I am in the midst of trying to purchase a weaving loom, and like any large (expensive) purchase – it’s been giving me a bit of a headache the last few days. Nothing dramatic, of course, but lots to ponder and learn!
While I am only a month into learning to weave, I am fairly certain that even as I sweat over the warping process and drive myself crazy with colour theory, this is something I am going to continue doing. Not only that, I am already feeling limited by the small table loom I am working on and eager to sit down at a full floor loom with a full range of project capacity before me. The small loom is great for learning on, and I am quite content making samplers to explore colour and texture at the moment, but there will come a time when I want to make more than a scarf!
There are so many considerations when one is buying a first loom such as:
- what types of items will I want to weave?
- how much space do I have for a loom in my home?
- can I put together a loom that comes in pieces/components?
- how many shafts, treadles, what weaving width is preferable?
- am I looking for portability?
- will the loom fit through the doorway where I want to set it up?
Etc. I want to put the loom in our large upstairs bed and sitting room because it is where we have the most space, and the best light – but that means moving something through a 2 foot wide door or bringing it in pieces and setting it up. Also, some looms are really heavy which is great for keeping things still when weaving, but not great for moving it around.
In addition to all of the above, I’ve found that trying to purchase a loom second hand (my preference at the moment due to cost and ecological considerations) is a bit of a hinky affair since 1) there have been many small, independent loom makers over the last century in North America and it’s hard to find out info about some loom makers, and 2) lots of people selling looms on Craigslist or Kijiji are selling them for someone else (often deceased or in a home) and don’t know what they are selling. Manufacturers like Leclerc have many different models that have been on the Canadian market but they simply stamp their looms Nilus or Leclerc and not with the actual model name – so people will advertise that they have a Nilus when in fact it is a Mira and so forth.
This is no one’s fault – it’s just the way things are – and purchasing anything secondhand is always a bit more legwork on the front end to get the deal. I’m game and I don’t mind writing to people and doing the work to figure things out.
Thus far I’ve decided on a 45 inch 4/shaft floor loom for now – after briefly considering a much smaller loom over the weekend – because I don’t like the idea of being limited right off the bat. If I find that I also want to be able to do some weaving at the cabin or take workshops, I will likely invest in an 8-shaft table loom at some point in the future – and I plan to make myself a little frame loom and a pin loom to play with simple weave structures on as well. But right at the moment I’m obsessed with the idea of a floor loom and so I’ve been looking at the boards everyday for a few weeks. I have an appointment this Sunday to look at a loom made by a Nova Scotia craftsperson in the year I was born (1973) which I feel has good juju attached since I’m going to look just the day before my birthday. It’s in my price range and has a nice look about it so I’ll have to sit down and see how it feels (and make sure it has all the essential parts intact).
In the meantime, I’ve warped my rental loom for a second time (mostly by myself) and I’m ready to start my second weaving sampler with a focus on colour combinations and weaving in different material. I’m starting to understand how to read a pattern draft and I’ve got myself a couple of excellent books that I’m sure I will use for a long time into the future. These are:
The first is a real instructional, with lots of pictures and skill-building lessons. The second is a pattern encyclopedia with over 600 weave patterns for the 4-shaft loom. So far I’ve referenced both of them about a hundred times – I kept the first one open beside me throughout the warping process last night, just in case I couldn’t entirely remember what I was doing.
And just to finish off, here’s a little stash of weaving fibre just waiting for me to finish work today!