Louet Jane 40 Review
Read my comparison of both the Louet Jane 40 and the Ashford 16-shaft here
Why I Made the Purchase
I own the Louet Jane 40 and am happy to share a review with everyone. This table loom is an 8 shaft and I primarily purchased it for sampling and working on the OHS Weaving Certificate Program. I purchased it from GN'R Alpaca Boutique. My two main floor looms are both countermarch (Louet Spring I 12S & Louet Hollandia 8S) and I was finding it frustrating to change the tie ups in between samples. Purchasing an 8-shaft table loom would hopefully give me the freedom I was looking for. I do own a 4-shaft Leclerc Dorothy, but honestly it's not my favourite weaving vehicle and has cast doubt on my ability to weave confidently on a table loom in any capacity.
First Impression & Assembly
I was impressed with the packaging - everything arrived safely. The instructions where easy to follow and I was able to put it together over the course of a day. In all, it probably took me about 4 hours total. Putting together the shafts took the longest - carefully adding the heddles, the side bars, elastics and adjusting the cords so that the shafts were all the correct height. This is a high quality, beautifully made loom, but I was shocked that the sides to the shafts are made of plastic (seemed cheap). I worry that both the plastic sides and the elastic cords will wear out/break eventually. All the pieces went together smoothly. The wood is gorgeous! The footprint is bigger than I imagined, it is about 21" wide, 30" long and 26" high. (my other table loom is a Leclerc Dorothy - so I was pretty shocked at how much bigger the Jane was!). The maximum weaving width is 15 3/4" wide. The looms folds up easily and I have no problem carrying it around, with a total weight of 23lbs.
The first time I warped, I used the built in raddle. Unfortunately, this was not a successful approach for me and I found my selvedges lost tension from the warp beam (they must have slid off). I also found it extremely awkward to pre-sley the raddle from the back of the loom. It was a stain on my neck, back and shoulders to reach the warp ends up from the cross to the raddle. I also did not enjoy the fact that the raddle is metric. Securing the ends into each raddle space was finicky. The second time I warped, I reverted to my staple approach and put a raddle in the beater. This technique was much more successful for me and less strenuous on my body. I love that the beater bar swings out of the way for easier access to the heddles for threading.
The leavers are harder to move than I anticipated, but not so hard that I'm injuring myself. One lever at a time is OK, but if I'm switching more than one, I find my other hand is reaching up to help. Also, the levers are not very wide. A person with larger hands may find them cumbersome to use. I LOVE the "thwunk thwunk" swhooshing noise the levers make when they are flicked back up. It is so satisfying! The shed is HUGE! Appox 2" high when the beater bar is "clicked back". A comfortable amount of room to manoeuvre around floating selvedges and not catch skips. There is a lot of space to weave before you have to advance the warp - way more than you would ever expect from a table loom. The beater bar swings easily and is smooth to operate. Advancing the warp is easy. I feel confidence in the the metal gears/break. Yes the bottom of the shed does get a little "floppy", but not as much as my Leclerc Dorothy, but at only 15 3/4" weaving width you are basically just handing the shuttle back and forth. If I owned a wider version, I would probably DIY a race to prevent shuttle submarine! The warp (on an open shed) is on a bit of an angle towards the breast beam, I find that when using more than one shuttle, they tend to slide off the front of the breast beam when beating - I find myself pushing body close to the breast beam to prevent this.
Overall I really LOVE this loom. It is absolutely beautiful. It has definitely helped change my mind towards table looms in general and I can really appreciate the portability and direct tie functionality. I'm excited every time I sit down at it to weave. It has filled my need to be able to sample and experiment without changing tie-ups and I am not in any way frustrated while using it. The only things that slightly bother me is the pressure required to switch the levers and the plastic & and elastic materials used (not deal breakers!). I hope that Louet makes a 16-shaft Jane version in the future!