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Looms, the good and the bad

Nanefire's picture

I was hoping this might start a good conversation. As I've been looking for an 8H loom for some time (it has to be 36" wide or less, which is a challenge to find used) I've seen a lot of loom brands. At a small guild I attend, I asked this weekend what looms everyone had and what they liked, what they didn't. Most seemed to love their first loom and we had some interesting back and forth since often this loom for one was a second to someon else who had little good to say about it! I know that no loom is perfect and they all have their quirks--and we all respond differently to different quirks. What one person can live with would maybe make me nuts. So, to wrap up here, I would very much love to hear whatever anyone has to say about their loom(s) makes and models, especially 8H or more, the good and the bad and please be specific. For instance, I love my Schacht Counterbalance (yes, my first loom) because of its solid feel, high castle and huge shed, it's easy to thread and it's also fairly quiet; but there's no shuttle race and its very difficult to use for unbalanced weave structures. I also have issues with advancing the warp and beaming on unless the rod is supported. The Harrisville Studio loom I often use is fun to work at but the beater feels wobbly and insecure and if I need to "beat to square" it's often very different from what I'd get on the Schacht or the Leclerc with a more solid construction. I haven't had issues with the pulleys personally but I notice that the frames don't always hang square. So, that's the sort of thing I'm looking to gather as information in my search going forward. I may have to gulp and buy a brand new loom to fit my conditions and I want to love that loom. Knowing up front what the quirks are would be great! Thanks if you're willing to talk looms!

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big white sofa dog's picture
Joined: 10/21/2011
Good Small Loom

The best small (26") loom that I have seen is Tools of the Trade. These are no longer made, but are often available used. I have had a Baby wolf and could not work comfortably on it, and found the shed very small. I have not used a Kessenich, but have heard very good things about them, and the business owner does impressive work. My advice would be to go to a dealer or a large conference to try a few. One smaller loom that I probably would have bought if I hadn't found the TOTTs, is a Louet David. I also hear good things about Glimakra's small loom.

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Nanefire's picture
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That's what I mean! I had two

That's what I mean! I had two people in the group who absolutely adore their Baby Wolf looms because they said the shed was big! LOL! What is it you like about the Tools of the Trade, exactly? Can you pin it down to anything specific? I'm not crazy about my Leclerc (very small shed) and it seems from what I've seen that the TOT is very similar and I've read, in fact, that they used Leclerc parts as a model. I've also been to shows but unless you really work on a loom from warping to weaving it's hard to know what you'll run into just from that exposure.

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An explanation for first loom preference

Sara von Tresckow is a very wise and insightful weaver. Something she said in class at Convergence 2016 provides a key to understanding contradictory loom preferences. She suggested a weaver should work with one loom to discover what that loom does best. An experienced teacher can start the beginning weaver with the type of weaving a particular loom does best. Ergonomic fit between loom and weaver may also guide the selection of loom and project in a studio with multiple looms. Beginners borrow expertise from their teachers to succeed beyond their own experience. First experiences form habits, preferences, and strong memories.

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Nanefire's picture
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First looms

I'm certain that has a lot to do with it. I'm self taught, though, and bought my loom at auction totally by chance one day, never having woven a pick. But I knew what it was when it came up and I jumped right on it. Never looked back. Fell in love with the whole process. And I'm sure I love my Schacht so much because it was the first bouquet of roses in a lifelong love affair! As I muse on this, I wonder how many people might have had a frustrating loom turn them away. When I first took a class, the loom I worked on had so many issues that I'd have given up if that was my only exposure. Instead, I just never went back to classes! (Not something I'm proud of, by the way, but that experience definitely has me think twice about signing up for a week long workshop on someone else's loom!) Since I don't have a teacher, I'm canvasing other weavers.

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Missus T.'s picture
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Song for my Toika CM Liisa

What I say may confirm fjacobson's comments on loving what you learn on, but here goes:

I learned on a Toika Liisa at Tarrytown's Weaving Center -- a mission community weaving center stocked with Liisas.  The looms were quiet to operate, and their cord and peg linkages made sense in terms of adjustment.  The sturdy loom frames are held together with wooden pegs and are easy to square and retighten with a mallet at any time.   I wove transparencies, boundweave, lace, and wide, and narrow fabrics with ease, and enjoyed perfect tension and large sheds the while.  At home I have a wide Liisa with a fly shuttle attachment, which has so far woven 60" wide using a wide race.  Using a fly shuttle requires a more frequent warp advance than elsewise, something I can live with.  As a general rule, I was taught to advance frequently, and the worm gear on my Toika is superb for that.  If I overwind the warp, then I have to release the cloth beam cog to back it back up a little, and this can be hard for me because it requires thumb gripping strength.  Not easy!  So I use a tool to disengage the dogs on the cog wheel.  The beech wood is very hard and resistant to the knocks of life.  I love pulling off the breast beam and the knee beam (both lift off of their wooden pegs) and putting my bench right in front of the beam to thread.  I can easily raise the shafts for optimal threading height (eminently adjustable!) and, having tried various positions to see what I like best, I now suspend my reed from the castle to sley it.  (Warping BTF and sleying after threading).  I love my loom!  It comes standard with 8S/10T but can be expanded and computerized with the Toika box, something for the future perhaps.  With the Liisa, one must get under the loom (or modify it somehow) to do the treadle tie-ups.  Toika's Eeva model can be stepped in to from the side, so access is easier.  But Liisa was easier on my eyes, and my DH's eyes.... Hope this helps. 

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jander14indoor's picture
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Joined: 09/20/2010
I have to agree with

I have to agree with Nanefire's comment about poorly maintained looms. I've only owned used looms, four completely different styles at this point from table top to my big Schacht Cranbrook. Each had strengths and weaknesses in use, but all that is masked by maintenance problems until they are resolved.

My table top I could take anywhere, didn't take much space, worked OK as a table top and had a frame to work as a sort of floor loom if I wasn't moving a lot for a while. But it was a pain getting good sheds and shed changes until I went through it thoroughly and fixed what was wrong. It was an older loom with many worn out parts. When I fixed that it wasn't too bad for what it was. I could weave objects at the limit of my skills anyway.

I replaced that with a baby wolf, also used, also needing maintenance, a pretty early serial number. But the price was VERY right. Looking at the going prices for relatively new used ones I could easily make a profit if I resold it. Once fixed, it has an OK shed, kind of snug for my 5'9" frames legs, but manageable. Very portable and much smoother/faster than the table top loom.

My Cranbrook started as a 4H loom that I expanded to 8. I had to remake some parts, found other missing parts purely through serendipity and my wife's persistence. When it was all together it works great. Nice to weave on when all warped up and very capable for any work I'd want to do. It's one drawback is inherent in all countermarch looms. Complexity of tie up and getting a good balance. I suspect that will get easier the more warps I put on it, but for now it is a little frustrating. Like others have mentioned, it is easy to disassemble it to get at most warping steps EXCEPT the tieup.

Now, I'm am a handyman by nature, I LIKE taking on projects. So 'project' looms at great prices don't concern me. I can't say that will work for you. But all of my looms have been absolute stealss as long as I don't charge for my time. Even if I did, only the Cranbrook took much time and that was to build all my own parts to take it from 4 to 8 shafts. And I considered it a worthwhile project as a hobby in its own right.

Good luck on your search!

Oh, if you are wondering about that fourth loom, it remains a project in garage until the shop is finished. And the hall repainted, master bedroom remodeled, daughter's bed room converted to guest room/exercise room... Hmmm, and a set of wedding table linens for foster son, table linens for daughter... Could be a while. A very early LeClerc Mira, pre WWII.

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big white sofa dog's picture
Joined: 10/21/2011
TOTTS

The reasons I like the TOTT loom is that the jacks are graduated, which means that you don't have to tie it up carefully to compensate for the difference in treadle travel from the front to the back. The treadle height is also adjustable. The frame is substantial. Although the hardware (ratchet and pawl and brake system) is from Leclerc, I don't believe that TOTTS looms are similar to Leclerc. There are many differences in design.

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Queezle's picture
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first loom, first love

My first loom was a used Schacht mighty wolf - 8 harness. I am also self taught, only 5 workshops in the 27 years since I bought that first loom. It fits me pretty well, it can fold up, and now that I also have a tempo treadle for it, I really love it.

But its loud. And it can be work to treadle. Its a jack loom, and the rare times I've woven for hours and hours, my knee has bothered me afterwards.

Soon after the MW, a used schacht standard, with all its accessories, came home - and it was essentially free. This is a very pretty loom, but I do not like the way it works. First, it never has felt comfortable to sit at it. I solved that problem by raising it up and making longer treadles. Now I can just walk up and weave while standing. This is better, but its still loud, and there is something wrong about the height of the shafts or beater. And the beater doesn't fit quite right - I have to keep my fell line back 2 or 3 inches from the breast beam or I cannot get it to beat. But - its serial number is 7. I think that explains some things.

This winter, the Julenissa brought me a glimakra band loom. I like this loom, and find it a good addition to the mix.

But now I crave quiet, and easy treadling. I am working to get a Oxaback Ulla Cyrus - I have a lovely used one lined up, just need to get my life together enough to take a week to drive out and pick it up.

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Nanefire's picture
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Joined: 11/19/2012
Wonderful info from Missus T.

I've had very little exposure to Swedish looms (beautiful, seen at shows but don't know anyone who works on one) so this was great, detailed stuff to hear from someone! Thanks so much! There is currently a Lilla (Oxaback?) at Vav Stuga for sale in MA and I've been toying with the idea of making the investment. I do admit to finding the idea of Countermarche tie-ups intimidating. I've been a bit lazy with my 4H looms and mostly do a skeleton tie up and just treadle, although I'm trying to make myself get down there on the Jack looms and adjust, adjust, adjust until the shafts are even. It's my least favorite part of weaving. But I know on 8H I will have to deal with it...just when my bones are beginning to complain about stuff like that!

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Nanefire's picture
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Reply to Jander14

Indeed, it would help to be a handyman! I was lucky to pick up all my looms so far for less than $300 each and most didn't need much in the way of repairs. I don't have the skills for a project loom. Good to hear your experience with the CM tie-up process because I admit to having trepidation in that regard! I'm sure I could figure it out because otherwise people seem to love their Swedish type looms. Good luck with all your redecorating!

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Nanefire's picture
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Reply on the TOTTS

Good to hear about the treadles! That's the sort of detail I was hoping to hear from people experienced with certain looms. Glad to hear as well that I have formed a mistaken impression about the TOTT being similar to Leclerc.

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Nanefire's picture
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Reply to Queezlee

Do let me know how you like the Oxaback and a CM tie-up. BTW, you have a very nice Julenissa! My husband is 1/2 Norwegian so it took a second or two for me to get that; he always raves about his grandmother's huge old loom in Norway that totally awed him as a kid. I guess it's still there somewhere and I've suggested we go live there so I can work on it...he says I'd love Lofoten. But I digress...

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SusanBH's picture
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ToTT and graduated jacks

My ToTT loom doesn't have graduated jacks (in fact I'm not sure what you mean by that). The first couple times I used it I had to play with the tie-ups to make sure the shafts lifted evenly. Perhaps the graduated jacks are a feature that was added after my loom was manufactured? Anyway, I don't think it's true for all ToTTs.

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big white sofa dog's picture
Joined: 10/21/2011
Jacks

The jacks are larger at the front of the loom (where the treadle travel is shortest) and get gradually smaller toward the back (graduated).  I believe that my TOTT is one of the earlier ones because it has no number.  Do you have a floor loom, or is it a table loom that has been put on a stand?  I have seen several of the latter, and they do not have the jacks that floor looms do.

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big white sofa dog's picture
Joined: 10/21/2011
CM Tie Up

I have a total of seven looms; two CM, two CB, two small jacks (the TOTT and a baby mac) a big AVL (electronic jack loom).  My favorite is one of the CM looms, a big barn frame loom that started life in coastal Georgia about 1750 as a two shaft CB.  It is now an 8 shaft CM, made in the manner of Louet's parallel counter marche system, and is a wonderful machine.  It has a 20+ added to the back, which moves the tie up from the treadles to a panel on the back of the loom.  The other CM, a 12 shaft Lervad, has the same arrangemen.  I have also heard of looping the cord around the treadles to ease the tie up.

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SusanBH's picture
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ToTT and graduated jacks

My ToTT is a floor loom. It also has no number, so I also figured it must be an early one. I just double-checked, the jacks are all the same. It's a 4-shaft, if that matters. It's a great loom; I love it.

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Nanefire's picture
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Joined: 11/19/2012
Thanks to Everyone and keep it coming!

I am finding all of these posts helpful--my perspective has certainly broadened and shifted so that, much to my surprise, I am now seriously considering a countermarch if one turns up within my parameters. The David is popping up as a nice new loom, too, with sinking shed Jack?! But people seem very positive about it. I am still a long way from purchasing anything, though, and I hope others will find the thread and keep posting their opinions. I've been weaving lately on my 36" Leclerc Artisat and my Harrisville studio--been struck by the difference in weight as I beat. I'm doing a Summer & Winter pick up on the HD and wishing I was on the Leclerc! On the other hand, I notice that, even on a 4H, my legs get lazy and my shed shrinks on the heavier treadling for the Leclerc as I fail to push down hard enough. Does anyone have an Artisat with the newer back hinge treadles? Does this help?

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mychicknpi's picture
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Artisat

Thanks for the good topic, it's nice to hear what everyone has to say.

I am a self-taught weaver, fairly new, but maybe only damp, not wet, behind the ears.Smile

I am currently weaving on an Artisat, too. It does not have the rear hinges, so I don't know if that is a helpful change.

One of my big issues with her is the tie- up. I have been faithful to tie it up according to the diagram of the pattern I am using, but it is work to get the shafts to lift evenly. I find that I am playing around with moving all the cords to find the magic combination to get things close! I confess that this causes me to drift toward using the same tie up. It takes nearly an hour to get things worked out when I change the tie-up. Since I am self taught, I am willing to say it is something I don't "get" about tying up. I am not sure what, since it's not rocket science. Smile I do know it makes me dread changing anything. It is an 8 shaft, but I have not woven anything over 4 simply because the idea of tying it up for 8 is hugely daunting.

Aside from the tie-up issues, I find that I cannot easily treadle without bumping my knees on the cloth beam. And when I beat the cloth beam raps my knees.

Occasionally the shafts will hop out of their holders, but that is if I haven't gotten the tie up close enough and I try a brawn over brain approach to "fixing" the shed. ( That means I tromp pretty hard on the treadle...totally my fault.)

Depending on the success of my tie-up the shed is nice sized, or skimpy.

I don't find her to be too loud, but I would like more quiet loom in the future, I think.

Her cloth beam pin tends to want to walk itself out, but that may be an age and use issue.

The Artisat has her good points, too! She is easy to move, with some of those little plastic slider things, so I can get her in and out of the small space she has without help or issue.

I like that her back beam can be folded in to aid in threading.

She holds a good tension on the warp.

She can be folded up to store her, if needed, that's nice.

She is sturdy and stays square.

The Artisat is loaned to me and I am grateful to be able to use it because it's solid and functional. But I don't love her, partly because of the tie-up issue and mostly because of the knee rapping.  However, if she were given to me I would be satisfied. At least for awhile. If I found a similar one for a good price I would likely buy it since I have a daughter that likes weaving on her, she is shorter than I am and has no issue with her knees. 

I have 2 other looms, but due to renovations in the house, I have no room to use them. I bought them used and have not woven an inch on them. They are either Putney Moutain or TOTT, I am not sure and not sure how to determine for certain which one they might be. Neither are marked. One was owned by a professional weaver, so I have faith in her ability, even if mine takes awhile to come close! The other is just smaller, but looks like it was rarely used. I long for the day I can open them up and weave on them, not just dust them!

Good luck with your research and loom quest!

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Nanefire's picture
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Leclerc Artisat Tie Up

I have all the same issues with the tie-up on the Artisat and I've been weaving for over 15 years; I didn't have any problems or complaints with mine when I just stuck with a direct tie-up and treadled the tie-up with both feet (think this is called "double treadling" but someone might correct me); but when I did a course on Doubleweave and followed the instructions...problems! The shed narrowed drastically and that's when I noticed how uneven was the lift. Even since becoming conscious of it, I've been trying to fix it! The texsolv cords help but I, too, fiddle and fiddle for an hour before I'm remotely satisfied and the shafts still don't lift to an even height together. And, yes, I also shove down hard sometimes to try and get a good shed. I wish you luck with your other looms and hope you'll post your response to them, whenever it happens. I have found this discussion very, very interesting! I don't know that I'd say my texsolv efforts were worth the cost and may go back to the cords and the direct tie up!

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big white sofa dog's picture
Joined: 10/21/2011
Tie Up Issues

The above people with tie up problems may wish to look at the post I made above regarding graduated jacks on a TOTT loom. If you have front treadles, and you depress a treadle, it travels further at the back of the treadle than the front.  This means that the shafts at the back of the loom are going to move more (higher) than those at the front, if they are all tied with the same length cords.  What you do is to tie the front ones tight, and make them progressively looser (longer cords) as you go through the shafts to the rear one.  This difference is more pronounced as you add more shafts, which is probably why the 8 shaft TOTT has graduated jacks and the 4 shaft doesn't.

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Oregon Weaver's picture
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Looms

Hi there:)

I'm also self-taught. 

My first loom was used (a huge 16 shaft Leclerc rug loom -- solid as a rock). As a beginner, it was just too much loom for me to get used to. Plus, it was used heavily by the previous owner. Two years ago I traded it in for a Baby Wolf which is fine, but I found that I missed working on larger projects such as rugs and blankets. So...last year I added a brand new 45" Schact 8 shaft floor loom to my collection. I love the loom (very comfy, pretty, large shed, quiet), but again, I missed the "horsepower" of a heavier rug loom. 

This month, I purchased a used 60" Macomber with the "add a shaft" feature that will allow me to add up to 20 shaft as I can afford to do so. I wasn't thrilled with purchasing another used loom, but this one was gently used and fit the bill. Used loom hint: Be sure to examine the brake system. Don't buy if it's too worn). You don't find used Macombers very often, but they're still being made. It's one heck of a solid loom (cast iron, steel, and solid maple), and perfect for heavier rugs. I was able to give it a test run at the store. However, until my daughter moves out in January, it will sit in storage...major, major bummer:) 

Yes, I now have three looms: BW for smaller projects, 45" Schact floor loom for blankets and most other projects, and a Macomber for my rugs. My family thinks I'm nuts, but it's wonderful to have different looms for different projects. Yes, they take up space, but as a "soon to be empty nester" I can't think of a better use of my spare bedroom. 

What I learned is that even if you buy a loom for the type of projects you currently want to weave, there is a chance you'll want to try new things in the future. 

I'm not sure if this helps, but thought I would share. Also, pick up the latest copy of Handwoven as it contains a loom buying guide that may also help:)

Kathryn 

 

 

 

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Oregon Weaver's picture
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Looms

I forgot to add that the Macomber also comes with a second warping beam that makes it super easy to weave using supplementary warps. Smile

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big white sofa dog's picture
Joined: 10/21/2011
Heavily Used Looms

Oregon Weaver, why did the fact the the loom was used a lot cause problems?  Parts can wear ( I got a rug loom with a breast beam that had been worn to a wavy surface and just replaced the beam).

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mychicknpi's picture
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Re: Leclerc Artisat Tie Up

I should have specified that they are texsolv cords, or loops, I guess they technically are. It is nice to know I am am not alone in this issue because I was beginning to think I might be hopeless regarding tie-up. And, as I said she is a decent little loom and I would not make her homeless!

I actually was able to squeeze enough space around my 48" loom by juggling storage boxes and hope to have her ready to weave on in the next week or so. I will post some photos to see if I can get her origins pinned down and comment on her functionality.

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mychicknpi's picture
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Re: Tie Up Issues

Big White Sofa Dog,

Thank you for the tips on tie-up. I am not sure what exactly the issue is with my Artisat. This is the real issue for me: say I tie up shafts 1 &3 to treadle 1 and have made it where they rise to the same height, that's great for the project I am working on at the time, but now I am done and onto a new project. So for this project treadle 1 is tied to shafts 1,2 & 3. All of a sudden 1 & 2 are rising evenly, but now 3 is an inch or more below this pair. I have not changed the length of the tie up on 3 but it's now completely out of whack. This I don't understand. And it's not a little bit out of whack, it's an inch or more. Why? What am I missing with this?

I confess I might be totally missing something you said previously, but I thought I got it, and I know the cords/texsolv cannot all be the same length to achieve proper (even) lift, but I didn't think that things should be like starting from scratch every time I start a project with a new tie-up. If this is normal, I can accept that, I just thought it would not be so troublesome on a jack loom...I understand on countermarche and counterbalance looms the tie up is pretty detailed, so I would expect it to be more work.

I am not trying to be a whiner, I just don't have enough experience to know what status quo is.

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Joanne Hall's picture
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Artisat

I used to have Fanny looms in my teaching studio and they are not much different from the Artisat.  I found the tie-ups to be much easier when I changed the cord to Texsolv.  I tied them a little lower and it worked better for me and the students.  This may not answer your specific question, but I have found easier tie up on other looms as well when the treadles were not tied up too high.

Joanne

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big white sofa dog's picture
Joined: 10/21/2011
Tie Up

What can happen is that one shaft, when it reaches the limit of the cord, will stop the treadle, the other shafts will will stop also.  I am not sure why you are so concerned that all of the shafts rise to the same height.  It's the bottom of the shed that needs to be even, not the top.  It's nice to be neat, but not at the cost of lots of adjustment.  If the bottom of the shed is good, I don't care what the top looks like; I'm not on TV.

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Nanefire's picture
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Shafts not rising evenly

Looks aren't the issue. The trouble is that the narrowness of the shed on the Leclerc can then cause the tip of the shuttle to catch one of the uneven threads on the top and push it down so you get an unwanted float. That's aggravating no matter when you catch it. My experience on this loom with double weave was, frankly, a nightmare. Only lately did I decide that the uneven shafts probably contributed to my problems. And maybe I've obsessed about the uneven shafts ever after but it does cause issues or we'd probably not even notice.

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