Ten shafts and ten treadles. Isn’t it fascinating how all those parts synchronize and work together to turn threads into cloth? It’s a mystery unless you’ve been in the weaver’s seat. Even then, it’s a wonder. Especially when you see linen threads turn into this amazing five-shaft satindräll!
There are three towels left on this warp, but I am weaving the remainder as one long piece. I will cut it into separate towels after it’s off the loom. Or, I might change my mind and leave it long as a table runner.
Mystery. The mystery of the ages is that Christ can dwell in us. Understand that? No, but I do understand a weaver sitting at the loom, managing the threads and throwing the shuttle to produce a specific fabric. What if I invite Jesus Christ to take control of everything being woven in my life? That is a mystery worth pursuing.
I have a grand idea for this new year! Put all three looms to work simultaneously to weave a coordinated set of textiles for the Texas hill country house. My Glimåkra Ideal loom and the little hand-built loom are bare and ready. Imagine the action! I’ll take you along as I wind warps, dress looms, and weave the harmonized threads. While I wait for ordered yarn, I am weaving the linen satindräll towels that remain on the Glimåkra Standard loom. Soon, this loom will be bare and ready, too.
Before embarking on a new year of weaving adventures, though, I want to fully stop and count my blessings. And YOU are one of those amazing blessings. Thank you from my heart for being friends who share in this journey with me.
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.
This is five-shaftsatin, notgoose-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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.