Tried and True: Threading Eight Shafts

Threading four shafts is straightforward because the heddles fit perfectly between four fingers and a thumb. Threading eight shafts is tricky because we don’t have that many fingers! Thankfully, threading eight shafts can be as straightforward as threading four shafts. I like to think of it as four shafts in the back, and four shafts in the front.

For a review of threading four shafts, watch the short video in this post: You Can Prevent Threading Errors.

Threading Eight Shafts – Straight Draw

  • Set a small group of heddles apart on each shaft to prepare for threading the next group of ends.
  • Pick up the next threading group of ends and bring it to the front, on the left side of the separated heddles.
  • Lace the threading group of ends under, over, under, over the fingers of your left hand, palm up.
Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Left hand becomes tensioning device for threading the heddles. I like to put my index finger in between the two parts of the cross, as separated by the lease sticks.

  • Wrap left hand index finger around the group of heddles on shaft one (the shaft nearest the back of the loom), the middle finger around heddles on shaft two, the ring finger around heddles on shaft three, the pinky around heddles on shaft four, and bring the thumb around to hold it all loosely together.
Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Each warp end is taken in order from between the lease sticks, and then threaded through the heddles in order.

  • Thread the first four heddles—1, 2, 3, 4.
  • With the right hand, hold the group of warp ends taut, and open the fingers of the left hand to release the heddles.
  • Keeping the group of warp ends loosely laced around the fingers, slide the left hand toward you to thread the next four heddles—5, 6, 7, 8. Position your fingers around the heddles on each shaft, as you did for the first four shafts.
Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Left hand slides toward the front of the loom to thread the next four heddles. It helps to hold the warp ends taut with the right hand while the left hand is repositioned.

  • After threading the second set of heddles, follow the same procedure as before and slide the left hand back again to thread 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • Continue sliding the left hand forward and back, until the threading is completed for that group of ends.
  • Check the threading group for accuracy, and then tie the group of ends together in a loose slip knot.
Threading eight shafts.

Always check for accuracy before moving on to the next threading group.

Complete the threading across the warp. And then, step back and admire the beauty of a beamed and threaded loom.

Glimakra Standard. Threading the loom.

Shafts are raised high for good access and visibility for threading, and for checking for accuracy.

Threading is complete. 8-shafts undulating twill.

Threading is complete. Cotton throw. 8/2 cotton, undulating (wavy) twill on eight shafts.

May you find efficient methods for the work of your hands.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Cynthia says:

    Love those colors, can’t wait to see finished

  • Good morning Karen,

    I really appreciate it when you post photos of your weaving space. It answers many unspoken questions about how to design a work area.

    The space has a tile floor with a rug placed immediately under the loom.

    There are no electronics to be seen.

    The floor is clean of lint.

    Plenty of natural light, with a view.

    Thank you.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, All of that is correct, except there is no rug under the loom. The loom sits on a square patch of wood floor. The original owners of this house designed that spot specifically for their baby grand piano. Since I don’t have a baby grand, a Glimåkra Standard seems the next best thing.

      After having carpet under my looms, it’s really nice to have a smooth floor under them now. It’s much easier to collect all those dust bunnies that hold meetings under there.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen!
    I am going to print and keep the information on the post since I have plans to order and 12 shaft Louet Delta after Christmas. I haven’t even threaded more than 4 shaft so this post is much needed!
    Thank you so much for sharing yourself with the weaving world. I have learned a great deal from you.
    May your hands always be busy weaving.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m excited for you! You’ll find that there are several ways to do just about everything. It’s good that you are collecting information that you can use for reference later.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Jean Flores says:

    Exactly how I do it! I just posted a video of me threading last week on Instagram. lol.

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Thousands of Threads

Finally! Every warp end is in a heddle, where it needs to be for double-weave cloth to happen. I don’t mind the time it takes. The process of dressing the loom is fascinating. And I hope I will always see it that way. I’m thankful that I get to weave.

Threading complete! 2,064 ends for a double weave throw.

Threading complete! 2,064 ends in that many heddles, at about 3 ends per minute. But who’s counting?

And now, onward to sleying the reed!

Sleying the reed. 4 ends per dent.

Reed is sleyed at 4 ends per dent in a 50/10 metric reed (equivalent to a 12-dent reed, imperial), at about 12 ends per minute, which feels pretty fast at the moment.

Thanks. It’s something we give. Heartfelt thanks is a ready gift that costs us nothing to give. Gratitude leads us to see blessings in the ordinary, and opportunities in the routines of life. When we abound in giving thanks, letting it spring up from a satisfied soul, we bring life to our family and our community. An abundance of thanks to God lifts our eyes to a view from above. It’s there that we see all those threads, thousands of them, working together to become a glorious cloth for our good. That’s reason to give thanks.

Thankful for friends like you,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Love your gratitude for the preparation to weave! The ability to weave does require careful preparation and each step needs attention to arrive where we want and need to be. Likewise…God’s work in our hearts brings us to where He wants us to be! 🙂

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Heddle Shortage

I am well into threading when I realize I neglected to take into account how many heddles I need for this project! I don’t have 2,064 even if I grab all of the heddles from the other loom. This double weave throw project is at a dead end until more heddles appear. I hurriedly place an order for more heddles…

Threading heddles for double weave.

This Glimåkra Standard is one of three looms that share my supply of Texsolv heddles.

Thankfully, the new heddles arrive quickly and the project is alive again.

This is what 1,000 Texsolv heddles looks like!

This is what 1,000 Texsolv heddles looks like! I didn’t want to run out again any time soon.

New Texsolv heddles - 1,000 of them!

Heddles come in bundles of 100, held together with twist ties. WARNING: DO NOT undo the twist ties before you put the heddles on the shaft bars. You’ll be sorry…

Clipping loops on new Texsolv heddles.

Before putting the heddles on the shaft bars, and while they are still tied into bundles, clip the loops at each end.

Clipping Texsolv heddle loops.

I clip the loops on both ends of the heddles. It is easy to move heddles wherever you want if the loops are cut, including repositioning individual heddles. (It is far easier to clip the loops while the heddles are still tied together.)

New heddles on the shaft bars.

There are 100 new heddles on each shaft. The heddles that are not used will be tied up and put away in my heddle box, ready for the next time I need more heddles.

Alive. This is the Easter season when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died, and was made alive again! What makes it even more fantastic is what that means for us. We all have a goodness shortage. And without a source of true goodness, our lifetime self-improvement project is at a dead end. Yet, through faith in the powerful working of God, we are raised with Christ. We are made alive together with him. His true goodness becomes our living source.

New bundles of Texsolv heddles stand ready to be used!

Threading progresses. New bundles of heddles stand ready to be used!

May you be supplied with more than enough.

Happy Easter,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Ugh! I can’t wait to see this once you start weaving.

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh!! The hideous heddle shortage. Been there. Good tip not to undo the twist on heddles. Loose heddles have been known to cause insanity. lol

  • Karen Simpson says:

    Easter Blessings to you and your family throughout the year!

  • Shari says:

    You are amazing! You are so generous to share with us! Your words and photographs are so helpful! As inconvenient and frustrating we can feel from making mistakes it is the way we learn for next time! Happy Easter! We have our Sedar tonight.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shari, I’m always delighted to find out that others are interested in the things I get to share. I feel very fortunate to have people like you to connect with!

      Thank you! And your Sedar will be rich with meaning. Blessings on your special time.

      Love,
      Karen

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Halfway Milestone

Halfway is a milestone when you are threading 2,064 ends. This double weave in two blocks has threading such that I can listen to podcasts without losing my place. It’s a long stretch to the halfway point.

Threading heddles, from right to left.

Threading heddles, going from right to left.

Before threading, I find the center of the warp and the group of ends that are just past center. I drape those ends on the back beam to mark the spot.

Threading 2064 ends. Halfway point is identified.

Center of the warp is identified. The ends just left of center mark the spot.

Threading heddles in my "playhouse" in the loom.

Sitting in my playhouse to thread the heddles. No hurry.

I’m excited to reach halfway in the threading! It’s a turning point. Now, while they are readily accessible, I position all of the shaft-to-lamm cords to hang down, right at the center of the warp where they belong.

Halfway finished threading heddles! Only 1,032 to go. :)

Half of the threading work is done! Only 1,032 ends to go. 🙂

Cords aligned at the center of the warp.

Center of the warp. Good time to align the cords that go from the lower shaft bars to the upper lamms.

Threading heddles for double weave on a Glimakra Standard loom.

Threading for the double weave throw continues, a few minutes here, an hour there, until all the ends are in heddles.

Have you ever reached a turning point in life, and knew it was time to position things? We try to be good and loving. But we’re never as good as we think. And we end up loving only the people we want to love. We have been separated from God. Our misdeeds push us away from him. Easter is resurrection, but before that is the cross of Christ. God so loved us that he closed the separation between us and him with the cross. That’s the turning point he offers to us, to set things right. Our part is to believe.

May you look forward to the second half.

With you,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful threads, skill to manage them….all from God. He IS the Master Weaver! Thanks for the connection to the Easter message; loved the words, “God so loved us that He closed the separation between us and Him with the cross.” Happy Easter! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Joyce,
      Letting the Master Weaver have his way in our lives is the best way to celebrate Easter.

      Happy Easter to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Pretty, rich colors. It’s going to be beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I’m hoping these colors will fit the bill for my daughter-in-law’s request for vibrant colors. I’m looking forward to seeing the woven effect!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Maggie says:

    Thank you,Karen, for this Holy Week reminder and have fun with the last half threading.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, So much to be thankful for in this Holy Week! I’m looking forward to the relaxing time of completing this threading.

      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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