Living With Looms

For most weavers, buying a harness loom is a big commitment. And as with most committed relationships, living happily with a loom takes some effort. At first it's starry-eyed infatuation with the lovely wood, the number of harnesses, maybe the weaving width you've always wanted, but then the realities of everyday weaving set in, and you find that your beloved loom has a few quirks. Maybe a shaft gets cranky when the weather changes. Maybe one treadle is harder to treadle than the others. Maybe the beater is rubbing the frame the wrong way.

Tom Knisely, handweaving teacher extraordinaire  
Tom Knisely is a man who
really loves his looms.
Tom Knisely shows how to weave with a Norwood loom




Tom and video crew talk about how to show

tips for smoothly advancing a warp.
View from The Mannings Handweaving School  
Fall view from the front porch at
The Mannings Handweaving School.

No one and no loom is perfect. As with other relationships, the important thing is that you agree on the important things: what you like to weave, the complexity or simplicity you enjoy, whether you're footloose or homebodies. But how do you know whether a loom is right for you, and how do you build a healthy relationship with your loom? Well, Tom Knisely can help.

This fall, the Interweave video team travelled to lovely eastern Pennsylvania to visit Tom in his natural habitat, the weaving studio at The Mannings Handweaving School. In more than 35 years of teaching weaving, Tom has dealt with hundreds of looms, and he's probably never met a loom he didn't like. His secret? Loving care and understanding.

In his new video, The Loom Owner's Companion, Tom shares his secrets to living happily with looms. He takes us on a whirlwind tour through a bevy of jack, countermarch, and counterbalance looms from different manufacturers, highlighting the features and strengths of each. He explains the advantages and quirks of different types of beams, reeds, heddles, treadles, and tensioning mechanisms, and how to work well with each. Then he gets down to the nitty gritty pleasure of weaving: how to read a weaving draft the right way for your loom, tricks for tying on and tying up, how to get the best action and the best shed your loom can offer.


Throughout the video shoot, we could see why Tom was voted Handwoven 2011 teacher of the year. His personable style, vast weaving knowledge, and sense of fun shone through as he showed the tools that every weaver should have, from warping tools to skein winders, shuttles to scissors. In loving detail, he showed us how to care for every part of your loom, from its wood to the moving parts, and how to quickly troubleshoot and fix common loom challenges.


The Loom Owner's Companion is Tom's brainchild. He wanted you to know to know how to keep your looms at its best, so it can do its best for you. Thanks to Tom, my looms and I are working together on a whole new level. After all, bringing out the best in each other is the mark of a really successful relationship.

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