19/12/2011

Thoughts about looms

No weaving going on hereabouts, but lots of weaving-related tinking.
I have spent some time deciphering old-ish handwritten drafts. This has made me wonder about lots of things...

One of them is: can we draw any conclusions about looms used from drafts/tie-up used?

The most standard of all Swedish looms is the 4-shaft counterbalance, with one pulley and two horses (on each side of the loom, of course!). (Horses - in Swedish those are often called "nicke-pinnar", "nodding dowels". I don't know any other English word than horse - pls help?) Lamms have been used for a relatively long time. No lamms did not necessarily mean "direct tie-up" - it was pefectly possible to tie more than one shaft to one treadle. To prevent the shafts from moving sideways, one could use a ring of some sort (a piece of cow's horn, it says in one book) to keep the treadle cords together.

Countermarches were is use in the early 1800s, but how common were they?

The most common (I think) way to add more shafts was to use "lunor" - ie two-level pulleys (left) or dräll-pulleys:


From all the extras that came with my loom I think that, maybe, a 3-level pulley was used with horses, thus giving the loom a capacity to use 12 shafts, like this:

(Seen from the side: 2 shafts connected by horses to one cord that goes over the pulley and down on the other side - thus 6 shafts on the back of the pulley-contraption, 6 (not pictured) in front of it)

I have used such a set-up a couple of times, and it is... - well, let's say it can be done, but it takes lots of patience to get the whole thing balanced. However, I fully inderstand why one can prefer to use dräll pulleys (or countermarche) instead.
Dräll pulleys have one drawback: the tie-up has to be on opposites: what goes down in the one end must come up in the other:


So: can I draw any conclusions as to the type of loom was used, when I find several 8-shaft "not-opposite" tieups in one manuscript? As the majority of weaves are 4-shaft and of many different types, I'm not seeing the legacy of a specialist weaver (I think). There are a couple of opposite tie-ups, and as many not-opposites.
Am I seeing a weaver with lots of patience, or one with a countermarche? (From all the extras that came with my loom: maybe I'm seeing a weaver with a loom that is on its way to be upgraded?)


I asked my guildmates, some of whom have learned to weave 50 years ago, (then) using their (grand-)mother's loom. They all believed in the two-or-more-level pulleys, possibly with elastics to help balancing.

Any thoughts?

2 comments:

Laura said...

Interesting observation - wonder if Pat Hilts would have any thoughts....

cheers,
Laura

Jenny Bellairs said...

Thanks so much for making this post. I look forward to the continuation when you are able to do it. More photos of an actual loom would be great, but drawings are helpful too.

I think the loom I was looking at was hooked up with the drall pulleys since there are five levels and ten shafts. I'm wondering if I should consider adding another set of lamms and changing to a countermarche?i suppose, from your explanation, it would depend on the pattern I want to weave. Or does the opposites only apply to the pulleys with horses? I don't know if my chemo damaged brain could figure it out or not. I do have a Cranbrook countermarche with the second set of lamms attached to the bottom bars of the shafts, so maybe that would work rather than hinging them on the frame.
Jenny in Charlevoix the Beautiful
Michigan USA