Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

My first floor loom was a counter balance loom by LeClerc. I had gone to a lot of effort trying to decide between a jack and a counter balance. I asked questions of the weaving list. I read books. I was finely persuaded to buy the counter balance. JoAnne Hall thought that would be a good purchase. And Rachel Brown, who was my first weaving heroine, wrote in her book The Weaving,Spinning and Dyeing Book, that every weaving workshop ought to have a counter balance loom as one of its looms because it wove 4-shaft drafts so easily and quickly.

My first loom So here is the loom I purchased: a LeClerc Nilus II CB with a shed regulator. CB looms weave easily drafts which balance two shafts up against two shafts down. But weaving with one shaft up and three down, or the reverse, is sometimes difficult to do this on a CB loom. The shed regulator solves the problem. The shed regulator is that piece of equipment sitting on top of the loom. It is attached to the side beams with those slightly triangular pieces of wood on either side. To this is attached that top rod with a cord mechanism which you can adjust one way if you want to treadle one shaft up and three down. And you can adjust it the other way so that you can treadle one shaft down and three up. For a better view of it, go to this page and this page on the Leclerc web site.

When I purchased this loom, I thought that a 4-shafts loom would meet all my weaving wants/desires for the rest of my life. No so. After weaving on the loom for three years, I started investigated 8-shaft jack looms and 8-shaft countermarch looms. I thought carefully about a countermarch loom. A CM loom has the advantages of a CB loom insofar as shafts are pulled down (as well as raised up). This pulling down creates a big shed and a clean shed. I really wanted that. What I didn't want to have to do is to wrestle with CM tie-ups! They seemed to be a pain in the you-know-what!

Well, tying up treadles in general is no picnic. However, despite my being a woman of uncertain age, I am still quite agile. But I do not know how much longer I can fight off the inevitabilities of ageing. So I was very tempted by the LeClerc Nilus II jack with rear-hinged treadled. This loom seemed to have some of the advantages of a CM loom insofar as it had rear-hinged treadles, it had springs attached at the back to the treadles which could be adjusted, and it had some additional ability to manipulate the treadle cords. So I purchased it.

Alas, I could not keep my CB loom. Space and finances. So I sold it.

I very much like this loom, but I still have occasion to wish it were a CM. Whenever I discover a warp yarn that just plain stayed up instead of going down, I wish it were a CM loom. Side mirrors don't help here because the error is not visible.

On the other hand, I realize that the problems I am having with this current warp about clearing sheds might not be solved with a CM loom. The sheds are perfectly clear up at the shuttle race. Where they are not always clear is down at the fell. Since this happens primarily with only one shed on one threading block and secondarily with one other shed on a different threading block, the problem seems to be with the threading/tie-up. And by the time I have finished treadling the set of treadles, all the warp ends are equally taut.

I am also beginning to play more with those springs at the back, specifically with the springs that operate on the treadles treadles viewed from rear where the problem is. In the photo you can see a spring attached to each treadle with a Texsolv loop cord. The loop cord allows you to adjust how tight you want the spring to be. I have tried tightening up those springs a bit, and that may be helping. I may try tightening them up once more.

But the loosening threads at the fell does create a problem with the laying in of the weft. The weft will not always lay in correctly and can bunch and cause little loops, both at the selvedges and in the areas where the warp threads are a little loose. That is why I hand clear.

As I come to understand this, I am feel less in need of a CM loom.

Some posts on countermarch looms from other blogs:

Comparing Looms: Jack & Countermarche From Leigh's Fiber Journal
Some Countermarch Nitty-gritty: Size, Sheds and Texsolv From The Straight of the Goods
Treadle Tieup and Threading From Dot's Fiber to Fabric

Related Posts:
Ergonomics at the Loom
Never Touch the Selvedges

"Jack and Countermarch Looms" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on September 3, 2008. © 2008 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina


Susan said...

Hi Peg,
I'm a huge fan of countermarche looms and find the ease of treadling is wonderful for my arthritic joints (I have systemic OA and hip replacement) The tie up is problematic for people with joint issues, carrying extra weight or even normal sized! My CM is made by Woolhouse Tools (WHT) and their owner developed a tie-up assist (called the 20+ as it gives you 20 + more years of weaving!) which we bought and added to my loom. I sit at the back and simply pull cords to do a tie up. (See Jan.08 entries at my blog to see it as I was etting it up on my loom then after moving house)It can be modified to fit other Scandinavian type looms such as Glimakra and Toika's. I know of a few home made versions now and recently sent pictures and instructions to a weaver in Canberra, Australia. Her husband is going to study everything and build her a version. You can have a 'handy man' build the wood parts and then all you need is the clips and cords from Texsolv.

The next issue of Handwoven will be featuring new gadgets and gizmos for weaving and I have submitted this concept to Madelyn van der Hoogt to consider (she has a WHT loom like mine. Mine is #61 and hers is #62) We will be discussing it after I get back from my vacation. This entire issue of modifying looms (of any manufacture) to suit an aging weaving population is a topic who's time has come.

:) Susan

Peg in South Carolina said...

Susan, yes I remember your blog post. I feel that making CM looms more user friendly for those of us getting on in years (and maybe for the youngsters as well) could have a big impact.

Dorothy said...

I read this with great interest. I must confess to have been spending a lot of time looking at other looms recently, just to see if my loom is the one I really want or should I start saving up towards a new purchase.

Having fallen first for the charms of one, then another, I get back to the one I've got and realise it's a very nice loom and just wants a few inexpensive modifications - like one of those tie-up arrangements Susan just mentioned.

But there are so many nice looms and I would like to play with them, probably just a warp or so then get back to my first love!

Peg in South Carolina said...

Dorothy, it's called loom envy and is a frequent affliction among weavers. Periodically I too will check out other looms; but for me it is really just window-shopping.

Cherri said...

I'm about to discover the joys and frustrations of a countermarche loom.
After 20 years of 18 years of weaving, I'm finally the owner of my first countermarche loom. It's also home-made and 8' long, so I might need cheering up from time to time.
I'll view your beautiful work to draw inspiration, OK?

Peg in South Carolina said...

Cherri, enjoy your countermarch loom. You know you have ready help on it from some other bloggers here.