So, once upon a time… 10 years or so ago I had just sold my cloth diaper business to Jam Tots in Canada and I was trying to decide what to do with myself. Through a friend I acquired a small loom that someone was getting rid of, then somehow I had decided (blurry details in my head 10 years later) if I was going to start weaving again I wanted a different loom. I had taken Weaving when I was attending Massachusetts College of Art for a few years but hadn’t really done any in 20 years other than a rigid heddle loom. I ended up trading my free loom for a giant workhorse 12 shaft, 12 treadle 45″ Vintage Nilart precursor LeClerc loom guestimated by LeClerc expert Tom Beaudet (who had restored it), to be from around 1900.
Shortly thereafter, before I had a chance to use it I ended up getting divorced and had to get a real job to support myself. I started working as a chef at a friends restaurant, then moved to another restaurant which ended up closing and I took over and reopened it on my own. We lived there upstairs from the Farm to Table style restaurant for 3 years and the big old loom sat in my giant 20’x20′ 1750’s colonial bedroom without making even a dent in the space. My brother referred to it as the female version of having a John Deer tractor on your lawn. I got remarried and my financially struggling restaurant succumbed to the economy and a fall where we Hurricane Sandy then a month later a snowstorm at the end of October which left our town post apocalyptic and out of power for 11 days! After losing all our food 2x in about a month we closed.
I had another baby and went back to sewing cloth diaper related items, wool interlock clothing mostly and did that for a year or two. We bought an amazing little historic fixer upper home in a gorgeous historic New England village, I tried selling the loom I had never used to fund some work not he house. I didn’t get any interest. In trying to sell it I happened upon the handwoven baby wrap ‘phenomena’ and was rather enticed by the beautiful wraps AND most importantly a potential market for hand weaving that I wasn’t convinced existed for me before. I also met my new neighbor, Peggy Church, who has been weaving for 40 years so I knew I had the help I needed to start using this loom!
My husband busted out a wall in our house so i could fit it and we brought it over from my parent’s basement. My husband is wonderful.
I did a quick scarf just to make sure the loom, which to best of my knowledge had not been used since it was restored, actually worked. It went pretty well so with Peggy’s assistance I measured my warp for my first wrap. It went pretty badly. I was very bad at keeping the tension even on the warping board and I ended up with a huge variance within one warp chain.
This caused a lot of tangles and breaks while winding the warp onto the back beam even with the trapeze system Peggy recommended due to my lack of space. Then the loom was very fussy, the shaft tie ups were interfering with each other and causing shafts to move when they were not supposed to, the shed was not resting on the race either so I had a LOT of skips. I wove a 8/2 cotton, 24 epi pointed twill wrap first, then a bamboo weft one. I learned so much! I am an expert at any type of knot, break or repair while weaving as well as mending afterwards.
They both came out really stretchy, floppy soft and very pretty. All in all, totally usable, but a lot of flaws. I’ve had them traveling around as testers just so I know how the weave structure was, size, etc. So far I’ve had really good feedback! When they come home….they might become a really lovely curtain or perhaps a bedspread for my sons room!