Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Setting up the new loom

Getting the loom home was only the first part of the battle. Then I had to figure out how to set it up. Let's keep in mind that I am totally new at this whole weaving gig and have never actually done any "behind the scenes" work on a loom. This was going to be both an education and an adventure.

The extremely nice woman, Rebecca, from whom I bought the loom had tied it up tight so that it wouldn't get damaged when transported. This had the added benefit of leaving as much of it actually set up as possible. I could get a good look at what went where. 
Ropes for security, Tex-solv for treadle tie-ups
The plastic tabs that keep the Tex-solv in place
The unfortunate downside to all this tying together was that the loom, with all its component parts, was heavy. Way too heavy for me to be able to assist Chris in getting it up the stairs to the studio on the second floor. So I took lots of photos and started disassembling. I ended up with a slew of written notes about what went where and how it was all connected before I had the loom down to a light carcass.

I'm pleased to say it worked (and I learned a LOT about how a loom goes together). It was now quite light and not cumbersome at all. Up the stairs it went! And it was incredibly easy to reassemble. It's logical: breast beam, warp beam, shafts, etc all went where you'd expect them to go. I only wish the tie-up had been as straight-forward.

I'm going to warn you now - this post gets a bit into the weeds on looms, drafts, and tie-ups. If you aren't interested in my rather round-about and mistake-prone journey, scan to the end.

So, the tie-up. Argh. I picked a weaving draft from Rebecca's book (yes! she's published! and she gave me a copy! And no, that's not an affiliate link; I just wanted to share) and started to figure out how to tie the treadles to the lamms. Rebecca used Tex-solv and pegs for her tie-ups but I had a heck of a time with them. The pegs didn't fit well and I couldn't get the button-holes in the Tex-solv to consistent lengths. My treadles were all over the place, some high, some low. Double argh.

Doesn't this look like fun?
The hated pegs
Cooper is bored. I'm frustrated.
After many hours I did finish the tie-up. But when I checked my shed (the space created by the shafts lifting and lowering and where you pass the shuttle through to create the weft), the shafts that were supposed to go up were going down. No! What'd I do??? Well, I used a weaving draft written for an American audience to do the tie-up on a Swedish loom. I didn't realize that drafts for jack looms are written differently than drafts for countermarch looms. Whereas jack loom drafts only need to mark the treadle/shaft combination that moves, I need to tie up all the spaces, both marked and empty (hit and miss). Argh again.

I really didn't want to deal with all the Tex-solv issues again so I decided to do some internet research on Bergman Loom tie-ups. I also got out the paperwork that came with the loom and read it more carefully. This loom was built in 1949 and I have a copy of the original directions. How's that for awesome archiving? I'm the 4th owner of this baby and the folks who came before me did a great job keeping the info together.

In reading through the instructions (such as they were - it's obvious that they assumed you weren't exactly a beginner if you were spending money on a loom back then) I found they used cord (similar to waxed shoe laces) and something called a "snitch knot" to do the tie-ups. Back to the internet I went and found out how to tie a snitch knot and that Glimakra still recommends that method for tie-ups on their countermarch looms. They even have very clear instructions on how to use it. Cool.
Taking it all back apart
I also found that some people use glass beads to anchor the cord on top of the lamms so that the cord goes through evenly rather than wrapping weirdly over one side. I didn't have pretty glass beads but I did have nuts. Score for the hardware win!
Improvisation at its best
The tie-up went much more quickly this time and the correct shafts went up and down.

Upper and lower lamms tied up
Close up of the snitch knots
Okay, so I am now tied up and ready to weave, right? Wrong. Rebecca's book is actually about stash busting but I'm new so I had no stash to raid for the warp. I figured this was an excellent opportunity to start building one so I placed an order for 8/2 cotton in bright colors.

Next up - creating a warping board and improvising a bobbin winder!

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