Posts Tagged ‘18th century’

More on Looms-Again

March 14, 2008

 Here is another eBay link


You see the beater in the center of the photo.

Directly beneath it you see the cloth beam

To the left side of the photo you see a chair and to the right  of it, the breast beam with cloth in progress around the beam leading to the cloth beam.

Something  interesting  here, is the ratchet & pawl setup on the outside of the loom frame. I can’t say I’ve ever seen this before – all  the looms I’ve seen have the ratchet & pawl ( lower right hand corner, just above the watermark) on the inside of the frame.

Behind the beater are four “harnesses” holding string “heddles”. Above that are the pulleys ( counterbalanced loom) hanging from a “roller bar” which allows for the rise & fall of the pulleys which also provide their own rise & fall.

The beater is overslung from the top which provides a nice weighted beat as it’s swung back and forth. It also shows the  characteristic peak in the middle of the top portion.

While it’s tempting to grab the beater at the peak, the beat of the cloth is more even when grabbed by one hand on each side.

I seem to see three treadles, though I’m not really sure, but three treadles is typical of linen looms.

The warp is also on a slight incline, getting higher toward the back of the loom.

I am still trying to work this out. I was always told that you want the warp to run horizonatally from the warp beam, through the heddles to the breast  beam and to ride in the center of the  heddle eye to avoid undue abrasion, and I have seen that often on 100 year old looms.

But lately, the looms I’ve  seen tend to have that incline. While at least one had a unique feature that explained the incline, the rest did not. I wonder if it’s particular to linen looms?




Museum Loom I’m Currently Working With

March 8, 2008

This loom is located in the Chenango County Museum, NY.

It’s  interesting for a few reasons. 


It is a four poster style, well constructed with tight mortise and tenon joints and well shaped wedges that remove any potential for wobble.

A point  of interest is the lower position of the warp beam.   Above  the warp beam is a supplemental not found on most barn frame looms.  This particular warp beam is set in holes in the two back supports – also unlike most barn frame looms which have some type  of cups fitted into the two back supports. The axle of the warp beam would rest ON the cups.

In the case of this loom the axle is fitted INTO the support posts.

The breast beam has a cut-out for the woven fabric  to travel THROUGH as it gets wound onto the cloth beam. Again, not a feature on most barn frame looms.

Clearly these adaptations indicated a specific use for this loom, and it’s my opinion that  the loom was built to weave linen cloth.

Linen thread requires a much higher tension than wool or cotton, necessitating the supplemental beam to provide more distance from warp beam to breast beam and serving  to increase the tension.

For the same purpose of high tension, the warp beam is fitted into the back supports so that it won’t pull up out of the usually cup supports, when the  high tension required for linen is applied.

The extra attention to the tight fitting mortise and tenon joins, and wedges also points to a desire to accomodate that linen tension.

Finally, the cutout in the breast beam to allow the cloth to travel through, rather than over it serves to keep the fine linen cloth from being abraided by the weaver as he or she rests against the breast beam.

Upon close inspection I found evidence of ridges in  the supplemental beam, that may have been left  there by a long gone linen warp under high enough tension that it literally cut the wooden beam.

In support of the linen theory, this loom came from an area of NY where other linen looms have been discovered, among them, the Newark Valley Linen Loom restored by Bill Ralph.

It’s typical that you see a cotton warp and rag rugs on looms of this type and this one is no exception, as most people assume that was what they were used for.

I will be replacing this warp with a linen one and weaving linen cloth on it in the near future.

Please feel free to drop into the Chenango County Museum in Norwhich, NY and see this beautiful example of a wellmade 18th century weaving loom.


Antique Spinning Wheels and Looms

February 13, 2008

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Suffolk County LoomWelcome to my blog!

This is where I will share my passion for the spinning and weaving tools  of yore!

My first encounter with an antique spinning wheel occured when I was just 17 years old.

Having married a police officer who was acting as a live-in caretaker for a historic house, I was often inspired to wander the rooms  after the public had gone home. It was always a wonder to me, the marvelous and ingenious things  people had made from their own two hands, basic knowledge, and the right tools.

The particular house we watched over had a small apartment attached, which was our living quarters and offered me an open invitation to pass over the shared threshold into a world of wonderful items, many of which were completely unfamiliar to me, a 20th century woman.

Of course, the spinning wheel was recognizable, and I was captivated by it, though at the time, I mistakenly thought that the knowledge of how to use one had died with the  Colonials.

It took my twenty years, to discover that spinning was alive and well……in my own town!

A local lady offered to get me started spinning and weaving and I’ve  been hooked ever since.

My passion for the spinning wheels and weaving looms drives me, and I’ve spent alot of time, learning and researching both.

My favorite place to be is the museums, particularly if they have a number of interesting wheels/looms. There, I can see more examples of pieces than I ever would come by on my own, and I get to see them up close!

It is my hope to share information, and expand the data base of old wheels and looms, keeping  the  information alive for future generations.

Kathryn McMahon


18th & 19th Century Spinning Wheels & Looms