You wouldn’t necessarily know it from reading my blog, but I’m a bit of an off again on again weaver (yes, on top of everything else. What can I say? It’s string!) I’ve long been a fan of the Canadian owned Leclerc looms, and have two already. My beloved Fanny (yes.. get the giggling out now, it’s fine.) who is a 45″ 4 shaft counter balance floor loom and little Dorothy who is a 24″ 4 shaft table loom.
Leclerc has been making looms since the early 1900s, and still does today. They are based out of Plessisville Quebec, and they are a common used loom in Ontario. They still make parts for their old looms, which is fantastic, and honestly, Camilla Valley Yarns out of Orangeville is absolutely a miracle of information about Leclerc history.
So when a friend posted a photo of a little table loom hanging out at the local thrift store, cold be damnned, I headed there at lunch hour. The photo looked like a Leclerc label, but only 2 shafts had me wondering. I didn’t know that they’d made a 2 shaft loom!
I arrived to find that Leclerc had made a 2 shaft loom and it was sitting right there waiting for me. I may have hugged it in the store, and tried not to growl at people looking at her before I could finish buying her. MINE!
A little bit of research later (Thank you Camilla Valley!) says that she’s the original version of the Nilec loom, produced between 1957 and 1966. Her 14″ weaving width and wooden shaft frames give her away as being the original. In 1966 the Nilec changed to be metal shaft frames and a 15″ weaving width and they were discontinued in 1984.
She’s in great shape overall, considering her age. Some bent heddles, and some light rust, but she’s fully functional. Two shaft is very limited, she was never intended to be a ‘does it all at home’ loom. Her ad copy states(taken from a 1962 catalog):
Leclerc catalog 1962
Learn to weave on a “NILEC” simply by following the instruction booklet supplied with each loom. In no time you will be weaving the finest fabrics of all kinds.
The “NILEC” can weave any fabric up to 14″ wide, in any technique possible on a two-harness loom. Your friends will be delighted with a gift you weave yourself so surprise them with a scarf, necktie, evening bag, towel or some novelty item on their next birthday.
The Nilec is especially made for you who wish a relaxing and pleaant, even profitable, hobby. It fits in well with any craft programme in schools, hospitals, summer camp, etc.
Your teen age girls will enjoy working on that loom and so will develop their artistic skills. Don’t forget it’s a wonderful hobby for everyone.
This little two-harness loom operates with a crank at the top, the harnesses sliding in grooves. It can be set up by the same method as used in the larger models and is therefore excellent for a beginning loom. It is equipped with 240 of the standard 9″ wire heddles and a standard 41/2″ 15 dent steel reed. More heddles may be added and reeds of all sizes are available. Additional equipment includes on draw-in hook, two flat shuttles and canvas aprons for the beams. The loom itself is solidly constructed for red birch with bass wood harnesses, cast iron wheels and steel dogs.
It was priced very competitively in 1962, coming in at a mere $22.50 (The 4 shaft Fanny floor loom that I have in that 1962 price list is $140.00 just for comparison). By the next price list that I have from 1983, the Nilec was up to $155.00 and the Fanny is up to $759.00. In 2023, a shiny new 45″ Fanny will run you $3823.00 (ouch, please check the used market first. Looms last forever and there’s often lots available used.) I can’t compare the 2023 price of a Nilec, they no longer make a 2 shaft loom, there’s nothing even comparable in 2023.
Two shaft is mostly limited to plain weave, and 14″ isn’t very wide, but I can confirm that she weaves up just fine. The shed isn’t big enough for a boat shuttle (there’s clearly a reason she shipped with a flat shuttle), but for the amount of cloth she can hold, a flat shuttle is just fine. I’m delighted to have added a third Leclerc loom to my collection!