Our Wonderful Followers who come back again and again to read about us...

Monday, January 4, 2021

Eve - The Christmas Loom

This one is going to be a fiber blog...  

If any of you have read my blog for a while, you know from time to time we find old dilapidated looms and fix them up, I usually weave on them for a while, and then sell them later, hopefully for a little profit.  

Over the last 25 years, I have had 30-40 looms go through my studio at one time or another, and I have chosen my favorites (Tools of the Trade table looms and Newcomb Studio floor looms).  It has been a few years since I restored any looms.

But---- you know that Steveio, he is always on the lookout for them, on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.


It was Christmas Eve... after a delightful socially distant Zoom Christmas Celebration with our families, we were settling in for a nice evening of relaxation.  Steve opened his laptop and found this! 

It seems a person was working on flipping a house. This loom had been abandoned by the previous owners in a clean dry basement.  The flipper guy was hoping to sell it for $111.00  (why that price, I don't know) and then he dropped it to $55.00.  He said that it HAD to get out by Christmas Eve or it was going to be put into the dumpster, which was scheduled to be picked up the next day to be moved to the next flipping house.  I wrote to him asking about the dumpster time, and he said he had no idea when it was going to be picked up, so it was Christmas Eve or nothing.  

We hooked up the trailer behind the Saturn and buzzed on down 65 miles one way to rescue this loom!!!  It was dark, we HATE driving in the dark, but we were on a mission.  

We wore our masks and gloves when we got there. The seller was almost done working in the house and the dumpster was really ready to be moved.  He let us go down in the basement (socially distant of course) and we saw the loom, all alone in the basement.  We settled on $50.00 and I laid the cash on the steps for the seller to collect it.  

We looked it all over and determined the best way to disassemble it and then to get it through the basement door and out through the garage. This wasn't our first rodeo, so we got right down to it. 

This interesting old crank handle is actually a stove/wood burner handle stamped from the Rathbone Sard Company Acorn handle. (I had to look that up).

The seller said the only other tools or equipment he saw in the basement was a bag full of these odd shapped yarn things... and he pulled them out of the dumpster.  It was a dozen wonderful big rag shuttles!  

I also jumped in the dimly lit dumpster (through a side access door really) and looked to be sure there wasn't any other weaving supplies or tools left behind.  Nope, this is all there was.  

We were able to load the entire loom in pieces into the back of the Saturn, so we really didn't even need to bring the trailer.  But who knew?  When buying something so odd, you don't know if all the nuts and bolts are rusted and you can't get it apart?  So having the trailer along made sense.  Luckily, the basement was clean and dry, so the loom was not rusted and we got it apart easily. 

We drove back home, and left the whole thing in the back of the Saturn overnight.  

We had sprayed things down with Lysol the night before, so the next morning we were reasonably assured that during it's long abandoned stay in the basement, it was covid-free. 

I prepped my restoration area with a plastic tarp, then an old wool army blanket.  Now we could bring in the pieces one at a time to clean up the wood.  

I love love love this product and heartily recommend it for any old antique woodwork.  It's called Howards Feed N Wax.  It's bees wax and orange oil.  It smells good, soaks in the wood and doesn't leave a residue.  The sad part is that I am almost out of it.  By the time I could order more and have it delivered, I would be fretting at the loom pieces and not being able to "git er dun".  Soooo I grabbed a bottle of the next best thing: Howards Butcher Block Conditioner.  It has a lot of the same ingredients, and if I would run short on the first bottle, I could supplement with the second.  Part way through, I just squirted some the second bottle into the first bottle to make it stretch a bit further.  By the time I was done, I had JUST enough! 

I am not sure of the date of this loom.  It's made by the Reed Manufacturing Company of Springfield, OH.  This model is called The Weavers Friend.  They started making looms in the late 1800's and this loom is a pretty primitive design and materials which I will show you later with the heddles and harness construction method.  Something I noted that was interesting was the treatment of the warp beam tie on cords.  To eliminate the bulk of a knot on the back warp beam (to keep the threads smooth with no bumps) each cord had been carefully folded back on itself to form a loop. Then it was stitched by hand to keep it secure. Very interesting! 

Next are some of the "before" pics where I was just wiping down the old wood to remove dirt, grime and old wax streaks.  Someone had apparently poured some melted wax down along the inside channels of the castle to let the harnesses slide more easily.  I will use a silicone lubricant that is used on bicycle chains called LPS spray.

All of the pieces were there, but we had to dis-assemble them and clean the wood, and be sure to put each piece back where it belonged. 

The wood soaked up the Howards Feed and Wax, and it became darker and richer.  The oak grains were showing through, and it was turning this sows ear into a silk purse.  I used bits of 3M Scotch brite, sandpaper, emery boards and toothbrushes.  Oh, and a LOT of rags!   Finnegan kept a careful eye on the process. 

This is the interesting configuration of the heddles. Normally heddles are either separate pieces of flat steel, twisted wire, or knotted cords to carry the warp threads.  They usually slide from side to side for easier threading and moving around on flat steel heddle bars to different thread settings for weaving density or lacy-ness.  

But not on THIS loom ----  these were constructed of long pieces of wire that are fixed permanently to the harness frames, and threaded through holes in the wood.  They are set at a fixed distance apart which somewhat limits the creativity of the weaver.  But since I only planned on doing rugs on this loom, sett at 12 ends per inch, which was precisely the distance how this loom was created.  How convenient is that? 

Another interesting design is that loom changes the harnesses from 1 to 2 by a long arm handle on the right side, and not the auto harness changing beater unit or foot treadles like most other looms. I figured it would be fun for the grandkids to weave with, not having to be so tall to reach the treadles below and operate the beater above, Plus, it sits lower than most of my looms.  I am thinking it might have been customized to a lower stature for a handicapped person.

Here is a video of how the
arm lever works: 

The bottom gear is for an alternate harnesss changing device like newer Reed Weavers Friends looms have, but nope.... this loom does not have (nor any evidence that it ever did).  So the gear can sit there and look "steam punk" ish --- LOL>

I decided the loom was a girl.  I decided to name her Eve, after Christmas Eve which was the night that we rescued her. I think I was attached to her before I even wove on her.  Deciding to keep her was pretty foremost in my mind.  I was so curious if she would be comfortable and fun to weave on.  
As I worked on her, I wondered about her:

Had she been cherished?  
Had she been yearned for?
Did someone save up a long time to get her?  
Had someone taken their hard earned egg money to buy her?

Or was she a tool of the farm, just another thing to work on like a butter churn or a garden rake? Was she just something to slave over and work on rainy days when they couldn't be in the fields? Was she just another thing to produce goods to sell to keep the farm afloat? 

May I present

Steve helped me slide her over into her new space, alongside the bigger newer fancier Newcomb Studio 4 Harness Rug Loom.  That one is my main loom, but we made room for Eve. 

I think the Newcomb is a big blond boy. He was bought from a retiring blind weaver many years ago.  She will be a deep red haired little sister. 

Now it was time to put her to work.  I got out my tension box, my warping rack and scrounged up enough tubes of creamy white poly/cotton rug warp.  I didn't want to wait for a new order of full tubes, with which I could put on 50-60 yard turns.  So I just loaded up with partial tubes and wound on 20 yards instead.  Good enough for now. 

I really like the warping process. So much so, that I made a self-produced video of the lesson on how to do it. I sell it on Etsy and Ebay .... or contact me directly for a copy.  Shameless self promotion.  But hey, it's my blog, right? 

All of the threads now wind on effortlessly into perfectly level and tensioned sections on the back warp beam.  It has taken me a long time to perfect my skill at doing this, and I learned a LOT by trial and error over the years.  Here is the beam, part way done.  As I cut off the warp threads, I tape them down multiple times with painters tape on the beam to make sure they don't get messed up, they stay in order, and not get unwound by accident. 

Once the warp threads are all wound on, I carefully thread them one at a time through the heddles on the harnesses.  Now if these were the common heddles, they could slide to one side for easier access and a comfortable sitting position.  

The eyes on these fixed twisted wire heddles are sooo small that I can not get through them with my normal heddle hooks.  Instead I am using a 5 inch long weaving needle.  I am threading the warp threads, one a time, into the needle and placing it though either harness one or harness two's eyelets in alternating order. 

Thread by thread, section by section.  This entire warp is 336 threads.  Yup, one at a time.  This is also a good closeup shot of the fixed heddles that are made into the frames though holes in the wood.  It seems to be a very primitive method of creating harnesses, but it works.  Makes me pretty sure this is a VERY old loom! 

Leaning over to do the threading is one thing.... but also making sure every group of 24 threads is threaded PERFECTLY!~ with NO crisscrossing, no errors, no skipping, no doubling. 

I do bouts of 24 or 48 threads at a time and then take a break for my back and arms to rest. 

Each thread must be exactly correct or the rug will have a glaring flaw.  I should say RUGS... because this 20 yard warp will probably provide me with 10-12 rugs after loom waste and takeup.  The next time I warp up, I will leave these original threads hanging down the back side, wind on the new warp, and tie each new end to an old end and pull them through. That is called a Dummy Warp.  I ain't no dummy to learn to tie onto it, so I won't ever have to do this painstaking threading process again!  In this photo below, I am seated on a tall stool, leaning my chest against the top of the side support castle, padded with an old pair of sweat pants. LOL  I have a light aimed down in between the harnesses so I can see the little eyelets and make sure no threads are getting accidentally criss crossed between them.

Once I have the threads through the heddles, the job is only half way done!  

Now I have to do what is called "sleying the reed".  I have to take each thread, one a time, no criss crossing, and sley each thread though the proper slit in the reed of the beater.  A little flat reed sleying hook is used for this step.  I have my cherished engraved reed hook from my friend of the Craftsman's Legacy PBS show fame Juanita Hofstrom of Vavning Studio in Shopiere, WI. 

Again, strand by strand, no errors.

I check every group of 24 threads by moving the harnesses up and down, grasping the threads under tension to make sure nothing is criss crossed or threaded wrong.  Then I tie a looped knot on each one to make sure nothing ever gets accidentally unsleyed by some grandkid or husband walking by and moving the beater forward! 

The front cloth take-up beam originally had some short ropes on it instead of an apron.  I decided to lash back and forth with a sturdy rope and add a separate steel rod to tie onto for now.  Maybe later I will make a proper cloth apron. For now, this will work. 

Once all the threads are sleyed though the reed, and tied on the front rod, I need to double check again that nothing is criss crossed.  All is good and I have a nice open "shed" for the shuttles to pass through to weave with.  I will tweak with the adjustments later to get it open even wider, once I get a rug started. 

Well Well Well

look at that! 


Eve is threaded up,

tensioned off,

 tied on,

 and ready to weave!!!!!

Weave, Eve! 



What does Steve do while I am so busy winding, threading, sleying and weaving?  
Looking for the next "bargain" on his laptop! 


Some on you may be wondering about our terminally ill little Finnegan.  He is doing fine, for now.  Nurse Binney won't leave his side.  She takes care of him, and will be there with him through thick and thin. 

He naps more now, and she makes sure 
that he is safe and protected while he dozes. 

Bathroom functions are still operational 
and he is drinking on his own
and eating from our hands 
or stew from his popscicle stick.

He will romp and play a bit, but gets tired out faster.  Resting is good, but he is still moving freely and without pain.  We have been provided pain pills if he needs them, but so far he seems pretty light hearted and alert. 

And if you don't believe me

watch this: 

Oh what fun. 


  1. Well, at least I am not the only one who gets so excited when a machine that goes with my hobby pops into my life. You are to looms what I am to sewing machines. I think I am at 14 now, and several are very early singers which work great. Lovely loom, and can't wait to see the finished product. Congrats on your find.

    1. Ooooooh don't I know it! I am up to four sewing machines right now, but each one has a distinct separate use. Although I do have my eyes open for a beautiful antique Singer featherweight if I see one at a good price. LOL!

  2. Congrats on your Antique Loom find. Careful you'll be moving out the furniture soon LOL.
    Nice to see Finnegan is still going without too much discomfort.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  3. Sounds like you had a productive holiday! Even though I am not a weaver, I really enjoy reading about your looms and your weaving. Lovely to see Eve brought back to life.
    So glad little Finnegan is doing well. You are giving him the best life.

  4. So sorry to hear about the passing of your dog. It's always a sad time.


Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog! I moderate all comments so it may take a little while for your comment to appear.