I wove on an AVL at the 1981 ANWG conference and - after reading Allen Fannin's book Handloom Weaving Technology from cover to cover on the bus home - ordered this loom.
It was more mechanized than the one I'd woven on - I was told I could order an auto-cloth advance and double box fly shuttle.
When it came time to ship it, I was informed that it would not have those two features as they would be coming later. Thus began my relationship with AVL.
I did get the loom with the double box fly shuttle finally in February of 1982 but the auto-cloth advance didn't arrive until much later - August, as I recall.
It took me a year to get fully comfortable with it. It had the manual dobby at that point. I waited until a year after the introduction of the Compu-Dobby before I invested in that. Then in the late 1990s I added air assist to the treadle and fly shuttle. And upgraded to a four box fly shuttle because my primary client routinely used 3 or 4 different wefts for stripes.
When the new fly box assembly and air assist were on the loom, I asked Doug to design an air assist to change the fly shuttle boxes. In spite of everyone telling him it couldn't be done, he managed it.
Long story short, I could not have accomplished nearly as much as I have done if I had not had this loom, this tool, in my studio. Doug made other tweaks to the loom to tailor it specifically to what I was doing and how I wanted it to work. There have been - quite literally - miles* of cloth come off the beams of this loom. It has served (for the most part) well and faithfully. As we replaced parts when they wore out. For the better part of 37 years this has been my primary loom and at times my only loom.
The last three years it has not been behaving well. After multiple tweaks, money spent on replacing worn parts, more tweaks, way more 'seconds' or 'rags' than was really tenable, today I declared this loom not just retired, but deceased. Dead.
If Doug and I cannot get this loom to run reliably? It's worn right out.
It has worn right out just as I am fully accepting that I, too, am worn right out.
The loom is large - 60" weaving width - made even wider by the fly shuttle boxes. It's noisy. I've always worn hearing protection when weaving on it. It became even noisier with the addition of the Compu-Dobby and then the air assist. The compressor is in the next room, but still.
So I have quietly (mostly on this blog) been saying that I was going to get rid of it. Several people have already contacted me about buying parts and they will be able to do that as soon as we get the loom disassembled and we can arrange for shipping.
There are more things that will be sold, but I don't have a lot of time to shop them around right now so that may have to wait until after the craft fair season is over.
But I have things like industrial fly shuttles and pirns, AVL fly shuttles and pirns, and heddles. Boy Howdy, do I have heddles. Probably over 2000 although I will have to go through and count them out in bundles of 50. I'll get Doug to make me a jig to do that job.
The wood will be offered to a wood turner. If he wants it we can deliver it on our trip to Salt Spring in July. The wood can be dropped off, then the van filled up with the silk yarn I've accepted from a weaver's estate.
Before anyone contacts me about buying this loom? No. It is not functioning reliably. I will not sell a loom to someone that I cannot make work my own self. Especially a loom that I know as well as this one, having woven on it for 37 years.
So the wood will be offered to a woodturner and the loom can be reincarnated into something else. Something useful and beautiful.
And as for me?
I have ordered a new loom because I'm not done weaving. Yet. I chose a Megado because it has a smaller footprint, is quiet and much easier - less physical - to weave on. It arrives the end of August.
I am hoping I can make friends with it quickly because I am extremely low on inventory. Too much fighting with a loom that wasn't working properly, creating seconds I cannot sell. Even so I don't know how much I can get done given my travel schedule. However, after today I can switch to the small loom and start pumping place mats and rayon chenille scarves out. Hopefully.
My hand is still going numb when I hold my arm in certain positions. Today I concentrated on figuring out how to lessen that and have some ideas to take to the Leclerc and see if I can put them into practice. Proprioception. It's a thing. Apparently I have it.
*During my most productive years I was routinely pulling 240 or so yards off of this loom every month. For the best part of 9 years. I wove the samples for Magic in the Water mostly on this loom. With the standard fly shuttle (single), prior to adding the air assist I was weaving approximately 90 picks per minute as my standard weaving rhythm. I was averaging approximately 1 million picks per year. I stopped telling people any of this because I was so frequently met with disbelief. I can no longer do this, nor do I want to. Which pretty much tells me I am ready to ease into the next phase of my life, whatever this is going to look like. Rest in Peace AVL 181. You have earned it.