Quiet Friday: Countermarch Back Savers

After back surgery, I wondered how-in-the-world I would be able to tie up my countermarch looms. After a four-week ban on bending over, I was eager to weave, but not eager to do anything that might strain or injure my back.

Two simple maneuvers made it possible for me to tie up the lamms and the treadles on both of my Glimäkra countermarch looms:

  1. Remove the lamms. Treadle cords are added while sitting in a comfortable position.
  2. Detach the treadles. Bring treadles closer to the front of the loom for attaching treadle cords.

And two important practices kept me from over-reaching and overdoing it:

  1. Sit on a low stool instead of the back of the loom or the floor.
  2. Take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, and walk around.

Tools:

  • Low stool for sitting
  • Rolling cart (IKEA cart) or small table
  • Plank of wood, longer than the loom is wide (one plank of warping trapeze, 1″ x 5″)
  • Treadle cords, Texsolv pins, other tie-up supplies
  • Length of cord to hold treadle up (Texsolv cord that’s used for hanging the reed for sleying)

The 120 cm (47″) Standard loom has open space in the loom, making it easy to get within arm’s reach of most things; but the challenge increases with the number of shafts–eight for this tie up.

Alpaca warp, ready for countermarch tie-up without back strain.

Beamed, threaded, sleyed, tied on. Waiting for the final step of tying up lamms and treadles.

  • Lamms are removed, 2 at a time, and placed on the cart to add the treadle cords, all the while sitting on a comfortable stool.

Countermarch tie-up without back strain.

  • After all 8 lower lamms have the treadle cords added, the lamms are reinserted in the loom, 2 at a time.

Countermarch tie-up without back strain.

  • Treadle rod is removed to detach the treadles. Wood plank keeps the treadles from sliding back while treadle cords are attached at the front of the loom.

Trick to make countermarch tie-up easier on the back.

  • Cord acts as a sling to hold the treadle up to a comfortable height.

Tips for making countermarch tie-ups more back friendly.

  • The raised treadle helps with visibility, and enables the use of both hands, especially helpful for the “Vavstuga method” of tying up treadles with knitting needles (I use sharpened dowels). After treadles are tied up, re-attach the treadles at the back of the loom.

Hints for making countermarch tie-up more back friendly.

 

The 100 cm (39″) Ideal loom requires more reaching. Tying lamms to the shafts is a challenge for short arms, like mine. With four shafts, and only three treadles for this tie up, the rest of the process isn’t difficult.

Threaded for striped towels. Glimakra Ideal.

Threaded for striped towels. Glimäkra Ideal has smaller spaces in which to work than in the Standard loom.

  • Upper lamms are placed on the cart. I hold the weaving draft in my lap as I add the treadle cords to the lamms.

IKEA cart as tie-up helper.

  • Lower lamms are removed as the pin is pulled out. After the treadle cords are added, the lamms are reinserted.

Removing lamms to make countermarch tie-up back friendly.

  • Detached treadles lay on the floor. They easily pivot up at the front of the loom for attaching treadle cords.

Tips for making countermarch tie-ups less straining on the back.

  • Everything is tied up and ready to weave!

All tied up and ready to weave!

May you stay healthy to live long and weave.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Patty says:

    Thank you so much! As an aging weaver I’m definitely going to try this.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patty, I guess we are all aging. Some of us are further along. 🙂 We have to constantly find ways to adjust how we do things. I plan to weave long into elder-hood.

      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Wow. What a great idea. Thank you for sharing. That solves so many problems…

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing, Karen, and happy to have you back weaving!

  • Lynette says:

    I love all your clear pictures because I think I’m a visual learner. You inspired me to make a trapeze, and it wasn’t that hard (with a little help from my husband and his saw). It had its debut performance a few days ago, and for the first time in 13 years of weaving, the warp beamed on so tightly and smoothly – no more “yank and crank” or tangles! I will use it all the time. I’d love to see a video of your warping mill use sometime. The Big Book of Weaving recommends doing some kind of figure eight at the top peg, but Vavstuga just goes on one side of the peg and back on the other with no figure eight. How have you found the best way to be? Hope you recover quickly!

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Lynette, That makes me so happy to know that you have had a great warping experience! That’s worth celebrating!

      I love your suggestion of making a warping reel video. Now I’m going to have to go look at The Big Book of Weaving to see what it says… I don’t do a figure 8 at the top peg, but maybe I should try that and see if it makes a difference.

      Your encouragement has put a big smile on my face today.
      Karen

  • Jane says:

    It’s wonderful that someone with back problems is still determined to tie up a countermarche loom. In July, I took my countermarche (Varapapuu) loom (eight shafts) down in order to free up space in what is, actually, a rather small house.

    As the months went by, I got grumpier and grumpier and then finally realised that I missed my loom!

    Notwithstanding the small house and the space issues, I am now in the process of rebuilding my loom. These looms are not easy to set up, but they certainly give good results.

    I keep hoping that Vavstuga will come up with some sort of e-learning course for those of us who don’t live in the USA.

    One thing that is worth mentioning, perhaps, is that these big looms are not sample looms. The lady who sold me my loom advised not to keep changing the tie-up. This alone means that you don’t sit for too long under the loom.

    Jane (Pretoria, South Africa)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane,
      I can see why you would miss your loom. I’m glad you are finding a way to make the loom fit in your home.

      I love the variety of weaving that countermarch looms are good for. I think I would have a hard time leaving the tie-up alone. But I think long warps are good, too. Then, you get to do a lot of weaving between tie-ups!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • geraldine powell says:

    I just found your blog and love it. I’ve had back surgeries and fusion and love your ideas. But, I don’t understand how you use the sharpened dowels to tie up the treadles. I studied the photos and couldn’t see them.
    I do see that you use little beads with holes. Where can one get these?

    I have not woven for about twenty years, but I have come into possession of an enormous countermarch loom and am planning to figure it out and get weaving again. I hope to learn a lot.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geraldine, I’m happy you found your way here! Welcome!

      What you are seeing is the Vavstuga Tie-up System. You can find it at this link: Vävstuga Tie-up System. I use sharpened dowels in place of the knitting needles.

      I’m excited for you! The countermarch loom will give you a wonderful weaving experience!

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

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