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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Big Barn Loom Moves In... Part I


East Knoll, Torrington CT

I live in an old house in New England. East Knoll was built on small knoll on the east side of the highway that runs from Torringford to Winsted, Connecticut. My grampa bought the house from the decendants of original family that built it around 1820.

Mary and Capt John Birge built their house across the highway from my house and I believe their son, Simeon, built our brick house.  Generations have left their imprint in this house. The attic has my parents magazines and odds and ends from the  1950's. My grandfathers books are up there. My great grandmothers sewing basket. And before that books from the Birge family, a paddle style tape loom, a walking spinning wheel and a couple of reeds for a barn loom.

1800's weaving reed












This brings us to weaving! Reeds are part of a beater on a loom.  The weft threads are threaded through string heddles and then through a reed. The reeds in my attic are made from bamboo, cut into fine strips and attached to a frame like a big comb.

Weaving tent cloth in 1776...A page from: History of Torrington CT ...Orcutt 


So someone here in my house was a weaver.  I have talked about the tape loom in other pages of my blog.  Last year while working in Minnesota, I met a man weaving rugs on his mothers old Swedish rug loom. A massive and beautiful affair, years of dust and sweat from generations of weavers making rugs.  We spent five days demonstrating our trades at the fair in front of an old Swedish cabin and watching this wonderful man weave his beautiful rugs... and I wanted one.

Swedish loom, Isanti MN


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILUPN4e-r1Q&feature=youtu.be
















The next spring, back in Connecticut, I got a phone call from a woman that lived in Isanti. She remembered I wanted one and said she had a barn loom in her barn. They were taking down the barn, so if I wanted it, come get it.  Of course I said yes but I had to wait a three months to pick it up. It was in pieces. She thought everything was there.

On Rogers lawn in Minneapolis
















We got it on the back of my Chevy S10, set it up once in Minneapolis, then disassembled it and brought it back to Connecticut at the end of August. Put it in my barn and yesterday we started to set it up, upstairs in our old farmhouse.




Bringing it in from the barn...
and up the narrow steep steps...
into the new weaving room....
and setting it up.












Next... we have to make a couple of missing parts. Then we can set up the heddles and warp.

To be continued!  Sign up for my blog and you will be mailed the next part of the story and restoration of this 100 year old loom!