All About the Countermarch Loom


Handwoven MagazineAsk Madelyn

Hi Madelyn!

A weaving friend of mine has a Swedish countermarch loom that she wants to sell me for a very good price. I wove on it for awhile to see how l liked it. I did like how I could sit up straighter than I do on my jack loom, but the swinging treadles were a little hard to get used to. Are there any other aspects of this loom I should know about?


Hi Monica!

First, I am thinking that you intend to add this loom to your collection (no one ever has enough looms), in which case, it wouldn’t mean you are substituting it for the loom you already have.  If you were thinking of exchanging a jack loom for a countermarch loom, you’d have to seriously compare their qualities. (Do you want to weave rugs, in which case a countermarch loom is a good type to have, how many shafts each loom has, what weaving widths, etc., etc.)

Countermarch looms raise and lower warp threads to make sheds. The warp threads, therefore, can be held at tighter tension than on a jack loom, making countermarch looms excellent for weaving rugs and working with non-resilient fibers like linen. The treadling is much lighter than the treadling on a jack loom since the only force acting against opening the shed is warp tension, not shaft/treadle weight. And, as you point out, the position of the weaver, the size of the loom, and the action of the overhead beater all promote a straighter posture than smaller jack looms usually do. I love the feel of weaivng on a countermarch loom.  (You get used to those swinging treadles in no time.)

The drawback to a countermarch loom is that you have to tie every shaft to every treadle, that is, you make ties for the shafts that go down as well as for the shafts that go up. That means that if you are using eight shafts and ten treadlles you will make 80 ties, thereby spending a bit of time under the loom in a not-so-upright a posture. Also, all positions (of the shafts, lamms, and treadles are adjustable using Texsolv cord and must be determined by you in order to achieve a weaveable shed. The  learning curve is therefore longer with a countermarch loom. You might not want it to be your only loom, but if you have space to add it to your studio and it is a good price, I’d go for it.


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