Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Now THIS is old-school horse trading!

I got a sudden intense craving for a loom last year. This is one of the…interesting…things about Being Me: Where most people get cravings for things like pie or perhaps a pair of strappy shoes, I get hit with longings for 8 harness looms and concert-sized pedal harps.

You know, the cheap stuff that is easy to store (or walk off – how many miles do I need to waddle for each piece of pie, again…?).

Now because this is a pretty standard thing for me (and because, hello, Expensive Longings), I don’t generally rush right out and buy the object of my sudden affections.

First, I tell myself No, you don’t have time and/or space and/or money for that right now.

And then I wait to see if the Wanting goes away. Nine times out of ten it does, because I am also fickle, childish and easily distracted.

The loom thing didn’t go away. Six months later, I was still semi-obsessed with the idea.

So I put it on the list of Stuff To Watch For. I’d scan the PennySaver and newpaper ads (it’s not as remote a chance as it might seem – our area is full of old-timey craftspeople, so you’ll often see ads where folks are offloading their extra spinning equipment, butter churns and this loom somebody built in the 70s for them), and poke through antique stores and so forth and so on.

I saw lots of looms, big and small…none of them in my price (really low) and experience (really not) range.

I saw an antique floor loom for $100 – but “antique” plus “beginner” really don’t go together. Was it missing pieces? How would I replace them if it was? Could I warp the thing? Where does this bit belong? Is it even really part of this loom? Hmmm…maybe I’d better let this one go to someone who knows what the heck they’re doing…

I saw beautiful almost-new looms with full-color instruction books for $1,000. Ahem. Yes. That would be (cough-cough) just a hair out of my price range. (Which was, you know, under a hundred bucks.)

I saw cute little looms that were cheap, sure, but designed for children. Total weaving area: 6” by 8.5”? I want to be able to do small rugs and table runners and placemats and scarves and stuff like that – something more like, say, a knitter’s loom (which has ‘knitter’ in it, which seems to me to mean that I could totally figure this thing out, right?).

And with only a $100 in total budget, I don’t want to blow $25 of that on something that isn’t going to keep me occupied for more than a few weeks before I’m going, “You know, I really wish I had, like, triple this weaving width…”


Yesterday, I finally got my loom. It’s an Ashford rigid heddle 32”, and I’m so tickled I can hardly stand it. My research indicates that it is a good loom for beginners, but it also has a wider weaving area and the ability to do Wicked Cool Weaving – so hopefully, I won’t be grousing that I can’t do this or that or this other thing in a matter of mere days. It’s brand-spanking-new, straight from a retailer.

The kicker is my final out of pocket cost, which is so little it’s ridiculous.

But it took a bit of horse trading to get there.

I get gift cards all the time. $5 here, $20 there, the occasional $50 beauty. I never pay actual cash for them…they’re either actual gifts (rarely), or they come from taking surveys (SurveySpot, for example) or redeeming loyalty program points (MyPoints, Thank You rewards).

We have a fairly robust market for gift cards around here. Several of the moms at the local school are card sharks, and we’ll stand around comparing stashes and making trades in the mornings after we’ve dropped off our Poopsies for their day of educational enrichment.

I’m like the flea market dealer when it comes to these trades. Most of the other moms aren’t looking at the dollar value on the card as much as they are the establishment offering it – Starbucks cards are always worth their full value, but things like Macy’s cards? Eh, not so much, since we don’t have a Macy’s in town. You’ve got to drive to Pleasanton or Modesto to use the card, which reduces its perceived value, see?

SO. It isn’t that uncommon for me to trade a $25 or $30 Starbucks card for a $50 Macy’s card somebody’s grandmother gave them for their birthday. A little patience (and a geographically varied friend group), and I can even-swap it for a $50 Kohl’s card (we have one nearby, lots of my friends don’t).

That $50 Kohl’s card is pure gold around these here parts, because they have some of the best deals and selection on kid’s clothing, and they frequently give “Kohl’s cash” back on purchases – that $50 card will return a $10 Kohl’s cash when you use it, effectively giving you $60 in buying power.

I got three $25 eBay cards for one $50 Kohl’s card.

And then I laughed. Like this: Bwahahahahahahahaha!!!

Which may have alarmed my friend just a little bit, but then she’s used to me and my unique form of nutcase-ry.

Perceived value is an interesting thing, isn’t it? To me, $75 in eBay cards is worth a lot more than $50 ($60) at Kohl’s. But that’s because I’m an Internet-savvy, long-time eBay user who loathes physical shopping. Some of my best yarn scores have come from eBay. There’s always something I want on eBay, and I have only been burned once. And that was as a seller not a buyer, so, you know…pretty good track record, actually. And did I mention that I loathe shopping? So having to go into Kohl’s and face the dizzying array of consumer goods and I can’t find anything and do they have this in a size 6 gah, what happened to this display, did, like, a troop of drunken monkeys escape the zoo and rampage through here or something…and then I feel compelled to reorganize the piles and it takes a massive force of will to remind myself that somebody is being PAID to do that and really, I can just get on with my life, now

Yeah. I hate shopping. Give me the ability to type “jeans size 6” into a search engine, and I am a happy, happy woman. Make me sift through a four-ton wad of mixed up denim, and I get grumpy fast.

But I digress. To someone who doesn’t do the eBay thing, someone for whom computers are a strange and frightening beast and the Internet a puzzle with no solution – those cards are useless, but a Kohl’s card is solid gold.

And why this woman’s father insists on giving her eBay cards for every occasion (Happy National Polyester Appreciation Day, sweetie! Here’s $25 on eBay, knock yourself out…!) is beyond me.

ANYWAY. One trade at a time, I worked myself up to having $150 in eBay gift cards in my drawer.

Then PayPal sent me a coupon for 8% off the purchase of any one item on eBay.


I found Copper Moose Fibers on eBay, where they offered this loom for $184.85 with free shipping.

I practically hurt myself with the maniacal laughter at this point.

$184.85 - $150.00 in eBay certificates - $14.79 coupon = $20.06 cash.

Snoopy Dance of Pure Avaricious Glee.

It’s supposed to get here tomorrow. Tomorrow!

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Can’t wait! Can’t wait! Can’t wait!!!

So, you know, if you don’t hear from me for a few days? I’ll be in a corner trying to figure out how to do the “easy, one-person warping method” and sobbing that I am the dumbest, stupidest, most clumsy person in the whole world because HELLO, this is supposed to be an EASY method…!


(formerly) no-blog-rachel said...

I call those 'shopping conquests' - last year I scored a $150 coffee maker for I think about $3. I LOVE shopping conquests!

Rena said...

I bow before your greatness!

Marty52 said...

Damn, but you are good... and patient, very, very patient. ;0)

Louiz said...

Wow I am impressed. Hope the weaving is everything you hope.

Unknown said...

Do you have books about weaving? I have a spare one I'd happily send you in the interest of spring-cleaning/re-distributing my clutter!

Unknown said...

Re: the above book. PM me on Ravelry if you'd like it- I'm there as eclair. No idea why the comments came up with that login!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, and happy exploring! If you read up on weaving with the same enthusiasm you put into getting the loom, you'll be great!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! You have SO earned your new loom and deserve it. Happy Looming!

Unknown said...

Congratulations on your new loom! I must say, though, that I found your alternate-economy gift card trading quite thought provoking. It's not just barter--there's a system there.

Steph B said...

WOooooohoooooo!! Go Tama! I have full confidence that you'll have that puppy set up and flying in no time flat. Can't wait to see what sort of beautimous things you create with your new baby.

becky c. said...

You will love your loom. I got a 24" Ashford rigid heddle in December and I am absolutely hooked on it. Once you have woven a plain scarf or two, try something with a pick-up stick (so freaking cool!) And come join us on the Ravelry rigid heddle group!