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WeekendMiniaturist

A Beginners Guide to weaving miniature textiles on a loom

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Bill Hudson

The reason I am asking so many questions is because of our health I'm expecting we will soon have to give-up our home because it is becoming too much to maintain. Living in an apartment or condo will drastically limit my miniature work. I am thinking about building my own small loom. I will need something to keep my mind and hands busy.

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bonni.b

The Dorothy has a footprint of about 21" by 21". One advantage of this loom is that it will fold while warped, so you can stow it out of the way when you're not weaving. It's 28" by 21" by 8" when folded. But you'll also need a warping board and a place to hang it on the wall. Building that is definitely something you can do, as is the loom, of course, except for the heddles and reed. There are plans out there for table looms, but off hand I don't think any of them fold. What are you thinking of weaving? Small looms are limited in what miniatures you can weave on them, as I've pointed out in a previous post. 

 

If you can find a weaving guild nearby, I'd recommend stopping by one of their meetings. They are, by and large, as nice as miniaturists and like us, are really supportive of newbies. If they have classes, or can point you to classes, that's the best place to start to find out if weaving "speaks" to you. I've rewritten the tape weaving book again this morning, I thought of more stuff I tell students when I have them in class, that weren't in the book. I've probably missed the mail carrier today, so I'll mail it out Monday. 

 

In the meantime, basket making is so much less equipment intensive, you might consider that. Besides wicker work with waxed linen, I've found sources for black ash splint for miniature splint baskets. It's all weaving!

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WeekendMiniaturist

The Dorothy Loom is made by Leclerc in Canada.  I found mine at a local auction; some poor souls who were downsizing.  You can also find looms on Craigslist, online ads, and of course eBay.  I really wanted the table top loom because of space issues; and I try to be a good GS student and get the most from my experience by not showing up with zero experience - because I know I will be lost, even though I know we have the best teachers in our Miniature World that are patient and kind with all skill levels.  I can't find my auction tickets for this purchase, but it was a very reasonable price. 

 

I was thrilled when I found out that I had purchased a Dorothy Leclerc loom, and that is what we have at GS.

It is nice to show up for class and you are already familiar with the equipment.

 

www.leclerclooms.com

 

My local weaving class, I think requires quarterly class fees, and then you can use all kinds of floor looms - it appears to me that members have left their projects on the looms to return later - most likely due to a serious illness.  So I'm not really sure what would happen if the membership grew.  The class is in the evenings... so this would only be a summer activity for me to do locally as I am still in the working world.  Pretty amazing that I warped my fiber, dressed my loom, and finished a scarf in the allowed 18 hours, and there were 3 of us that were new, and probably a total of 10 students, that could require assistance with their projects.

 

I can say, that being the new person this past summer to the weaving class that everyone was nice, and shared their projects and experience freely.

 

Bill, I would look for a condo with a tool pool.  I was reading on a woodworking forum that a bunch of guys created a woodworking co-op.  This might be another option....

 

Tamra

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WeekendMiniaturist

Let's see if I have this correct - A floor loom allows you to raise the heddles with your foot peddles.  A table loom has "lever" controls on one side of the loom to raise the heddles with your hand. 

 

 

If you have 4 heddles, and doing a basic weave you lift all of the threads attached to the first (#1 and #3) heddle and throw your shuttle - watching the warp ends or "selvedge edge of fabric" and beat, or compress your threads, then on the next pass you lift #2 and #4 heddle, throw your shuttle, watch the warp ends, and beat.  You are alternating directions of throwing your shuttle left and right.  If you raise the wrong combinations of heddles it becomes obvious later as the pattern of your weaving will change.  Ooops.  Then you go back, and unweave it. - I've already done this.  Very relaxing after a busy day at the office -standing kept me from napping. 

 

Repeat until you have the length of weaving you desire, or you run out of fiber - whichever comes first :).

 

Some acrobatics may be required to thread or "dress" the floor loom, well at least I can imagine me sitting on the floor to dress the loom... at least with a tabletop loom, I was always standing to thread the loom.

 

The weaving is truly the easiest part and the most wonderful activity.  It is all in the planning, warping, organization of threads, and dressing of the loom that makes the weaving the easiest part of the project... but I still have this wonderful experience that is is 'magic'.  (Sorry I digressed.)

 

A warp board allows the weaver to measure off specific yardage and to create a cross of the fibers to enable you to dress the loom properly.  The cross of the fibers allows you to load a loom to weave under or over your combination of threads in a specific pattern. 

 

If you were standing in front of a vertical carpet loom that was prepared to tie knots on to the threads, the warp are your vertical threads, and your weft are your horizontal threads.  On a loom, the warp are still your vertical threads, although they are not vertical, they are straight in front of your line of vision, and your weft thread is loaded on a bobbin in your shuttle.

 

Now the disclaimer:  All of this is from my crash course this summer, and what I've put into my memory; so I hope I have communicated properly.  If not, please correct me!  I've never dressed or used a floor loom, so this is only my observations - that is the class for next summer!  I still want to show up with spools of YLI size 100  silk sewing thread.  I'll have to find out what kind of looms they have to see what can be woven locally.  But I will start searching for some 2/48 wool, after I get through busy season at work - can get back to mini activities.

 

Tamra

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bonni.b

You're right, Tamra, about the orientation of the warp vs weft, but heddles are on harnesses, and move with them, so the treadles on a floor loom are tied up to a group of harnesses, not the heddles. You're also raising harnesses on a table loom, as a group, and not heddles. And one mostly sits on a foot stool (inside or behind the floor loom) to warp a floor loom, not on the floor.  

 

Try to think of dressing the loom as a part of the weaving, not some drudgery to be endured, and the onerousness will be so much less. I hesitate to introduce the Zen part of weaving but if you set your mind such that "warping is boring" whereas "shuttle throwing is fun" you will have much less fun weaving. The reality is - it's all weaving and it's all fun.

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WeekendMiniaturist

Bill, the Guild's facebook page has a picture of a student with the tabletop Dorothy loom, that was posted on April 2 - just scroll down; the photo gives you a sense of the size of the loom.

 

Tamra

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dollcreator

The Dorothy looms come in 2 widths, 15 3/4 inch and 24 inch. The Voyageur is another Leclerc table loom, that personally I like better, since the levers are on top instead of the side, which means that you can use either hand to change harnesses, which actually speeds up your weaving, since when you hold the shuttle in the right hand, you can use the left hand to change the harnesses, and when the shuttle is in the left hand, you can use the right hand to change. It comes in even more widths, 9.5 inch, 15 3/4 inch and 24 inch. it is also foldable, so can be stored in a fairly small space, and great for transport, since it was originally designed as a workshop loom.

I have several Leclerc looms, 2 table and 3 floor looms. I have been thinking of doing some mini weaving, but haven't got that far yet. maybe next year....

 

Marianne 

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bonni.b

Marianne, does the Voyageur release the previously used harnesses when you press the next combo you want? How many harnesses does it have? I use the Dorothy's because that's what I could afford. The Tool Pool doesn't own any.

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dollcreator

With the Voyageur you do need to release the raised harnesses, but I find that often you can flip one with your thumb and at the same time flip the next in the other direction with you index finger. I have both a Dorothy (4 harness, 16") and a Voyageur (16 harness 24"), and find the Voyageur less hard on the hands. Though I am about to convert the Dorothy to have levers on top, which should make it easier to use. Sheryl Sheridan in Ontario has conversion kits available made by her husband. My biggest problem with the levers on the Dorothy is that when you press levers down to raise new harnesses, the ones being released hit your fingers, which becomes quite painful after a while.

The Voyageur comes with 8 shafts for the 9.5", 4, 8 or 12 shafts for the 15 3/4" and 4, 8, 12 and 16 shafts for the 24". You can find all the information, as well as prices on the Leclerc website (www.leclerclooms.com).  

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WeekendMiniaturist

When I recently downloaded the Leclerc Digital catalog pdf and price list for the US, I noticed that LeClerc has a floor stand and foot pedals for the Dorothy 24" width 4 harness loom...  I am interested in other weaver opinions if this improves the process.  I've definitely got my fingers caught with my side levers.

 

and... how many harnesses do I really want?  :rolleyes: As many as possible of course...

 

Tamra

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dollcreator

I have the stand, but am not too impressed with how it works, I no longer use it. Main reason I don't is that I originally bought it for a 24 inch home made loom I purchased quite a while ago for very little money. However, the set up on that loom was different and I thought I could rig it , but could not get it to work. So I sold that loom and tried to purchase a used Dorothy, but only could find a 16 inch one. Thought it might work even though it is a lot smaller, I found it a real nuisance, you needed to press the pedals down with quite a bit of force. I have since bought the conversion kit to make it have center-top levers, though I have not yet installed it, haven't used that loom in a while. I bought the conversion kit from Cheryl Sheridan (email csheridan@bmts.com). it was only $50 CAD plus shipping, and she takes Paypal. Email her for more info. I have read that quite a few people who did convert it really like it.

 

Marianne

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