Saturday, February 4, 2012

Loom Comparison, Part 1: Warp Beam Mounting

This post is the first in a series that I'm writing to demonstrate the differences between two AVL production dobby looms and how those differences affect production weaving. If you're interested in the nitty gritty guts of large production looms, make sure to stay tuned for the rest of the series.

Remember how last Summer I bought a second loom and trucked it across the country from North Carolina? I've used it for warping since then and it has worked great. After the beam is warped comes the blood-pumping experience of removing the beam, harnesses, and reed to move them to the production loom.

Well, this Winter I saved my money and bought an auto-advance mechanism for the second loom so that it could be put into production as soon as it was necessary.

Well, it's necessary. I need black and red cloth for the shows in Washington. The black cloth isn't done yet and I'd rather spend my time on red right now in case there isn't time to finish it all. (I'd rather have more variety than to have LOTS of the same thing.)

So this week I'm going through the muscle learning process that the apprentices went through last week. I've switched hands on this loom, partly because I want to even out my muscle use, and partly because this loom actually works better that way. (More on that when I talk about the beater configuration.)

You might think that two looms from the same company might be pretty much the same. Nope. With the exception of the dobby box (thank goodness!) nearly every part of the loom is slightly different. Here's the first of the differences and what it means in practical daily use.

One of the things that's required in a production studio, for various reasons, is to remove a loaded beam from the loom, sometimes with the harnesses and reed attached. My old loom required a strange maneuver of lifting the 100 pound beam and passing it around the back uprights to the interior of the loom before sliding it parallel into the mounting slots. What a pain in the butt! It requires at least two hardy people. The newer loom has the mounting slots on the back. Just lift, insert, and lock. It's not easy, but I can do this myself. This placement also gives an extra four inches of shoulder room when I spend three days inside the loom tying knots. There's so much room that I can sit on a chair beside the beam instead of a milking stool beneath it. Aaaah...

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