Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Looms are made of wood...

O.K., so you knew that, or to quote molesworth ""as any fule kno"" (see end). The import of my chosen title is this - what one woodworker has put together another can modify / adapt / rebuild as necessary.

So, having for some time thought that my loom didn't look quite right and might not be the proper shape, and then I after getting irritated during the last piece of weaving by the upper jacks sliding forwards so the shafts were catching on each other, I got out a spirit level.

There was a difference of a few millimetres in height between the back and front of the support for the jacks. For the last length of warp I used a minor modification - an old birthday card folded up to lift the front support.

Then it was time to take a proper look at the loom, with set square and tape measure.

Hey, you can see it for yourself in that picture! The top has dropped at the front. Actually, when we looked closer nothing was bent and the fastening screws hadn't shifted, so it has never been right. That explains why the previous owner was trying out plastic spacers to keep the jacks and the lams separate (!) (note (from one wise after the event): when buying a second hand loom take a tape measure, set square, spirit level and look for faults in the frame.)

It just so happens that last week we had a large delivery of sycamore wood for building a new staircase. The woodyard also sent the offcuts, which included some good sized pieces of wood. The resident woodworker got to work for me with his power saw, hand plane and router. The new supports were then finished with a couple of coats of danish oil. They look lovely. It's not the same as Finish birch (as used by Toika) but the wood is pale, close grained, strong and beautiful.

See how square the corners look now:

The posts were fitted with simple plates to make them "I" section that are screwed into the frame top and bottom.

See below for the tenon joint that holds the fixing plate:

Just to follow up the literary quote in the first line, this is from "How to be Topp" by Geoffrey Williams & Ronald Searle, first published 1954, the copy in our house is a well read and loved falling-apart Puffin edition of 1964. Since I discovered this book a few weeks ago our tabby cat Pheobe is at times nicknamed "molesworth" for her quick intelligence, clear no-nonsense view of life, imaginative adventures, and habit of "toughing up" lil' Annie cat, a.k.a "molesworth 2". Jaspar, the smart neutered-male ginger cat over the road is "Basil Fotherington-Thomas" - who skips around saying "Hello clouds, hello sky" and sometimes gets invited to join molesworth's adventures.
(See this post of July for an introduction to Annie & Phoebe).
(See here for Wikipedia entry on Nigel Molesworth.)

(Just to make sure this is on the record, my loom is a Toika Norjaana 8 shaft countermarch, and I love it because it is beautiful, has a good strong frame, and I can use it for all sorts of weaving - and it will take modifications!)


Peg in South Carolina said...

That is amazing! And talk about perfect timing in your discovery of the problem. Yes, you can weave anything, including rugs.

Anonymous said...

I remember getting into trouble at school when I was about 9 for choosing to read "How to be Topp" rather than something more improving! My pointing out that I had borrowed it from the school library did not go down well....

What a beautiful little piece of workmanship those plates are - your loom must be feeling really chuffed.

Geodyne said...


have you tried it yet? Has it made a huge difference?

Barbara Blundell said...

Hello Dorothy,
Hope you are O.K. How are your projects going and what are you working on at the moment ?
I'm experimenting with a grey Shetland fleece . Its a 'floorcloth' colour so am trying to dye it subtle heather colours but it's turning out a bit muddy looking . Will keep trying. !

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say thanks for the kind comment on my blog! I've been looking around for weaving blogs to read, and now I'm happy to add yours to the list. What style!

Barbara Blundell said...

Hi Dorothy,
Keep logging on hoping for more posts ! Hope you are O.K. and busy weaving or living it up somewhere and not hibernating !

Anonymous said...

Beautiful workmanship! I love it that you included the picture of the tenon joint. You are lucky in your woodworker. I think maybe real craftspeople are thicker on the ground some places than others; I would have been terrified to let someone with tools near my loom. (I'd like to learn woodworking myself some day, just so I'll have only my pernickety self to blame for bad jobs. But first I will have to get over my fear of power saws.)