Here are a few photos about another loom built by Jim Ahrens: his 40-shaft dobby loom which he built during the second world war in the 40’s. These are just to whet your appetite for the information you’ll find on ahrenslooms.com. My apprentice, Vera Totos and I made the site because it was important to show how Jim’s looms worked.
This is part of a chain I used to weave the music notes for Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star several years ago. Over time some pegs have been removed.
Here is the backside of the dobby chain and some of the dobby mechanism. You can see it took a lot of bars for the first phrase of the tune.
Part of the mechanism has a cord with a knot for each of the 40 shafts. When a peg hits the mechanism it pushes the corresponding cord so it can’t go throought the hole, thus moving that shaft.
Here is a photo near the beginning of our restoration of the loom. Lots and lots of cords and knots!!
Getting the 40-shaft mechanical dobby going. Jim Ahrens built this loom in the 40’s. Beside the dobby shafts are 4 more made for a ground weave. You can see a small practice warp ready to see that the dobby mechanism works after replacing all the cords. A big project.
Here are the dobby bars I pegged for a design some years ago next to the mechanism. There is a single wide treadle to activate the dobby which is what makes the sheds. Next week we should see if all the adjustments and knots work like they should.
Here is a close up of the bars and pegs. Each bar represents one shed or row of weaving. The pegs tell the dooby which shafts to lift and lower to make the sheds.
The big pedal operates the dobby. The 4 regular pedals are meant to operate a ground weave which we aren’t using for our trial. Each press of the big pedal changes the shed (dobby bar with pegs).
For the trial only 4 shafts will be used.
Here are the completed 4 shafts with their individual weights at the bottom of each shaft. The cords for the remainder of the shafts are bunched up out of the way.
Now my studio really looks like a weaving studio. My newest loom is in the center. All my looms except this new sweetie were built by Jim Ahrens. Now the new one was made by AVL looms—the “A” stands for Ahrens, so all the engineering is related. The ‘V’ stands for Jon Violette, who began the company with Jim and the ‘L’ stands for looms.
Are you wondering what the other looms are that circle the new one in the center? Starting with the loom on the left and going around clockwise: 10-shaft, side tie-up, 4-shaft loom, 40-shaft dobby built by Jim Ahrens in the 1940’s, and my love, the 4-shaft loom made of bird’s eye maple wood which I have used exclusively for years and years. Going to 12 is a giant and exciting step for me!
Here she is—a real sweetie. I’ve been trying to reduce and give away things but this loom from Jan Langdon I fell in love with years ago. When she decided to down size, she said I was the only person who had longed for it. It is a 12-shaft dobby about 36” wide. Note that in the photo, my 10-shaft loom with a side tie-up is back behind the new loom. Small in a way but the dobby will increase my capacity for new structures greatly. I’ve been wanting to weave a structure for years and finally decided to do it until I realized I would run out of treadles. The dobby solves that problem. Two treadles work the mechanism to raise the shafts. Notice it is on wheels—that has been very handy already. I just need a pillow on my bench.
Here’s the back of the loom. The dobby mechanism is on the left side in the photo.
This is the dobby mechanism. Each bar represents one shed or row of weaving.
A close-up shows the pegs in the bars. A special tool makes it easy to ‘peg’ each shed. The holes without pegs are the shafts that will go up. Since there are 12 shafts, there are 12 holes in each bar. When the right treadle is pressed, the mechanism raises the shafts for one bar—one shed. When the left treadle is pressed, the shed closes and the mechanism readies itself for the next shed. When all the holes are filled nothing will go up. It’s a way to mark the end of a repeat.
Here is the first thing I’ve woven! I wanted to shade the 12-shaft satin weave to go from only the warp showing graded to only the weft showing. The white warps are shiny spun silk (2 different yarns) and the weft is handspun silk from Bhutan that is not shiny.Then I dyed the piece lightly in black walnut dye. I was hoping the shades of the color would contrast more, to go in shades from light to dark–but that is what I’ll work on next. I thought the two yarns—one shiny and one mat would contrast more when in the dye. Lately I’ve been weaving cloth for the dye pot—really fun to weave and get my creative juices flowing.
A woman in Berkeley is selling two unique looms.
Loom #1 is a 20-shaft mechanical dobby loom, 40″ weaving width – the
first dobby loom Jim Ahrens ever made. (Jim Ahrens was the “A” in
“AVL” – an amazing loom builder/engineer.)
Loom #2 is a 90%-complete dobby drawloom, 30″ wide with 20 shafts,
also designed and made by Jim Ahrens. The loom is complete except for
the beater, a warp beam, and a few other pieces. It comes with
detailed plans, so a decent woodworker should have no trouble putting
together the other pieces.
The owner needs to clear out both looms by April 16 – so she says,
“Just make me an offer! Any offer!” After that the looms will be cut
up for the wood (her husband is a woodworker), which seems a real pity
considering their unique nature and history.
Contact the seller directly at email@example.com
Please pass on to anyone you know who might be interested.
The Ahrens Looms website gets more exciting for me everyday.
We have the full support of Bob Kruger of AVL and Weavolution is announcing it in their newsletter. We’ve added more features that would be expected on websites. There is a Forum section with several topics and the latest added is the FAQ page. Here is a sample of how a FAQ (frequently asked question) works. When you click on the question the answer pops up below. Try it!
Because that’s all you need for 4 shafts. With those 4 treadles and your two feet you can treadle all of the possible combinations of shafts. There are 14 combinations possible.You never need to tie up any combinations and that way you can easily change tie-ups anytime you want. If you use Jim’s unique tie-ups for the 4 treadles, it’s easy to walk your feet for all the weaves you have available.
My good friend Vera Totos and I have been working for months on creating a new website about Ahrens looms. Jim Ahrens built looms for efficient weaving, using his own engineering and centuries old European techniques. This site explains their use and operation. Check it out and let me know what you think using the “Contact” page or as a “comment” at the bottom of each page.