Best Way to Tie Treadles

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Hi, Madelyn!

When I use a project from Handwoven, I usually tie up the treadles the way the tie-up in the article shows them. This often seems to mean that (if there is a tabby in the weave), the tabby treadles are tied up on the left side and therefore I need to use my left foot for both of them. If the weave structure is summer and winter or Atwater-Bronson lace, it means my left leg is lifting a lot of shafts. For some reason, I am right-legged as well as right-handed so would rather have those treadles on the right. I also hear that some people use a “walking” tie-up. Are we supposed to tie the treadles the way they are in the draft?

—Mary Ann

Hi, Mary Ann!

Learn how to successfully modify your treadling when warping a loom so you end up with even work for each foot.

Draft of “Summer Shawl” draft from Handwoven’s Summer & Winter Technique Series eBook. You can see the tabby treadling circled, with a lot of work for the left foot!

Most of the tie-ups in Handwoven follow a similar format. Often, that means tabby treadles are on the left. This isn’t because the treadles are easiest to use that way but so that readers are more likely to understand what each treadle is doing (first the tabby treadles, then pattern or twill treadles in sequence, etc.).

When you tie up the treadles to weave the projects in question, you can alter the treadle order to suit.  If you want the tabby treadles to be operated by your right foot, placing then on the right makes very good sense.

Choosing the order for the treadles should make the treading as comfortable as possible. The treadle order can also help make it easier to keep track of where you are in the treadling.

Some weavers tie their treadles in “walking” order. That would mean that as you treadle, you would alternate first the left foot, then the right foot, left foot, right foot, etc. If you were weaving a twill, you would tie the first treadle on the far left, the second treadle on the far right, the third next to the far left, etc. The actual tie-up on the loom would not look like a straight twill tie-up at all.

While using a walking tie-up might be easier on the body, I would find it impossible to keep track of where I am (if I needed to unweave an error or got interrupted, for example). For that reason, I always tie up twill treadles in the order they’re given in the draft.

Many weavers tie up tabby treadles so that one is on the far left and the other on the far right. Shuttle position makes it easy to keep track of which treadle to use: When the shuttle enters from the right, they use the right treadle; when it enters from the left, they use the left treadle. (While I like to have both tabby treadles on the same side, either left or right, I still use shuttle position to tell me which treadle to use: the left treadle of the pair when the shuttle is on the left, the right treadle when the shuttle is on the right.)

It is a good idea to consider carefully the best way to tie the treadles when you start any new project. You’ll end up with easier weaving, but also, just thinking about it will help you understand what each treadle is doing. Understanding the connection between the treadling order and the threading draft will make it easier to “see” where you are in the treadling order, so you won’t have to use any awkward methods like marking sequences on paper to keep track.

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