I have been meaning to write up this blog post for a couple of months now, but SO MUCH of life has gotten in the way! But I decided today that, come H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks or high water, I am gonna git ‘er done!
A little history on the loom…
One of our daughters who lives a few hours away was given this loom for free as payment for some work she did (household chores or something?), and as a college student, she neither knew how to use it nor had room to store it. So, like many college students do, she asked us to store it in the shed. And there it stayed for the better part of a year or more, forgotten about.
Over the years, I had toyed with the idea of a weaving loom, but MAN… they aren’t cheap 🙂 And so I just stuck to oogling them in yarn stores.
Fast forward to this fall, when it was time to start planning holiday gifts. I remembered that there was some type of raggedy looking loom in our shed, and I decided to drag it out and see if I could figure out how it worked and put it to use. Did I mention I had never woven anything before? Hee Hee… it was gonna be one heck of an adventure for sure!
I pulled it out into the kitchen floor, and I tried to find any identifying marks that might be on it so I could do some trusty Google searching. But there was nothing except the manufacturer’s name – Dryad. No year, no model number, NADA! I had no idea what type of loom it was or anything about it, other than there were a few dangly strings hanging from some wooden sticks.
So I took to the web, and searched. And searched. AAAAAnnnnnd searched some more. And came up empty. It was proving to be a REAL mystery! After hours and days and days more, my detective skills managed to discover that this loom was made by Dryad Handicrafts in Leicester, England. I also discovered that this type of loom is called a Peacock Loom. Don’t ask me why – I have no clue, lol – but I was just thrilled to find SOMETHING out about the old girl.
After a lot more digging, and a lot more coming up empty, I found that the Dryad company seemed to have gone out of business. All I could find were some really old handbooks that were cataloged by a university in Arizona. They weren’t for my specific loom, but it gave me enough info to determine that I seemed to have all the basic parts needed.
Then – just today as I was preparing for this blog post – I discovered that the Dryad company was bought by Reeves and Sons in 1972, and then again rebranded as Homecrafts in the 90’s. You can read a ton of really interesting facts about the founder Harry Peach, the history of his company and why he was so passionate about crafting here, here, and here.
Ultimately, my best guess is that this peacock loom was made sometime before 1972 in Leicester, England, which means that is AT LEAST as old as I am. Pretty cool, right?!?!?! A real, true, authentic piece of artisan history, right in my kitchen!
Ok – let’s get to the nitty gritty of this restoration, shall we?
This is what the poor girl looked like… There were also a few additional pieces, so I set them aside and started very gingerly taking it apart. Not without some trepidation I might add… there was a certain amount of fear that I might not be able to get it all back together.
But I kept going until everything that could come off was removed. Then I did some more research on how to properly clean and recondition the pieces. After a shopping trip to Lowe’s for some Murphy’s soap and Howard’s Feed & Wax, I went to work.
It took me the better part of a day to clean all the wood pieces and apply the Feed & Wax to set for a bit. For the metal pieces, a little vinegar bath in the sink and a bit of scrubbing got most of the grime off.
Look at the difference in the wood color alone! It’s amazing right? A little TLC and this old girl already looks so much warmer and revived!
I found out that the little dangly strings are called heddles, and I had only a small fraction of what I needed. And thanks to a small budget and a large amount of impatience, I researched how to make my own out of #10 crochet thread, and I built myself a little jig to tie them with. (Incidentally, I only tied enough for the specific project I had in mind – so I will have to make more for future use.)
Once I got the 160+ heddles tied, it was time to reassemble the loom. I’ll spare you all the fine details and swear words, but all in all, I only had to replace 2 S hooks at the ends of the chains. Everything else was functional!
This girl sure looks good, right?!?! Proof that soap, water, and a little conditioning can make you look half your age! (HA! If only that were true!)
All in all, the entire process was really interesting and tremendously educational. Like I said, this loom is a true piece of handcrafting history, and I am so blessed to have it! I did get my weave on and made some really pretty cloth napkins with this loom – I’ll be adding that journey as a separate blog post.
If you stuck with me through this really long blog post, thank you for coming along on my journey!