Heavy Shafts

Handwoven Magazine Ask Madelyn


Hi Madelyn,


I have been given an 8-shaft cherry Norwood Loom to use. I have just taken off my first sampler piece I did in cotton rug warp using a very simple 4-shaft bird's eye pattern and all went well. Now I have warped a very complicated Bargello pattern from page 39 of A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns. I'm using 12/2 cotton for 460 ends at 30 epi. The pattern is great; the warp is great. My concern is that raising four shafts with every treadle makes the treadling very heavy.  Is there anything that you can think of that would make it easier to treadle? I am also seeing that I have to tweak the connections from the shafts to the treadles to make the shed large enough to allow the shuttle to go through easily. I have also adjusted the position of the beams and castle to allow for the warp's path from back to front to be more level. At first, both the front and back beams were higher than the position of the heddle eyes. I'm not sure what is loom related and what is operator error! Thanks for any help.





Hi Paula!


I'm afraid it is the weight of the shafts that is causing the heavy lift (and that is a function of the loom itself—the weight of the shafts and heddles—not its age). The wider the loom, the heavier each shaft will be. Your new loom is a very fine one, but treadling is likely to be fairly heavy (not operator error!).


One thing to note: the position of the castle relative to front and back beams should pull the warp threads down so that the threads on the shafts that are not raised are in the "down" shed, not passing straight from front to back. If they are not in the down position, the tension on them will be slack and there'll be too much tension (increasing the feeling of weight) on the raised threads. Usually, the down shed is not quite as far down as raised threads go up (since it would take even greater shaft weight to get them that far down), but they should be quite a bit more down than straight.


This factor should not affect the actual weight of the shafts, however. One solution is to use string heddles instead of steel (they weigh a lot less), but they aren't as convenient to use on steel spring bars (this is only my opinion; some people love them).



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