Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New Addition to the Collection

Looms are keeping me busy.  I realized I started this post quite a while ago, sometime in late winter, and never finished it.

I recently had an opportunity to add a very large loom to my studio. I don't recall how I came across the Craig's List posting, but it was only three hours away. After checking with the seller and a couple others familiar with the Bexell Cranbrook countermarche or counterbalance looms, I found it could be upgraded to an 8-shaft loom, so I decided to make the purchase.

Near the end of February, my daughter Carolyn and I collapsed the stow-and-go seats in the van and took off for Midland, Michigan to meet my new loom and former owner Maryanne.

Here is Maryanne saying goodbye.
Here is a photo of how it is supposed to look.

On that day, though, it was just a pile of lumber, strings and chains in the back of the van.  We really had to squeeze to get the two side pieces diagonally in through the back hatch, but we were successful.

A bonus with the purchase were the extra reeds, shuttles, rug yarn, and warping reel.

Bob was a good sport and helped cart all the pieces upstairs above my studio and then did most of the assembly with my assistance.

See that beater?  It was designed for making tight rugs.  It is heavy!
It is a great loom for assembling.  Pegs and no bolts make is so easy.

Above Bob's head in the foreground is the jack mechanism for the countermarche.  There is definitely room to add four more shafts.  We just need to go purchase the hardwood.  We will need to cut eight more jacks, four treadles, eight shaft bars, four lower lamms and four upper lamms.  When I do the additions, I will probably use Texsolv cord instead of chains for all the tie-ups.
This baby is ready to warp!

I decided to try and use the four yard warp that was still on the warp beam.  It was a bit tangled, so I got a bit of weight on it and started dangling it down the stairway to get it straightened.

There was no cross, so here I am inserting a lease stick into the warp at the back.  It was a pretty warp, with lots of colors, so it was worth trying to save.  Since every two warp threads were a different color, it was pretty easy to get the cross back onto the lease sticks.
Barbell weights work nicely to add tension to the warp when winding onto the warp beam.  It went on the loom quickly.
I started the first rug and then I let Carolyn take over.  This was her first weaving experience, and she took to it right away.
She had made a quilt from her fiance (now husband) Jeremy's old tee-shirts and we cut the scraps into strips for the rugs.
Even her kitties get a rug for under their food dishes.  A good use for the short bit of warp remaining.
By the end of March, we took the rugs off the loom.

The rugs now live in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and look very nice in Carolyn and Jeremy's kitchen.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ten Shaft Counterbalance Loom

Recently, a friend who is also a weaver, offered to give me a Swedish counterbalance loom with ten shafts.  She owned it for many years but had never used it.  She just wasn't inclined to getting it up and running when she had other looms that she loved. She knew I liked to restore looms that might be useful to me, so that is how I got started with my most recent project.

I had never heard of a counterbalance loom with more than four shafts until she told me about hers.  I made arrangements to go see it in May.  It interested me, so I told her I would take it but would have to wait until July, when I could have another friend look at it, because she knew a little bit about that type loom.

This is how it looked when I picked it up at the beginning of last week.  It is basically put together correctly except for the treadles.
View from the back of the loom.
Drall pulleys, with five levels.  I know very little about how this works at this point.
Another view of one of the pulley systems.
The beater is hung with this gadget.  It moves forward or back by turning the knob.
 The other side of the beater adjustment hardware.
 Me and the loom all packed in the van.  It fit better than when I picked up my Cranbrook loom.  It is a little bit smaller, and a whole lot lighter.
After getting it home, I started working on cleaning the smaller things first, since they were the easiest to get out of the van by myself.  I wiped everything down well with a damp rag so I could assess the condition of the wood.  Most everything was in pretty good shape, so I decided to just clean up any of the wood that would not be touching the yarn.with some Old English wood cleaner.

This is the pile of lamms, shaft bars and lease sticks after cleaning.
The beater, breast beam, back beam and knee beam all touch the yarn, so I lightly sanded the finish and added a coat of polyurethane.
A wire brush was used to remove any loose paint and rust on the hardware. I sprayed it with Rustoleum to protect it before reinstalling it on the loom.
Bob gave me a helping hand reassembling it this afternoon.  I still need to install the lamms and treadles.  I put some poly on the treadles, so my feet would slide on them, and with the high humidity today, they needed more drying time.

The stringing of the shafts, treadles, cloth and warp beams are going to have to wait, since I need to order Texsolv cord and heddles.

The rest of this week will be taken up with getting ready for weaving demonstrations in the craft barn at the Antique Flywheelers show at the end of the week. Stop in to see all the demonstrations of the different farm equipment, saw mill, blacksmith, threshing, grinding flour, spinning, weaving, dyeing, and so much more. Here is a link for more information:
Antique Flywheelers show

Friday, August 21, 2015

Folding, Unfolding and Adjustments to the Harrisville Designs 22" Loom

Due to frustrations others and I have had transporting this guild loom, I wrote up these instructions to try and prevent anyone else having the same problems.  Follow the instructions in the order given for ease of use.  The securing ties may seem like overkill, but they beat the alternative of trying to untangle all the cables and they will make the loom easier to use.

The loom in the photos is not mine.  It may have been modified and might not match other looms of its kind.
Tie shafts securely on all sides to keep them from swinging. (Use two ties per side.)
Unclamp the metal side braces attached to the back and fold the back beam forward.  Temporarily tie to the castle.  The brace will be fastened later.
Unclamp the front metal braces.
The metal braces rest on the screws in the bottom wooden side pieces.

In order to fold the loom, the treadles need to be released from under the cross brace board.  Push the breast beam forward slightly to tip the loom.
The treadles are now able to be raised.
Tie a couple cords around pairs of treadles near the hardware so there is something to lift them.
Unclip the treadles from the cords.
Place the front warp tie bar on top of the breast beam with slack in the tie-on ribbons.
Lift and tie the treadles to the breast beam over the tie bar so the treadles are standing upright.
Pull up on the breast beam to fold and fasten with the side bars and wing nuts. Keep the washers between the bar and wood to protect the finish. Tighten the wing nuts.
Success!  The loom is folded.

Unfolding the Loom

Starting with last instructions, reverse the process.  Make sure the rope is over each pulley wheel when attaching the treadle clips.  Also check the cables and pulley wheels at the top.

Adjusting the Shafts Before Weaving

With the loom unfolded, there may be a couple adjustments needed to get everything level and ready to weave.

Check the shafts to make sure they are level and all at the same height.  The distance from the top of the level shafts and the top of the loom should be 8 1/2".  If everything is level and at the correct height, the loom is ready for weaving.
If the shafts are not level, there are clamps on the cables on the right for making those adjustments. The clamps above the hooks on the shafts are not adjustable, so don't try to loosen them. The clamps on the loop ends of the cables on the right side are adjustable and are used to make the shafts level.

To level the shafts, first slide the clamps up on the cables.

Grasp both sides of the loop and pull one side up and one side down on the cable.  The right end of the shaft will raise or lower.  Adjust it until it is level.  Continue with the other three shafts.
Once the four shafts are level, slide the clamps down to the "s" hooks as tightly as possible to lock the adjustment in place.

One final adjustment may be necessary.  If the shafts are not all at the same height, the adjustment is made with the turnbuckles on the treadles.  It won't take many turns to change the height of each shaft.

Once the height is adjusted, it is time to weave.  Happy weaving!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Maple Syrup Time

Today is a beautiful day to be outside!  With temperatures in the 40's, Bob and I decided we needed to get the sugar maple trees tapped today.  Our little bear Hamish, who always loves adventures, wanted to help.  I got out his wooden sled and he got to ride on it and take care of the pail of spiles.
Bob went to "the helpful place", our local Ace Hardware, and bought a new 7/16" bit for his drill.  The portable electric drill was much easier than the old brace and bit he used to use.  Hamish wanted to try everything, but Bob told him he wasn't strong enough to hold the drill or hammer.
Hamish was content to get spiles out of the pail and hold them while Bob drilled.  A pail lid made a pretty good seat.
"Thanks for the spile, Hamish."

"This is fun being inside the pail.  I hope Dad doesn't put the lid down though, while I am in here!"
"Sap tastes good!  Maybe not as good as honey, but my mom said it is much better after is is boiled and made into syrup.  I can't wait, but Dad said it will be a few days before we start to boil it.  We need a lot of pails full.  This was fun!"

A Rya Rug

I had a little bit of warp left after doing some rosepath rugs and decided to try a rug on page 50-51 of this rug book, which is a  favorite of mine. The rug is woven in plain weave, with spots of rya knots.

The rug will be for my granddaughter Hailee.  I'm sure she thought I forgot about her, but I didn't.  It is just that lately, I have more plans than energy.
The rya knots take small bits of yarn, 4" long.  Each knot is three strands.  I cut some thin cardboard 4" wide and about 6" - 7" long and folded them to 2" wide as cutting guides.  I wrapped the triple strands of yarn around the cardboard until I had enough for the knots in one row of the pattern and then cut them on the open side of the cardboard.
The rug has five spots across.  Each spot consists of five rows of knots, separated by a plain weave row. The first and last row of each spot has three knots and the middle three rows have five knots each.
I measured, cut and laid out the yarn for each row.
I marked the reed for the center of each spot. The first row takes the longest because I needed to find the center of each spot.  I started the spot in each row with the center knot.  It took me about 4 minutes to do the first row with fifteen knots.  The rest of the rows took about the same amount of time, even with ten more knots.

To tie a knot, place the three strands under the two warp threads on either side of the mark on the reed.
Wrap them around the two warp threads, making the cut ends even.
Separate the two warp threads and tuck the cut ends between them.
Pull on the tails and slide the knot down to the fell line.
It doesn't have to be real tight because the beater will push them tighter.
Continue adding rya knots on either side of the center one.
Remember to weave a row of rag weft between each row of knots and beat really hard.

When the spot is finished, weave enough rows of rag so the knot fringe doesn't overlap the next row of spots.

Notice the fell line isn't straight around the spot, but within a couple rows it straightens out.
The first row is complete and with a few more passes of the rag weft, it will be ready for the second row of spots. The fringe spreads out nicely even though all the knots are lying in one direction when woven in.

The rag weft is strips of ice dyed sheets, torn about 3/4" wide.  I am using two strips together.  One is pale green and the other is mottled blues, purples, and pinks. It gives a nice variegated look.