The Barn Frame Loom Travels
Evidence suggests that Donald Munro of Galbraith may have been an itinerant weaver which meant he travelled from cabin to cabin through the woods and stopped at each one. His barn frame loom was easily taken apart and packed onto a wagon. As an itinerant weaver made his way through the countryside, he set up his loom at each home for a few days and was given meals and lodging in return for completing the weaving for each family that he visited. There would usually be a bench in the kitchen area of the cabin where he could sleep. All the weaving that needed to be done would be ready for the visiting weaver's arrival. No time was to be wasted while the weaver was at each cabin. It might be many months before he would return.
When the itinerant weaver set out on his journey through the forest to visit his customers, he would carefully remove the wooden pegs that held the large beams of his weaving loom together. Using wooden pegs instead of nails meant it was easy to take the loom apart and pack its pieces onto his wagon. Each part of the loom was carefully marked with a number or letter so it could be matched quickly with a corresponding mark. Then when the weaver arrived at the home of a customer, he could carry the parts of the loom into the cabin and reassemble it to working order. The four large beams and four smaller beams were all quite heavy so the families would offer help to carry these pieces into the cabin and lift them into place as the loom took shape. When he emigrated to Canada in the early 1800’s, Mr. Munro brought the small, intricate parts of his barn frame loom and his tools with him that were easily carried on board the ship crossing the ocean. Once he had a cabin built, he set about the task of selecting the cedar that would be sturdy enough to make the beams for the frame of his loom. He used his tools to hew the beams to the correct length and width. He carefully notched holes and pegs that would go together to secure the beams as a frame. Then the parts he had so carefully carried from Scotland were fit into place between the beams. He had brought his wooden shuttle and other small parts with him, as well. He travelled with a stool that he would sit on as he pumped the wooden pedals, called treadles, that made the loom parts move back and forth to work together to create the weave. The linen or wool that the family provided would be woven into blankets, rugs and pieces of cloth to be sewn into clothes by the family. When the weaving was completed for the family, the weaver would take his loom apart and, with the help of the family, he would load it onto his wagon and travel to the next family requiring his weaving services. Most families would have spinning wheels, yarn winders and small looms they used for their everyday weaving needs. They would save up the large weaving projects for the travelling weaver's visits.
The Middleville and District Museum has artifacts that were used in the entire weaving process as well as several samples of work done by early weavers in the local area. Be sure to visit the weaving and textile exhibits in the Middleville and District Museum when it reopens next season.
I wish i vould weave.
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This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.