29 February 2012

On to the loom weights

I have learned by doing. The first shed is completely laced to the shed rod! Now I get to turn my attention to those lovely loom weights.

To the best of our knowledge, loom weights aren't meant to be tied directly to hanks of warp. The holes through the weights aren't big and smooth enough to make that a reality. However, the archaeological record for this period and culture does reveal three possible methods for attaching loom weights to warp. All three involve a mediating attachment between the hole(s) in the loom weight and the warp hank: metal rings, sticks, and loops of string.

I considered using metal book rings for the romance of it. While they're not forged bronze, they're easy to work with, and I thought they might contribute to the warp making more of the kinds of sounds Homer attributes to a warp in use. But when I calculated the additional weight it would add to each loom weight, I changed my mind. Although these loom weights are in the zone for fourth-century BCE Macedonian ones, they're not quite as light as I had originally imagined. Accordingly, I don't want to add extra weight to them. Also, that many metal rings in the size I would need (at least 2") would be expensive. While I was willing to expend funds for high quality raw materials and authentic weights, it seemed less pressing to spend it on inessentials when other authentic solutions presented themselves.

I considered using sticks, but not for long. If I were working with a warp that was set less closely together, I would probably give that method much more thought. But it seemed like it would be the fiddliest of the possible solutions. Since this project is more a proof of concept than a masterwork, I thought it best to keep the fiddly bits to a minimum.

I wound up deciding on the third method, one I had long known and understood: the loop of string. This is the method I have used with the doughnut shaped loom weights and my Icelandic style loom.

So now I have to cut 120 pieces of stout linen cord, all the same length, and tie one to each loom weight. Fortunately, that's the kind of work I can do sitting down, perhaps while watching an old movie. I feel the need for a brief respite from all the hours spent standing at the loom.

Then will come the period of sitting under the loom, puzzling out the best distribution of threads per loom weight. Never a dull moment!


  1. Fun! I've been messing with circular warps on a two-bar vertical loom. I have not quite gotten the crossed warp loops that Hald shows, but I'm sure there's a good or at least interesting reason for them.

    Unfortunately that will be on hold for a bit; work has decided to spend March trying to kill me.

  2. I have been experimenting with what Peter calls "false circular warp" on a repro ancient Greek sprang loom. Same basic principle as Hald was talking about, I think. It's annoying trying to push the twist over the bars to the back layer on such a small loom. Perhaps I'm doing it wrong.

    What aspect are you examining? When work isn't trying to kill you, I mean?

  3. I'm experimenting with different ways to make interesting edges for my class at Complex Weavers. There's going to be a side dish of "Here's what you can't do with your fancy loom" mixed in with the entirely practical information on ways to treat warp ends and selvedges.