Do you want to buy a loom and are you considering to purchase a second-hand loom? I have bought both new and used looms and I have spent many hours searching for looms on internet market places. I have acquired second-hand looms four and a halv times, and I was happy with the investment almost every time.
The two first times I bought looms that had been disassembled by the lady who owned it. They loved weaving and it was important to them that the loom was going to be used. There were assembly instructions and of course, all parts were there and a lot of extra equipment. I had no problems to put the loom together at home. My third purchase turned out to be more difficult than imagined, but more about that at the end of this post.
The fourth time we drove to get the second-hand loom and disassembled it ourselves. This was a complicated damask loom and we got a lot of help from the owner. We also took many photos, to make assemblage easier, although I had a similar loom already. Here are ten questions you should consider when acquiring a used loom.
- Are you an experienced weaver and do you know how to assemble a loom? Or do you know someone who could help you? If the answer is no, youshould consider to buy a new loom with good assembly instrucions.
- How much space do you have? Looms need space, but they come in many different sizes. If it’s large, make sure there’s enough space to walk around it. Get exact measurements of the floor space the loom will need from the previous owner.
- What do you need? What do you want to weave, and how wide do you want to weave? How many shafts and treadles do you need? Will a table loom do or do you need a large floor loom?
- Is the second-hand loom you consider to buy assembled and in working conditions? Ask the owner for permission to take photographs of the parts and how they are joined together before dissasembly. And remember to ask if the parts are numbered and if they have an instruction booklet.
- Has it been dissassembled? Ask for the assembly instrucutions, photos and if the parts are numbered.
- Was the loom dissassembled by it’s owner? And is it sold by the owner? When a weaver passes away, her looms often are sold by relatives, who have no inkling of weaving.The seller will probably not be able to answer any questions and you must make absolutely sure that all parts are there.
A friend of mine from weaving school bought a 16 shaft and treadles loom from a second-hand site. When she started to assemble it, several important parts were missing, while there was a double set of others. My friend was desperate, buying new parts from the factory was very expensive. After som months of searching on the internet if anyone would sell the bits she lacked, she managed to find a lady who had bought the same loom type. It turned out that this lady had a double set of the parts my friend didn’t have, while lacking the bits my friend had in double. Very strange? Absolutely! My friend drove 500 km, exchanged parts and now the loom works like a dream.
- How has the loom been stored? Disassembled looms are often stored in barns, garages, cellars and sheds. If the environment is moist, the wooden parts will slightly bend, making assembly difficult or impossible, and metal parts will rust. Be careful!
This is the time to tell you about the purchase I count as a half, because I only paid the fuel for the freight. The loom had been stored in a barn and it’s owner needed the space. It had been used for Norwegian tweed production during the fifties and was an advanced mechanical loom. I was very excited! There were several packages wrapped in brown paper, Some places there were holes in the wrapping and newspapers from the sixties peeped out. We started to unpack and a strong stench of urine filled the garage. Bent, rusty and partly broken off metal parts emerged and mouse droppings drizzled on the ground. The loom had been wrapped in paper with a cotton warp on the yarn beam and whole generations of mice had made nests there and propagated the species. In the next package there were several dead mice and even a flat weasel in it’s white winter coat. I realized that it would take years and lots of money to restore the loom to working conditions. With a heavy heart we threw everything into the trailer and drove the remnants of Norwegian textile industry to the garbage dump.
- Who manufactured the loom? There are many excellent manufacturers on the market, their looms are safe to buy. And then there are less well-known brands and homemade looms. A loom made by an old neighbour can work perfectly like the small loom farmer and fisher Amandus made for his wife Christine. Or it can be difficult to use and make weaving slow and irritating.
An exampel of this is the first second-hand loom I bought. I aquired it because it fitted perfectly into our hall and because it wasn’t so expensive. It was a countermarche loom with eight shafts and treadles, produced by a Finnish company which does not exist anymore. It worked great with four shafts in use, but whenever I used additional shafts, the shed almost disappeared and weaving was difficult. I spent innumerable hours under the loom, adjusting the cords, trying to figure out why the shed was so bad and beating myself up, convinced that I was an awful weaver. Some years passed and I was able to spend two weeks with master weaver Bjørg Hustad from Skyttel vev and work on her looms. Only then I understood that my loom was the problem, not my skills. This loom is no longer in my studio and I didn’t even want to sell it on.
- Does the company which produced the loom still exist? Can you get hold of spare parts? Or are you a skilled carpenter? Some parts are hard to make, simply because a lot of machines and equipment are necessary.
- How are you going to transport it? When you buy a new loom, the manufacturer packs it carefully and sends it to you. Most often, you need to pick up your second-hand-loom yourself, if it’s in your vicinity, there should be no problems. If on the other hand, you have to drive over long distances, make sure that you pack the parts in a way that they don’t rub against each other and make sure the wrapping is completely waterproof. After having transported a damask loom for 1450 km on bumby Norwegian roads and in rainy Norwegian summer weather, I would definitively recommend a closed trailer, a small van or a large tarpaulin, instead of thick plastic, plasic wrapping, tape and a clothes washing line.
And then there was the third time I bought a used loom. I purchased a pneumatic loom from a company which had used it for carpet weaving. They sent some photos and promised to add assembly instructions. The problem was that the assembly instructions were two pages in Finnish without pictures or drawings. In addition, I did not know this type of loom at all and there were lots of cables and cylinders. With the help of google translate, my Finnish friend, and my mechanically gifted husband we finally managed to get it in working condition after several weeks of scratching our heads.
Are you considering to buy a loom? Or have you ever bought a second-hand loom? Tell me about your experience!