Treadling Direction

I always start my treadling from the top down. I recently read in an old weaving magazine that you should start from the bottom up. What was the reason for this?

—Jeanie Campbell

Dear Jeanie,

Thank you so much for asking this question. (Don't politician's always say this?). I'm sure it's a question that puzzles many readers. The treadling drafts in Handwoven are designed to be followed starting at the top (right under the tie-up) and working down. This is because we are accustomed to reading instructions (or text) working down a page rather than up a page.

However, when you put in the first pick indicated in the treadling diagram, you put it at the bottom of the cloth you are creating on the loom and the second pick is second from the bottom, so as you are weaving, you are really working from bottom to top. If we were to include a drawdown along with the treadling diagram, you would get exactly the same cloth as in the drawdown only if you started with the bottom pick.

For almost everything, the fact that you are putting in the picks from the bottom of your cloth but reading the treadling diagram from the top makes absolutely no difference. So you really could follow any treadling diagram from either direction (about the only difference is that one direction will produce a twill diagonal in the opposite direction from the other).

Our directions, though, are designed to give you the cloth you see in the photos if you read from top to bottom. And since we don't include a drawdown, there isn't usually any confusion. (Someone might also ask: if we read the treadling from top to bottom because that's the way we like to read our directions, why do we have to read the threading draft from right to left? That can be a question for another day.)

––Madelyn

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