Skeleton Tie-Up on a Countermarch?

I’ve been told that you cannot do a skeleton tie-up on a countermarch loom. That would require pressing two treadles at the same time, which is not feasible on a countermarch. Guess what? I have a skeleton tie-up, and I’m pressing two treadles at a time for the pattern blocks in this kuvikas structure. On my countermarch!

Kukivas (summer and winter) on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Trying to establish a consistent beat so that the squares are all the same size. Making the squares a little taller than they are wide will, hopefully, produce actual squares in the end. The fabric is expected to shrink more in length than in width when it is cut from the loom, and washed and dried.

It works because the tie-up is carefully planned to avoid conflicting treadle movements. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the square-within-a-square results. Isn’t it fascinating that a design such as this can be fashioned by hand, using a simple wooden loom and a bunch of strings, with a few simple tools? And a non-standard tie-up?

Skeleton tie-up on a countermarch loom for kukivas.

Pressing two treadles at the same time is surprisingly less cumbersome than I had imagined it would be. The whole series of motions feels like a slow majestic dance.

Have you seen the sky on a moonless night? Who made that starlit fabric? Who wove the pattern of the heavens? Who put the sun in place, and set the earth on its axis? How grand and glorious are these constant features of our existence! Our human hands can create no such thing. The heavens reveal the glorious nature of God. They shout the unmistakable truth that God is our Creator. Surely, the fabric we make with our hands serves to confirm that we belong in the hands of our Maker.

May the work of your hands be a reflection of you.

In awe,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Betsy Greene says:

    Hi Karen
    This square pattern is really nice. Am I correct in thinking that kuvikas is similar to summer and winter? I have a countermarch loom also and would love to hear more details about your skeleton tie up.
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, You are correct, kuvikas is a Finnish term for what we commonly call summer and winter.
      The double treadling is possible because of the tie-up. The pattern threads are on shafts 1 – 4, and the tie-down threads are on shafts 5 – 8. The trick is where to NOT tie up the treadles. You need two free-standing groups of shafts, so only the pattern shafts and only the tie-down shafts are tied to the treadles, besides the tabby shafts.
      And then, the first 2 treadles produce the tabby for the background. Treadles 3 & 4 bind the pattern floats. Treadles 5 – 8 control the pattern’s various blocks.

      I’m afraid I did a poor job of explaining. You can find the draft in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 164. She does a better job of describing how it works.:)

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    That is gorgeous, Karen! Thanks for sharing the source of the draft, too!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marcia, I’m glad you like it. I like it a lot, too! I’m already thinking of using this draft to make some upholstery fabric for some chairs I want to cover.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • So us how you tied up your loom please, with a diagram or photos.
    Jenny

    • Karen says:

      Great idea, Jenny, Here’s a picture taken from the back of the loom.

      Skeleton tie-up on countermarch

      From left to right, 2 treadles for tabby, 2 treadles for tie-down threads, 4 treadles for pattern. You can see that the tie-down and pattern shafts are independent of each other, which make double treadling possible.

      Does that help?

      Karen

  • Carol says:

    Hi Karen,
    I really enjoy your blog. Thank you.
    I also have a countermarch loom and am wondering how you get away with not tying up all eight shafts on every treadle. Do you know of a book that really explains countermarch ti-ups. I think I am missing something here. I must confess I am a new countermarch loom owner.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carol, You ask some good questions!
      How do I get away with not tying up all 8 shafts on every treadle? I don’t know. I’m learning as I go. Honestly, I have not found a lot of information about weaving with this type of tie-up on a countermarch loom. I have seen it mentioned a few places, but not explained. I tell myself that it is like weaving on two four-shaft looms that work together. 🙂 That may be way off!

      The thing to remember is that this is NOT a typical tie-up for a countermarch loom. I’ll have to say, it was a little finicky to get clean sheds, so I wouldn’t recommend this for someone until they have some serious weaving on eight shafts (with a “normal” tie-up) under their belt.

      One helpful book that explains everything about a countermarch tie-up is Tying Up the Countermarch Loom, by Joanne Hall. But it doesn’t mention skeleton tie-ups. I guess I like to try things outside the norm…

      I hope you enjoy your countermarch loom as much as I enjoy mine!
      Karen

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