Well, let's just say I now understand why so few of these hit the used market. The Gilmore Gem II weaves as well as it looks, and probably better. First warps are never my strong suit. I'm impatient to try the new arrival out and I'm on a learning curve. Every loom is different and what works for one may not be the best for another. Case in point, warp sticks.
I would be better served by a thinner material, heavy paper or as Bob Allen at Gilmore suggests, those slats from mini blinds, cut to fit. Yep, that certainly would avoid the bit of lumpiness I have in my warp. The warp beams on my two other looms are solid, and narrow wood sticks work well on them. The Gilmore warp beam is 4 wood fins, much like a sectional beam without the sections.
Anyway, back to the review. The loom was extremely easy to roll the warp on. Standing to the side of the loom I can put a little tension on the warp with my left hand and wind it on with my right, while it goes through the raddle on the castle. Threading was pretty easy too. Neither back nor front beams come off, so you are reaching over them, but it isn't a far reach. The hardest part is getting the lease sticks the right height so you can see through the shafts easily for your next thread. This may be a non issue if you warp front to back. Gilmore sells a little tool to called a Warping Wedge. I certainly think it would be useful and will probably order one when I place the order for the additional heddles. There is a piece of wood that acts as a beater lock.
If you sley your reed in the beater this is very useful. It also held the beater well while I rested the reed on it since I sley with the reed lying flat. Tying bundles directly to the cloth apron rod/stick on the front was painless. At some point a metal rod and lashing might be used but for now this worked fine. Tie ups where straightforward and easy. The lamms are nicely numbered ( as are the shafts).
Gilmore includes precut Texsolv and arrows and gives perfectly succinct directions as to the height and range of the treadles for a good shed. And it is a very good shed. I was surprised and delighted. One might even say smitten. There is nothing skimpy about this shed even though it is a small loom. How did they do that? This loom has a big loom shed and it holds tension well and has a pretty generous weaving space. You are not rolling the fell line forward every two throws. The front foot brake for the warp beam releases easily and smoothly.
If you roll too far it is easy enough to get up and snug the warp back onto the warp beam. And look, a rear brake release too!
The front ratchet and pawl system compliments well for steady tension and ease of use. The castle nice to have. The loom is not overly noisy either and I like threading those inserted eye heddles. The shafts are well made, and super well set up for threading and spreading your heddles. And so many pretty touches like these knobs instead of plain screws and such.
There isn't anything I don't like about this loom at this point.
Oh, and it was easy to fold up and wheel outside for a little weaving plein air!
The bonus here is also Bob and Judy Allen, owners of Gilmore. I had a few questions, and fired off an e-mail Tuesday early. Mid morning of that same day Bob called to answer them. Both of them are a joy to work with.
Parting shot: Spies at the gate!