Startling Surprise at the Loom

A startling surprise greeted me when I sat down at the loom yesterday afternoon! The sun was shining through the window and sparkles of light were dancing on the loom. The surprise happened when some of the light made its way under the woven warp and shined up through the cloth, revealing a hidden pattern. Whoa! I discovered a secret passageway in an old majestic house…accidentally! That’s what it felt like.

Afternoon light at the loom. Linen 5-shaft satin towels.

Linen towel in five-shaft satin dräll. Sunlight dances on the woven and not-yet-woven warp.

Linen towels in 5-shaft satin dräll.

Block pattern on the towel changes, and is emphasized with the change of weft.

Light through the fabric reveals a hidden structure!

Light comes up through the fabric on the left side of the loom, revealing a hidden structure in the cloth.

This is five-shaft satin, not goose-eye twill. How fascinating to get a glimpse of the inner structure of the cloth. I didn’t expect it, but it does make sense that the treadling pattern is woven into the fabric. But you won’t see it unless light shines through just so.

The Lord knows us intimately. He knows what we do and why we do it. Where we go and what our plans and intentions are. He not only knows what we say, he knows the thoughts behind our words. God is not surprised. He knows it all. His light reveals our inner structure. May it be pleasing to Him.

May you be pleasantly surprised.

With you,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Alison says:

    Beautiful Karen. What a blessing.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Very cool! Now I’ll be shining light from the bottom of every weaving.

    Your work is so very beautiful, Karen.

    Lovely sentiment!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I know, right? The light from below makes me wonder what I could see on other projects.

      Your kind words mean so much to me.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    That is amazing! A reminder that cloth is not always as one dimensional as it may appear upon first glance and neither are any of God’s creations.
    Your comments about God knowing our inner thoughts, omnipotence, was often a frightening concept to me as a child, but it certainly helped me behave better! Now as an adult, it is more of a comfort, to know someone understands you completely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, So often there is more than meets the eye!

      I had similar misgivings as a child, thinking about God’s watchful eye. But now, it seems comforting and such an amazing thing to be known by the Creator of the universe.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
      Karen

  • Sara Jeanne says:

    Mother Nature is surely our inspiration!

  • Keleen says:

    Hi Karen! Remember when I had a senior moment on our walk this morning and forgot what I was about to say? Reading your thoughts, especially that his light reveals our inner structure, made me think of it. I was thinking of egg candling, when you hold an egg up to a light source to see what’s inside—hopefully a living and healthy embryo! That us another good analogy of how God’s light shows us our hearts. Sometimes we can see that an embryo has died there in the heart of the egg

    • Karen says:

      Hi Keleen, I am not very familiar with egg candling, but I have heard of it before. It’s interesting how a light source can show what’s inside! God’s light is certainly like that.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Teresa says:

    Wow, way cool! Thanks so much foe Sharing!

    T

    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa, It was mesmerizing to see that pattern in the fabric. I wanted to share it so others could see it, too. I’m delighted that you think it’s way cool like I do!

      All the best,
      Karen

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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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Make Magical Fabric

Another magical experience at the loom! Double weave lets you weave two separate layers of fabric simultaneously. And then, the top and bottom layers can switch places in defined blocks. I don’t know who thought this up, but they were brilliant!

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Cotton baby blanket for a dear friend’s first grandchild. This friend is amazed at the weaving process, and says that this woven fabric looks calming. Careful arrangement of the two shuttles ensures that the double-weave selvedges are woven closed.

The hard part was tying up the treadles. For a countermarch, working with eight shafts requires a more delicate balance under the loom. For a while, I was concerned that I might not get more than two decent sheds on this. But after several adjustments, I finally got a great shed with every treadle! Someone who looks at the final cloth will never know the effort that took place behind the scenes. But they may wonder at the amazement of handwoven cloth. Or not. (You’ve probably met someone who is not duly impressed with handwoven goods.)

Double weave baby blanket on the loom.

Long stripes in the middle of the baby blanket. I added dashed lines at the ends of the stripes for added detail interest.

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Beginning sample reaches the cloth beam. Sample area at the beginning of the warp was used to test weft colors and to practice getting the appropriate weft density.

What do we see as ordinary that, truth be known, is full of wonder? One person may interpret an unusual event as an amazing sign from God. Another person experiences the same event and considers it nothing more than happenstance. If I say I won’t believe until I see evidence, I will never find evidence that satisfies me …even if I come face-to-face with a miracle. Keep the wonder. When you see handwoven cloth, let the work of the Maker’s hands bring wonder and awe. And know there are significant hidden details that are beyond our grasp.

May your fabrics be magical.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Betty A Van Horn says:

    WOW – it is absolutely gorgeous – two ‘sea colors!’ I definitely want to be on the look out for His amazing provision.

    Blessings!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, These are enjoyable colors to work with!
      If we keep our eyes open to look for His provision, we will certainly see it in our lives.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Gorgeous weaving, as always! Each day we all see miracles right before our eyes. Our very lives are a miracle.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, It’s fascinating to think of the intricacies of how we are made. It’s not hard to see the Creator’s handiwork if we are looking for it.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    What a lovely gift to be weaving. So interesting to be working on a double weave blanket for my son and his wife at the same time you are doing the baby blanket. Gifting to special people is part of the joy of weaving.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I agree, it’s a joyful thing to give handwoven treasures to special people. That’s cool that you have double weave on your loom, too.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’m dressing my loom right now for dish towels in the same way, I’m excited to try it! I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Hugs,
    Liberty

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Breezy Easy Weaving

Let’s take M’s and O’s beyond the ordinary. Treadling variations bring out interesting patterns. And a little bit of color in the right places makes a unique border stripe. What other designs will emerge on the remaining towels, I wonder?

Treadling variations in M's and O's.

Treadling variations produce an interesting pattern in this M’s and O’s fabric.

M's and O's with inventive border pattern.

Border pattern uses one of my favorite techniques, the two-pick stripe, to draw a fine line. The center “ribbon” of the border pattern uses two shuttles to alternate the weft colors.

Some projects on the loom are complicated and tedious. This one isn’t. With primarily one shuttle and simple treadling, this is breezy easy weaving. The hard work was in the hours of preparation, dressing the loom. Threading and sleying 896 ends is no small achievement. But now, because of that work, it’s pure enjoyment to sit here and weave.

M's and O's on the loom.

Ready for the next M’s and O’s design.

Sister comes to visit and gets her first weaving lesson.

My sister came to visit, so, of course, she is persuaded to try her hand at weaving. Lookin’ good, Sis!

Forgiveness is hard work, too. It takes effort to put away bitterness and anger. But we must. It paves the way for unhindered kindness, which our world desperately needs. Forgiveness changes you. If you’ve been forgiven, you know that. A forgiven person becomes a forgiving person. And when we forgive, which is never easy, we are threading heddles and sleying the reed. Our efforts make way for the pure enjoyment of dispensing kindness. And we discover that the fabric of our life is being made into something beyond the ordinary.

May you be on the receiving end of forgiveness.

Love,
Karen

The Discovery Towels workshop in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, August 24-26, is filling up! If you’d like to join us, call Debbie (at the number below) right away. I would love to see you there!

Our weaving classes for May, June and July are filled ( but you can sign up on a waiting list!) and we still have a few…

Posted by Shoppes at Fleece 'N Flax on Wednesday, May 10, 2017

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