Today I finally started in on getting the big loom set up. There’s still cleaning and organizing to do before I can actually put the big pieces together. This thing had been sitting in a garage for a while, so some of the metal parts have a bit of surface rust. And the previous owner managed to put the heddles in every which way. I took some fine steel wool and polished the apron rods. Those are the things you actually connect the warp yarns to when you are warping the loom. They aren’t perfect and they certainly aren’t perfectly smooth, but they don’t need to be. They only need to not get nasty rust stains all over everything. (Why yes, I do have the metal kind of wool hanging around here as well, in the hall closet with all the other “homeowner” stuff. Which grade would you like? Natural or synthetic? Want some finishing oil with that?)

So that was the easy part. I looked at some other things that might need to be de-rusted and determined that it’s a good thing I don’t expect to do a lot of funky chunky warps. The 5 dent carbon steel reed is a mess. Many of the other metal parts have some sort of powder coat finish (think metal computer boxes) so they aren’t a problem. But the harnesses are frightening me.

Heddles are designed to go on the loom all the same way, so that when you thread them the eyes all face the same way. You don’t want to accidentally thread one in the wrong direction and have your warp snag on an errant heddle. Bad news. I guess the previous owner was a novice weaver when she got this loom, because they are put on in little clumps of this way and that. Basically half of them are randomly upside down. I need to shuffle a bunch of heddles around anyway to get them distributed the way I like, so I’m going to take them off and put them back on all the same way.

Because most of you probably have never owned a big floor loom, this is, shall we say, a non-trivial operation. There’s over a thousand of those suckers, spread across twelve harnesses. I managed to empty one. The general process is to put a big needle on either end of a cord and thread both ends of the heddles on it as they come off the harnesses. And I’m constantly switching which needle takes the top or bottom end of the heddles. Eventually they all come off in the right order and in the right direction, neatly threaded on a string. I’ll get that done and then start thinking about actually counting them. Yikes.

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