Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Draw Loom

I had the opportunity to go to a "loom gazing" yesterday. I wasn't entirely sure what a loom gazing was, but pretty quickly realized it was just as it sounds--a gathering of weavers looking at looms.  Jacque Hart lives near me and she has been a weaver and artist her whole life. Her house/studio was a fascinating collection of looms. The Pueblo weavers guild drove over the mountain for a studio tour and I was allowed to tag along.

The Other Looms

Jacque has a house stuffed with looms.  I counted 5 looms that were at least 45 inches weaving width and a large assortment of small looms tucked in corners under piles of wool and weaving. I missed the demonstration of the AVL, but it looks to me like this is where Jacque does her "production" type weaving.

I thought everyone had moved on to computerized AVL looms, but Jacque still uses these pegs and I adore her for it. This was really the first computer after all, was it not?

This loom is a 32 harness Macomber which is definitely an old dinosaur! It was one of the first looms people called "computerized". All the shaft changes were entered one at a time on this little key pad and stored on a memory key. Jacque said it takes forever to put them in. She had a hilarious accounting of using the loom, what with the solenoids switching the shafts and the clatter of the air compressor which is the mechanical assist for lifting those metal shafts, the noise was too much. She would love to sell this loom if anyone is interested! It is definitely a little slice of history.  And you'd get very strong lifting those shafts since the air compressor has been disconnected. The loom looked like a 72 inch width one to me!

The drawloom

The most interesting of the looms to me was the drawloom.  I had never seen one before and Jacque spent quite a bit of time explaining how it works.
I have done some pick up work in the past and so the concept of this loom seemed fairly straightforward as Jacque explained it. Basically the pattern for the fabric goes on the front 10 pattern shafts (the regular countermarch shafts of the loom) and the "pick up" threads are on the back 60 drawloom shafts. Jacque treadles whatever ground fabric she is working (satin, etc) and then also pulls the shafts for the pattern she wants raised before putting in her shot.

 These are the pulls that control the drawloom shafts on the back of which there are 60 on this particular loom.

 You can see in this photo how the standard Glimakra countermarche loom is to the left and the drawloom extension is hooked on the back of it. This loom takes a lot of floor space!

These U-shaped weights have a name, but I can't remember what it is. Please comment on this post if you know!
 This loom looks particularly challenging to set up.

There is a very interesting article with pictures HERE about how to set up a drawloom and how it works.
Glimakra also has a page of information about drawlooms.

The Fabric

Jacque had some fine examples of her work for me to look at. Can you guess which pieces were done on which kind of loom? All photos are of work done by Jacque Hart. You can contact her through her website if you are interested. She has some gorgeous throws and coverlets and also does other functional textiles as well as wall pieces. Here website is HERE.

The Animals

And of course I took a quick tour of the animals on my way back to my car. The sheep were adorable and I just wanted to brush the angora bunnies! Dangerously, Jacque mentioned that she has baby bunnies who need homes. I beat it to my car at that point lest a bunny cage find its way onto my back porch and I find myself learning to spin angora.

I had a great time thinking about complex weaves again and learning about the drawloom.
 Isn't weaving grand?


  1. Hi Rebecca,

    I believe that the name for the weights used at the lower end of the pattern heddles is 'lingo'.


  2. Thank you Jaakko! Lingo is the right word.


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