Building and Weaving

I drove 5 hours in my rental van and bought a loom, packed it up, and drove 5 hours home. It’s an 8H Varpapuu, made in Finland. The loom can accommodate up to 12 harnesses, and I am thinking I’ll add them in the coming months. But first I have to get the loom all set up, learn how to tie up a countermarch loom, and get comfortable with weaving on it with its 8 harnesses.

Wait. Back up. When I got to the seller’s house, she was very eager to show me various features and components of the loom, and how to set it up and tear it down. I took several pics to help me remember what things looked like. It’s a countermarch loom, so it is both similar to and different from the two floor looms I already own – a counterbalance and a jack.

Here it is from the front.
Varpapuu loom, front

And the back.
Varpapuu loom, back

The Varpa has a brake that looks tough!
Varpapuu brakes

Laurie, the woman I bought the loom from, told me it was quite difficult to set it up alone. Hah! Clearly she doesn’t know me. This only made me want to do it more.

So I came home, emptied the van, and set up the frame. By myself, of course.
Varpapuu loom frame

It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but it sure wasn’t the hardest, either. Once I had that done, I said to myself, “You’ve got a show in a few weeks. Leave the new toy alone and go weave!”

“Okay.” I replied, pouting.

And I did. For a while. Then I was back in the dining room. Put a bit more together. Made myself go back and weave. Took another break and did more assembly. And exchanged another email with Dawn McCarthy, a veteran weaver who’s been REMARKABLY patient and generous with her time.

And so it went till I got to here.
Varpapuu loom, partially set up

Now I really am at a standstill. I had to order Texsolv heddles for harnesses 5-8. They’re scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. Then I’ll want to try out an 8H pattern with my new baby. I doubt I’ll be able to restrain myself till after the show.

In the meantime, I have been weaving. I think the layout of this batch of Rainbow rayon chenille shawls is better than my last one. At least I thought so till I went back & looked at that photo.
handwoven rayon chenille Rainbow shawls

I guess I just love the rainbow shawls. Not fun at all to beam a 9 yard, wide warp of rayon chenille, but for me, it’s all worth it. Making these handwoven shawls just makes me smile.

6 comments to Building and Weaving

  • Linnea

    Do you happen to have a manual for the loom? I just picked one up from a rehabilitation center that was about to be demolished, and of course it didn’t come with any information. I fear I may be missing some pieces, as well – I’m not familiar with such large and complicated looms, having previously only woven on rigid heddle looms. I also wanted to pass on an article to Ken that he might find interesting – there’s a woman nearby here who has a similar loom, and a recent article says that it’s worth over 700 Euro used.

    • Peg Cherre

      I don’t have a manual, Linnea, and didn’t get one with the loom. I had the benefit of watching the previous owner take it apart, and put it back together pretty much as soon as I got home so I remembered what I’d seen.

      A quick google search led me to a few places that might be helpful: this one is specific to varpapuu dressing and tie up. If you join Weavolution you they have a Varpapuu loom group that can surely lend you expertise. This piece is about countermarche looms in general, but their diagrams may help.

      Remember – unlike other types of looms, a countermarche loom is “a bunch of sticks and strings.” They disassemble into very small pieces, and once you know what you’re doing, reassemble relatively easily. I understand that in some countries the weavers typically disassemble their entire looms after each warp to clean it all thoroughly That’s overkill in my opinion, but is an indication of their disassembly ability.

  • Kenneth Envall

    My wife is ready to part with her Varpapuu loom identical to yours in the pictures. We would like to find it a good home. We live just outside of Las Vegas in Henderson, NV.

    It comes with lots of accessories and a large warping wheel.

    Would you have any idea of a starting price/value, how to market it, etc.??? Any help would be very much appreciated. While living in the Washington DC area we purchased it from a Swedish Ambassador who was going to use it but passed away before it was unpacked. Feel free to call us! My wife has made many beautiful pieces with it.

    Ken Envall

    • Peg Cherre

      I’m not sure I have a lot of ideas for you, but will email you directly. (FYI I removed your phone number from the post to protect your privacy.)

    • Barb McKinnon

      Peg, say that folks in Henderson NV were looking for a buyer for a Varpapuu loom in Dec 2015. Well here I am in Henderson NV looking for the same loom in Dec 2016. Do you still have their contact information?

    • Peg Cherre

      Sorry, Barb, I don’t.

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