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New PVC Loom Builders Group at Ravelry!
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Finally: Building 4-Shaft and 8-Shaft PVC Looms
This took a lot longer to work out than I anticipated. The problem in making the 4-shaft version into an 8-shaft loom is the length between the front and back beams. There is plenty of room for the 4 shafts. But if we simply add 4 more PVC harness frames, the last shaft, 8, would be way too close to the rear beam. And that would make opening a shed very difficult, if not impossible.
SO! I have been researching and researching how to make a thinner harness so that 8 shafts will fit in almost the same space as the 4 original shafts. And I think I have done this.
We have to use 1/2″ wooden dowels for the harness frames. And that posed another problem; how to join 4 wooden dowels to make a frame, yet keep the thickness of the frame only 1/2″.
I just came up with a very simple jig that anyone can build. It will hold the upper and lower dowels in place and allow you to drill a hole through both dowels at the same time. It will also keep the dowels clamped in place so you can turn the jig around and drill the holes in the other side while keeping the orientation of the holes exactly the same as the first pair.
I’ll post some preliminary photos this weekend of the jig and the harness frames I’m making. This means that I’m very close to coming out with a new book; Building 4-Shaft and 8-Shaft PVC Looms. The book will have instructions for both 4 and 8 shaft versions. And there will also be a booklet that will just contain the instructions for adding the 8-shafts onto your 4-shaft PVC Loom for people who bought the original book.
Check back this weekend.
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Taking time out to knit a baby blanket
I finally finished this entrelac-style baby blanket. I’m now a GrandUncle, if there is such a thing. My oldest niece had a baby – Liam – last June. Since the February before that I have been knitting and knitting to get this completed. I was able to have it almost complete for Liam’s first birthday, which we celebrated last Saturday.
I say almost complete because there is some sewing yet to do. The blanket needs a backing and a satin border. I’ll need to have someone do that for me since sewing is not one of my “fiber arts”.
So, apologies to my PVC Loom fans. I’ve been a little preoccupied with this project. Now I can focus on the many requests I have received concerning wider looms and 8-shaft versions. Here are some photos. Hope you like it.
BTW, this beautiful pattern is from the Nikki, In Stitches blog. Thanks, Nikki!
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Our Grand Tradition of Weaving
One Hundred and Seventy Five years ago, on April 20th, 1837, Mr. Erastus B. Bigelow, of West Boylston, Massachusetts was awarded a patent for a “Power-Loom for weaving coach-lace and other similar fabrics”. The number of the patent was 169. It is also one of the earliest patents in America.
I thought this may be of interest to weaving fans to show how important weaving has been to our Nation from the very beginning. Prior to “Power-Looms” such as this one, countless hand looms have been used to create the fabrics used in daily life. Early settlers needed looms to make the everyday textiles we take for granted. Like hand towels, blankets, dish cloths, sheets, and pillow cases. The fabrics were not as fine or smooth as those created by power-looms, but they sufficed for daily chores.
Today, many of us love to weave as an expression of our creativity. But understanding the history of looms and weaving can help to give us an appreciation for what life must have been like for our ancestors. We weave for fun – they wove out of necessity. They didn’t have a Target or a Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
One of the things I love about the PVC Loom is that it can bring us closer to the elements necessary to create a simple fabric. We have worked not only the warp and weft, but the frame and shafts and mechanism itself that permits us to weave.
Weaving is fun! (Pass it on!) 🙂
BTW, here is a PDF document showing the entire patent: US Patent 169
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While testing the PVC Loom in preparation for the final release of the book, I decided to experiment with hopsack. This draft is not used much, but offers a lot of contrast and pattern variation with little effort. With hopsack, the weft is put through the shed two or more times to create bars of color. The warp threads are also used in groups of two or more. I used pairs of warp threads, but used two and three passes of weft in the sheds. I often wondered if this would somehow feel loose or disconnected. But the resulting cloth is just as sturdy as any other draft.
I varied the colors in some of the blocks of hopsack creating red-white-red color bars. Here is a closeup of the weave. Click on the photo below to enlarge.
I used two shuttles, one for each color, to create the color patterns. I also used a floating selvedge since pairing the warp threads can leave large areas of warp hanging with little support. The floating selvedge gives the weft something to grasp, and also gives the finished cloth a nice straight edge.
With a hopsack weave, the cloth looks identical on both front and back. This particular draft used wool for both warp and weft at 10 threads per inch. Using a thinner warp and weft at a higher density of threads per inch would look smoother and less like a brick wall. 🙂
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What kind of loom is the 4-Shaft PVC Loom?
Many people have asked me this question. The 4-Shaft PVC Loom is a rising shed Jack Loom. Jack Looms typically hold the warp threads down approx. 1 inch below the imaginary line between the front and back beams. When one or more harnesses rise, this creates a fairly large shed perfect for weaving. For example . . .
Using the slider bars on the top of the loom, the jack “action” is smooth and fast making the weaving process quick and fun.
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Breaking Down your PVC Loom
Many people have asked if the PVC Loom is portable and can fold or break apart for moving and storage. The answer depends on how much of the loom frame is glued.
To allow the PVC Loom to break down for moving and storage, only glue the bottom frame sides as shown in this photo.
The frame side bottoms are the most critical for keeping the loom aligned correctly. Gluing only these parts will allow the top and cross pieces to be removed.
If you only glue the parts shown, you should always check your loom before starting a weaving session to make sure it is square. It only takes a moment, and you can use the edges of a desk or table to do so.
Don’t forget – never use PVC Pipe Cleaner or Cement indoors. Use these products outside, or in a garage with the door wide open.
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Is it difficult to build a PVC Loom?
You can go from tubes to complete frame in minutes. The photo on the left shows the PVC frame tubes cut and ready to go. It takes less than an hour to cut the tubes, sand/file the ends smooth, and dry-fit them together as shown in the photo on the right.
Almost looks like we are making a pipe organ. PVC Pipe is soft and easy to cut using a hack saw. The book has 158 pages loaded with photos and step-by-step instructions. I have even included alternative instructions for more some of the operations.
For example – hanging the harness frames may be done using Texsolve loop cord, or masonry string. And for the top slider bars, you can cut notches into the wooden slats, or use Velcro tab stops.
The goal is to get you up and running with your own loom quickly so you can start weaving. I’d be happy to answer questions. Please use our contact form.
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Printing the eBook
I’ve had several people contact me asking about printing the eBook version of the PVC Loom book. It’s actually quite easy to do using some really great free software.
Calibre is a free eBook Reader and Management software product. http://calibre-ebook.com/ If you have a Nook, Kindle, or any other type of eBook reader – or if you just want to read eBooks on your PC or laptop, you need Calibre.
You can download and install Calibre using the link above. During the install process you will be asked to specify the type of eBook reader you have. I have a Nook, and after installation the Calibre software can connect to my Nook when I use the USB cable.
If you have the PVC Loom book on an eBook reader like the Nook, you can use Calibre to copy the ePUB file from your reader to your PC or laptop. Once you have the file copied you can convert the format.
Printing is easiest from PDF format. One of the major benefits of the Calibre software is its file conversion capabilities. It can copy from, and write to, just about any file format out there. Select the PVC Loom book and save it as a PDF file.
Once you have a PDF version of the book, you can print using Adobe Acrobat, or even print from Calibre. Another option would be to take the PDF file to Kinko’s or Staples and have them print and bind the book for you. Or just print the pages you need to view while constructing the PVC Loom.
BTW – another great feature of Calibre is that its hooked in to dozens of eBook sources. If you are looking for a particular book – search for it using Calibre first! It will search sources from around the world. I had to “turn off” some of the search sources because they were in foreign languages.
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New eBook Version of Building A 4-Shaft PVC Loom
Barns & Noble, and others, are selling the eBook version. Lulu.com is also selling it, which you can find here.
Many people have been asking for this, and now it’s finally here! Happy weaving!
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