Several years ago I was very blessed to inherit my grandmother's 36" 8 harness/10 treadle solid (and very heavy!) cherry Kessenich floor loom. I enjoyed taking it apart to clean the decades of dust and fabric fuzzies off, putting it back together, learning to dress the loom, and especially love weaving on it.
When the loom first came to live with me from halfway across the country, my grandmother did not give me much direction other than a masking tape label on the beater so I would know to install it with the shuttle race towards the front. That minimal note made me feel like we shared a secret language - she was confident that even though I never used a loom before, just like her, I would be able to crack the code. That little strip of tape was the perfect "psst - start here" challenge.
Although the loom is fully functional and operates smoothly, the surfaces are no longer in brand new cosmetic condition but bear evidence of many years of loving use. Each mark reminds me of my grandmother, even down to the water ring on the shelf where she set her cup. Every time I crawl under the loom and see her penciled-in numbering of the lams underneath and her embossed copper band-aid fix of a long-ago broken treadle I smile at her ingenuity.
However, crawling under the loom to change the tie-up was also a chore I dreaded. The original sash chain & swivel hook configuration disappeared long ago, and was replaced with fraying, hand-tied nylon loops fixed to the treadle eyes. These loops were then threaded up through the holes in the lams, caught in cotter pins, and the pins were settled in the top of the lam holes.
Those cotter pins were my bane. They often stuck tightly in the holes and either chipped my fingernails when I tried to pry them out or required pliers to finagle their release whenever I wanted to change the tie-up. Ironically, during weaving those same stubborn cotter pins would regularly fall out all on their own. If they were sneaky about their escape I might not notice right away but could go on obliviously weaving error-filled fabric for several inches. On the other hand, those dastardly pins might make a spectacularly snarled scene requiring an immediate trip under the loom to clear up gridlocked treadles. Even worse, the most conniving of the pins would sometimes stay in place while turning themselves sideways just enough so their sharp little arms could gouge grooves along neighboring lams with each trip up & down. Brought to mind grumpy siblings picking on each other during road trips...
As I grew more comfortable with weaving, I began to realized that the cotter pin & nylon loop thing was not ideal. After much research, brainstorming, and with the help of some lovely Ravelry friends, I came up with a new plan. Borrowing heavily from the Vavstuga tie-up system, I splurged on a roll of texsolv then visited my local Tractor Supply Company store (where the friendly staff are too polite to let on just how crazy they think I am, always coming in for "loom parts"). I picked out new cotter pins (hairpin shaped ones, not straight ones I fought with previously) and a handful of 3/16" steel rods. One of those friendly TSC workers was kind enough to use the store's scary-huge chain link cutters to snip down a couple of those rods into 9" lengths, then I was off home to file the ends smooth & clean the machine oil off the rods.
While the Vavstuga tie-up system uses little beads to hold the texsolv in place at the top of the lams, I decided to use a rod running across the top of each lam. On each rod there are 10 lengths of texsolve (one for each treadle) permantly installed & threaded through through the lam's holes, dangling down to the treadles below. With 8 shafts and 10 treadles, those 80 dangly texsolv lengths made me very glad we don't have cats! Cutting the texsolv was scary - that stuff is expensive and I didn't want to mess up. I tested out the length with a junk cord then snipped away on my texsolv, sealing the raw ends with a candle flame as I went.
In place of Vavstuga's knitting needles under the treadles, I used those 9" rods & hairpin cotter pins (one pin placed at one end of each short rod, acting as little endcaps). My treadles all came with 4 eye hooks on top, so it is very simple and fast to thread those short rods through the eye hooks, being sure to catch the necessary dangly texsolv hole at the same time in order to create the tie up. The results are awesome - takes me less than a minute per treadle to change the tie-up!
In addition to the new tie-up, I installed some new-to-me flat steel heddles (enough to double the count on each harness!), replaced the dried-up rubber bumpers under the harnesses with soft fuzzy furniture foot felt, and put in one of my laser-shiny new reeds. Finally, I adjusted a few wonky lam cords that were letting some of the harnesses drag. Look at how clean that shed is!
My hands like to be busy. Knitting, weaving, crocheting, sewing...hope you enjoy reading about my adventures.