Tied On and Tied Up

Our transition to Texas hill country is finalized this week! The looms and I will be residing in the same house again. Let the weaving resume! One loom is dressed and waiting for me. Tied on above, and tied up below. Ready to weave!

The warp is tied on to the front tie-on bar in 1-inch bundles, with 1/2-inch bundles at the selvedges. And then, I add the leveling string which makes it look neat and tidy and READY.

Leveling string flattens and evens out the warp for no-waste weaving.

Warp is tied on to the front tie-on bar. Leveling string flattens and evens out the warp for no-waste weaving.

The upper and lower lamms are positioned, and the treadle cords are added and secured. It’s fascinating how simple and basic the whole system is. And how something this simple and basic can be the framework for boundless creative expression.

Under the warp. Intriguing view.

I sit on the treadle beam when I position the lamms, and then place the treadle cords in their holes. I’m always intrigued by the view of the warp and heddles from this vantage point.

Treadle cords on eight shafts.

Treadle tie-ups don’t frighten me. It all makes sense, and is part of the loom-dressing process that I enjoy.

If we think of prayer as something that gets us out of a crisis, or words to say in order to get what we want from God, we miss the whole point of prayer. And we face disappointment. Prayer always works. The work is not our clever words, nor the checking off of our wish list. Prayer is the framework of deep trust that stands ready for the Lord’s boundless creative expression. We pray because we trust him. Christmas—the birth of Christ—shows us that God always steps in at the right time.

May your framework be sure.

Advent greetings,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Sue Hommel says:

    Beautiful words to awaken to this morning Karen! I’ve recently added a countermarch to my studio, and I believe your blog and joy with your Glimakra helped me in my quest for the right loom to add. I chose the Julia and after some panic at the prospect of having to build it, I just took one step…then the next, and finally, I’m weaving and loving its simplicity and design. Looking forward to see what your new warp will become!

    • Karen says:

      Good morning Sue, How exciting! The simple beauty and functionality of these looms make them a joy to weave on. They also provide a constant learning experience, which is a good thing. There’s always a discovery just ahead!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Susan San Martin says:

    I love my Toika countermarche for the same reason: simplicity, plus an endless opportunity to adjust the loom . It is easy to understand how to fiddle with the sticks after awhile. The loom expresses the deep logic of creation!

  • Anneloes says:

    “Prayer is the framework of deep trust that stands ready for the Lord’s boundless creative expression. ”

    Would you believe that this was the exact thing I’ve been praying over these last few days? Beautifully written.

    Before I started weaving, I thought dressing the loom would be a tiresome process to rush through in order to dtart the REAL weaving. But it turned out to be my most favourite part of weaving, and every bit as real.

    Thank you again for your beautiful words and pictures.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anneloes, I’m constantly amazed at how the Lord ties things together for us!

      I can relate. I was afraid that dressing the loom would be too complicated or difficult to do. What a pleasant surprise to find it so rewarding and not hard at all! It’s a joy.

      I appreciate your thoughtful comments.
      Karen

  • Martha Winters says:

    Hello, Karen,
    I have learned so much about weaving, and how it relates to life, from your blog. Thank you for sharing your insights and reflections so freely and beautifully.
    I would love to know a bit more about the ‘leveling string’ at the start of your warp. I’m not familiar with this and it looks quite useful for evening out the threads from the get-go. Much appreciation for your knowledge and awesome weaving!!

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Testing Color Surprises with My Little Helper

Twelve shafts and twelve treadles are all tied up. I found and fixed one threading error. And I am still making some adjustments on the tie-ups to get clean sheds. But for the most part, the Standard is ready to go! I have a week with this loom, to weave towels for my daughter. This colorful double weave looks promising.

My helper peers up at me as I tie on the warp.

My helper this week peers up at me as I begin to tie on the warp.

Dressing the countermarch loom.

Lower lamms and upper lamms are connected to the shafts before tying up the treadles.

Glimakra Standard with twelve-shaft double weave.

Arrangement of the heddles on the shafts give a clue to the three blocks in this twelve-shaft double weave.

Weaving with my granddaughter at my side.

Testing weft colors and patterns with granddaughter Lucia by my side.

Helper for managing the shuttles at the loom. :)

Two-year-old Lucia helps manage the shuttles.

Double-weave towels on twelve shafts. Beginning sample.

Design decisions for the towels will be made based on this beginning sample.
It’s surprising to see the array of colors produced by only four shades of cottolin thread.

When the loom is properly dressed and prepared, the weaving is delightful. Every pick of color is a pleasant surprise. Our Father knows our needs. He is the loom dresser. Everything is set up for the threads to make gorgeous cloth. Do we think prayer is all about asking God our Father for things? Yes, he does invite us to ask for the things we need. But let’s start with admiring his ways and works, with a heart of gratitude. Then, with the threads he puts in our hands, the future looks promising!

May your looms be ready for weaving.

Happy weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • When God blesses us with variables your loom demonstrates I believe He not only wants to meet our needs but wants to bring joy to our souls. Some people weave tabby with their lives. Some people live their lives weaving lizards while exploring the subtle variations in the process. I believe God wants us to explore and enjoy all the good He has to offer and dresses our individual looms to do that..

    Yesterday our second grandchild arrived. He is as perfect as his older sister. A day such as that makes it easy to forget all the threads that had to be re-sleighed along the way.

    Blessings to all

  • Laura says:

    Love the pattern and colors….

  • Lynette Glass says:

    Can I weave something similar with four shafts? Do you have any four shaft doubleweave pattern ideas or books that you know about? I like your colors very much!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, You can certainly do double weave on four shafts. I don’t personally have much information on the topic, though. I do know that Jennifer Moore is known for her work in double weave and has a book and video about it, as well as workshops that she teaches.

      I chose colors that were not in my usual palette, and I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I like them.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Susie redman says:

    This looks stunning – the colours are so complementary. Are you managing this double weave on only one back beam?
    Susie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie, I have only one back beam, and I don’t know the first thing about weaving with a second back beam. Is double weave like this something for which a second back beam is useful?

      Thanks!
      Karen

      • Susie says:

        Hi Karen,
        I have only experienced double weave on a table loom and it was fitted with a second beam – one for each layer. My own loom is a Glimakra Standard too and I’m heartened to see that you can achieve double weave with one back beam. I had thought that it would be out of the question.
        Many thanks,
        Susie

  • Rebecca Neef says:

    This is so beautiful and inspiring. What an adorable helper you have! I have a Glimakra Standard also, a 120cm model. Mine only came (used) with 8 shafts, although it has 12 treadles. Is yours a special model made for 12 shafts, or did you do anything special to accommodate the extra shafts? I’d sure love to be able to do some 12 shaft weaves on mine! Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rebecca, I was surprised that my little helper would sit there as long as she did. There was a lot to keep her attention, I guess.

      My loom (120cm) also came with 8 shafts. I wrote to Glimåkra USA and told them I wanted to upgrade to 12 shafts and they listed all the parts I would need to do that, and then I ordered the parts.

      I don’t expect that I’ll use 12 shafts very often, but it’s nice to have them for a few special projects.

      Happy weaving,
      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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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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