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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

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.

Barn Loom part II

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!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival... and Mercer Museum's Connection.... and Pottery

Mercer Museum, Doylestown PA

Mercer Museum is in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  I used to demonstrate pottery at their Mother's Day festival.  Now that their festival has been sadly terminated, I still stop in every year to see their tool exhibit.

There is a wonderful article about Henry Chapman Mercer on this site:

Henry Chapman Mercer and Rollo

This year on my way through Pennsylania, I stopped to show Roger the collection of stuff that Henry wonderfully collected.

My main interests were of course the pottery tools and weaving.  There is a little cubicle where some great pottery tools were displayed.  When I demonstrate pottery, I use an early American treadle wheel.  Most potters know about them although electric is now the preferred tool, and non-pottery people have never seen such a thing.  Treadle wheels, not kick wheels, were used in the United States till electricity was more readily available... even to the 1940s, treadle wheels were still being used in our shops.

Mercer has one.

Treadle potters wheel

My main interest this year, however, was the Tape Loom collection.  Unfortunately, a lot of the museums stuff is in little rooms behind glass.  I did not make an appointment to be let into the weaving room, so my photos are not as good as I would have liked.  They have quite a few box looms, and several paddle looms.  

In my research for the old tape looms, I have found several styles in the United States brought over by immigrants or made in the traditional manner by farmers and tradesmen for wives and daughters. Here in New England, there are many of these looms in our museums not recognized by most visitors and even weavers who now weave on bigger looms.  Tape looms were used to make Tapes and decorative bands. With the coming of power looms, cross grain tapes needed for ties and stays were mass produced at the turn of the last century.  Some die hard weavers kept weaving decorative bands but until recently the tape looms have been shelved in museums and not in use.

I find it a nice past time much like knitting. It is portable, fun to do, and like knitting, the bands produced are unusual and unique unlike bands you can buy in the store.  Inkle looms, the 1927 spin off of the Sweden floor band loom, somehow survived... because they are unusual, unique, portable and fun.  Most people use the inkle's now for guitar straps and belts.  

The nice old box or gate band looms seen at Mercer were used for decorative ties and trim as well as narrow bits of cloth needed for apron and hat ties.

Mercer Museum

Mercer Museum

Mercer Museum

I have been helping to revive this ancient tool for the past 20 years.  The bands are fun to make, there is a limitless combination of colors and styles.  They make wonderful headbands and bag straps, curtain ties and trim. It is portable, there are many you can put in your knitting bag or pocket, and people love to see you weave and love the results!

I will be at the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend, May 28th and 29th, with my looms in the demonstration tent on Saturday.  I will have several set up for you to try.  Once you are hooked I have looms and how-to books you can buy, and information on how to make your own or where to buy modern plastic ones. I will have lots of bands for you to goggle over too.

Sunday I hope to be in a sales tent if you can't make it Saturday. Drop by and try out a loom!

If you knit, weave, like to use your hands you will love this old craft!

Monday, April 18, 2016

It's Spring... Let's Get Together and Play with Wool! Wool Festivals in New England!

Nice way to  get out and see fellow wool lovers clipping, spinning, knitting, crocheting and just feel the home grown wool.  See the critters that grow it, see the people that take care of the critters, watch people using the fibers of different critters.  Meet fellow wool friends!

I will be bringing my looms, tools and how-to books and samples. Come and see and try out Tape and Band looms.

Chancellors Sheep and Wool Showcase, nearby the Hudson River in Germantown NY.
April 23rd, 11-4pm

This beautiful old estate hosts our first festival. Border Collies, Shearing, Music and great food!

Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival... Our 107th year! Vernon CT
April 30th, 9-4pm

The Tolland Ag Center is the spot to be for fibers, tools, gifts, great foods like lamb stew, kabobs and portabello burgers, music by the Fiddleheads, contests, classes, demonstrations, rain or shine!

Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair.... Commington, MA
May 28 and 29

See you at the Festivals!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Samplers to Work on... Put it in Writing.... Weftovers

I finally finished and framed some sampler ideas.

I finished my Heart Sampler...

One of my favorite Sayings...

And some of my Weftovers...

You can do this too!  Don't know how yet?  My book, Tape Loom Weaving...simplified... is available on my web site and at  I will also be demonstrating around New England in April and May.  April 23 at Chancelors Sheep and Wool Showcase in  Germantown NY, April 30 at CT Sheep and Wool Festival in Vernon, CT,  May 28 at Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair in Commington MA.   

Want me to teach a group of your friends?  Set up a 2 hour basic, 2 hour pick-up, a 6 hour everything you need to weave a tape or a 2 day seminar where you can do it all and much more!  See my web site for details and contact. (yes, I do pottery too)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Norwegian Style Vest with Woven Bands

Another vest with woven bands.

 I found it hard to attach the straight woven bands around the curve of the neck on my red vest below (posted on a previous post). With this new one, I tried to weave a curve into the band. To do this, I had to beat one side tighter and then untie my back warp and even up the threads so the next couple of inches would be even to weave.  And, I had to keep track of the measurements.  The finished curved band was easier to lie flat on the curves.

Previous red vest,
straight band forced to curve
Weaving a curve

Center back waist

 Center back neck

Braided tie down the front

I like to make an article of clothing or a hand bag by choosing the fabric and then make a band to match using like colors and pick out a weave pattern that will suit.  With trim and hand bag handles, I can make short, fun weaving's that are one-of-a-kind and quickly made.  

Interested in finding out more about weaving on a band or tape loom?  Use the search box above to see more project ideas and hints. 

Find many patterns and lots of old and new loom photos I have collected on my Pinterest page..., come to my demonstrations ... check my website for this years events.. (yes, I am also a potter).  

Don't know how to weave yet on a band loom? Check out my book on my web site, or pick one up at one of my events... Tape Loom Weaving... simplified.

... And happy weaving!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Weaving Letters into Bands

Three years ago, I made a sample headband and wove in META to show a simple way to make personalized headbands.

My oldest granddaughter saw it at one of my presentations a few weeks ago and asked, "Where is my headband with my name on it?"

So I finished ADELAIDE's and ISOBEL's this week!  Finally!

These were made with a 7 Pattern Thread set up... Print out the sheet below and make some bands.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Valentines Weekend at the Vesterheim Museum, Iowa 2016

A week teaching weaving in Decorah Iowa.

On the left is the museum block that houses the Norwegian American history and items from the early settlers of the area.  Household items, tools, costumes and Band Looms.

Although it was a little chilly, low teens most days, the ground was covered with a fresh coating of white and hearty Iowa folk were out with their usual activities.

Roger taught a bowl turning class for 3 days and I sat nearby getting some weaving done. I finished the 3 headbands for my granddaughters and started on some samplers.

On Saturday and Sunday our Valentines Day Band Weaving Class took place. The Vesterheim has many old Norwegian Looms and Bands and we were lucky to be able to see how the looms and bands were made up close.  The Looms were individually carved so each one is unique. Imperfect slots and holes do not hinder the weaving but instead, turn the Loom into a work of folk art.

Here is a Band pattern I had not seen before. It is now on my list to try out once I chart the pattern.
The Norwegians used these colorful bands to decorate clothing but also were useful as belts, swadling bands and ties.

Our second year went very well and we all enjoyed each others company creating lovely looms and bands. We work together, the weavers and the carvers in the same room and between periods of quiet concentration, we talked about the carving, weaving, materials used and how it all works together to make the experience a success.

This was a great class idea. Couples working together is a class we plan to do again next year and again during the year for others who want to share the wonderful craft of carving wood and manipulating wool, cotton and linen into bands of cloth.

If you are interested in hosting a class, please let us know! More information and my book, Tape Loom Weaving...simplified... is available on my web site,

Check out this blog for past posts on weaving by my search bar, 
find some old looms and weavings on my pinterest page... and sign up for my blog to receive notice of future patterns and free stuff.  

Free Blank Charts for you to download... posted on January 1, 2016.

Happy weaving... and carving!