Harrisville rug loom

The loom parts! Or how the upper countermarche lamms finally find a home.

I have a lot of looms. Most of them had to be taken apart in some fashion to move to Colorado. My packing regimen now includes liberal use of masking tape for labeling parts and taking copious photographs. Unfortunately, I always fail to take a photograph of the part that stumps me.

And the upper and lower lamms of the Harrisville rug loom are those parts.
There are little baggies (fortunately I learned to put each of the sets of rollers in their own baggies!) full of small round parts and lots of empty holes to put them back in. I know I'm in trouble when I start looking for the places the wood is darker to tell which way a piece went in. That is actually how I got the lower lamms on the right way. I got the whole thing together except those upper lamms at which point I started hunting for the manual that came with the loom.
After a few hours some time digging through the opened boxes scattered around the studio and office, I did locate the manual. Then, sadly, I remembered that grandpa bought this loom in 1980 and the manual then had no photos. Finally it occurred to me to Google "Harrisville Rug Loom" and what came up? Mostly photos from my own blog. Sigh. One of them was fairly helpful in positioning those lamms the correct way.

THIS photo is for the next time I move, many many years from now. I hope Google finds it right away when I type in, How do those #$%@! lamms go on the Harrisville Rug loom.
Unfortunately for my secondary loom, a Macomber, I completely failed at getting it down the stairs to the studio. She is now enjoying a lovely home in our living room. I was fairly desperate. I had the moving guys who unpacked the truck try first. When it looked like the scrawny guy on the bottom was either going to get crushed by the loom or the Macomber was going to go through the recently repainted wall, I told them to STOP. Days later I started taking parts off hoping I could get the loom to a shape small enough to go around the corner. After every possible part I could strip off was taken apart, it was clear she still wasn't going to fit. At that final moment of resignation I realized I was going to be working on those smaller pieces upstairs. At least the frig is nearby.

The third loom story isn't much better, but it did have a happier ending. My Leclerc tapestry loom is not one I use much, but I do want to set her up for some sampling and perhaps a tapestry diary. So I was pretty invested in that loom not living in the garage (as was Emily's car). Alas, a shockingly similar storyline played out. I took a whole pile of bolts out and couldn't get the expertly made joints to come apart. Fearing breakage, I put all those bolts back in and took it apart the other way. And it wouldn't fit down the stairs (I'm not a spatial doofus, I was pretty sure it would fit, but apparently not. There is no way a box spring is going down there--my apologies to all future guests). I put all of it back together and took it apart the other way AGAIN. This time I used a rubber mallet to gently tap those joints and they came apart. Then it fit.
Third time's a charm.
After a trip to ACE Hardware for the correct ratchet set since I was DONE with the wrench/plier combination, I even put it back together.

All of my other looms traveled in one piece. Thank goodness.
I'm done with assembling things for awhile. That proposed trip to IKEA? It is definitely off.

PS. If you ever lose the cable guy, look here. I lost him a second time and he was next door playing with the neighbor's dog Deuce.

The Harrisville Rug Loom returns!

Look what happened in my new studio today! This pile of hardware
 held together a bunch of wood and metal to become this loom.
I went from here:
to here:
In a few hours.  I should mention that I had a lot of help from Emily. I have put this loom together alone, but for the life of me I don’t know how I did it. You need about 40 hands to hold all those parts together and still get in the bolts.

The process wasn’t the easiest. The first time I took this loom apart to move it from my grandparents house to my place in Velarde, NM, I took a lot of photos. Those photos still exist somewhere in a hard drive that is undoubtedly buried somewhere in the boxes of stuff not yet unpacked in Santa Fe. So today I was flying by the seat of my pants to put this baby back together. I did really well with just about everything (and sometimes I was just going by where the wood had darkened where it was exposed to the sunshine to fit pieces together) until I got to the lamm system. Countermarche looms are a little more complicated than jack looms and my memory failed me when it came to hooking up the upper and lower lamms. There are a lot of cables and this is only a 4 harness loom.

I was faced with the myriads of little parts that make up the rollers over which the cables run from the top lamms.
I just couldn’t work out exactly which way the upper lamm assembly had to go in to make the whole roller/cable thingy work. I don’t have internet access yet and didn’t have my computer anyway, so I started digging in the boxes of books scattered about the studio. I did find the loom manual finally though unfortunately it was almost entirely text-based (being from the 1980s when my grandfather bought this loom). I sorted out which cables went where, and at long last the Harrisville is back in working order.

I can’t wait to start warping it.

My first loom

The "how I came to be a tapestry artist" story starts with watching my grandfather weave when I was a child. He was a fabric weaver and he wove yardage on a 60 inch Macomber in Bismarck, ND. When he moved to New Mexico around 1990 he bought a Harrisville rug loom and started using the shaft switching device to make patterned rugs.

I lived in Reno, NV after finishing graduate school and had the opportunity to get my first loom. The pile of sticks which was this loom was found in the corner of a barn on the east coast of the United States. My partner's uncle shipped it to us and with some work, I had a loom I could weave 4 harness balanced weaves on. I was going through some files recently and found photos of the old girl.

The loom was a two harness counterbalance and was in pretty bad shape. I'm not even sure the whole castle was there and the shafts were unusable.  It was a Union loom.

My partner at the time made a new castle and added four counterbalance shafts.

Get a load of that carpet! We called it the strawberry room.

I basically knew nothing about weaving and certainly had no idea there were different mechanisms for running a loom such as counterbalance, jack, or countermarche. I did weave on this loom (with the help of the Reno Fiber Guild!), though I was a long way from doing tapestry. A few years later I sold this loom for $200 to a woman who seemed grateful to have it. I hope it is still weaving.

That probably all happened in 1997 or 1998 which I suppose isn't all that long ago in loom years. Since then I have bought, used, and sold a beautiful 8 harness Gilmore which wouldn't weave tapestry no matter how much I begged it, and now am weaving on my grandfather's Harrisville rug loom.