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Manualizing a Loom?

It’s unheard of, I know. Manualizing the loom.

A method and word so unheard of that manualizing isn’t even a word! Although it’s sitting here as a conundrum with  a glaring deficit of explaination.

One reference in google is to creating a manual transmission from an automatic one in a car. This is what I’m doing with my loom. Moving from the hitherto dream of a 24 shaft loom powered with a touch and having countless options of treadling via a computer screen to driving a 12 treadle foot dance operation.

Although disappointing it’s also liberating. For one,  I can now boast moral superiority in the sustainability quest – swapping my electronic powered loom for one that will surely save the polar ice caps from melting. I reckon this counts even more than taking a green bag up to the shop for groceries, which is the most widely promoted action for preventing climate change (at least in Australia).

Secondly, more seriously,  my sense of connection to my loom is returning. Placing every pedal, connecting every lamm, understanding why a shaft raises or lowers, and most importantly knowing what to do if the loom doesn’t perform.  The loom is becoming my friend again, something I can trust. The countermarche handweaving loom is a beautiful technology.  Quiet and light on the treadles. What more can you ask from your loom?

I’m interested in what other weavers ‘need’ from their looms. Do you need to trust your loom too?

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Does this mean the computer never spoke smoothly with your loom? Because if so, I may reconsider purchasing a Toika if/when the time comes and I can afford a purpose-built computer dobby loom.

    I have a love/hate relationship with my looms, with the pieces on my loom, and with my work. I am daily in fear of my retrofit dying. Just this weekend, Ben tried to upgrade the computer to a laptop, but my conversion program did not like SOMETHING, so we are stuck with the monster desktop with Windows 98. Every time a shaft doesn’t life, we go into mild hysterics.

    But with all other looms, I have something to complain about, too. I don’t know if it’s a trust thing; the problems come mostly from the fact I’m short and I have short arms and bad eyes. So in some ways, I let my looms complain and throw hissy fits, too, as I believe they are being worked hard for/by me.

    Best of luck with 12 treadles! Boy, you need long legs for THAT!!

    July 10, 2011
  2. What was wrong with the machine? It seems beautiful to me, slowing it down, the foot dance.. But for me the 24-shaft loom controlled through the computer is still a dream for me (I still don’t have a loom of my own). I think that manualizing goes well together with the saori ideology. It’s intriguing..
    So, it’s the first time I’ve bumped into the word ‘saori’. I surfed around and found your page. Your avatar is also wonderful. How did you do the parts that look tied? The holey parts? Is it made with the saori technique?

    July 11, 2011
  3. heather #

    i have 2 floor looms. a vintage 4 shaft counterbalance and a 4 shaft jack. i love the counter balance, its system is so basic and straightforward. one goes up one goes down,two up two down.always a neatly balanced shed.the warp lays perfectly straight at rest no rubbing or broken threads ever.it is quiet and easy to treadle. yes, i can count on it every time and that is comforting. the jack and i have a rocky relationship. i like being able to see over and around it. warping is an adventure that doesnt always go as planned. it is loud. yet it is easy to tie up and go. countermarche is a foreign concept to me but i admire your back to basics approach by unteching. goodluck happy weaving 🙂

    July 13, 2011
  4. Hi Kaz

    I have felt sad at this journey. So many plans, excitment; and then a slow frustration and disappointment. But that seems very much the wrong way to see this transition. You have turned it into a positive, making it an opportunity to re-centre your weaving, to explore saori, to re-examine and re-define. Taking control and making your own choices is such a strong response when things don’t go as planned. I’m very glad your sense of connection and trust is returning.

    Of course you know I have one of your previous looms. I love the Noble but I don’t trust it. I have to watch carefully, lift my feet properly, stay totally focused on what I’m doing when weaving to make sure connections have cleared properly and the correct shafts are lifted. In some moods this can be annoying – why can’t things simply _work_?? More often I am quite content with it – that I-the-person remain central to the weaving.

    July 15, 2011
  5. i have a24 sha computer driven loom and a 12 sha table loom. depending on the project i use one or the other.
    i’m in the process of acquiring and then restoring a ribbon jacquard which i’d love to hook up to a computer bcse i feel life’s too short to punch cards.
    if my operation were like the old times i’d have helpers/labor/ apprentices to do that work for me.

    July 19, 2011
  6. Anne #

    Hi Kaz
    I too have a Saori (a 4 shaft counterbalance). I adore it. Eventually I will add an 8 shaft floor loom to give me just a little more flexibility. I’m constantly amazed at the variety of beautiful fabrics that can be achieved on few shafts. Also, I really love to use my feet when weaving.

    July 31, 2011
  7. Hello Kaz

    Manualizing. I like the term and resonate with it in different ways. A new awareness to have it apply to weaving. Realized I have manualized the back strap loom by using my hands and arms as the shuttle; a satisfaction in getting even closer to the process, the fibre, the whole experience. Liberating.

    August 5, 2011

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