Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Summertime And The Weavin’ Is Easy

It’s grey and drizzling outside, on the inexorable march to Christmas, but I’m inside enjoying the lazy, golden drawl of summer:

img_5218dorothy1stweavingtwill1

This is part of some cloth I hope to sew into a carrying case for my spinning wheel.  It’s a bit looser in weave than I’d like (I want a close, hard-wearing cloth), but I’m already all but whacking it with the reed when beating.

Having paid some dues whilst warping my Rasmussen loom (“This Madness Called Weaving“); shockingly, I didn’t hurt, break, or have to repeat anything; not a single glitch was encountered in dressing this loom:

img_5186dorothybeamingback2frt

I was wrong in thinking we had reached loom saturation.  With looms crowding all available indoor space, I thought we were safe from any newcomers.  That was not to be the case, as this perfect, two-year old (a mere babe!), 24″ Leclerc Dorothy table loom with eight harnesses and stand insisted on following me home.

img_5181dorothy

I’ve gotten some bargains in my life, yet this one definitely rates an honourable mention.  With the constant flux and influx of looms in this household, DH’s eyeballs have been in constant spiralling motion.  He has not deigned to ask me how little (or even if) I paid for the last three or four looms, completely robbing me of any joy I might experience in the re-telling of my coups.  (He loves to comment, rolling his eyes, whenever he sees me warping: “I would rather be tortured than do that!  How can it be called a hobby?!”)

This loom came along with four stainless-steel reeds (which will be used interchangeably with my 25″ Rasmussen loom)  and 1,600 metal heddles.  800 of the heddles are inserted-eye heddles and brand-new, never used or even installed.

img_5177dorothyheddleheaven

The first thing I did was to e-mail Leclerc to ask about the safety issues of using inserted-eye heddles. Robert Leclerc’s book, “Warp And Weave”, mentions that they are made using lead solder around the eyes.  Their response was very quick; the heddles are nickel-plated (although I don’t know if that means they are plated over lead solder, or if the solder is no longer used at all), and should pose no issues.  Then I spent an entire day removing the original heddles and installing the inserted-eyes.  (Moving heddles is not my idea of fun…)  After trying different ways to speed this up, I found that the ol’ “one-at-a-time” was still the fastest, since they needed to be sorted for direction.  The harnesses on my portable (and yet unused) loom (“Hi And Goodbye” or “Bergman Treasures And A Reprieve“) are wooden, but if I can change them to metal, I hope I can retro-fit the heddles removed from the Leclerc loom to replace the hap-hazard string ones.

I feel this loom has a name, but I’m at a loss to divine it.  The name is blocked from me because Leclerc already named it “Dorothy”, so I keep thinking that, or “Dot”, neither a name I feel fits properly, especially since I’m not even sure this loom is a “she”.  Perhaps this loom also feels conflicted.

Some minuses to the Dorothy:

  • It’s a tad noisy; with metal harnesses to push up and drop, there are some swishing and thumping sounds.  But the sounds are muted and not clanging or crashing, and not in the realm of requiring ear protection.  (I added some foam packing in several places to mute the sounds further.)  I can still listen to music while weaving.
  • It takes a little muscle to depress the levers (due to the weight of 800 metal heddles), especially the four on the left-hand side for the fifth through eighth harnesses (those are slightly farther away to reach).  Unfortunately, the table legs sold by Leclerc only come with four treddles for the front harness assembly, so they wouldn’t help with the second set of harnesses.  I found that rubber-banding the harness to keep the unused heddles closer to the levers, and sitting up higher and using more wrist and arm (rather than finger) motion helped with the leverage and reach; perhaps my arms will get toned whilst weaving!  Looms with treddles are preferable, but these levers do slide smoothly and easily.
  • I was only just able to attach the loom to the stand by myself (being too impatient to wait for help).  It’s really best as a two-person job.  The loom installs onto the stand with screws, so it is not a quick thing to detach, and the stand itself does not disassemble quickly.

Some Dorothy plusses:

  • It’s very easy to remove the harnesses and to install heddles.  The metal bars that hold the heddles are made to flex and pop out of the grooved tracks that they slide in.  No tie-ups or cording to fuss with.
  • It has a friction brake, ah, the friction brake!  With my 25″ Rasmussen, I constantly had to get up to go to the back of the loom (on the less accessible, for me, left side of the loom) to release the back beam.  With this loom, the brake mechanism and cloth beam ratchet are operated on the front, right-hand side.  So, advancing the cloth every other inch (to keep the reed hitting the fell line at a ninety-degree angle)  is very easy and fast.  And, even if I need to fiddle with releasing the back beam, it’s on the same (right-hand) side as the front release.
  • While the stand does not collapse quickly, it is  very sturdily made, allows for customising the height of the loom.  The two side tables are very handy assets, and they do attach and detach very easily.  Thoughtfully, Leclerc added very thick rubber grips to the bottom of the stand, so weaving does not rock or move the loom.
  • If I remove the second harness box (harnesses five through eight), the loom folds for portability.  Realistically, unless I take a long weaving workshop, I do not see myself doing that, as it’s a very solidly constructed loom, and heavier than the 25″ Rasmussen.  (Then there is the matter of taking apart and re-assembling the loom stand.)    If I’m to be limited to four harnesses, I’ll stick to my 22″ portable.
  • A very huge plus for us is that in its current location, we can open the drawers to access our silverware without moving the loom (as we had to for the Rasmussen, which has been ousted to the laundry room)!
  • Changing the shed is as simple as depressing the levers for the next set of harnesses; the extra step of releasing the current harnesses is not required.
  • As I use this loom, I am finding that Leclerc added many thoughtful extras to it, including rubber pads to keep the reed assembly quiet as it is returned toward the castle, metal apron rods, a shuttle race, ergonomic dimples to help depress the harness levers, and rounded edges on some parts of the wood frame so they do not chafe against the body.  It’s been a pleasure to discover these subtle and intelligent polishes; weaving on this loom is like experiencing the upgrade to a grand piano from an upright (Rasmussen).

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9 December 2008 - Posted by | Weaving | , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Another great loom review. I love the gold and the snakey twill treadling together! That’s nice you got prompt customer service about the heddle safety. There is a lot of lead in the world and people still treat it pretty cavalierly. Unfortunately, it’s a really useful metal for certain things; it’s hard to get a sense of what’s an acceptable level of exposure/risk. My husband took a letterpress class at PNCA and has signed up for another. There is a sign up in the studio “wash your hands after handling type!” But I can’t see art students taking it that seriously, with all the running back and forth to the type cases and “oh I’d better just nudge this a little,” going on. Typesetting is too finicky for latex gloves to work well.

    But then again, some people jump out of planes for a hobby. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about stuff like that with weaving. Oh, actually, come to think of it, I have a bunch of lead drapery and fishing weights that I can’t quite bring myself to throw away; some are done up in little antique handwoven rosepath bags. I just keep them in a plastic bag and worry about them whenever I see them!

    Comment by Trapunto | 12 December 2008 | Reply

  2. I am fascinated by your loom purchases, there seem to be cohorts of weavers and ex weavers seling on their looms living in your neighbourhood!!! Also you are so energetic!! Buy a loom get a warp on it weave a sample!!!
    I wonder if all looms are female…..?

    Comment by deborahbee | 12 December 2008 | Reply

  3. I’m very interested to learn more about this loom, because I don’t have a table loom, I’d quite like one for smaller projects (my loom is 8 shaft floor loom) and obviously there’s a certain attraction about a loom that shares my name!

    Thanks for writing such a thorough review.

    Comment by Dot | 14 December 2008 | Reply

    • Thanks for reading the post, Dot!

      If I had unlimited funds, I would love to have a “Dot” loom in the smaller size — say 15″ — that would be perfect for sampling and schleping to workshops or craft night meets.

      Also, I’ve thought it through and decided that if I had the funds, I would consider purchasing the treddles, even if it’s only for four — that way I could treddle the first 4 harnesses, and only deal with the levers on the back four.

      It’s truly a very lovely, smooth and easy to use loom — and I find it quite almost as fast as using a completely treddled loom.

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 15 December 2008 | Reply

  4. Trapunto, I love the idea of putting the weights into a sachet! Thanks for the idea. I’d wrap them in plastic first before putting them in the bag — hopefully that would contain any dust, and then I could really let go of the lead worry. I’m glad you brought up the fishing weights; I’ve been using two borrowed ones, and never even thought of them as lead, ugggh!

    Comment by SpinningLizzy | 15 December 2008 | Reply


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