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I call my loom Blanche.

My grandmother had a sister named Blanche. My Great-Aunt Blanche was born in 1898. Aunt Blanche and her husband lived in my hometown of Schomberg, Ontario. They had no children. She played the organ for our church for years and could rattle out any of the old hymns that you cared to hear on the piano in their parlor. She became a widow too early. She loved to have visitors and, if anyone stopped in to see her, would put out a spread of tea, cookies, and cake at a moment’s notice. She wore a fur wrap that smelled of moth balls, had a wig that did not fit quite right and had a facelift when she was in her eighties. Aunt Blanche lived to be 98 years old and passed away in 1996.

In 1996 my family had been living in New Jersey for 3 years. My boys were 8 and 2 years old and I was weaving chenille scarves for a designer whose work sold in Saks Fifth Avenue in New York. I was weaving on a very basic, 4 harness floor loom that had moved with us from Canada.
Somewhere, probably at a weaving conference, I had picked up a brochure and price list for AVL Looms in Chico, CA. AVL Looms are often the looms of choice for production hand weavers, especially those with an interest in complex weave structures that require many harnesses.

One day I finished weaving for the morning and was heading upstairs to make lunch when I spotted that brochure sitting on the desk at the bottom of the stairs. I picked it up and sitting down on the steps thought “Just what would I order if I won the lottery today”? I checked off all the options that I would put on my dream AVL loom then added up the total. It came to more than I had paid for my first car! I wrote the number down on a post-it note and stuck it to the page. With a laugh I tossed the brochure back onto the desk and continued upstairs.
Three days later my dad called me from Canada. Aunt Blanche had passed away a couple of months before and he was the executor for her will. He was calling me to tell me that Aunt Blanche had left me some inheritance. How much? Exactly the amount that was written on that post-it note in the AVL Loom brochure on the desk downstairs.

That is why I call my loom Blanche.

- B Schori Handwovens

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