Monday, June 1, 2015

Building Looms, Beating an old Path.

      A few years  ago  my wonderful  wife  bought me anow Ashford rigid heddle  loom  for Christmas. At the time, I  made one scarf, and wasn'the very happy  with  the  resuly. I followed  the suggested length and width, and felt like the resulting scarf was just a bit small. (And that was before it got accidentally  run through the laundry  and felted.)
     I decided to give it another go, and decided that I should 'fix' some of  the bits I could. Like doubling the width to near the max for that 12" loom. And trying  a pattern, rather than just seeing how a verrigated  yarn would pool. And as to  length... well Tom Baker was my first Doctor, so I put as much yarn into the warp as this loom could hold.
    As the loom is portable  I took it all over town, to coffee shops, the library, and  anywhere else that I  planned to waitvarround. The result was a lovely 11' 2" houndstooth  scarf, and a nickname for the loom of "Traveller." It also resulted  in  my realization that I really enjoyed weaving.
      So,  I decided to try a different style of weaving... and bought a secondhand tapestry loom.  I found that it is a bit easier to warp, as it is a much simpler loom-basically a 4 (or 6) foot pin style loom. But it was also a bit fiddly keeping the tension uniform and I did not like the rug  yarn that came with it. So, it had just sat idle since I abandoned and removed the first attempted rug.
      I went back to Traveller for a few more projects, then it occurred to me that while most commercial looms are out of my price range, I do have some woodworking  skills.  And several widely different looms are relatively  simple in design... so why not try building a few? After all, I build and use and sell spindles, so this is a logical progression, right?
   The jump start to this was finding a crib that was on it's way to the landfill, that had massive rounded to rails in the short sides. It took me only a moment's flash of inspiration to remember the look of a Salish style  loom... and an evening's  work while watching a DVD (I am so far behind in Game of Thrones) to disassemble  and rebuild the crib into a loom. It is roughly a cross between a Navajo and a Salish loom,  and built for indoor use, so a bit smaller and with legs that will soon have feet. With an old ash broom handle  for the crossbar.

By putting the rounded ends outward top and bottom, the warp can be rolled around the loom giving a working area of almost 8 feet long. With the working width of almost 4 feet, this should be plenty of warp to make either rugs, small blankets, or even core fabric for garments.
      And again, it was fun to build. So it has started me on a path of building some looms. I expect most will be of the more 'primative' designs, as my engineering skills are more geared to design than manufacture.  I'm not sure where this will lead, or how many I will build, but 'twill be an adventure.
      Since this one is built from a crib, and to 'crib' something  is to cheat by copying my wife  came up with this one's name. It is now known  in our household  as the 'Cheater's  Loom.'

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