Rio Grande loom

Rio Grande walking loom (FOR SALE!)

In 2004 I returned to New Mexico to learn traditional Rio Grande-style tapestry weaving at Northern New Mexico College in El Rito. I rented a little adobe apartment there and found a job working in the Mesa Vista public school system. It was good. I loved weaving at the college 2-3 days a week. In the spring of 2005 I took the loom building class from Quentin Wilson and made this 2 harness counterbalance walking loom with the assistance of my parents. Dad insisted on precise measurements, and the loom turned out well.
This photo is in my studio in El Rito. It has been a weaving studio for a long time--the building is right on the road and the walls are 5 feet thick adobe.

My studio in Velarde before the Harrisville Rug loom found a home here.

Until 2009, I wove all my tapestries on this loom. I love standing to weave as it seems easier on my body at times. However, in 2009 I received a couple looms from my grandparents who were moving to an apartment and I no longer have need of this Rio Grande. So I am selling it. I am 5 feet 10 inches tall, so the loom is taller than many of the walking looms you find in NM. It could, however, be shortened if necessary. Let me know if you're interested! The loom comes apart enough that I could fit it in my Volkswagen Golf, though it is easier if you can leave the large pieces together. It has a 40 inch weaving width and comes with an 8 dent reed. $550 OBO.

Here a few more photos I found in Rebecca's archives...
Me weaving in the El Rito studio while my mom reads a magazine by the woodstove.

El Rito studio tour, probably 2006. The pottery is by David Coleman. The weavings I did at Northern NM College.

Dye set up at my studio in El Rito.

Fitness and the loom

I have woven standing at one sort of loom or another for the last 5 years.  I started tapestry weaving at Northern New Mexico Community College (now Northern New Mexico College) working on Rio Grande standing looms.  Then I made one and wove in my own studio.  Now I am weaving on a Glimakra which has been raised on 2 by 6’s.  The secret to weaving standing up (unless you have a walking loom) is locking treadles.  I highly recommend locking treadles on any loom wider than about 36 inches on which you are going to weave tapestry.  Of course if you are one of those “normal” tapestry weavers who uses an upright loom (where you can actually see the piece you’re working on and sit without hunching over like you’re 90 years old), then you don’t need to heed my suggestion.  Your loom already has “locking treadles” anyway.  I’m hoping I can figure out some way to put locking treadles on the Harrisville rug loom I just acquired.  If you’re a carpenter and need a project, let me know.

I like the biomechanics of standing while weaving.  It feels easier on my body, though still hard on the neck and shoulders.  As I approach the tender young age of 37, and considering the prior post about McDinner and Yoga Journal, I have been thinking more about fitness (yes, I know that as a health care provider I should have been thinking about fitness much earlier than 36… but we all think we’re immortal for much of our lives, don’t we?). 

I’ve got this bug lately to learn a little bit about rock climbing.  This may have come from a chapter I read in an adventure book by a woman who solo climbed Half Dome.  Now, I have no desire whatsoever to find myself on a multi-day climb sleeping 1000 feet off the nearest horizontal surface (or at least the one that gravity would take me to should that little piece of metal stuck in the rock upon which my weight is resting fail)… and really that might be more about the questions surrounding the guy who is hanging on his little hammock just ABOVE me on the rock.  I mean, I totally expect that he would pack out his poop—climbers do this on long climbs, right?   But what guy isn’t going to pee over the edge of that little shelf he is sitting on?  I don’t want that particular shower.

But perhaps a climbing wall would be an appropriate place to start learning to climb.  My legs are in fair shape considering I haven’t been inside a gym in at least 9 years—and all that standing at the loom has to help, right?  But my arms are whimpy little twigs that wouldn’t hold me up for a second.  So I was hoping that climbing might increase my upper body strength—you know, so I could look like those gals in the Athleta catalogs.  But I have disturbing flashes of myself hanging from one hand, other arm and two legs flailing for purchase, me hoping that my screams of terror aren’t disturbing the 5-year-old who is 15 feet above me on the wall, and the person belaying me yelling, “You’re only 2 feet off the ground!  Let go!”  Maybe there is a private climbing gym for those of us who don’t own anything made by Prana and who don’t think we could manage this activity with a paper bag over our heads… you know, sort of a private climbing wall for the inept.

A snowy day in New Mexico

So I have returned to my homeland. I suppose that sounds a little dramatic, but I really feel like I'm supposed to be back here. Maybe not specifically Velarde as I have no prior connection to this particular place, but I think Velarde is as good a spot to land as any other. For one thing I live just a stones throw from the Rio Grande river--the great mother river of this part of the country whose headwaters I have hiked along in Colorado and by whose banks I have walked my dog in Alamosa and watched cranes in Albuquerque and Socorro. Now I live next to her and hope to hear the cranes flying over next spring on their trip to the San Luis Valley and then farther north. It's all connected.

It is snowing here today. We got several inches last night--maybe as much as 4 or 5 inches. This is a holiday in New Mexico. Believe me, everything shuts down when there is snow in the air--except WalMart of course. Not even a bomb could shut them down. As I have not yet nailed down a job, I don't have anywhere I need to be today and am looking forward to a day at the loom. My Rio Grande loom is set up and I'm finishing a panel for a piece called Invitation. Here it is on the loom. As soon as I finish shoveling the snow from my back walk so it doesn't become an ice rink, I'm back to the loom. This is a photo of my dog Cassy under my loom asking to play frisbee, her favorite game, in the freezing cold blowing snow. Dogs just don't care about the weather... though when I took the photo above of her standing in the snow, she soon wanted to go back to her nap on my bed. Maybe the problem is that she has no memory for cold weather. Still, there is nothing better than a furry labrador to keep your toes warm in the winter.