Fiber people who know me have heard me talking about getting a new loom for AGES upon AGES. During this time I have moved three times and across two states, and my old loom came with me. 2013 changed all that. First there was the portable four harness LeClerc to take to workshops and meet with my study group. Then I finally got up the nerve and the money to make the big move from four harnesses to eight, and for good measure threw in a second beam, and added the thrill of rear hinge treadles (which I had never heard of before). Sometimes a girl just has to take some risks. Good thing that they paid off.
My first – and up to now only – loom had been a four harness LeClerc Nilus jack loom. It served me well over the years. There were always those new looms seductively calling from conference floors – new LeClerc’s, Gilmores, magazine pictures of Goldings (don’t ask – they are works of art that cost a fortune). But I never had that final calling – the right loom wasn’t there yet. At least until I borrowed my friend Alice’s Kessenich eight harness table loom. The craftsmanship sold me on the spot. It wasn’t too long afterwards that I was on the phone ordering my very own Kessenich.
As usual, there’s a big difference between dreaming the dream and living it. How many nights did I wake up in a sweat, measuring and re-measuring the doorway widths? A bunch. I even taped out the dimensions on the floor to make sure I had the right clearance. Soon enough it was in the crate on the driveway, then we slid it right into the room, no problems (the old loom was donated to an ASU grad student). Now was the challenge to set up my first warp on the loom! Did I mention the sectional beam that I had ordered as the primary beam? Up to that point I had only used cloth beams and warped from the front. (Time to pick yourself up the floor from laughing). Talk to any weaver about changing gears from front-to-back warping to back-to-front warping, add sectional warping, and you’ve got a great comedy routine. Well, it’s one way to add flexibility to your style. This loom has a ratchet and pawl tension system, so the warp is wound using an “s” versus the traditional “c” configuration. Another learning experience. It sure can hold a great tension!
How about the rear hinge treadles? Bernie from a local guild had mentioned the fact that they existed when I attended the shadow weave workshop. I immediately scoffed at the idea. But when I started to research loom configurations, there was actually some good information about them. Eight harnesses is a big load to lift with a treadle. Especially with oak. Granted, you’re never going to raise all eight at the same time. But the added weight can take its toll on your knees, especially when you are used to working with four harnesses. I can’t even begin to explain how great rear hinge treadles work. They reduce the effort by 70% – so much so that it I have a better time treadling than I did with my four shaft. One of the hidden gems of the weaving world.
So I am currently working on a Handwoven eight harness plaited twill scarf project. Trendsetter Yarns, 2/30 lace, 100% merino. Fawn warp, light grey weft. 12 dent reed, sett 2-3 30 EPI, 506 ends (with floating selvedge). Sixteen inches so far, and a long way to go on a 110 inch warp. Wish me luck!