Keeping Track of the Treadling

Hi Madelyn!

I am pretty much a beginning weaver. I find I have a lot of trouble keeping track of where I am in a treadling draft. I know that some weavers use their iPads for this and I’ve heard that others move beads on a string. I’ve been using scratch paper to write down what I’ve treadled, but this doesn’t seem very efficient. What is the easiest way?


Hi Susan!

One important aid to keeping track of where you are in a treadling order is to pay close attention to what each treadle actually does. After a repeat or two, for treadling drafts that are not too complex, you should be able to watch the cloth and see which treadle you have just used and which one should come next. Beyond that, there are other aids to employ. (I’m not a fan of anything that requires you to do something after each pick, like make a mark on paper or move a bead or record something in an electronic program, mostly because those actions take time and can interrupt the rhythm of weaving.)

First, take a look at the tie-up. Most of weaving is about alternation or sequence. Many weave structures require two treadles that weave plain weave, the tabby treadles. I usually put them on the right (I am right “footed” as well as right handed.) Then, whenever my shuttle is on the right I use the right treadle (R); whenever it is on the left I use the left treadle (L). (The tabby treadles can also be at opposite sides of the tie-up and used in the same way.)

Many drafts for twills alternate even shafts with odd shafts and even treadles with odd treadles. For these twills, when the shuttle is on the right, use an even treadle, when it is on the left, use an odd treadle. If the treadling is in point or straight order, don’t take your foot completely off each treadle until you are ready to move to the next. There are twills, of course, that have more complicated treadling orders. For these, I divide the treadling into sections that I can remember and move a post-it along the treadling draft after completing each section.


The tie-ups for many block weaves use both tabby treadles and pattern treadles. It helps to color code the treadles (tabby vs pattern), marking them with painter’s tape (which won’t damage the wood). See the overshot tie-up in Figure 1.

If you pay attention to the specific design you are weaving, after one repeat you can usually identify which pattern treadle (yellow) is doing what and choose the right one by sight. When you weave this way rather than blindly following a treadling order, you have a much closer relationship to what you are actually doing. You’ll find you are then able to alter the treadling order to improve the result (more or fewer pattern picks to square the design, for example). Some other tie-up arrangements are shown in Figure 1. For Beiderwand, there are two pattern treadles per block and they are used in alternation. Therefore: when the pattern shuttle is on the right, you use the right treadle for each block; when it is on the left you use the left treadle.

 a. Loom set up for 4-block half satin

1. Color-coded tie-ups.

The tie-ups for tied unit weaves often include a third type of treadle. In summer and winter tie-ups, for example, the two tie-down shafts are often tied to two separate treadles and used alternately with the pattern treadles (use the tie-down treadle on the left when the pattern shuttle is on the left, the one on the right when the shuttle is on the right). Photo a shows a loom set up for a 3-tie unit weave called “half satin.” Three treadles are tied separately to be used in sequence with the pattern treadles. For this one, the right foot moves back and forth from pattern treadle to tabby treadle. The left foot rests on the tie-down treadle just used before moving to the next (since the right/left shuttle position can’t be used with a sequence of three).

b. Following a profile treadling draft

Following a profile treadling draft

With complicated block drafts, the best way to keep track of the order of the pattern treadles is to follow the profile treadling. I like to use a post-it, moving it only when changing pattern blocks (working from bottom to top so that I can see how the weaving matches the design). Often, once I know the pattern, I can omit the post-it.

c. Color-coded treadles for half satin

Color-coded treadles for half satin

These are certainly not the only ways to make keeping track of the treadling easier to do—the more you weave the more you’ll come up with your own.


If you have a weaving question we would love to hear from you! Please email Madelyn! Pictured: Starry Sky Placemats by Judit Ozoray Handwoven Sept/Oct 2016

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