Tying Treadles Together to Provide More Weight

Handwoven Magazine Ask Madelyn


Hi Madelyn!

I have a question about tying up my Swedish countermarch loom. I usually use eight shafts and ten treadles, but I am currently doing plain weave on four shafts. I tied up two treadles so that shafts 1-3 go up, 2-4 down on one of them, shafts 2-4 go up, 1-3 down on the other. When I pull out the locking pins, Shafts 1 through 4 sag considerably. I’m not sure what to do. I read an article that said I needed to tie up more treadles to provide more treadle weight, so I tied some treadles to shafts 5 – 8, which  made those shafts go all over the place when I pulled out the locking pins. What should I do?


Hi Celia!

If you are not using shafts 5 – 8 (no warp has been threaded on those shafts), tying treadles to move them won’t affect anything on shafts 1 to 4. Shafts 5-8 should be stabilized by inserting the locking pins in the upper jacks for shafts 5-8.

The issue with shafts 1-4 is that the treadle weight provided by two treadles is not sufficient to bring the shafts back to neutral when you are not stepping on a treadle. If your cords are all tied to move the shafts where they need to go when you step on each of the two treadles you do have tied up, this actually doesn’t matter. When you step on the treadle, the shafts that are raised will go up and the shafts that are lowered will go down to make the desired shed (as long as the cords to the lamms are measured to the correct length).

It can be disconcerting to have the shafts look so irregular at rest, however. What I usually do when I need shafts to go to neutral when they are at rest is:

Put the locking pins in all the shafts. Tie the treadle that is farthest from the pivot point of the lamms to both the upper and lower lamms for each shaft so that all the cords are taut when the treadle is lying on the floor. Then put a heavy weight on the treadle. Take the locking pins out of the upper jacks for shafts 1 to 4. When you use the two plain-weave treadles, the weighted treadle will rise, but when you take your foot off the treadle you are using, the weighted treadle will bring the four shafts back to neutral. Another option is to tie up more treadles to the lamms for shafts 1 to 4 (it’s the treadle weight that pulls shafts back to neutral); you could tie four more treadles to weave 2-2 twill with your 4-shaft threading.


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