Monday, December 17, 2012

My first loom

The "how I came to be a tapestry artist" story starts with watching my grandfather weave when I was a child. He was a fabric weaver and he wove yardage on a 60 inch Macomber in Bismarck, ND. When he moved to New Mexico around 1990 he bought a Harrisville rug loom and started using the shaft switching device to make patterned rugs.

I lived in Reno, NV after finishing graduate school and had the opportunity to get my first loom. The pile of sticks which was this loom was found in the corner of a barn on the east coast of the United States. My partner's uncle shipped it to us and with some work, I had a loom I could weave 4 harness balanced weaves on. I was going through some files recently and found photos of the old girl.

The loom was a two harness counterbalance and was in pretty bad shape. I'm not even sure the whole castle was there and the shafts were unusable.  It was a Union loom.

My partner at the time made a new castle and added four counterbalance shafts.

Get a load of that carpet! We called it the strawberry room.

I basically knew nothing about weaving and certainly had no idea there were different mechanisms for running a loom such as counterbalance, jack, or countermarche. I did weave on this loom (with the help of the Reno Fiber Guild!), though I was a long way from doing tapestry. A few years later I sold this loom for $200 to a woman who seemed grateful to have it. I hope it is still weaving.

That probably all happened in 1997 or 1998 which I suppose isn't all that long ago in loom years. Since then I have bought, used, and sold a beautiful 8 harness Gilmore which wouldn't weave tapestry no matter how much I begged it, and now am weaving on my grandfather's Harrisville rug loom.


  1. What a cool weaving legacy! My legacy from my Grandmother was crochet hooks for Irish lace and French underwear and embroidery hoops. BUT-a legacy of a loom and weaving tradition how interesting! Did your Grandfather live in Bismarck in 1973? I lived In Mcclusky and Jamestown for several years and met this wonderful older man who was a weaver and a couple of other weavers when I was doing research into barn looms in Bismarck at the museum. I had discovered a union loom and a barn loom on a friends property who wanted to know more about her looms that she had inherited.

  2. Thanks for posting! It must be wonderful to have weavers in the family :)

  3. Rebecca:
    I've been desperately trying to contact you. Hoping this will do it. Are the TWO Koehler looms still available. If so, I'd like to buy them both. Please contact me ASAP at email: or cell: (919)690-6991.
    Sean MacDuff


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