I scan Craigslist from time to time, looking for interesting weaving-related items. To my joy, this morning I found an 8-shaft, 22″ Leclerc Minerva folding floor loom for sale, cheap. I had been looking for a workshop loom, and this would be perfect! So I ran up to Emeryville at lunchtime, handed over a wad of cash, and took the loom home.
And here she is!
The big question, of course, was what to name her. My main loom, the AVL Workshop Dobby Loom, is named Sophie, after Sophie Germain, the brilliant French mathematician. (Also after Sophia, goddess of wisdom.) So it seemed only right to name this one after another female mathematician. I considered Emmy (after Emmy Noether), Ada (after Ada Lovelace), and a few other possibilities. (I also toyed with the idea of breaking out of the mathematical mold and naming her Sappho, after the great poet Sappho of Lesbos, whom Plato called “the tenth Muse”. Sadly, virtually all of her work was destroyed by the Catholic Church during the Dark Ages, and only fragments of her poetry can be found today.)
Anyway, I eventually settled on Hypatia, after Hypatia of Alexandria, whom Wikipedia describes as “the first well-documented female mathematician”. She headed up the Platonic school at Alexandria, teaching astronomy and philosophy as well as mathematics – really amazing for a woman in that era.
Why female mathematicians? Weaving is a very mathematical craft, and also (in the U.S.) predominantly female. So why not a female mathematician? I was a math major in college, and it was tremendously encouraging (in a heavily male-dominated discipline) to know of other female mathematicians who had gone before. So I thought a tribute was in order.
Anyway, Hypatia is all settled in now! She needs a good cleaning and a few bolts tightened, but otherwise she seems in pretty good shape. I plan to use her for workshops and also for weaving fabrics for Handwoven articles. Having two looms will let me weave simple drafts on Hypatia and more complex things on Sophie, all at once. Hurray!