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Monday, January 16, 2017

Weaving My First Rug!....Big Barn Loom... Part IV

Isanti County Fair, Cambridge MN

History is important. Working with your hands is important. Creating something of value is important. I have always loved history and seemed to have been destined to share historical trades with others. Old equipment was made by hands, not machines. They have been built to last, they have been worn through years of use by hands, feet and minds.  Finding this loom was especially wonderful because it too has a history. This is just some of the history of my Minnesota loom shared with me by Beverly, whose family owned it and used it for generations.

I met Beverly at a fair two years ago in Minnesota.  I was demonstrating pottery and a very nice gentleman was demonstrating rug weaving on his mothers old Swedish loom.  I am a practical girl. I thought making rugs on a beautiful old loom would be just the thing for my next endeavor.  Beverly gave me a call last spring and asked if I still wanted an old loom. Well, yes! of course!  Here is the story of this loom. It has a lovely history and a lovely story.

Christine Esberg was born in 1846 in Helsingland, Sweden. She married Olaf Peterson in 1866 and lived in Anoka County, Minnesota. Christine may have brought the very old carved pulleys with her from Sweden and perhaps made the frame here in Minnesota in the late 1800s.

Christine's mother Martha Esberg, used this loom too. They made rugs, somehow finding time while raising 11 children! The family remembers one particular large rug that covered Christine son Peter's floor. 
My Grandfather laid straw under this large rug and had the kids jump on the straw to mat the straw down for a soft base for the rug and to keep the floor warmer. This loom makes rugs about 36" wide and strips were sewn together to make the larger rugs. Peter's son Lester Peterson acquired the loom and brought it to his home.  Lester's daughter, Beverly, brought the loom to Isanti, Minnesota.  Sadly she had no room for such a large loom and she passed it on to me.  

Lester also told his daughter that the loom was passed from neighbor to neighbor so others would be able to make their own rugs. The hands of the Thompson's, the Nelsons, the Hansons, the Stromgren and Peterson family's have worked on this loom. The old tradition of using old clothing, coats, blankets, fabric that had worn out but was still valuable as a way to make lovely rugs to cushion your feet, brighten a room and keep out the cold. 

My house is very old and drafty too and in the winter the cold floors are covered in throw rugs. Throw rugs can be moved around and easily washed.  So the old tradition will be continued in a new family far from Sweden and Minnesota, here in New England. My family will now be making rugs from scraps of old fabric, wool, cotton, linen clothing and some new stuff too.  T-shirts and blue jeans make great rugs to brighten our rooms and keep the floors warm. 


My loom was disassembled when I brought it home. There was one of these "sticks" which I am calling a lamm for lack of anything else. I cannot find a photo of one in any old photos of looms or ones in use.

I carved a replica and have attached them to my peddles and heddles.

They are working great!

My loom came with three old, well carved pulleys. Roger, wood turner, carved the fourth pulley last week.  In my hurry to just make a rug, I rigged up the loop system below. This is working great, but I hope to put in the new pulley soon.

Old and New pulleys

Here is Rogers new pulley... how perfect is that!

Thank you so much Roger! You're the best.

My cut wool strips stash.
I warped the loom with linen and wanted my first rug with some wool strips I had bought at a tag sale
years ago. They were wide, 1 1/2" and were probably intended for braiding.  This being my first rug ever, I just used what I had. The wool worked up fine, but the rug came out a little heavy.  I had some trouble with the sides. I had to keep adjusting the heddle height, the beater, the tension, loose warp threads. I am the kind of person who says, "lets just do it".  So here is how it turned out.

Rug #1.

Rug #2
I had some linen warp left on the loom, so I tried rug #2. This time I cut the wool strips in half, about 3/4". This was so much easier to weave and beat, and I like this one.

My next project is to set up the old pulley system.... upcoming part V... keep tuned in! 

Happy weaving!

1 comment:

Lausanne said...

I am thrilled to discover another thing we have in common besides a love for weaving pick-up bands, history and historic re-enactment: I too have a barn frame loom and set another one up at our county fair last summer and wove two rugs on it, woolen ones with heavy braiding-wool strips similar to yours. Now my husband is making pulleys and horses for the barn frame loom we got 6 years ago, when I fell down the narrow-weaving rabbit hole! My preoccupation with band weaving in its many forms has prevented me from setting up this loom that dominates our living room. I swear this is the winter it is going to be up and running though. I'm looking forward to reading all your posts of your barn frame loom adventure when I can!