Treadle Adjustments on a Countermarch Loom

The countermarch loom is known for having a clean shed, so that is my goal. Is that possible for ten shafts and ten treadles? The first treadle I step on reveals that treadle cord adjustments are definitely needed!

How to evaluate the shed and adjust on countermarch looms.

Before making any adjustments, a few of the sheds look impassable, like this one.

I learned the basics of making adjustments to treadle cords from Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, and The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I also gained valuable experience from Vävstuga Basics, with Becky Ashenden.

Here’s how the process looks for me, with this ten-shaft, ten-treadle project as an example.

I keep the following note on my iPhone. It helps me remember how things work.
I fill in the blanks for each treadle, noting which shafts are too high or too low. Then, using my iPhone note for reference, I make the needed adjustments.

Note on iPhone for making countermarch treadle adjustments.

  • The first time through, I am primarily interested in the bottom of the shed. I make adjustments to clear the shed enough to be able to weave a little bit.
  • Weave an inch or two. It is surprising how the shed cleans up with a little bit of weaving.
Adjusting treadles on countermarch loom.

Bottom of the shed has threads on one or two shafts that need to be lowered. After making those adjustments, this treadle will have a clean shed for weaving.

  • After weaving that first inch or so, I go through a second, and a third time, if needed, to get a clean shed on each treadle. Adjustments for the top of the shed are only needed if there are threads that will interfere with the shuttle.
Clean shed of a countermarch loom. Tutorial.

No hindrance for the shuttle here. This is the kind of shed I hope to see on every treadle.

When I first see a messy shed, I think, “How will I ever get my shuttle through that?” But it turns out to be little adjustments here and there. It’s not too difficult if you understand the loom.

Five-shaft satin dräll in linen. How to adjust countermarch treadles.

After all treadle adjustments have been made, the shuttle glides freely through the shed. And pick by pick, linen threads become cloth.

Nothing is too difficult for the one who made heaven and earth. Our Creator knows how to help us. He hears our prayers for help, and little by little, we see what He is doing as the shed clears and the shuttle glides through, unhindered.

May little adjustments clear the way for you.

With you,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Cathy M. says:

    Thank you! I’m bookmarking this. I was recently gifted an old Toika countermarch and I’ve only worked with jack-style looms. This will be invaluable to me as I begin learning!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cathy, I am excited for you! I hope you enjoy your new countermarch loom as I do mine. Let me know if you have any questions along the way as you get going.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Thanks Karen! If you don’t mind, I think I will copy your notes to keep handy in my studio. I am hoping the same type adjustments will work with my ten shaft counterbalance loom. Getting under my loom is the hardest part for me. It’s like playing in a jungle gym! Hopefully your notes will simplify the tie-up process. I have a six shaft weave to tie up today and will try your procedure.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, The process should work for you with your counterbalance loom. You’ll just have fewer tie-ups. It’s always exciting to start a new project!

      Here are the notes. You should be able to copy and paste from here. Let me know if this doesn’t work for you.

      Treadle adjustments:

      Bottom of shed—
      Thread is high – move shaft down – shorten treadle cord
      Thread is low – move shaft up – lengthen treadle cord

      1- 3 is high
      2-
      3- 4 is high
      4- 8 is low
      5-
      6-
      7- 4, 5 are high
      8-
      9- 2 is high
      10- 3, 5 are high

      Top of shed—
      Thread is high – move shaft up – lengthen cord
      Thread is low – move shaft down – shorten cord

      1-
      2- 5 is low
      3-
      4-
      5-
      6-
      7- 2 is low
      8- 1 is low
      9-
      10-

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Marjorie says:

    I agree with Cathy M — for a beginner like me, this post will help me get those wonderful sheds the countermarch is known for. My first warp looked like the picture you showed, and I was overwhelmed. Thanks also for including the references: I have both books and will look at them again.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marjorie, I’m so happy you are persevering through the learning stages! It’s all downhill from here. 🙂 I know that overwhelming feeling. Those two books have been steady references and friends for me to help solve all sorts of problems.

      I’d love to hear about your clean sheds the next time you put on a new warp!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen, I hate to bother you, but I tried saving your form, but is is like a photo, so I can’t edit it would you mind e-mailing a copy to me? Thanks!

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    As I was reading this post, I thought that living life is very much like adjusting the shed/treadles. When things aren’t going well, sometimes we just need to patiently figure out which area is where the problem actually lies and then start with small adjustments in that area only to solve the problem.

    I often need to be reminded of this as I tend to want to scrap the entire project!

    Have a blessed weekend, Karen. And I am also keeping the notes you created for my future loom. Thank you for sharing!

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Annie, Yes, that’s a great reminder to me, too. Those small adjustments can make a world of difference!

      I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Susie Redman says:

    Hello Karen
    Thank you for your clearly written help. I was given a beautiful Glimåkra Countermarch loom a couple of years ago and I’m learning something new every time I weave another project.I have noticed a horrible shed where pressing one treadle – on my current 4 shaft project. I didn’t know where to begin with making adjustments -from the top or at the treadles. I shall follow your advice and try to make some small adjustments with the treadle cords.
    Susie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie,
      It doesn’t hurt to start from the top. A while back, after adding some shafts, I had a terrible time getting a good shed. I was pulling my hair out until I finally looked closely at every cord, starting at the top. I found two cords from the jacks that were crossed and connected to the wrong shafts. That solved everything! 🙂 Also, sometimes a poor shed is actually an indicator of crossed warp ends somewhere. What I have learned is that there is always a solution! But often, it takes a little bit of detective work.

      I’d love to hear how your shed dilemma works out!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Karen, your post comes at the most opportune time for me as I’ve just spend the better part of today pretending to be a pretzel under the new loom trying to make sense of a million cords and lamms only to find a shed looking very much like your top picture as my results . I have read and reread the books you mentioned and was just going to begin the process of finding where I needed to make adjustments when I read your process here and it all clicked! I’ve added your process to my phone as well and will attempt to work through each step as you noted in the morning. Thank you again!!
    Charlynn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlynn, It does take some time to learn how it all works. It gets easier the more you do it. I’m glad this post came at a good time for you! Hopefully, you are very close to smooth sailing.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Countermarch Loom Pros and Con

When my long-held dream of weaving on a floor loom became a possibility, I started my journey with questions. What are the pros and cons of the different types of looms? After considerable research, a winner emerged—the Swedish countermarch loom!

Pros and Con of Countermarch Looms
(My experience is with Glimåkra. Other countermarch looms may differ.)

Pros

  • Weave anything. Rag rugs to lace-weight fabric.
  • Hanging beater. Swinging beater has momentum that enables a firm beat. No strain to shoulders, arms, or wrists. Asset for weaving rag rugs, and superb control for cloth with an open weave. Beater placement is adjustable, making it possible to weave longer before advancing the warp.
  • Rear-hinged treadles. Pressing treadles is effortless, no matter how many shafts. No strain on back, legs, knees, or ankles, even with robust weaving. Because treadles are close to each other, I press correct treadles with sock- or bare-footed ease…without having to watch my feet. Ample foot rest makes it easy to trade feet when using many treadles.
  • Clean shed. Stepping on a treadle raises and lowers shafts at the same time, so a great shed is not only possible, but usual.
Horizontal countermarch. Info about CM looms.

Glimåkra Ideal with horizontal countermarch. The cords from the countermarch jacks at the top of the loom go straight down through the warp to the lower lamms. The lower lamms connected to treadles cause shafts to lift when a treadle is depressed.

  • Even warp tension. Because shafts are both raised and lowered, tension is equal on raised and lowered warp ends. Even warp tension is good for all types of weaving. This even tension makes a tight warp possible. Perfect for linen, and for rugs.
Vertical Countermarch Loom - info about CM

Gimåkra Standard loom with vertical countermarch. Cords from the countermarch jacks go over the side of the loom to the lower lamms below. The upper lamms (not pictured) attached to treadles cause shafts to sink when a treadle is depressed.

Threading ease of countermarch looms.

Bench sits in the loom for threading heddles. I call this my little playhouse.

  • Texsolv heddles. Heddles can be easily added or removed from shafts (shafts are also easily added or removed). Quiet. Easy to thread.
  • Perfect fit. A petite person like me can weave on a large loom (my Standard is 47”/120cm) as comfortably as someone with longer arms and legs. Able to sit in upright posture for weaving.
  • Wooden. The loom is primarily wood. Bonus if you appreciate natural beauty of wood. Held together with wooden wedges and a few bolts. No screws or wing nuts.
  • Scandinavian clarity. Because of the Swedish loom, I adopt Swedish weaving practices and have an interest in traditional Scandinavian textiles. The loom fits the style. Streamlined design, precision, systematic and logical processes, and beauty with function.

Con

  • Treadle tie-ups. Shafts are connected to upper lamms and lower lamms. Treadle cords with a bead at one end are hung in the lamms. Lamms are then attached to treadles. Treadle tie-ups normally fall under the Pros category, because this is what enables the loom to have the clean shed it’s known for. But since I just finished tying up ten shafts to ten treadles (that’s 100 treadle cords), this is my least favorite part right now. 😉 (The weaving pleasure more than makes up for it, though.)
Countermarch treadle cords. Pros and cons.

One hundred treadle cords hang from upper and lower lamms. The only thing left is to attach all the cords to treadles. 😉

Treadle cords for 10 shafts! 5-shaft satin coming up!

Treadle cords are attached. Little anchor pins lock each cord into position under the treadle. After a few adjustments, the shed on each treadle is good. The loom is dressed! Five-shaft satin dräll coming up!

Conclusion:
When I weave on my Glimåkra Standard countermarch loom, I am soaring like an eagle. I’m sailing with the spinnaker up. I am a pipe organ maestro. I am dreaming while fully awake. This is everything I imagined weaving could be, only better.

Countermarch looms - pros and con.

Testing weft options. Gorgeous handcrafted damask shuttle, Chechen wood, made by Moberg Tools. Five-shaft satin dräll–a weaver’s dream.

For more in-depth information about countermarch looms, comparisons of looms, and other fantastic resources, see articles written by Joanne Hall, found at Glimåkra USA.

May you live your dream.

Very Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Annie says:

    This article is exactly what I needed to read, Karen. I have been looking online at websites at the various looms, trying to decide which one I think would be best. I narrowed it down to countermarches for the versatility and sheds but was confused about brands, sizes, etc. This really helps. However,l I have a large learning curve before I jump into buying one unless a great used one suddenly appears.
    Many blessings, Karen.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It was your previous comment that prompted me to write this. So I thank you for that!

      Take your time with research and questions. As you narrow it down, you’ll gain confidence about making the right choice for your circumstances.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • JAN says:

    Great descriptions/instructions! Yes, sitting on the floor tying up the treadle cords for any contramarsch loom is tedious, but as you said, the results are well worth it. Sounds like you have written an ad for Glimåkra. The same, even somewhat better results can be obtained on an Öxabäck loom, a.k.a “Ulla Cyrus”?

    • Karen says:

      Hi, JAN, Yes, the tie-up can be demanding, but I can see that you enjoy what comes as a result, too.

      I’m afraid you’re right. It does sound like an ad for Glimåkra. I’m very happy with my Glimåkra looms, so I may be a little eager about my own experiences.

      Öxabäck has a wonderful reputation! I haven’t yet had the pleasure of weaving on one. I’m sure there are details about the Ulla Cyrus and other countermarch looms that I would really appreciate!

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Joan says:

    Check out Vavstuga Weaving Studio’s way of tying up the treadles. Becky has figured out how to ditch the legged pegs for knitting needles. So much easier!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joan, I think Becky’s ingenious method of using knitting needles for tying up treadles is fantastic! I learned it at Vavstuga Basics a few years ago. I use that method when weaving with two, four, or even six shafts.

      When weaving with eight shafts, however, I have found that I can get better sheds by tweaking the tie-up after weaving a few inches. And it’s easier to pop out and replace individual pegs than to pull out the knitting needle and redo the whole treadle. So, with eight or more shafts, I prefer the old-fashioned method of pinning each treadle cord.

      Thanks for your input!
      Karen

  • Esther Bauer says:

    I have a 4 shaft Glimåkra. I love it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Esther, I can spend hours on my 4-shaft Glimåkra. It’s such a weaver-friendly loom. It’s good to hear of your experience!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kayleen Andresen says:

    I have a Glimakra 4 shaft. I have found it to be great to use. I have had to dismantle it to move and it is very easy to assemble again. My least favorite job is changing the tie up.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kayleen, Thank you for bringing up how easy it is to dismantle and re-assemble. I didn’t think of including that in my list. That is definitely a big plus!
      Changing the tie-up is one of those things of which can be said: “I didn’t necessary like doing it, but I like having done it.” It does give me a good sense of accomplishment!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Gerda says:

    Thanks Karen, very clear and I love your conclusion. Such prose! It is exactly how I felt when I finally had my Toika countermarch up and running, after years on a counterbalance (which is still very useful, and I like it too). I have graduated to 8 shafts, 8 treadles, this week going to 10 treadles: more texsolv to cut, more crawling to do… 10 shafts comes in a year or so, lots of soaring and playing to do first. Living the journey and reading your blog faithfully!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gerda, There’s such satisfaction in weaving on a loom that functions so beautifully for the task. That’s great that you are graduating little-by-little adding treadles and shafts. There’s no hurry, because even 2 or 4 shafts is sufficient to have a grand time at the loom.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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How Long Did it Take You to Weave That?

It’s the question we expect to hear. “How long did it take you to weave that?” “…Well, hours and hours, basically.” After almost three hours of threading, I am nearly to the halfway point. How can I convey all the necessary work of dressing the loom? Or, the time it takes to practice a new skill at the loom? Or, the finishing work of twisting fringe, hand hemming, or cutting and sewing?

Threading ten shafts.

Threading ten shafts. The two newest shafts are pale compared to the others. They haven’t yet developed the golden hue of the wood around them.

With any hand-crafted article, there is more than meets the eye. Why do we want to know how long it took to make it? Are we trying to measure value, or understand the maker’s process? Or, is it simply a statement of incredulity about something we didn’t know was possible?

Threading ten shafts--in silence.

For this threading, I sit in silence. No music, no podcasts, no wandering thoughts. I’m easily thrown off by distractions, especially when threading ten shafts.

Threading linen on ten shafts.

Half of the 16/2 linen warp is threaded.

We have a Maker. He fashioned our physical selves; we see that. He also made us with heart and soul. He starts the weaving process before we are born, and takes as long as he needs for the finishing. The Lord, our Maker, includes the necessary development of our character, and the intricacy of our personality, and our dreams and hopes. We are more than meets the eye. How long does it take to make a person? A lifetime.

May you enjoy the process.

Love,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth says:

    This is an often-asked question. When someone want to commission, I include descriptions of all steps with estimated time spent so they better understand. I admire your ability to thread in a quiet environment as I seem to need background noise.

    The older I get, the more I understand your comment about taking a lifetime to make a human. We are constantly changing; a forever work-in-progress.

    Can’t wait to see what you’ll be making with the linen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I think it’s the question I hear most often. I’ve never thought of writing a description of the steps and estimated times for customers. That’s a great idea.

      I need quiet if I have to count more than 4 because I’m very distractible. Haha. I started out trying to listen to a podcast and had to redo the first 20 threads.

      Yes, a forever work-in-progress!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Julia says:

    A textile artist I met one time answered the question this way: “This piece took my entire life. Everything in my life that came before this piece contributed to its creation.”

  • Cat Wycliff says:

    Julia’s comment is a version of the famous saying by Picasso when someone was incredulous about the going price of his art work. Rings so true!
    As a beginning weaver (only 2 years), I struggle mightily with warping. I always seem to have tangled threads. I am careful. I thread heddles with no music, no distractions. Just silence. I have clipped heddles, marked them with colorful counting stitch loops, used painter’s blue masking tape–all in an effort to get it right. Sadly, it never is. I always end up with floaters.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cat, I’ve read Picasso’s quote before. ‘Tis a common thought among makers and artists.

      The learning journey can be steep at times, but it does get easier the more you practice. If you thread texsolv heddles you might find this video helpful that I made a couple years ago, if you haven’t already seen it. link – Threading Heddles

      Happy persistent weaving!
      Karen

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What a Web We Weave

Threading errors happen. But you can reduce their occurrence. After beaming a warp, I count the warp ends into threading groups before I start threading. Always. This is the first step in reducing threading errors.

Beamed linen warp. Tied into threading groups.

Beamed linen warp. Ends are counted into threading groups, and tied in loose slip knots.

The second step in nearly eliminating threading errors is to check every threaded group right after it’s threaded, thread by thread. These intentional steps expose mistakes early in the process. I would rather find an error now than later.

Threading ten shafts.

After a group of warp ends is threaded I check every thread to make sure it is on the correct shaft.

Threading ten shafts. How to avoid errors.

View from the back beam. Every thread is now in its proper place. Two ends had ended up on wrong shafts, so threads were taken back out and corrections made. Threading ten shafts can get confusing, so it is critical that I check my work.

Did the spider check for threading errors before weaving her intricate pattern? Did she know her invisible web could be seen on a dew-rich foggy morning?

Napping spider on her almost invisible web.

Napping spider on her almost invisible web.

Spider's web in dew-rich foggy morning.

Early morning dew reveals the outlines of the spider’s web. Not wanting to be seen, the spider quickly climbs away to hide when I come close to her woven threads.

Our world tells us to make enemies, and hate haters. To grip what is mine, and demand my rights. It’s in my human nature to be that way. But love is different. Love your enemy, do good instead of hate, pray for those who mistreat you. Is that possible? Yes, if you know the love of God firsthand. Love makes you different. It changes you, making you want to take account of your attitudes, and check your motives. Count threading groups, and check the threading. There will be errors as you weave, but they are learning experiences, not fights. Remember, the invisible web we weave may not be as invisible as we think.

May you be different.

With love,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen!

    I have never seen ten shafts threaded before. The first thing that came to mind was “This must have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s line “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” The play it appears in is escaping me for the moment. In comparing the spider web to the one on your loom, the spider web seems rather simple!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts this morning. Have a wonderful day and weekend.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie,
      Shakespeare’s quote is certainly on target.

      I watched the spider start weaving her web a couple weeks ago. Very meticulous and precise, it seemed. So fascinating! It’s amazing how something so fragile can be so strong. As far as simple? Yes, mine is considerably more complicated…and will last a bit longer, too.

      Thanks for chiming in! I enjoy hearing your thoughts!
      Karen

  • Cat Wycliff says:

    What a lovely way to describe how love makes us different. And your practical ideas on re-threading and checking it twice deserve to often be repeated. I need to remind myself of your patient practice.

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Two Threads Are Better than One

Here’s a secret: Two threads are better than one. To measure a warp, I always, without exception, wind the warp with two or more threads together. A warp that is wound with a single thread is prone to tangle as threads twist around each other. A warp wound with pairs of threads won’t do that.

Winding a linen warp. Always 2 threads together.

Choke ties secure the warp bout around the starting pin on the warping reel.

Smooth warping tip: Always wind a warp with at least two threads at a time.

I hold two threads in my right hand, with my little finger separating them, to wind the warp. My left hand turns the warping reel. I purchase enough thread to be able to wind with two tubes at a time. Any thread that remains unused goes toward another project.

I am particular about this warp. It’s linen, so consistency matters. Tangles would disrupt the even tension the linen needs. I have dräll in five-shaft satin in mind as I take each careful step to dress the loom. I expanded the loom to ten shafts to be able to weave this! Expect happy weaving, to be sure, but imagine how pleasant it will be to hold this dreamed-of cloth in my hand. That future cloth gives meaning to my present efforts at the loom.

One of my weaving spaces.

Various stages of weaving. Winding 16/2 unbleached line linen to warp the Standard loom. The Baby Loom (Glimåkra Ideal) in the background is in the middle of rag-rug weaving.

Ten shafts for dräll in five-shaft satin.

Ten shafts in place on the Big Loom (Glimåkra Standard) to prepare the loom for weaving dräll in five-shaft satin.

There must be meaning beyond this life for us to find meaning in this life. The end of the weaving is the beginning of the life of the cloth. There is purposeful preparation by the Grand Weaver, with a precisely measured warp. The back-and-forth shuttle is like the ticking of a clock, or the passing of years. The end is the beginning. Can you imagine the splendid setting the Grand Weaver has in mind for his hand-woven cloth?

May you keep the end in mind.

Yours,
Karen

7 Comments

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Yes, praise God! And thank you for the tip about winding two or more threads at once. I had never heard that before. I’m going to try it on my next warp. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Let me know how it goes when you wind with two threads. I’m curious to see what kind of difference it makes for you.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    So I am wondering why ten shafts with a five shaft pattern? Will you be doing a double weave?
    As you know, I am a Rigid Heddle weaver, however, I am fascinated by floor looms and I am toying with the idea of learning how to weave on one. I have just ordered the draft book to learn how to read patterns and have started to research the different types of floor looms.
    I am curious to know why you chose the two looms that you mention here.
    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, You have some great questions!
      I can weave the satin with 5 shafts, but it would be the same all over. Ten shafts enable me to weave a pattern with two blocks. This gives the characteristic squares or rectangles in the fabric. It is still a single warp and weft, not a double weave structure.

      Your second question gives me an idea for another blog post – Why I weave on Swedish Looms. You can look for that in the near future. For now, I will say that I am fascinated with the simplicity, durability, and functionality of the Swedish countermarch looms. Everything about these looms work with anything I want to weave, from hearty rag rugs to fine linen lace, and make it a joy to dress the loom and weave.

      (Back when I was researching floor looms, like you are, a few well-meaning people told me the countermarch loom would be too complicated and/or too big. They were wrong. 🙂

      Thank you for asking!
      Karen

      • Annie says:

        Thank you for sharing that information, Karen. I have a clearer picture of your project now.

        And a better understanding of the Glimakra loom.

        Annie

  • Anonymous says:

    Your blog is very inspirational! Thank you.
    Linda

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