A great mystery has been revealed to me, simply by watching Sandy operate the loom this morning. She cranked it up by tightening the loom apron around the carpet roll, and started inserting sewn-up rags (the filling) between the warp (the white threads that run lengthwise in the following photos). In less than 30 minutes she had woven about two feet of carpet!
In this first photo she is inserting the shuttle from the right; it is loaded with narrow rags sewn end-to-end. They form a long kite tail-like chain; notice her left foot pushing down on the left treadle:
Before pushing the shuttle from left to right, she pounds firmly on the filling with the reed, by pulling toward her and literally pounding once and maybe twice on the filling she just put in:
After this she will continue the weaving operation, by first stepping on the right treadle, and then pushing the shuttle left-to-right, and will repeat the pounding with the reed. The carpet will be done when she either runs out of fill, or the loom runs out of warp. Watching her operate the loom was pretty cool! I will have video at some point.
Background: Sandy and I attended an auction several months ago, in the far North West region of Missouri. This was near the Iowa border, an area rich with Amish communities. We had gone because some old tools were advertised for auction. But then Sandy saw the loom; we waited until it was up for bids, and what followed is still a blur of memories. For what seemed like 20 minutes, the bidding went on. Sandy first offered a price, then at least two Amish (maybe Mennonite?) ladies would make a counteroffer. In the end, Sandy won the loom. The first challenge I met was trying to get the loom out of the room where it was located. It was a small room, with am impossibly narrow door. I imagined having to take apart at least parts of the loom…so I quickly made an excuse, and left to “…get the truck…” When I returned with the truck, Sandy and two Amish gentlemen were waiting for me, and the loom was already outdoors, ready to load. No explanation was offered on how it got there; I helped the two men load the loom into the back of the pickup truck, and we headed home. Sandy later told me that one of the ladies asked her if she really meant to use the loom, to which she replied with a definitive “Yes!” The lady had left, apparently satisfied that the loom would actually be put to use. Shortly after that day at the auction, Sandy had the first of two knee replacement surgeries. But, as you can see, her knees function quite well at the loom, and pretty much in everything she does!
Edit to add: If you have never seen one of these looms in person, I can report they are mostly wood, and a little steel for the guide pins, along with a bunch of bolts and some gears. They are a mechanical wonder!
—— Al Navas