Welcoming Joy

The main purpose of this post was to chat a little about my newest, and unexpected, loom addition. What was a short introduction turned into more of an explanation of what the differences are in the floor looms in my Studio. But the most telling thing I discovered while writing this is that the title “Welcoming Joy” has so very many layers of meaning to me.

Let’s start off with Joy!

Louet Magic 24 shaft electronic Dobby loom

Earlier in the week I saw a used loom go up for sale locally. I was immediately intrigued because it had more shafts than I currently have. So many, in fact, that it needs a computer interface to be able to control the 24 shafts. I initially thought “I don’t need this, but oh heavens would I give it a good home!”

Later that night, Brian saw the same post and asked me about the loom. That led to a conversation about how it differs and if I could make things on it that I can’t do now. It ended by him suggesting I look into it. Two days later, it came home with me.

It has only had one previous owner who just didn’t have the time for it. She’s this incredibly sweet and talented lady named Joy. She was there when we packed it up and I promised I’d give it a good home where it got well used. And that’s why the loom ended up with the name Joy.

Joy came with a Dell computer, and I prefer to use my Mac. A little bit of tech savvy changes and I now have her running like a dream using Fiberworks for Mac and a 9 pin serial cable straight to a USB port. The box on top is actually a mechanical device that engages specific combinations of the shafts in any pattern I program to be raised when I press the peddle..

The actual type of loom is a Louet Magic 24 shaft Dobby loom. Dobby is a form of the term “draw boy,” which refers to the weaver’s helpers who would pull on the warp threads to form complex patterns. This loom has both an electronic version and a fully mechanical version. The mechanical version is quite interesting and complex. If you know how punch cards work for computers, the methodology is the same. If I ever want to make complex patterns without electricity, I can do that with Joy!

Joy’s Unique Role

Folks often ask me why looms have so many shafts. I usually try to explain it in terms of 8 bit and 16 bit graphics, each one allows a deeper, more intricate pattern.

Below are simple graphics of the increasing complexity of a similar fabric structure.

You can see why I might have been content with just 16 shafts. But the ability to control blocks of patterns is luring. I also have the ability to stop one pattern and with a change to the program, start something very different on the same fabric.

24 shafts also allow for creating images as well. These are drafts I’ve found around the web from weavers who are taking simple images and translating them into fabrics.

A Place for Joy

I hadn’t planned space for another loom, so it did take a moment to figure out how everything could work. Turns out that my maximum number of looms in use at any one time will be 3. Fortunately, there’s space to move looms around when needed.

My new loom is also going to help me weave faster and improve several techniques. In a way, weaving is like playing a piano where both hands and feet work together to create what you want. The dobby loom takes away the need to think about my feet, and allows me to work on perfecting my throw (making the edges tidy and consistent) and my beat (placing the weft threads exactly where I want them.)

Several friends have said “I can’t wait to see what you make next!” and quite honestly, neither can I!

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