Thursday, May 21, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

This current silk warp is the best warp I have ever put on. It has been giving me the cleanest sheds I have ever had with 60/2 silk. Only one treadle has been a bit of a problem. A thread or two near the left side sometimes gets hung up; so I try to remember always to stick my hand in that shed.

That shed is also a bit of a problem because the lower half the the warp does not lie flat on the shuttle race. Even loosening the treadle cord a notch doesn’t really help. All that does is make a shed that is really too narrow to weave with. Since the warp is narrow, the fact that the bottom shed does not lie perfectly flat has not been an issue. I am not shooting the shuttle across the race. It’s more akin to passing it from hand to hand.

I was contemplating all of this as I was weaving, when the phrase “floating shafts” entered my head. I checked. On the problem treadle, shafts 1 and 2, the down shafts, float. I checked the other sheds and the shafts that are supposed to be down float there as well, though not to the extent shafts 1 and 2 float when shafts 3 and 4 are up. In fact, if I push the shafts down with my hand, they come right back up! On the other sheds, the shafts stay down when I push them down.

I checked the weaving lists and found possible solutions.

1. Buy a countermarch loom. Well, yes. The shafts that are supposed to go down (and stay down) have no choice in the matter because they are tied up to do that. Jack looms, however, rely on gravity, not on a pulling action. Am I kicking myself for not having bought one because of the difficulty of tying up? Well, yes…….

2. Weave with less tension. Tried it. No matter how loose the tension, the shafts still float.

2. Add weights. Some time ago, when I had been dealing with floating shafts, I had bought some thin steel bars at Home Depot. I never used them. So I got them out and tried to tie them on to the bottom of the shafts. They would not stay tied on. I couldn’t figure out what was happening. The knot was still there, and the loop didn’t appear to be cut, but somehow, the cord was not holding them. So I put the bars away.

3. Push the shafts down with your hand. The weaver who suggested this says it is very easy to incorporate that action into the rhythm of the weaving. I have been doing that on the other treadles and I agree. But this is quite useless on a treadling where the pushed shafts refuse to stay down!

4. Spread the threading over more shafts. The heddles and the threads are so close together that their “stickiness” is keeping the down shafts from going all the way down. I’m pretty sure this “stickiness” has to be the problem as I never have shaft issues weaving anything from 4-30 epi. Threading this particular warp in this way, of course, I cannot do since the loom is already threaded. No, I am not going to cut off and start again. But I will definitely keep this threading technique in mind for the next warp.

Related Post: Jack and Countermarch Looms

“Floating Shafts” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on May 21, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina


ClaudiaJane said...

Peg, I learn so much from your blog. Thank you. Keep up the good work, we are reading. I am hoping to put a 60/2 silk warp on soon, like after June 8 :) and you are my inspiration.

Dorothy said...

A countermarche loom wouldn't be a miracle cure - different looms have different problems, I don't think any is 100 percent all the time. The skill is learning the behaviour of your loom and how to use it best. Unless you have enough studio space for many looms!

How about a low profile shuttle, sometimes sold as a damask shuttle? Leclerc make one, so does Glimakra, and I think Toika too.

Peg in South Carolina said...

ClaudiaJane, thank you for your comment. I must confess sometimes it seems no one reads the blog, and then, whoops, lots of comments.
Dorothy, no it wouldn't be a miracle cure for all weaving problems. Except it would be for this particular issue. CM looms are much better for weaving with fine threads at high epi's and high tensions than jack looms. My first loom was a counterbalance and in many ways I missesd it the minute I started weaving on my first jack loom! It did have a shed regulator, so I could weave 1 against 3 (the main and only problem with CB looms in general). But CB looms are very simple looms compared either to jack or CM looms. But there are definite skills to learn in tying up CM looms as I have learned from your wonderful posts!

Kathie said...

Peg, I just came upon this blog and have signed up to follow it - as a novice weaver with a jack loom I can see that your writings will be invaluable and, stealing from ClaudiaJane's comment, inspirational. :) Thanks for taking the time to write this blog!

Holly said...

Peg, how about tying fishing weights on the shafts?

I read all your posts -- you are a goldmine of info! It's better than taking a class.

Leigh said...

I vote for number one. *lol

Peg, you are one prolific writer! I haven't been able to do much blogging for awhile and you have written 17 posts during that (what I thought was a ) fairly short time! Not sure if I'll actually get caught up by reading them all, but then your blog is also an excellent research resource.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Welcome to my blog, Kathie! Thank you for letting me know you are here.
Holly, I've looked at the possibility of fishing weights for weighting supplementary warps and discarded them because it would take an awful lot. I think the same thing is true for weighting the shafts. Things are really going amazingly well on this warp---it is quite frankly, a beautiful warp (technically speaking!). I really think the expanding to more shafts will be the ticket. Want to try it in the software first to make sure I know what I'm doing!

Peg in South Carolina said...

Leigh, thank you. But I must confess------I do like to write....... (you'd never have guessed......grin!)