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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Tools Day: Loom Cart

Having a cart beside my loom is the next best thing to a loom-side assistant! A turquoise utility cart from IKEA sits beside my Glimåkra Ideal. An Elfa drawer system on casters is right beside the Glimåkra Standard, and keeps oft-used tools within arm’s reach.

The IKEA cart (Råskog Utility Cart) serves as a holding space for any project on the Ideal. Since this loom is not in the room where I keep my weaving supplies, it helps to have a rolling cart that holds items as needed. The three tiers hold tools and supplies for dressing the loom, like sley hook, extra Texsolv heddles, and treadle cords. While weaving, I keep extra shuttles and small tools on the top tier. All the weft thread or yarn for the project goes on the second or third tier. When I weave rag rugs, fabric strips that are sorted by design and/or color are piled up on the three tiers.

IKEA utility cart as loom-side assistant.

IKEA utility cart holds thread and wound quills while I try out weft colors on a new warp.

The Elfa cart enhances efficiency at the big loom. It houses frequently-used essentials, especially small tools and supplies needed to dress the loom. It is near my work table where I wind quills, so yarn for the current project goes in the deep bottom drawer. The woodblock top adds a nice touch that compliments the wood of my Swedish loom.

Elfa drawer system with casters for loom-side assistant.

Too many leftover quills from projects sit in the top drawer of the loom cart. Sley hooks, flat head pins, headlamp, pencils, tape, and other small tools and gadgets are in this top drawer.

Elfa drawer system as loom cart. Organized!

Second drawer has anchor pins and arrow pegs for Texsolv cord, box of choke ties, box of long treadle cords, box of short treadle cords. I found the little boxes at IKEA.

Loom room organization. Guide strings wrapped on empty tubes.

Guide strings for measuring warp are wrapped on empty thread tubes. This drawer also holds rolls of twill ribbon used for measuring weaving length at the loom.

Organization at the loom. Elfa cart solution.

Yarn in the bottom drawer is only a half step away from the winding station. All the cotton and wool weft for the current project is in this drawer, making it easy to grab what I need for winding more quills.

May your loom-side assistant serve you well.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Sara Jeanne says:

    Karen, you, my friend, are very organized…something I strive for. I especially like your method for keeping your guide strings orderly. I have a bag of empty tubes, so you’ll find me sorting my guide strings this week! Hah!
    Any plans for a Vavstuga trip this year?
    Sara Jeanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sara Jeanne, It’s great to hear from you! I’m glad you like the guide string idea. Necessity is the mother of invention. I was getting tired of untangling my guide strings when I wanted to wind a warp. 🙂
      Vavstuga this year? I haven’t ruled it out; I’m always looking at the list of classes and dreaming about what to do next. The hard part is fitting it in.

      Karen

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    Loving both carts, and how organized they are! That monks belt on your loom is terrific!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, I like to try to be organized, even though I don’t “feel” like an organized person most of the time.
      I’m glad you like the monksbelt. I am having a blast weaving it! It seems like “this” is what weaving looms are for. 🙂

      Karen

  • Cindie says:

    I have a couple of those tall 6 drawer plastic rolling carts next to my looms but I’ve often admired that IKEA cart while at the store but never came home with it because of lack of space…….I never thought of next to the loom, it will be great for the loom at the beach cottage!

    • Karen says:

      Cindie, I admired the IKEA cart at the store, too. I had to come home and figure out how I *needed* to have one. It didn’t take me long. Now I don’t know what I would do without it beside my loom! It’s not only attractive, it’s functional! Yay!!

      Happy beach cottage weaving! (sounds wonderful)
      Karen

  • linda says:

    WOOH. I’m really not organized. No guide strings here, just a trusty tape measure used for all projects. A castle at the top of my Macomber has a tray for the tools, an open bin on my rocking bench holds shuttles, and a basket on a table next to the loom holds the quills. Real simple here.no fuss no muss. Looms in two states always ready to go, I do have two secrets: scissors are tied to the loom and I have a hand woven pin cushion attached to the castle always in reach with pins and needles. My weaving work space is shared with sewing machines, knitting needles and yarn, quilting supplies laundry and my husbands desk.

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Quiet Friday: Checkered Rug

I have another rag rug warp on my Baby loom (Glimåkra 100cm Ideal), playing with the magic of double binding again, this time with four shafts and four treadles. Ten yards / nine meters of warp. I planned an additional twelve inches / 30.5cm between rugs for cutting off and tying back on, so I can cut each rug off as it is finished. Here is the first rug.

Winding warp for another rag rug.

Small warping reel is used to measure the ten yards / nine meters of 12/6 cotton rug warp.

Beaming the warp under tension, using warping trapeze and weights.

Warp chains are undone and lengthened out over the warping trapeze. Several pounds of walking weights hold the bouts under constant even tension for beaming the warp.

Tying on.

All tied on. Ready to weave.

Designing a rag rug.

Design concept is created; and fabric colors are chosen.

Double binding rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Progress.

Using a temple for weaving rag rugs.

Temple is always in place when I am weaving a rug. I fitted two different temple parts together to get this warp width. Notice the lengthwise gaps between the temple parts…but not a problem.

Rag rug on the loom. Nearing completion.

Around the breast beam, and over the knee beam, to wrap around the cloth beam. Warping slats are placed between the cloth beam and the rug the first time around to make a smooth surface for the woven rug-cloth.

Rag rug on the loom. Woven hem.

Hem is completed with 12 picks of rug warp. Three inches of scrap fabric header comes next, and then the rug is ready to be cut from the loom.

Hand-hemming rag rug.

Warp ends have been knotted and trimmed; and hem folded under and pressed. Now, hemming with a needle and rug warp, the last step is almost complete. The only thing left is to sew on my label.

Checkered rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Notice the subtle changes in color and depth of color where the warp colors change–purposely not aligned with the block changes.

Home sweet home. That's what rag rugs are for.

Home sweet home. A patterned rag rug makes a house feel like home.

May you finish what you started.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Hi Karen. A beautiful rug! Do you have a suggestion for a good source for rag rug patterns and drafts? I really like your designs. Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Most of my favorite books with rag rug patterns and drafts are not in English. But weaving drafts work in any language, and the pictures can inspire many different ideas.
      Here are some of the rag rug books that I refer to often for design ideas:
      Alla Tidors Trasmattor
      Älskade Trasmattor
      Trasor och Tekniker: 35 nya mattor (I did find this one in English from a used book seller – pricey$$$ – Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs)

      I’m always on the lookout for Swedish weaving books, which sometimes have rag rug drafts in them.
      The books I mentioned happen to be carried by Vavstuga.com. (Not affiliated; just offering a source.)

      The Big Book of Weaving and Happy Weaving also have one or two good rag rug drafts for starters.

      Hope that helps!
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Ooh, pretty! It looks like blue skies and fresh green meadow grass, absolutely lovely.

  • linda says:

    note: any pattern can be used for a rag rug even colonial overshot, summer winter, ….as long as the floats are not too long. just plan on using a plain weave between shots of pattern and make the floats over 2 or 3 warp threads. Of course this means you’ll need a 4 harness loom if your using a floor loom. another note: If you weight the beater bar with a metal rod screwed to the beater bar not as much muscle is needed to beat the weft into place. So get out that draft paper and design. linda

  • linda says:

    I love this sight it keeps me on my toes. I couldn’t remember what bouble binding was; I know it as double weave. The double binding moniker must be Swedish…Beckey again. The last three fridays when I’ve been by the studio/school it’s been closed. when i do see her I’ll say hi for you. Love Peace and Joy (LPJ), linda

  • […] the way, the first rug from this warp (Quiet Friday: Checkered Rug) is now in my […]

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