I thought I would do a loom review today. Since I own, or have owned so many looms that I rate many of them for you. Mind you, some of them aren’t made anymore, but many of us/you buy used looms, so I’m reviewing any that I have used or taught on regularly that you might still encounter. If it isn’t here, I haven’t used it, and so I can’t offer you advice on it, OK?
My #1 most favorite loom is my 16 harness, 45″ Macomber. It’s sturdy, never walks around when I use it. I like the tie-up system and for the most part, I like the super clips. The loom is very stable and durable. It can weave linen, mohair, wool, silk, tencel, cotton, qiviut, camel, alpaca, or whatever you can think to throw it’s way, and you can beat the livin daylights out of whatever you are using for weft without ever phasing this loom. It’s a wonderful loom. If we were talking about cars, Macomber would be a Mercedes! (yes, there are more expensive cars and there are more expensive looms, but Mercedes represents both performance and durability as well as stability, so it fits). I would recommend Macomber looms over any other loom available.
I also have 2 baby Macs, which are very good looms and I enjoy them tremendously. For my studio, they are very versitile, and fold up to an incredibly compact state. Once, I even got one in a rolling suitcase:0) There are drawbacks, however. These looms tend to pop the pins used for tie-up. I have taken these looms for demos, and not been able to weave because the super hooks, would not stay on the loom. Similarly, you can’t fold the loom up with the super clips on, as they fall off easily. The loom doesn’t have as much stability as Leclerc’s Compact 24 and although I love them (they are Macombers), I do recognize their failings. My students don’t like them as much as the Leclerc’s because they are so small that they seem like miniature looms. In general, Macs are my favorite looms.
Next, I have a Lillstina, 6 Leclerc Compact 24’s, an AVL 12 harness mechanical dobby and 2 students in my Roseneath studio have hand made looms by private individuals. Once is fashioned after the HD looms and the other is a lot like a hardwood Norwood loom. I have taught on Hammets and Leclerc Fanny’s.
So let’s discuss them.
I love the Lillistina. It’s very light despite the fact that it weaves 45″. I can push this loom across the floor with a finger. It doesn’t walk as I weave with it, and it can be folded up and packed away fairly easily and flat. I like most Scandinavian looms. They are just SIMPLE! The harnesses are raised and lowered by balances, not rollers. Think of drilling a hole in the 6″ mark of a 12″ ruler, and hanging weights on it so you could tilt one side or the other to raise. It’s like that. I keeps a nice tension and fits my personality. Problems? If you crank the tension too tight, the hooks that hold it together release and the loom collapses into it’s folded position, which I believe could break your warp not to mention the fright that it gives the weaver.
Oh well, some things we love simply because we have chemistry with them. I have chemistry with my Lillstina.
My AVl I loved and continue to love each time I use it. I just don’t use it that much. It’s a great weave. It was wonderful when the kids were little and I needed to be able to set it up in the middle of the night while everyone was asleep, and then I could weave mindlessly during the day. Now, I want to think about my weaving more, and watch what is happening, trouble shoot, and even alter the treadling as I go. Yes, I can be a rather stream of consciousness weaver sometimes. The AVL has a great built in raddle, which I love. I has a friction brake, love it, has texsolve heddles, is a little noisy, folds compactly, and is light. Similarly, I like the beauty of the loom. It’s designed very differently than most looms. It’s not great for anything that needs very tight tension and I like to weave linen, so it’s not my favorite, but it’s a very good loom. Bear in mind that mine is maybe 20+ years old.
Hammetts, I think are simple looms and very useful. I definitely have taught on my share of them. They have a few problems, ie., the lamm pins slip out of the harnesses a lot, but I conquered that fairly early on. These looms are very stable, but a bit blocky. If I had the space and a free one found it’s way into the studio, I would keep it for a while, but would eventually have to have Macombers or Leclercs instead.
I would hope to never own a Herald loom. I taught on one for years, and it created misery in my life the whole time. When we finally sold those looms and bought new ones, I wouldn’t give that one away. It had caused me so much misery that I wanted to burn it! Instead, I decided it would pay for the misery it caused and I took it apart and used the various parts to mount fiber art for sale. It would pay me back!!!!! The first piece that I mounted that way was burned up in a fire. The gallery it was in, was arsonized. Can you believe it? Anyway, stay away from Herrald looms.
Leclerc Looms…..Hmmm, I have always considered Leclerc as the Chevrolet of looms. It is a sturdy loom that can go the distance. It’s reliable. It’s well thought out, but would never make you feel special weaving on one. They are for the most part functional looms. That’s what looms are for, right? Well, sometimes, you can weave on a loom and know that the designer was a weaver. Although I know that Msr. Leclerc was a weaver, his looms don’t reflect that to me. I just don’t see the innovation that I see in Mr. Ahrens’ looms, or in Louet looms, or even the Macomber’s looms. But they will do the job and probably never let you down (I can speak from the perspective of one who has owned or woven on the Artisat, Nilus, Compact 24, the Dorothy, the Fanny, and the Bergere). So the Leclerc is a very good buy for someone who is on a budget, and wants to never regret the money they have spent to get a functional loom. I would also group the old Union rug looms in with these since the roller type counter-balance looms are all quite similar.
For tapestry, I am developing my own loom. I don’t like the rigid heddle looms much, and don’t think you should have to pay a fortune for a tapestry loom. Hopefully this loom will be out in late Feb.
Hope this helps you. If I mentioned one, but didn’t review it, I’m sorry. My tendonitis is starting to hurt.