Most spinners have or would like to have several spinning wheels. Each wheel has it's own style, it's own voice. Weavers are much the same. We would all love to have more looms. The issue with floor looms, however, is that they are large so require significant space and they are expensive. Adding a new spinning wheel to the living room is much easier than adding a new room to your house for your new loom.
With all that in mind, I sold two looms that were taking up space in my studio. Both were great looms, just not what I really wanted at this point. Both have gone on to happy homes with weavers who will use them.
My new loom arrived on Friday May 20th. It came in five heavy boxes and I spent the next week putting it together. It's a Louet Octado. Louet is a Dutch company whose North American distributor is located in Prescot, Ontario, Canada. Louet has a fabulous reputation for making excellent spinning and weaving equipment. I've never really liked their spinning wheels but their looms are totally amazing.
My new loom is 110 cm weaving width which is about 43" to those of us who don't speak metric. And the most amazing thing about it is the computer control. No longer will I have to crawl around underneath my loom to attach treadles to harnesses to make the pattern I want. I can just click on my laptop and the Octado will switch to whatever pattern I have chosen. Wow. How cool is that?
"Computer controlled" means that the loom determines which harnesses are raised when I step on the treadle. And when I say "step on the treadle", that's exactly what I mean. There is only one treadle to step on. I still warp the loom, thread the heddles, slay the reed, fill the bobbins, throw the shuttle and beat the beater. I just don't have to tie up the treadles and I don't have to remember a treadle pattern order. This is the loom for me!
I ordered this loom back at the end of February so the wait was about three months. It's an expensive loom so paying for half when I ordered it and half just before it arrived softened the financial blow just a bit. And I have had a real workout putting it together. The directions for building the basic loom were 24 pages long. There were more instructions for the sectional back beam and the computer interface as well as additional information about how to use the loom. The process was very complicated but not all that hard. Tracy Kaestner, who is my Louet contact as well as a completely fabulous weaver suggested I follow the directions carefully and be sure that I approached each part exactly the same way it was shown in the instructions. Good advice.
I spent an entire week putting the loom together. Most of it went together in one day but I kept working on additional parts. This loom has some astounding differences from my other loom. The back beam rides up when you step on the treadle to keep the tension the same for all the warp as it opens to make the shed. There is a moveable breast beam which allows you to always get exactly the same tension when you move the warp up towards the fell. The sectional back beam has removable pins so you can use only what you need. This keeps the treadling action very light even with a long warp. The heddles are Texsolv which is new to me. They are woven plastic that is very strong, won't abrade the warp and can be packed closer together for very fine warps. I generally don't weave with very fine threads but no abrasion is a great thing.
I still have some heddles to install but we are now to the warping stage. I've decided on a really fun design for my first run of kitchen towels on this loom. They will be cottolin which is my favorite kitchen towel yarn and something I am very familiar with. The warp is all one color, natural being my most favorite color. Each towel will be woven in a different color and will have a wide band of loom controlled lace or other pattern at one end. This was inspired by an article in Hand Woven which did something similar. In my case I'm making a much larger towel and will use different patterns. It will give me a chance to get to know my computer software while I'm weaving something I love and do often. I'll keep you posted!