Tie-up for Tabby on Eight Shafts

Hi Madelyn!

I have a 4-shaft Mighty Wolf and recently purchased an 8-shaft Norwegian table loom. I am new to eight shafts and am wondering how to do tabby (plain weave) on an 8-shaft loom?

Thank you!


Hi Lucy!

You are reminding me of the day I said to my weavers’ guild study group: “I just bought an 8-shaft floor loom. What is the tie-up?” I asked this because when I bought my 4-shaft loom (used), two treadles were already tied up to raise 1-3 vs 2-4 for tabby, and the four other treadles were tied to raise 1-2, 2-3, 3-4 and 1-4. I thought that was the tie-up for a 4-shaft loom (it worked just fine for whatever I had woven on it). I assumed 8-shaft looms also had a “tie-up” that just hadn’t been made on mine yet because the loom was brand new. The study group members looked at me for a long time before saying: “Well, you have to change the tie-up depending on what you want to weave.” (Actually, when they said that, I thought they meant that I had to tie-up a treadle, weave a pick, change the tie-up to that treadle, weave a pick. Luckily, that wasn’t what they meant.)

Eight Shafts

Wool Scarf Being Woven on a Loom: Weaving shuttle at rest on the warp of a weaving project. egschiller: Getty Images

That was only the first time I became aware of how deep and wide and complex the world of weaving is. This is, in fact, why weaving is both so very rewarding and wonderful and sometimes so very frustrating and challenging.

So, the tie-up on your 8-shaft loom will be whatever it takes to raise every other warp thread for one pick and all the other threads for the other pick using the threading you have chosen. (I love that in weaving we really need a vocabulary word for those other every other warp threads. The fact that it is so hard to put into words something that explains or describes weaving processes is just another challenging aspect of this craft!)

So, if your shafts are threaded 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-7-6-5-4-3-2, every other thread is either on an odd shaft or an even shaft. Plain weave (tabby) will be produced by raising shafts 1-3-5-7 vs 2-4-6-8. But if you thread two blocks of Atwater-Bonson lace: 1-3-1-3-1-2, 1-4-1-4-1-2, notice that raising alternate threads will mean raising shaft 1 vs 2-3-4. Some threadings will not allow tabby at all. An advancing twill threaded 1-2-3-4, 2-3-4-5, 3-4-5-6, for example, will not allow raising every other thread no matter what you tie up.

I hope this makes sense—and welcome to the truly wonderful and challenging world of weaving with more than four shafts.


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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