Finnish Heritage Museum 301 High Street
Fairport Harbor, Oh, 44077
Map Here
Museum Hours:
Saturday 10am-3pm
"Old Finnish Loom"
by Sharon OJanpa Mackey, FHM Staff Reporter

The old Finnish loom came to the museum in pieces. Back in 2005, the museum members voted to accept a 12-shaft countermarch loom from Kyllikki Lehtonen. The loom had been hand made in Finland about 1915 by Kyllikki’s uncle, and used by Kyllikki’s mother. Kyllikki’s uncle shipped the loom to the United States when the family emigrated; it was one of two the family donated to the Finnish Heritage Museum (FHM) in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, in 2005.

Shown in the photo on the left are (left to right) chief weaver Rebecca Steinback, Judy Knox, Melanie Tigner, and Jane Hiltunen, weavers!

What could we possibly do with all those parts and pieces? That’s when Rebecca and John Steinback got involved. Rebecca is a weaver, a very good weaver, and she and her husband were able to put all those pieces together to make the loom, this loom that had traveled all the way from Finland to be in our museum. When they were done, four shafts had been set up on the loom and an additional eight shafts, along with other pieces, were in storage. They are still there today.

Kyllikki attended weaving school in Finland in 1940 - 1941 to learn the intricate designs that can be woven on this loom. On the wall of the museum behind the loom are textbook pages and pattern notes showing different weaving patterns. These are Kyllikki’s hand written notes and illustrations of the different patterns that can be made on the loom.

The loom is not heavy enough to weave carpets and other denser materials; it is designed for making more intricate patterns; Rebecca puts it to good use. She weaves table runners, place mats, and tea towels on the loom. She donates what she weaves to the Museum, which then sells the final products in the gift shop. Kyllikki, now 95 years old, visited the museum in September, 2018, and toured the museum and displays. Rebecca presented her with a blue and white table runner that had been made on the loom. Kyllikki was especially pleased to see that the loom was actually being used.

When there is a demand for them, and Rebecca’s busy schedule allows, she will hold a class. These classes are necessarily small, usually limited to three people, because of the hands-on nature of the lessons. The current class includes Jane Hiltunen, Judy Knox, and Melanie Tigner. The classes are not limited to women, and men have been involved in the past.

Rebecca, who is from Texas, began weaving in the 1960s. She now has at her home, four multishaft looms and three rigid heddle looms. She belongs to a local weaving group which visited FHM a few years ago. They truly enjoyed seeing and learning about our loom.

Because of its age and many parts, the loom needs constant maintenance. Rebecca’s husband, John, and museum members, Alan and Dennis, can always be called on to repair and replace parts to keep the loom functioning. Patience is mandatory when preparing the loom for weaving, as is evident in the picture above.

If you are ever in the Fairport Harbor, Ohio, area, please drop in and see our loom. You may even catch Rebecca weaving something beautiful. And be sure and check out our website – - for the latest on what is happening both in town and at the Finnish Heritage Museum.

Text © Sharon Mackey, Photos © FHM