Sunday, 20 July 2008

A Universal Tie up for a Countermarch Loom

Janet Phillip's book directs countermarch loom owners to use a universal tie up to weave the sample blanket - unless you have 14 treadles. I have 10 treadles.

I had heard of universal tie up before, and although I could understand easily how with a jack loom you can tie one shaft to one treadle, I did not see how on earth it could work for a countermarch. Generally, with countermarch looms the rule is that every treadle lifts or lowers every lam. So, you don't leave any gaps in the tie up unless you have unused shafts.

After all the playing about I did learning to get my countermarch tied up and balanced, I couldn't accept this universal tie up notion - except I had to because I believe that Janet knows what she's writing about. So I put disbelief to one side (if there's one thing I've learned in life it's how little I know) and I tied up on the scheme she gives. This tie up enables plain weave, and lifts for 2/2 twill, 3/1 twill and 1/3 twill.

Using 8 treadles, and 4 shafts, the scheme is:

treadle 1 tied to upper lams for shafts 1 and 3
treadle 2 tied to lower lams for shafts 1 and 3
treadle 3 tied to upper lam shaft 1, and lower lam shaft 3
treadle 4 tied to lower lam shaft 1 and upper lam shaft 3

treadle 5 tied to lower lam shaft 2 and upper lam shaft 4
treadle 6 tied to upper lam shaft 2 and lower lam shaft 4
treadle 7 tied to lower lams shafts 2 and 4
treadle 8 tied to upper lam shafts 2 and 4

It's a very skimpy looking tie up compared to the normal countermarch arrangement:

You always use two treadles together, and if you get the right combination it works! However, my initial skepticism nearly caused me to give up before I started. Especially when having followed the basic instructions I got to this vision of chaos:

I stomped downstairs to make a cup of tea, shouting out "doesn't work". Fortunately I live with a man who likes solving problems. Keeps me on my toes. "It should do" he said, "I read the book and it's logical, I'll have a look at it in a moment...."

That had me running back upstairs with the cry of "If it does work, then I CAN do it, it's MY mechano set, MY model railway..."

(Sad isn't it, these are references to childhood 30 plus years ago when my brother had engineering toys and and I wasn't allowed in the room when they were out. I had to make do with wool, a crochet hook and bits of string and card for constructing things (I managed to make a theatre for my string puppets)... if only someone had given me a loom in those days!) (Later in life I made up for the frustration by working for engineering firms and playing with old motorbikes!)

I got the book out again and checked I had done everything as Janet directs. Then I looked at the ties, and decided that my normal principles applied: upper lam ties need around two texsolv notches slack and lower lam ties should be taut. It only took a handful of alterations and suddenly it worked.

The treadling plans in the book for the sample blanket show shaft lifts. For each lift, I was going to have to use two treadles, so I copied out the diagram showing in the bottom row the treadles and above the shafts lifted.And this I pinned to a handy little cork board on the castle of my loom. (I'd been wondering what it that was for).
Then, for each pattern I wove I wrote the shaft lifts in order on a small white board which I placed at the side of the loom.
It's not a very clear photo, but I divided the list with horizontal lines as this helps me keep track of where I have got to. Then I recited the pattern to myself as I went, "4 - and - 5, then 3 - and - 5". I found I could get into a nice rhythm for weaving this way.


Laritza said...

So much simpler! Is there an universal tie up for 8 shafts 10 treadles? I want to set up the extra 4 shafts on my Glimakra.

Peg in South Carolina said...

I think it's fascinating that the older we get the more willing we are to admit how little we know. Your gentlemen friend is a definite keeper. I've told you that before. Repetition doesn't hurt (grin!). Anyway, I'm so glad you got it worked out. I wouldn't have thought it possible either.

Leigh said...

I am definitely going to have to try this. I've heard of the universal tie-up before, but have never taken a serious look at it. Thanks for being brave enough to be a trail blazer! I've bookmarked this post!

deborahbee said...

I an very new to world of weaving at blogging. I am rescuing an old bergman loom I have had in a dusty pile for 40 years. It is an 8 shaft countermarch, 32" wide. I have been struggling to tie -up for last 2 days...just a regular tie-up not the one you describe. I really identified with your frustrations though. There don't seem to be many UK weavers.bloggers, and you live in Derbyshire where we were until 10 years ago! I will be back to glean all the information I can. I also have an old spinning wheel, I have used that and went to classes. This is just a hello really and i need all the advice I can pick up.

silverweaver2 said...

Hi, I'm another weaver who is wanting to find a universal tie-up for eight shafts and ten treadles. I recently renovated an old George Maxwell four- poster countermarch. I'll probably start with four shafts, but want the option of experimenting with more without having to re tie.
Does anybody know the Cyrus loom universal tie-up?

Billie said...

I have been going crazy trying to tie up my loom!! If this doesn't work, I believe it will become firewood this winter!!

Dorothy said...

Hi Billie, I hope you can sort out your loom tie up. A good place to get help and advice is a Yahoo discussion group called "Weaving"

agross said...

Do you know of a tie-up for a 4 shaft, 6 treadle?

Dorothy said...

Hi agorss, I guess you mean a "universal" tie up? It is possible if you have a counterbalance loom, or a jack loom but NOT countermache.

This is from Janet Phillip's book, Desigining Woven Fabrics.
shafts 2 & 4 to treadle 1
sahft 4 to treadle 2
shaft 3 to treadle 3
shaft 2 to treadle 4 shaft 1 to treadle 5
shafts 1 &3 to treadle 6

I highly recommend you get Janet's book if you want to explore the possibilities of twill & plain weave on 4 shafts.

Char said...

I'm new to this site and was excited to see that deborahbee also has a Bergman loom, I have met no one else who even knows the name Bergman in the weaving world. I'd be interested if deborahbee knows the history of her loom.

Meantime, I am struggling to tie up my Bergman in a plain weave tie up.

AZ Mary said...

I recently bought an older used Cranbrook loom. 4 shafts and 8 treadles
I tied it up with the universal tie up that was listed
When I am done and I take out the jack pins the far left treadle rests on the ground, and the other 3 are up too high That side is the 2-4 shafts. When I lift the one off the floor the others come down and match the 1-3 side which is perfect. Have never used a countermarch loom before so am clueless.

Clare said...

This is very exciting, I have a countermarch loom and find the endless tying up for a multi-shaft project very off-putting. I'm tending to stick to 4-shafts most of the time.
I'm wondering if it would be possible to use the normal countermarch tie-up, but have an extra 'floating' shaft that is only tied to one up or down treadle, so it can be used more flexibly. I have some lycra that I want to use, but I'm not sure if it will need longer floats to work well, or if it will still pucker up the fabric in a twill tie-up.

Clare said...

I should have said tied to two treadles, one for up and one for down.