Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Pegs and bars

12-harness broken twill sample on a dobby loom

and a dobby loom

My new old pre-AVL loom is a real gem. This12-harness dobby loom is compact and also known as the Witch Loom and the Original Folding Loom. If you missed the story of the 'find of my weaverly life,' it's here. But that story ended with the loom in the door and I promised updates so here goes. 

That first evening, our first reaction was to call in a knowledgable AVL friend, but by the time Monday rolled around, the beast wasn't looking so daunting. 

I had ordered some resources--Hand Weaving and Cloth Design, by Marianne Straub; Handloom Weaving Technology, by Allen Fannin; and Bonnie Inouye's PDF revision to the first part of her out-of-print book, Exploring Multishaft Design--to help me understand the mechanism and awaited deliveries. 

Some minor mechanical issues emerged but almost all of them were related to the disuse. There was a light rust film on the metal parts and they didn't move smoothly. I cleaned  the dobby fingers and other metal parts with a very light, non-petroleum-based oil and added some graphite to the sliding metal frame on the dobby mechanism. 

Ready to weave

When the peg wrench I'd ordered from AVL arrived, I was ready to peg bars and begin weaving!

I put on a warp, pegged some bars for tabby, and started weaving. This was key to my understanding the loom and how it worked. And it was key to seeing what was simply frozen from sitting and what needed fixed.

As I wove, I found that the Texsolv heddles grabbed and didn't slide smoothly on the harnesses. The heddles maintain the harnesses in position but need to move a little, too, so I lightly waxed the harnesses. Problem solved.

Mostly, it was me that needed to become familiar with my loom and how to make it work for me. My main challenges were how to attach the raddle and where best to sit when threading the heddles. But these challenges aren't unique. They're true for any newly acquired loom.

Dobby with bars pegged for a twill weave
Feeling more confident about the mechanics, my next goal was to figure out how to change the dobby bars more easily. They load from the back underside and I found them fiddly. I may be missing some basic know-how, but still haven't found it. I now use a nylon cord to wrap around the first bar to hold it in a depression until I could move it into working position. 

The original dobby bars use metal rings for connections. This requires needle-nosed pliers to connect bars and change configurations. M solved the connection issue with little cable ties. Perfect. Easy to put on and easy to snip off with scissors. (Visible at right between the first bar at the top and the second.)

I am loving weaving on this little gem and look forward to more exploration of multi-harness weaves! The South Jersey Guild has a study program this year--so there will be more about weaving to come.

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