep winding until all the lacing has been taken up, and the warp reaches the warp beam.  Now it’s time to transfer the cross.

10.  Carefully free the lease sticks from the warp beam and transfer the cross to the other side of the reed.  You will need an extra lease stick, and you will want to see pictures of how this is done.  Several older books show the method; it’s often called “transferring the lease.”  Here is the description in the Bergman instructions:

Now transfer the lease sticks and the cross to the back side of the reed.  To do this, use a third stick as a substitute for the stick that is to be removed . . . Untie the lease sticks and lift the one nearest to the reed, inserting the third stick in the space where this lease stick is.  The lease stick should then be removed and the spare stick raised close to the reed to get a shed behind the reed to put the lease stick into.  Insert the lease stick in this shed and remove the spare stick.  Raise the second lease stick and insert the spare before removing it.  Raise the spare stick (which is in front of the reed) and insert the lease stick behind the reed in the same shed.  Remove the spare, tie the lease sticks together again. . .

It’s not as hard as it sounds, though if you drop the sticks you can lose the cross.  (That’s why I make an extra cross when I’m winding my warp.)  Here is where your lease sticks will rest after you’ve transferred your cross to the back of the reed:

 11.  With a piece of string at each corner, tie the paired lease sticks to the loom, so they can rest slightly hammocked in the space between the castle and the back beam.

12.  While you wind your warp onto your warp beam, you will stand to the side of the loom, one hand on the warp beam, one hand holding the warp at tension over the center of breast beam.  Surprisingly, this works!  I’m not sure how it’s done with a wide, multi-chain warp, but it was fine for this 13” wide warp for wool scarves.  Use paper, or put in beaming sticks to separate the layers of warp on the warp beam as you go.  They’re easy to grab if you keep them in the storage box at the top of the loom.

The fact that your beater is inclined a little toward the warp beam will help you catch tangles.  If it pulls toward the castle, you know something is impeding the smooth flow of the warp through the reed.

13.  When the loops at the final end of the warp approach your reed, cut them and let the ends pull through.

14.  Take your beater and breast beam off the loom again.  Now, VERY CAREFULLY, dispensing warp if you need to, untie the four strings holding your paired lease sticks between the castle and the back beam.  Hang the lease sticks SECURELY from the cup hooks on the underside of the storage box that tops the castle by string loops or what-have-you, like so:

15.  Lift the jack box back up to the top of the castle.

16.  Untie your bundled shafts (or put them on, if they were detached), arrange your heddles on your heddle sticks, and sit inside the front of the loom to thread.

The bench will fit inside the loom, but you will probably prefer to sit on something lower.  Adjust the height of the shafts and the hanging lease sticks to suit you.  With my Texsolv tie up, I like to hook the shafts from the button-holes of the chain cord in ascending height, front to back, which makes it easy to keep track of which shaft is which.  Go ahead and fetch your treadles back to the loom.  Let the treadle assembly rest in in its storage position right in front of the lowered jack box, pegs in holes (this is shown in the second to last photo).  The beam has rounded edges and makes a good surface to rest your forearms on while threading.


17.  When the heddles are threaded and the threads are secured in bundles, tie the lease sticks a few inches from the back beam.  (Yes, the Bergman instructions expect you to leave the lease sticks in while weaving.  I have woven with and without, and I think it may improve the sheds a bit to leave the lease sticks in, but I’m still not sure about that.  It’s certainly useful when you have to fix broken warp ends.)

18.  Bring your beater back to the loom.  Don’t put it on the pivot bolt, put it on the floor just in front of the bolt and tie it to the uprights on either side.  No slack, this time.

19.  Sley the reed.  You will find it is at a good height for this with the beater resting on the floor.

20.  Let the cloth beam down to its lowest position.  Insert the cotter pins (dangling from strings nearby) into the hidden holes to secure it there.

21.  Put the beater up on the pivot bolt.  Make sure your washers are in position to keep the bottoms of the beater-uprights from getting chewed by the head of the bolt.

22.  Bring your apron and apron rod up around your breast beam from the underside and tie on your warp.

23.  Once you have tied on, adjust the hanging-height of your shafts so that the warp passes directly through the center of the eyes of your heddles, or a very little higher.

Now you are ready to tie up the lamms and treadles!


A final note:  If you want to preserve the tie-up you used for your last warp, as I did in this case, you can leave it in place and still follow the steps above.  Just be sure to detach the lamms from the jacks and the shafts, and let them rest on the floor before you lower the jack box, or the jack box will be an unmanageable weight.   Here is how it will look under the loom if you preserve your tie-up.  You can still move your treadles up to the resting position for threading.