Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Streamlining A Portable Loom

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My third loom, an unknown brand, is also the only one I paid too much for (read: fairly priced).  I didn’t know at that time how many looms would later throw themselves in my path.  I was in a hurry to have a portable loom because I believed that a date would soon be set for an upcoming workshop to be taught by Syne Mitchell (months later, this date is still unknown, although the workshop is still being planned).  Initially, I was dazzled by another loom loaned to me (stay tuned for a future blog post), and thought I would sell this loom on and replace it with a “better”.  Now, after seeing and reading about other looms, I don’t know of any other portable loom that I would rather have (that I can afford); I’ve come to really love this one.

This loom has a very odd weaving width of 22″.  When I first bought the loom, I checked The Weaving Works for a new reed to replace the rusted one it came with, and found that 22″ is not a stock size.  If I wanted a replacement reed, I would have to pay for a few extra inches and find some way to lop them off.  (Very offensive to my frugal sensibilities.)  Their closest size smaller was 18″.  But the size/price ratio of a recently scored deal on two, 20″ stainless reeds makes the loss of two inches extremely acceptable.  After all, this loom is intended mainly for workshops.

There are so many reasons to love this loom!  It folds down very quickly, easily, and compactly, with the weaving in  place.

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I can’t say the same for my 25″ Rasmussen loom, which seems ungainly in comparison.  At 22″, this loom is manageable yet not tiny, a lot easier for me to move and tote around, and fits into my small car without having to adjust my son’s booster seat.  A closer inspection showed that the rust on the original reed is actually very light.  It might be useable as-is, but a little cleaning, and perhaps some naval jelly or autosol should make it very serviceable.  More than four harnesses would be nice, but it isn’t as if I have nothing else to weave on, and with the way things have been going, there may yet be another loom in my future.  (No!  I’m not looking!)

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Getting the new reeds was the impetus to upgrading this  loom.  The first thing I did was replace the wooden harnesses with aluminum ones.  I purchased 1/2″ x 1/8″ (x 6′) aluminum bars from the local hardware store.  I cut them down to size with a hacksaw.  A few months ago, I wouldn’t have believed I would ever have anything to do with a hacksaw.  It’s just so — not me, but DH has been very busy recently, and I wanted this done.  I’ve surprised myself in having done this without making a complete mess of things.  I started out hacking apart 1/16″ thick bars, but they turned out to be too flexible for harnesses.  Not a wasted effort, as they will do very nicely for packing the warp.  The 1/8″ thick aluminum was the maximum I could use so the heddles would still fit without having the harnesses bend.  I even drilled holes into them.  This took a trip to the hardware store, where I was sold a titanium bit for drilling through metal; then another trip to ask why it didn’t work.  The help at the hardware store couldn’t understand why I was only able to dent the bars, not drill through; they didn’t know the ignorance they were dealing with, and were no help.  (Getting informed help at the hardware store is dicey; it varies widely between fatastically illuminating and indifferent misdirection.  I get the best help at the hardware stores smaller than a city block; unfortunately they don’t have the best selection of parts. )  Mulling it over during one of my son’s soccer classes, I realised I had set the rotation of the drill in the wrong direction.  That was the solution!  Since I couldn’t wait for a free day (and my son has had so many activities I needed ferry him to and from), I took advantage of one cold, wet evening, with only a little light to see by; to hack, drill, and sand all the aluminum pieces I needed.

It was after dark, and it was raining.  My very adorable four-year-old insisted on pulling up a small chair to sit outside with me.  When he refused to wait for me indoors, I bundled him up in his bulkiest down-filled coat with hood.  He is really a trooper.  He puts up with so much of my nonsense, and that evening was no exception.  He’s incredibly patient and understanding, up to about an hour.  After that, it’s no more Mr. Nice Guy, but I know I have a jewel beyond compare!  He was so sweet, sitting near to me, huddled in the dark with the rain rolling off his back — but what a monster his mother is to let him!  She was well rewarded when she came down with bronchitis; luckily, he did not have much beyond some mild sniffling.  I also suffered three days of pain and soreness in my hands, elbow, and shoulder.  But, I’ve healed and recovered; and most importantly, DS is fine!  (Oh, he’ll have some tales to tell about his crazy mama when he is older!)

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With new harnesses in place, I put on the 600 metal heddles removed from the Leclerc Dorothy.  They look so much nicer than the string heddles in three colours!

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For springs on the bottom harness rails, I used seamless elastic hairbands.

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Do you see the warp wound on the back beam?  It’s been there for the thirty years it was owned and never used by the previous owner, whose mother had put on the warp.   It’s a soft cotton with a pearly sheen, and I decided it would be a waste not to use it.

I counted 276 ends, and decided to thread it in the “Gothic Cross”, treddling pattern III, from Marguerite Porter Davison’s book, “A Handweaver’s Pattern Book”.  For the weft, I used an unmarked cone of black thread from my stash, which I chose because it was the closest match for size and weight to the cotton warp.  I thought it (the weft) was synthetic, possibly acrylic, but burn tests all seem to indicate cotton, linen, or ramie.   (Flame was bluish, and burn residue contained no beading at all, only a soft ash.  The ash was black, but then so was the yarn.)  I looked at the fibres under a microscope, but the yarn looks very smooth and not hairy at all (this would seem to me to indicate synthetic).  I highly doubt it is linen or ramie, since I could not detect any long fibres; the untwisted plies come apart like unspun cotton.

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The tables underneath the loom are two Lego tables borrowed from DS.  It’s really too difficult to weave on a table loom on the floor; if I take the loom to a workshop, I’ll also have to bring along a folding table.  I have a portable camp table with aluminum rolled top, but it needs to be found in our garage first.

It was so much fun to be weaving along so easily, that fourteen inches of cloth went by before I noticed that my cloth did not resemble the pattern I chose…

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The darker, top part is the pattern I had planned.  I arrived at the wrong treddling in the bottom part because with two different tie-ups given for the three versions of this pattern, I followed the wrong one.  I have no excuse, as I have even specifically asked (and received the answer, on Ravelry) about this very thing for a different project!

The reed markings are numerous, since I sleyed the 10-dent reed 2-3-3 with the approximately 40 wpi cotton warp.  That was for a sett of 27 epi; I actually wanted it to be lower, but I chose 27 for the ease of threading.  It will be interesting to see how much of the marks disappear after a wash or two.

We spent Christmas Eve at my sister’s house; I brought this loom along with me and wove or talked weaving whenever not eating or opening presents.  My sister’s mother-in-law, who is just getting interested in weaving, got to weave for the very first time, and added at least an inch of pattern to this project.  My brother, who obviously hasn’t been reading my blog lately, asked if this was my most fancy and prized loom.  (No, it’s the largest one I don’t mind schlepping about in my car to workshops and such!)  They’re great siblings.  They’ve always been very tolerant of me, even if they don’t always understand!

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At the very end of the warp, I wove two 3″ sections (with blue weft) for my notebook.  One of the sections will be left unfinished for comparison.  I have no plans for this cloth, except a tentative idea to cut some of it to make a small knitting bag.

Unfinished measurements (minus fringes, red spacers, and blue samples): 9.75″ x 74″

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28 December 2008 Posted by | Weaving | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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

Raddle Me This

I decided to put a fourteen-inch wide, ten-foot long warp onto Gil, my Rasmussen loom.  It will be a sampler of some basic twills, and used as a runner for the top of my piano.

The warp is some bumpy Portugese cotton from a massive cone, and one of two small coils of viscose/nylon/cotton yarn (thirteen dollars each, and inherited from Roxy).  I’ll use more of the cotton and the last ball of novelty yarn for the weft.  

Available open space in my house is in constant flux.  Since Gil is now situated in the spot I would have preferred to assemble my Bergman warping reel, I had to warp in the Kitchen.  It was a tight fit, and I was backed against the sink the entire time.  I’m getting used to the weighted swing of the reel: using it to my advantage, it makes warping very, very fast.  I used practically no effort, only having to slow the reel to wind on a cross, then let it fall back the other direction.  I wound on 196 (10-foot) ends in less than half an hour.  It will be even faster in the future, since it was a bit ackward having so little room in the kitchen.

I decided to warp back to front.  I enlisted the help of my DH to hold and tension the warp while I wound the warp onto the back beam.  Since I was working with both unskilled and grudging help, it was not a happy experience.  I would need to find a way to warp on my own to preserve our marital bliss.

It was only after the warp was wound on that I thought to measure the width of the warp on the back beam.  My supposedly fourteen-inch warp measured only an average of twelve inches.

A lightbulb came on.  Is this what a raddle is used for?

I immediately posted for help on Ravelry.  While it was created for the knitting community, there are enough weavers (and spinners) on it that I can usually get my questions (newbie ones) answered within an hour, if not minutes.  But I was too impatient to wait for an answer.  When the Weaving Works told me they didn’t have any raddles in stock, I hied myself away to the closest hardware store, and came home with a pound of cable tacks. 

I chose cable tacks because in one of Peggy Osterkamp’s books, she recommended using screws with eye-holes.  The holes are for inserting a dowel to keep the threads down.  I just couldn’t see myself twisting in close to 150 screws, so I went for the cable tacks.  I also didn’t want to use finishing nails because I was worried that having them sticking out might be dangerous to my very active son.

I kicked myself for resisting any notion of a raddle previously.  I have had severe wrist pain in the past, and I guess I was afraid I would be pounding nails for hours without end until my hand fell off.  In reality, the raddle took less than an hour to finish, taking even that long because I had to stop several times to rustle up other pieces of wood for my son to hammer and to persuade him his wood pieces were much, much better to pound than mine.

The raddle was made, and the warp was re-beamed within the hour following.  What a difference it made! I was able to beam on by myself!  My previous experiences with warping involved more praying than skill to get the warp on the loom; this was the first time that I actually felt in control of beaming on properly — in a scientific manner with reproducible results.

The only problem with my raddle is that I wanted to avoid using screws with eye-holes (suggested in Peggy Osterkamps’s book – so you can quickly run a dowel through them), so found some cable tacks to use instead.   Unfortunately, they are very thick – a little less than an eigth of an inch, and I’m worried it may throw off cloth measurements by almost a quarter inch, counting both sides; this may be more of a problem when warping with very fine threads.

Two of my books say the raddle is optional, and another two say it is a necessity.  I didn’t make the connection between the raddle being used for warping back to front, but I definitely knew I didn’t want to use Deborah Chandler’s hybrid method of sleying the reed to use as a raddle, then re-sleying it after threading the heddles.

I plan to make a raddle for my 45″ Bergman loom, but I’ll use finishing nails instead of cable tacks.  Being able to insert a dowel through the cable tacks wasn’t as handy as I thought it would be, and rubber bands work very well to keep the warp in place (although the cable tacks are long enough not to need the bands).  And a raddle with nails stored safely away couldn’t be worse than having spiked wool combs (truly lethal, yikes!) in the house.

 

The Ravelry community is awesome.  I would love to frequent the knitting forums more, if only I had more time.  As a newbie to spinning (still under a year!) and even more so to weaving, it’s been a wonderful source of help and inspiration.

2 October 2008 Posted by | Weaving | , , , , , | 12 Comments

Weaving On A Budget Of Practically Nothing, And Feeling My Mortality

At a family barbeque two weeks ago, my brother asked me conversationally: “So, is that your latest loom you’re working on?” What could I say, except: “Ummmm… no?”

I’m currently the owner of six looms.  Remember, I started two months ago on Father’s Day.  (Edited to add: I wrote most of this post two weeks ago, but waited until now to publish it since I didn’t have pictures of everything at the time.  As of today, I’m actually the owner of eight looms.  Stay tuned for a post introducing the two latest arrivals…)

I was weaving on my Easy Weaver (size A, small), a rigid heddle loom made by Harrisville Designs. These come pre-warped by the manufacturer, using the ingenious method of attaching velcro on both front and back beams to quickly warp the loom.  Mine was used, and two-thirds of the warp was already woven.  I impatiently finished off the last part (letting my son weave a few picks) so I could tie on a warp I prepared for my first try at tablet (or card) weaving.

Before the BBQ, I quickly tied on that first card-weaving project, “Sample Band A” from Candace Crockett’s “Card Weaving” book.  I started the first picks in the car.  It caught the interest of one of my nephews (a belt), so I’m already received my first commission!

I’m very happy with this sweet little loom.  It does exactly what I wanted it for, weaving in the car.  (The passenger seat, silly.  I can already “weave” when I’m in the driver’s seat!)  It was inexpensive, since it was used and missing one shuttle.  It’s the older model, so there’s no heddle block mounted on the base to interfere with tablets.  And it is perfect for my son to use if he wants.  I had a little difficulty getting the warp tight enough with my tablet weaving, since the apron rods I added on tended to slip and loosen the warp and cloth; I will try drilling holes through the rods (for the cording) to see if that will keep them from turning.  I finished off the belt (it’s horrible, made of jute, with lots of mis-turnings) and beamed on a second during a four-hour road trip to Vancouver, BC.  Alas, I ignored the advice to avoid using jute in a first project, for it proved finicky to handle as well as too rough and bulky for belts; they might be salvaged as luggage straps.

The tablets I used were purchased along with others of varying sizes, tiny shuttles, heddles and a backstrap belt with harness for a few dollars at a garage sale:

Then I snagged this electric bobbin winder for even less:

It was cheap because the motor was Danish and made for 220v electrical; I took it into a repair shop, where I was fortunate to find a used 110v motor to replace the original.

The day after the Easy Weaver arrived in the mail, I was practically gifted this 24″ Kromski Harp, with stand, by someone who ordered it new but never got around to taking it out of the box.

With an decoratively flourished heddle:

I don’t know if I’ll keep the Kromski.  Somehow, I just can’t love it as I do Hedy (Schacht), even though the Kromski has a larger weaving width and can accept two heddles, whereas Hedy is limited to one.    I’ve been dragging my heels on the very last bit of the assembly, tying on the apron strings and rods — some bother about finding a candle to melt some nylon ends together.  The ornate woodworking of the Kromski just doesn’t move me as do the quiet, square lines of the Schacht.  Also, I’ve received a few offers for it already, so I may not have it long.  I will add a later post with pictures to compare these two looms..

Last, I came across this handsome fellow, a 25″ Rasmussen table loom that had been stored for thirty years in perfect condition.

His name is Gil (Hebrew for Joy), he folds for portability,

and he came along with four books, including “Warping All By Yourself” by Cay Garrett, and Marguerite Porter Davison’s “A Handweaver’s Pattern Book”.  I don’t understand why, when I take out the bottom screw that locks the castle upright, the hole it comes out of misses alignment (when folded down) with a third hole to lock it when collapsed.  The difference in alignment is very small, but large enough that I don’t believe the difference is due to any warping.  Plus, it’s the same on both sides.  The hole that doesn’t match up is the one pictured below on the upper left:

I think I tried removing the screw on the upper right (instead of the bottom one), and found it doesn’t work, either.  Or perhaps it didn’t make sense to me, since the castle would have to tilt away from and not lock down the reed, and would not collapse as compactly.  I’ll try calling Montana Looms, the company now manufacturing these.  Gil’s collapsing feature isn’t quick or easy compared to my other table loom (Bergman Treasures And A Reprieve), plus he is bulkier and heavier.  It’s more likely that I’ll end up taking out the booster seat and putting down the back seat of the car rather than collapse this loom again.

In compensation for spending practically zilch on looms, I have been bankrupting myself on books –Peggy Osterkamp’s second and third, and “Mastering Weave Structures” by Sharon Alderman — plus accessories.  I purchased two hundred new metal heddles for Gil (more expensive than the loom), to bring him to five hundred.  And placed an order for a Schacht auto-reed hook (shockingly expensive) that I can’t wait to use.

OK, so the budget wasn’t practically nothing, but only because I kept stopping in at The Weaving Works to badger the nice people about my Lendrum fast flyer (hence the new books and accessories).  I’m learning that even if one buys everything top-drawer, and retail, those expenses would be nothing compared to the time investment involved.  Rather, that even if all the looms, tools, education, and yarn were free, weaving is incredibly expensive, time-wise.  (And if so much time is to be spent doing this, isn’t it a necessity to use the tools one likes best?!)

I think I’ve just made the argument that weaving cannot be be inexpensive, if one values time.

Reading through the used weaving books recently acquired, I’ve found names written inside, and small notes.  Most of the used books are circa 1970’s, with pictures of authors usually in their 30’s or later.  Why are so many weaving texts out of print, where are these people now, are they still weaving, and did they fulfill their dreams?  I muse on these things, and when looking at the authors, realise that many of these women may already have passed.  At least four of my looms are older than I, and with care may probably last longer.  Perhaps it’s silly, but I’m wistful, at the thought that my time to use each of these looms is running out.  There will be some point when I too must pass them on to the next weaver.  How can I possibly weave enough when dressing one loom has taken me more than twenty-four hours?!  My slowness at knitting never bothered me.  I’m not slow at spinning; but I suppose recently I am, since I’m never spinning, but always weaving warping.  I touch these older looms, read these older books, and I see my life dwindling down and I wonder why I am doing this, what am I accomplishing, is this adding meaning to my life, will my family survive this, should I stop before I’m in trouble, and why do I enjoy this?  Because, I truly don’t need another scarf.

9 September 2008 Posted by | Weaving | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Bergman Treasures And A Reprieve

For all you Bergman lovers out there, this one’s for you.

I’ve been looking for a portable table loom.  Today, I happened on an ad placed by a woman who is selling… drumroll please… a Bergman table loom and floor stand with treddles.  I had to go and see it, if only to find out if this was the mythical Bergman suitcase loom.

Moments after I see the table loom, I turn around and see… drumroll please… yet another Bergman loom.  A 36″ floor loom!  I almost pass out from shock.

Both the floor and table looms were purchased new from Margaret Bergman’s son more than thirty years ago, when they still had a store in Poulsbo, Washington.

I didn’t get a picture of the table loom before it was taken off the floor stand.  My brain was completely addled with all the excitement, so even though I had my tape measure out and actually took a measurement of the width, I’ve completely no recall of the reading.  If I had to pretend to remember, I would say it had a 25″ weaving width.

Following are closeups of the springs connected to the harnesses:

Here is a closeup of the levers centred atop the castle:

This is the floor stand with treddles:

The floor stand is interesting; it’s not a Bergman stand, but a universal floor stand.  The treddles were not tied up, but I was told to use texsolv with a lark’s head knot through the metal loop on the treddles, then run up and over the roller directly above (seen on the horizontal crossbar near where the hand is pictured), then under and up from the rollers to the left side, and finally to the metal loop on each of the levers (previous picture).

Here is the floor stand folded up:

The floor loom is in beautiful condition!  I was so excited, I only vaguely remember the lovely woven items around the room, and am kicking myself for not taking more pictures of them (especially of an incredible doublewoven wall hanging produced on the floor loom).  I was too busy hyperventilating, and already felt rude clicking away so much.

Even the bench is original.  The weaving on the loom uses some yarn she dyed by herself.  She said she used dyes which are no longer available due to toxicity, so she doesn’t have plans for any more dyeing in the future.  When she warps her loom, she puts on twenty-five yards at a time.  I took a look at her warping reel (sorry, no pictures) — and saw a smaller version of my own!  It’s good to know my warping reel (Bad Boy, Humungo-Warper 2000) is an original Bergman.

In the end, I decided not to purchase the table loom.  Mostly because the castle is nailed into the loom frame, and does not collapse or even come apart for portability.  So, I don’t think this is the suitcase loom, as it definitely wouldn’t fit in a suitcase smaller than a steamer trunk, if that.  But I hated leaving behind the treddled floor stand.

Which brings me to the reprieve part.  Thank You, Trapunto, for prodding me with the virtual pitchfork.  You were right, as well as being a voice of sense.  I haven’t actually woven on the Dutch Master Box Loom, yet (another story there), but lifting up the harnesses by hand does seem like it might be extra work.  So I took a closer look at the table loom I brought home (see earlier post “Hi And Goodbye”).  I searched online, but it doesn’t look like either a Kessenich or a Mountain Loom.  There are no markings to indicate the manufacturer.  Here is a closeup of some of the knob and the levers (side-, not castle-top-mounted):

On even closer examination, I discovered that it can collapse with the weaving in place:

I don’t know why, but I find this charming.  (Still no name though.)  So I’m giving this loom a probationary stay of execution eviction.  DH commented: “Of course you’re getting another loom; last time was Father’s Day, this time it’s my birthday!”

9 August 2008 Posted by | Weaving | , , , , | 9 Comments

Hi And Goodbye

Shiori, (the founder of our Eastside Spinners’ Guild, which I found through the internet) and I have been discussing logistics for taking private weaving lessons from Syne Mitchell.

I had to get ready for this event, and I needed a portable sampling loom (nevermind that I haven’t actually woven on a loom with harnesses yet), so I purchased a table loom, ignoring the fact that Shiori has often told me she would lend me a simple one of her own.

It’s a solid, study, no-nonsense, 22″ weaving width, four-harness loom with a 15-dent reed.  It barely fits into my completely-emptied car with one seat down.

I purchased it yesterday morning, only an hour before Shiori came to my house.  I don’t know why I was in such a hurry; I guess I wanted something of my own.

This is the simple loom Shiori brought over:

It even has a removeable raddle!  They look huge in this closeup, but the pins are actually half an inch apart.

It’s a Dutch Master box loom, 10″ weaving width, with eight harnesses that are lifted like rigid heddles.  It’s so beautifully manufactured, it really spoils me for anything less.  I think it would also make an excellent tablet (i.e. card-weaving) loom, and you have the option of popping the entire harness/beater assembly out if needed.  (Look, Honey!  It will actually save me money because it’s two looms in one!)

Shiori even brought gifts of yarn to weave with it.  Isn’t it amazingly beautiful???!!!  She had prepared a seven-foot, 50/50 wool/silk warp complete with cross and hand-painted it in a recent weaving workshop with Judith MacKenzie.  I think the weft was dyed with logwood at a natural dyes workshop that I also attended, and it is the same 50/50 wool/silk as the warp; Shiori said it is a Finnish yarn.

I am just overwhelmed with the generosity of Shiori’s gifts and time.  She spent three hours with me, handing me one end at a time, while I threaded them through the heddles.  I learned to embrace painter’s tape as a friend, and also learned that I didn’t have to take each end out of the cross when threading heddles/sleying the reed.  How did that important fact escape me before?  That is, before I spent fourteen hours warping my rigid heddle loom!  Shiori is coming by again tomorrow to bring the reeds to pick from and sley.

The first 16 ends threaded.  We are using the modified twill “Eight Thread Herringbone” pattern from Marguerite Porter Davison’s book, “A Handweaver’s Pattern Book”

Isn’t it nice to have friends who insist on helping and telling you what you need to know even when you’re too blockheaded to know when to pay attention?

My own loom is perfectly serviceable, but now I feel so blasé about it.  (And I haven’t even used it!)  I’m going to resell it for what I paid, and save up for something with more gravitas.  Since I will spend hours warping it, it really should be something that I love.   I guess I should have known better: while I was probing my instincts for whether to buy it or not, no name came to mind.  Shiori’s loom, however, I can immediately name.  (No, I am not trying to name these looms; how can I help it if they introduce themselves to me?  My Lendrum spinning wheel doesn’t have a name.  Thinking, thinking, staring at it… nope, still no name.)

I had a marvelous time yesterday.  Shiori and I had lots of time to chat about life, friends, family.  Doesn’t get any better than that!  Warping goes so much faster when two work together on one loom at a time, although nothing approaching warp speed, har har.  Shiori thought it would be good to do this on a regular basis — having warp party get-togethers.  Now I know what it must have been like to live in a small town where women had quilting, sewing, or knitting bees.  Isn’t it amazing how the internet can help bring about friendships and small communities in a big city?!

6 August 2008 Posted by | Weaving | , , | 2 Comments