Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thread by Thread

Thread by thread has been a motto of mine for years. It defines the methodical and steady approach to my work and life in general. It also is how I hope to make a difference in the world, one thread at a time. If you have not visited my blog about the Woven Voices project, I hope you will.

Here on the Macomber Looms and Me blog, I hope to offer the same steady support, to build community and provide information for all things to do with Macomber Looms. This blog has been up for about 6 weeks. I have heard from weavers as far away as California and as close as New Hampshire. Big thanks to those of you who have placed orders with me. I appreciate your support. If you do order through me, the cost is the same as if you call Eddie and Rick, but you get my extra attention for free!

Speaking of Eddie, I recently asked him about routine maintenance. He mentioned the Vaseline on the bronze jacks, plus these other simple tasks:
  • Silicone spray the lamms and side wires where they glide through the wooden tracks, see photos here.
  • A light wash with Murphy's oil soap to remove dust.
  • I don't know about you all, but I find a good vacuuming underneath the loom at the end of a warp, is good for the loom and therapeutic for me too.
I hope to post soon some vintage photos of Macomber Looms. But while I wait for Rick or Eddie to unearth those photos, I want to start an online gallery of your looms! One weaver I recently spoke with had received a loom in parts. I'm sure she will find these photos helpful as she reconstructs her loom. Others may have made modifications to their loom that they might want to share. So email me your images (small files please!) and I will upload them onto an online gallery. Email your photos to sarah(at)sarahhaskell(dot)com Thanks! I can't wait to see what you send!

Speaking of photos, this photo was taken of me in 1982, weaving with the first generation of Macomber computerized looms. This unit was called the Designer's Delight, had a single operation computer that read treadling sequences off a small plastic key. A weaver would have several keys for all the patterns used. There was one single pedal with solenoids that attached to each harness. The weaver still had to physically lift all the harnesses, but there was no longer the need to get on the floor to complete the tie-up. I wove with this system for several years, until I had a major back injury in 1990. In the end, I traded this unit to another weaver in exchange for some gorgeous hand-spun hand-dyed wool. I still have the sweater that I knit with this yarn!

So keep the lines open, share your thoughts, ask your questions. One thread at a time, we will build a more positive world.



  1. Thank you Sarah for the maintenance tips. And yes, I agree, there is something about the vacuuming under the loom...it says the project was completed and I am getting ready for something new...like closure maybe.

  2. Hi Sarah. I have a 20" Baby Mac, but I haven't used it too often since I prefer my bigger looms. I just finished a warp for 2 scarves. I had trouble with shaft 6 not going all the way down when I let up on the treadle. It would stay up a little over an inch. I think the silicon spray on the lamms will take care of that problem, but that reminds me of a question I had when I first bought this loom used. The lamms are very dirty, with what appears to be black grease. Should I just go ahead and wash them well and then spray with silicon or is the grease necessary?


  3. Hi Tina:

    This is a great question. I know many people acquire a used Macomber loom, so what the previous owner has done to the loom is often a mystery!

    As far as the lamms, you might just wipe the grease off. Using a rag, and maybe a light degreaser, simply wipe down the lamms. Then apply the silicon spray. At the same time be sure that the wooden tracks are free of any dust.

    This should allow the lamm to move freely in the wooden track. Let me know how it works!


  4. Hi, Sarah,

    I also have a question. I am the second owner of an approximately 30 year old Big Mac, 48" with 8 harnesses and 12 treadles, but the frame will support up to 16. (Wish I had them, too!) It is equipped with the super hooks and was originally manufactured for using them.

    Often, when I release a treadle that I have had depressed, as it rises to its resting position, other treadles become elevated, stuck part way up on the length of their super hooks. I must nudge them with my toe to get them to drop back to their resting position. This is very annoying and slows the weaving process as I try to walk the treadles. The shafts themselves remain down in their correct resting position. What might correct this issue....new hooks?, widening of the slots in the treadles, cleaning? I don't want to monkey with it until I feel confident of the best solution.

    Thanks for any suggestions, I love my MAC and just want to tune it up.


  5. Barbara:

    Thanks for your question...and it is a good one! I know exactly the problem you are addressing, as it is a common one.

    You are correct in thinking that the issue lies within the treadle itself. The solution lies in getting the metal super hook to glide freely in the slot in the treadle.

    Ways to resolve this sticky situation:
    ~ Check for dust/lint build up in the slot. Clean if necessary.
    ~ You can apply a bit of the silicon spray in the slot.
    ~ Humidity can effect the wooden treadles. I run a dehumidifier from June to October in my studio to prevent mold, rust, and wooden parts from swelling up.

    I will do a bit more research to see if there are other solutions.

    Thanks for checking in.


  6. Thanks, Sarah.

    I have cleaned them, and humidity is not the issue....it's a year round problem and we surely have not nearly enough moisture in the house all winter! I will try the silicone spray, but I suspect it will take more than that. I welcome any further "insider" information you might acquire.