All posts by ADR

Insulating Weaving Shop Storage Area

Before the interior of the weaving shop which houses the Draper loom can be started an attached 15′ x 20′ storage area needs to be completed.  Two walls are now finished and a third insulated today.  The ceiling needs to be put up after the metal is put on the long outside wall (right) and the centre wall is done.  After this then storage units need to be built, items put in, and then the work on the area of the Draper and work tables can begin.  Work on this goes along as the weather is rainy outside…usually at least a few hours early every morning.


Board And Batten

Board and batten construction involves placing lumber – usually one inch thick – vertically one next to another and then placing a smaller size board over the crack between the two.  Lumber will shrink over time so what was once tight will invariably open up.  Insulating the shop that houses our Draper Model D requires that the battens be drawn tight to the board over their entire length.  A nail gun does this very well due to the speed at which it drives a nail, instantly snugging the two together.  With farming done insulation of our workshop, which was built around the Draper, is next on the agenda.


Yarn Ball/Cone Caddy/Holder

A yarn ball or cone caddy/holder allows you to place a center-pull ball on top of the wooden stake so that as you load your loom the yarn cake/cone feeds as you go along.  Buying a used loom you often get all sorts of other paraphernalia: books, magazines, yarns, winders of all sorts, etc..  This came with our 90″ Leclerc loom.  It needs the addition of a disc that sits on top of the based, between it and the ball/cone, and can spin as required as the yarn is removed.  I will need to make one of these as it is missing…


Leclerc 90″ Loom

Leclerc’s 90″ Loom was first manufactured in 1937. It was a 4 shaft counterbalance loom and looks for all practical purposes like a Mira, the major differences being that it has two sets of treadles and an overhead set of pulleys to support the shafts.  Dubbed the Double Loom 90″ in 1952 it was replaced by the Kebec 100″ loom in the mid-1960’s.  A Fanny-like hinge was an added option beginning in 1980 along with a 120″ option, and in 1982 it was again refashioned into the Kebec II, which remains in production today.  Its current price starts at $8,500+.


Yesterday I arose at 1:30 a.m. and drove six hours south to buy a 90″ Loom.  I took my time.  The roads were near-well deserted.  I brought with me a sheet of plywood that I strapped to the deck of my truck to serve as both an extension of the bed, knowing that the loom would stick out over the end, as well as to protect the loom from the bed itself.  I first laid out a tarp, and then a piece of construction weight plastic sheeting, wrapping it first in the plastic and then the tarp.  I would have done so in spite of knowing that it was supposed to rain on my way home, which it did.

It cost $333.


Here is its page on this site:

Donated Nilus Leclerc 45″ Fanny

A woman who is now in a retirement home donated her Nilus Leclerc 45″ Fanny loom to the Manitoba Weavers which had been in storage.  I was asked if I could find hardware for it since these had become lost.  I said that I would be glad to see what I could do so my wife brought it home six hours north from Winnipeg when she returned from a work engagement there.  In transit she discovered that it has a strong odour, which I suspect is from smoking?  We put it in storage in a protected shed for now and once winter sets in I will bring it in a piece at a time and reassemble and refurbish it.  All of the parts of the frame itself look to be present.


The finish on the wood will have to be stripped and refinished.  Overall it is mechanically in good shape, but the finish is worn in many places from numerous causes.


The reeds are rusted and will be discarded; the heddles are in fine shape.


This is what a Leclerc Fanny looks like when it is properly assembled.  I suggested that if the project comes out well that someone donate a reed and then that the club raffle it off?


Dedicated Weaving Shed

Over the past three days we put down plywood, wired, added electrical boxes, insulated, sheeted plastic, and panelled a building that for years has been in the works, namely, a dedicated weaving studio.  Complete with a loft it will be able to accommodate several people in a simple, wooded setting of solitude.  Electricity will be able to be switched between a generator or better yet, 12 volt rechargeable batteries with a solar panel.  The kitchen will be meagre but adequate.  And there is an area for washing up and personal needs.  While not completed, it is now at a point that can be easily heated and worked on over the winter to be fully finished.  Much of the building materials used here are personally made or scrounged in keeping with the self-sufficient nature of weaving itself.

And as of last night…

Rag Cutter

While a Fraser rag cutter looks like a high quality tool, its $500 price tag is a bit ridiculous.  It also looks slow and a bit awkward to use by oneself.

I like the concept of the Saori fabric cutter…

I am going to have to give some thought to making a similar box using heavy Exact-O knife blades to cut 1 1/2″ denim strips,  I think that the basic Saori cutter design is very sound, but will probably require two people to  feed a leg of denim jean material through this correctly.  It would be fast and uniform though.  Give me a few nights to work on this.


A Conversation On Rag Rug Weaving

We are getting ready to set up one of our looms and never having woven rag rugs before we turned to our friend Betsy who is an avid rug weaver.  Here’s what we learned:


What width rag do you use to make your rugs?  We have been saving blue jeans for years and have piles of them.

For denim rugs I usually use strips of 1 1/2″, and for tablemats, and table runners usually 1″. When the material is lighter I use wider strips – usually up to 3″ for light weight sheets – maybe 2″ for flannel. Knits and hard to tear stuff I might do with a rotary cutter on a board, but a lot of the time I just tear the strips.  This is not ideal with dust and lint in mind. When it is nice enough outside I like to do it on the porch and these days inside I have an air filter running inside when I do it.  I tried wearing a mask, but with my glasses it is uncomfortable and gets in the way.  I am just about to do some now in fact while I wait for things to dry out a bit more.

Okay!  That’s great to know…we have never done rag rugs but we are getting to the point of wanting to set up a loom for it so we are reading and watching in the wee hours when I get up…I was thinking that I like the Japanese device and could make one using heavy Exact-o knife blades, and if I did that then I could make them whatever width I wanted.

I have seen something that has a crank to it, somewhere – probably a catalog – I think just pulling fabric pieces through you’d probably get better control. It is nice if the strips are very uniform, unless you want an irregular effect.

I think I answered a question about width already. I usually tear denim strips at 1 1/2″ wide. First I cut/tear the bottom hem off – then I cut the side seams and tear across the bottom of the leg. Then I start with a tear up the side that looks closest to straight – this depends a lot on the “cut ” of the style, but usually the outer seam. I measure in the 1 1/2″ width, making notches with scissors across the bottom, then tear the length of the leg as far as I can. Brian likes to get more by taking the back patch pockets off with a seam ripper, but I just tear- if I can tear through the pocket-fine, if not I just use the shorter piece. It works best with 100% cotton jeans.  If there is too much polyester I usually can’t tear them and just trash those.  If the material is very worn you get to a weak spot and the fabric tears across, at the knee sometimes. Not much you can do about it. If the pieces are less than a foot or so I just discard them. When I finish one pair of jeans, I usually bundle the strips with one strip tied around the rest. When there is variation in the shades I sew the strips in a pattern – one or two from each pair of jeans to even out the variation through the rug -l ighter and darker shades. I just took a look to see if I could find a good video about the sewing of the rags, and didn’t see one.  I sew the strips together on the machine, placing “right sides” together at a 90 degree angle and sew on a diagonal-with a small triangle on the right. With the end of that second strip, you turn it right side up, place the next strip right side down and again sew diagonally leaving a little triangle to the right.  When you have enough to fill a shuttle stop and trim the connecting thread and the little triangles about half an inch from your seam.  Then you have a long continuous strip of denim.  With the diagonal seam it isn’t as bunchy as other methods of joining the strips. With denim , which is sturdier than most other materials, I think this is especially important. If I am gearing up for a big project I might do these up and roll them into balls, but sometimes for variety I tear and sew and weave in rotation to mix up the muscles I am using – sometimes turn on the air filter and leave the area for a bit.


I usually weave rugs at 12 dpi with 4/8 all cotton warp. I have a 15 dpi reed on my heavy duty loom most of the time – sometimes I double thread 2/dent and 2/heddle and every other dent in the reed-usually to mix up the colors with more variety, so that is more like 15 dpi. Not sure if all that will make sense to you.

Just out of curiosity, have you ever considered ripping from opposite ends, every other rip, and stopping short by 1 1/2″ of the end so that it forms a zig-aged continuous strip? You use an air filter…do you find that helpful?

The alternating cut does work with knits and I have used it to do the “T-shirt yarn”, but with tougher denim it would make unevenness that would be unacceptable to me. I don’t like things looking ragged, but some folks do not mind it. When you have the problem of a weak spot due to wear on the pants that would mess it up, also.

Since I started having bouts of allergy-induced asthma I do use the air filter in my work space, because preparing and weaving with rags creates dust, and I also vacuum with a shop-vac more often than I used to. I like to do processing on the porch when it is comfortable, and often use it as an entry-level job for people who are visiting and who want to set and talk. We can get ahead sometimes and have the rags ready to go.



Betsy weaves on a Newcomb loom, made in Davenport, Iowa.