Adding a dobby loom to the studio was in our long term plan, but then to my surprise and delight, the local weavers guild listed its 16 shaft mechanical dobby loom for sale. I knew it had been well used but well cared for at the guild, and the price was irresistible, so we went for it.
Getting it from the guild to the house was one thing, but carrying it to my upstairs studio was another. A tight corner at the top of a narrow stairway meant we had to dismantle the loom almost completely. Reassembly went fairly smoothly, although I did have to spend quite a bit of time fiddling with a few cables that came out of adjustment. It was definitely well worth the effort, though!
The 16 shafts allow for more complex patterns, and the mechanical dobby gives me even more latitude for designing patterns and structures.
The dobby loom is essentially a very early mechanical computer. The pegs on each dobby bar determine which shafts are to be lifted for that weft pick, just like the holes in computer punch cards (remember those?) indicated which switches were turned on. No longer limited by the number of treadles underfoot, the number of possible combinations is orders of magnitude greater than with a traditional floor loom.
Thanks to a couple of great books on designing for the dobby loom, most notably by Bonnie Inouye and Alice Schlein, the new loom is off to a good start.
Here is another runner from the very first warp. This new toy is great fun, so there will be more warps to come, that's for sure!