CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

Buying used looms

I love buying items second-hand.  It’s not just that I like the cost savings I can usually realize, but I tend to like older things, they have history.  So, three hours into my first weaving class that I took four years ago I realized I was hooked and would have to buy a loom, used, of course.  So my education in weaving and buying used looms began.

The first thing I learned is that weaving teachers are great resources for everything!  We discussed the usual considerations that apply whether you’re looking for a new or used loom: type of loom, what you plan to weave, number of harnesses, width, portability, cost and so forth. There are numerous articles on-line that can help with those decisions.

In the intervening four years I have bought six looms and sold one.  And I’m still in the market for my favorite, a used 8- harness, 26″ Gilmore. So what have I been doing wrong?  Or right?

Opportunity

Sometimes you actually do come across an opportunity that’s too good to pass up.  So when an art center was disposing of a lot of weaving equipment, I took advantage of the opportunity and added a portable floor loom to my collection at a very low cost.  (I didn’t end up loving it and have since sold it to someone who coveted that loom.  I bought a different portable floor loom that I am liking better so far.)

Another time I found an 8-harness Gilmore and bought it even though at 45″ it’s much wider than I want.  I was intrigued by the fact that it has 12 treadles instead of the usual 10 treadles with 8 harnesses.  It also came with a bench, warping wheel, reeds, and an Inkle loom- again at a very low price.

My table loom was given to me for free by a Guild member who just wanted it to have a good home.  She only asked that I try to pass it on to another Guild member when I want to part with it.

So network, you never know what might materialize.  If you’re new to weaving, be open to good looms to learn on while you wait for your “ideal” loom to come your way.

Move-in Condition or Fixer-upper

I don’t mind a little clean-up or even maybe applying a bit of lubrication and wood conditioner, but I was not looking for any kind of restoration project.  If you are willing to undertake repairs and restoration before weaving make sure parts are available and know what they cost so you can incorporate those considerations into the cost of the loom.  One benefit of making repairs is that you become familiar with the workings of your loom.  Eventually I expect I will have to tinker with or replace parts.  So far I’ve only replaced the pads that the harnesses land on and bought additional heddles and tie-ups. I can live with imperfection!

Test Drive

Especially if you’re new to weaving, try to find opportunities to try weaving on different looms.  You may think you want a 48″ loom, but when you actually sit at one and weave for a while you might find that reaching that far across either to throw the shuttle or reach the treadles, or the weight of the shafts is more than you anticipated.  Perhaps you want a small, portable floor loom, but on trying it you feel it’s not as “solid” as you want.  Or you didn’t give any thought to the ease or difficulty of how the treadles are tied-up.  How far you have to reach to thread the loom may also be a consideration.

Local weaving classes and Guilds are good places to find opportunities to test drive various looms.  Also see Warped Weavers, on Ravelry.com that has a topic thread where generous weavers list their specific looms and locations so that others can go try out those looms to see if it is what they want/need.

Buy Local

I found my first loom, a 4-shaft, 36″ Nilus LeClerc floor loom on Craigslist.  This is a great place to look for used looms because it’s set up geographically.  I can’t tell you how many times I found a loom I was interested in only to discover that it is in Maine & I’m in California.  Yes, it could be shipped, but at what cost? And I really wanted to see the loom and feel it. There’s only so much you can get from reviews and specification pages.  For me, buying a loom is like buying a piano or a car.  They each have a unique feel, action, and handling.  Better yet is if the loom is still dressed and you could actually try weaving on it!  I’ve never found this opportunity though.  A local seller might also connect you with local resources, guilds, teachers, retailers, etc.

Inspect the Loom 

Aesthetics – not only does it fit with your needs in terms of appearance, but is it reasonably clean, well-maintained, wooden parts not cracked, metal not rusted?

Function – does everything work? Depress all the treadles, move the beater, crank the back beam, release the brake, slide heddles along the shaft, inspect aprons, tie-ups, listen & feel for rubbing or scraping, does it fold up and open properly? All screws in place and fitting snug? Fraying cords? Check for warping (of the parts of the loom!), especially the beater and shafts. If possible, ask a weaver to help assess a used loom.

Other Considerations

Safety – don’t give out any personal information, don’t go anywhere that you think may not be safe and bring someone with you.  Does the seller accept PayPal? If you’re bringing cash, take extra care with your safety.

Accessories – what does the loom come with? Reed(s), raddle, lease sticks, extra heddles, tie-ups, bench, shuttles, warping board/wheel/reel, threading and/or sleying hook.  Ask if any of these things are included or available.  Sometimes sellers are willing to throw in books and/or yarn.

Moving the Loom – will it fit in your car, can you manage the weight, how many people are needed to move it, can all the people and loom fit in one vehicle?

Finding a Used Weaving Loom
Here are just a few suggestions that I’ve used. There are many more!
 *Craigslist
*Local Weaving Guilds

*Local weaving teachers
   

*Ravelry.com – 

Loom Reviews, has topic threads on different looms and loom issues, as well as, over 110 specific loom or weaving product reviews in a pages tab.
Warped Weavers, where people can ask and get info about used looms and their issues. There is even a topic thread where generous weavers list their specific looms and locations so that others can go try out     those     looms to see if it is what they want/need.
-Warped Weavers Marketplace group for posting weaving equipment for sale or in search of.
*http://www.weavolution.com/forum/sale-or-trade
*www.ebay.com

*http://fiberarts.org/classifieds/

 

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