Sunday, September 25, 2016

Flirting with a Kessenich Loom

I've decided I'm finally in the market for a bona fide floor loom.  The real thing.  My friend Lynda just happens to have a sturdy little 4-harness Kessenich floor loom that she's willing to let me trial to see if I like it, can live with it / work with it / have room for it / ENJOY working on it.  It looks similar to the one in the photo above.  It was made right here in Wisconsin, though I think the company has since relocated to Michigan.  

I remember living in Madison at Summit Coop, and the house around the corner, down the hill (It wasn't called Summit for nothing!) always had an open house craft show around Thanksgiving.  That was the only time neighbors could come in and see her magnificent loom -- given a room all to itself.  Since then, I've been fascinated with the prospect of weaving, and yes, giving an entire room of the house over to ART and Creativity.

About 10 years ago, someone gave me a little table loom that I've taken lessons on, and learned to use.  I think I'm finally comfortable with it.  I've made peace with the warping process, and LOVE LOVE LOVE the back-and-forth motion of weaving.  The meditation of weaving.  I don't even care so much what I make on it.  I'm looking at this as an investment in my health in terms of stress relief. 

On Saturday, Lynda and I started the process of warping it.  It went quicker with the two of us working together at it, but still took all afternoon to warp just 1/2 of it.  In the photo, I'm passing the warp threads to Lynda who is pulling them through the reed and the heddles.   I can't imagine doing this alone --  I may have to engage Lynda as my personal engineer every time I need assistance with the warping.  It will be a good excuse to have her come over for dinner.

We still have to finish the job of warping it, but that will have to wait a few more weeks ...  I am itching to get started!

Some of the specifics before I forget :
We used a sturdy burgundy warp suitable for weaving rugs.
I decided I wanted the warp to be 8 yards (That way, it's short enough for a trial period, and if I keep it, I'll get practice warping it again in the near future--which I will need to get comfortable doing.).   About 1 yard will be "loom waste"  not actually part of any woven item. 

I wanted to start out weaving the widest possible width we could do on this loom, so we calculated for about 28 inches on this 30-inch loom.  Actual cloth may be narrower.

Lynda did the math, and I think calculated that the warp strings was 8 somethings-per-inch, which means we used a reed with a wider gauge.  I think we put one on with a 6-gauge.

On the warping board, we set up for 8 yards back and forth --  112 times, which is only 1/2 of what we need.  The warping board couldn't hold much more than that.  We'll have to do the other half on another day ...

She said she tends to warp this loom front to back, so that's what we started to do ...  securing "the cross" and then one-by-one feeding the warp strings through the reed with a sley hook.  We started in the middle of the reed, and worked left with the following pattern : 1-1-2, meaning, 1-slot 1 string; 1 slot-1 string; 1 slot 2 strings, on other words, fitting 4 strings into 3 slots all across the reed.   We continued all the way across to the left with this pattern. 

Then through the heddles with a heddle hook, we worked in sets of 4 strings.  We took 1 heddle from each harness consecutively, and fed the strings through one at a time.  
Set 1 :
The 1st string went through the first heddle of the 1st harness;
The 2nd string went through the first heddle of the 2nd harness;
The 3rd string went through the first heddle of the 3rd harness;
The 4th string went through the first heddle of the 4th harness. 

It went pretty fast with the two of us working together.  I suspect it will be harder and slower if I try it alone ...   I was surprised my back wasn't hurting more when we finished that half of the warping process.  I think it helped that she had a stool at just the right height for working on this loom.

Lynda assures me that we'll be able to move it once it's warped.  Now I need to find a suitable place for it at home.  Possibilities?
     *  On the porch -- by the time it gets here, we will only have a few weeks left of fall.
      * No room in the living room (although my husband says we can get rid of the couch).  Ha!
      * Upstairs in the guest room?  May be difficult getting it up there (this loom has an oak frame), but that may be the most practical place for it--if I really want to use it this winter.
      * I guess another possibility is to leave it at Lynda's house and I just go there to use it on weekends.

It will also need a space with good lighting -- esp. for warping.

Lynda thinks I will soon outgrow this 4-harness loom, and will want additional harnesses (ie 8 harnesses).  I keep saying that it will take a while for my little brain to wrap (warp) itself around the idea of 4 harnesses and treadles, and it may be years before I need or want 8 harnesses.  This particular loom is not expandable to 8 harnesses (though you can get ones that are expandable). 

Excited about new possibilities!

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