Tie-Ups and Marguerite Davison

Handwoven MagazineAsk Madelyn


Hi Madelyn,


I am weaving some table napkins using a diamond pattern (Periwinkle from Marguerite Davison's A Handweaver's Pattern Book, p. 131) and I find that the pattern comes out face down, i.e., upside down. I warp front to back. When I thread through the heddles I work from the back of my loom going left to right, but reading the threading draft from right to left. Does this make my pattern appear upside down? Is there a way to fix this? I would like to see the actual pattern so I can see my mistakes more easily. Could I fix this by changing the treadle tie-up? If the tie-up calls for 2 and 4 and I reverse that to 1 and 3, would that work? Of course I would reverse that for all the pattern treadles. Thanks for your help.




Hi Nancy!


Your experience should be considered a Weaver's Rite of Passage since it has happened to most of us. It certainly happened to me. Your cloth is developing face down because of the way you are translating the tie-up. In almost all weaving sources, if there is an "x" in the tie-up, that means the corresponding shaft must be down in the formation of that shed. You are probably weaving on a jack loom, and therefore, if you tie the shafts marked with an "x" to go up, you are doing the opposite of what is intended and therefore weaving the fabric upside down.


You have correctly figured this all out for yourself and you can only fix this by doing just as you suggest: changie your tie-up so it raises the opposite shafts.


What makes me smile, when I think of you and me and all the other weavers who have been there, done that, is how few of us (myself, never until this very moment, actually) have read what it says on page XII of Davison's book. (Instead, we did what you did, work very hard to think of all the possible reasons this could happen. It does not matter how you thread–front to back or back to front, for example.) On page XII, Davison writes: "the first cross (i.e., "x") at the right means that the rear harness is to be lowered…."


I'm afraid I have always been a "cut to the chase" sort of reader, skipping introductions and explanations in my haste to get to the good parts.


When Davison wrote this book, there actually were very few jack looms if any (Everett Gilmore patented a design for the first jack looms in the early 1930s), so she presumed everyone would be using her tie-ups with counterbalance looms. For those, you tie a treadle to make a shaft go down (and because that shaft is connected to another shaft, the connected shaft goes up).



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