Donna, a Canberran friend, was given a 4-shaft loom last year and has been inviting me to come up and stay, and give her a lesson. So on Australia Day I took her up on the offer.
By then she’d treated herself to an Ashford Knitters Loom as well and had whipped out three plain weave scarves. I brought mine with me as I figured it’s easy to teach someone if you can demonstrate and get them to mirror a tutor’s actions.
On the first night I had a look at the 4-shaft loom. The apron cloth was mouldy so we gave it a good clean with vinegar and a surface spray containing bleach. Some of the heddles were rusty, but most were okay. The shaft levers are positioned at the side, but otherwise the loom isn’t too different to mine in structure, and it appeared to be working fine. It did need a bit of a clean up, though.
So the next day we removed the rusty heddles on the 4-shaft loom and I gave it a good dusting with a new house-painting paint brush. We removed the heddle frames and divided the good heddles up between them, then Paul treated the rust on the frames with Killrust and sanded them smooth.
In the meantime I showed Donna how to read a draft by getting her to warp up and weave log cabin on the Knitters Loom. She picked it up pretty quickly:
Once I was sure she knew what she was doing I left her weaving that and had a closer look at the table loom. One of the cords had been replaced with blind cord, and there was a bundle of it left. The rest of the cord was old and stiff, and thinner. So I replaced it all with new but thinner cord and made sure the heddle frames were all level.
By then I was feeling a lot of affection for the loom. It had a few nifty features, including a cord you could pull at the front to release the back ratchet, an easy system for adjusting the heddle frame position, a movable reed/beater, and it’s own raddle. I’d have liked to have sanded and revarnished it, and replaced the apron fabric, but since I wanted to get Donna weaving on it the next day there was no time for fabric shopping and varnish drying.
The next day we planned out a twill sampler, measured the warp, put the warp on the room (front to back) and Donna got weaving. Though a bit more challenging for a newbie, she was soon engrossed, getting more excited as she started to see pattern emerging.
In retrospect, I would have got her to put 8ply yarn on the loom rather than 4ply, as it would have been a little easier to see the twills forming, but overall the lesson went pretty much to plan. Like me, Donna has a yarn stash she can’t knit since getting RSI, and she’s keen to see what she can weave with it.
I’d love to do another lesson showing her some of the fun things you can do with the Knitters Loom. Maybe something for the future.