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Love Your Loom and Wheel

Love A Few of Your Favorite Things

Sometimes the cold and gray days of February can leave a person feeling low, but it’s also the month of Valentine’s Day and a time to express your love to the people and “ things” you love. I’m talking about your looms and spinning wheels. Since many of you are stuck in the house this time of year, before you get busy in your gardens, and doing outside things, take some time in the next week to give your beloved equipment a good cleaning and once over. Here's how to get started.



This is the Way We Clean Our Looms and Wheels

Start by giving your loom or wheel a dusting with your favorite furniture cleaner. Go over the frame and castle and if you can, clean between the treadles. You will be amazed by what you find! Of course, if your loom is currently empty, it’s easy to get into the shafts and lift them up to dust and vacuum under each of them. This is good general practice because there’s lots of lint that falls down between the jacks and collects there.


Once cleaned, lubricate the moving parts with silicone spray or another lubricant to keep them moving easily. Heddle bar hooks are notorious for being difficult to open but a small squirt of silicone or WD40 will do wonders for your hooks.



This is the Way We Wax Our Looms and Wheels

If you find scratches on the beams, you can use a finish feeder to help cover those sad nicks and scratches sometimes left from a temple. If you know that your loom or wheel has an oil finish, use a Danish oil to restore the finish. I also like using Howards Feed and Wax because it cleans and polishes the wood. I use this on my Countermarch loom’s finish and it does wonders on the wooden sticks that make up the shafts. I simply push the string heddles to the side and polish the wood. When I’ve done this section, I push the heddles to the newly polished area and then clean the un-waxed area of the shaft. The heddles slide so much easier when I’m done!



This is the Way We Silence the Squeaks

Loose bolts and screws should also be tightened at this time. I am always amazed how these loosen up from the beating of your loom or the movement of a spinning wheel. As far as wheels go, there are a lot of moving parts on a spinning wheel and many of us neglect or overlook these parts.

Those annoying chirping and squeaking sounds that come from your wheel can be silenced with a few drops of spinning oil. My rule is to oil any part that moves unless the manufacturer tells you not to because of having sealed bearings that don’t require lubricating. Place your spinning wheel on a table and start at the bottom. Put a small amount of oil on the treadle pins or the hinges that the treadle moves on and the lower and upper sections of the footman too. This is often the culprit spot for an annoying squeak. The flyer head is the obvious place to give attention to, so wipe and clean the maidens and all the parts that hold the flyer in place. I find the flyer shaft, the part the bobbin rides on, will need a little attention.

While you’re at it, give your other spinning equipment a treat! Clean and oil your drum carder and maybe straighten those bent teeth on your wool combs.



This is the Way We Care for Bits and Bobbins

Don’t neglect your small equipment either. Shuttles love a good waxing to help them slide smoothly from side to side. If you use a metal bobbin winder, remember to always turn the handle clockwise when winding a bobbin. It too has moving parts so please give it a few drops of oil to keep it running in good condition. I have been using the same bobbin winder for more than forty years and it just keeps on winding my bobbins smoothly with a little TLC every now and then.



My Other Bouquet is a Toolbox

For less than the price of a dozen roses this Valentine’s Day, you can set yourself up with a maintenance bag or toolbox that will last longer than flowers! You’ll want screwdrivers in different sizes and types and adjustable wrenches. I always have a can of silicone spray handy with an applicator straw end to get into those hard to reach places. You’ll also want an oil bottle for your spinning wheel and I personally use the same oil to lubricate my bobbin winder. Buy some cleaning products, oils and finishes to keep your looms and wheels in beautiful condition. When using any Danish Oil be sure to wash the rags right after using. In the right conditions, they can combust and catch fire. This isn’t to scare you, but it’s better to be safe and follow the directions on the can.

Here’s wishing you and your inanimate loved ones a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Tom