The tie-up is an essential piece of information when you are weaving on a floor loom with treadles. Your threading is organised by shaft, as we have seen, but on a treadle loom the weaving process is conducted by pressing down the treadles. There is a need, then, to connect these two parts of the loom together, and this is achieved by the tie-up.
The precise mechanics of the tie-up vary from loom to loom, so I won’t go into those here. The principle is always the same: to attach the shafts to the treadles so that you can lift them in the combinations required by the pattern you are weaving.
The tie-up on the page
The tie-up sits in the corner of the draft, between the threading and the treadling. We have already established that the rows of the threading represent the shafts. So do the rows of the tie-up: they correspond exactly to the rows of the threading.
Rows are shafts
Looking more closely at the tie-up shown here…
…we can slice it up into rows to see how it relates to the shafts.
Columns are treadles
However, if we slice it up the other way – dividing it into columns – we are now looking at treadles.
While the threading is normally read from right to left, the tie-up is normally read from left to right. It may help to think of it this way: you are always reading outwards from the meeting point at the centre of the draft.
Putting it together
When we put both views of the tie-up together, we can see that it tells us which shaft to tie to which treadle.
Adapting the tie-up
There are a couple of ways in which weavers often vary the tie-up to suit their looms and their weaving process.
First, there is the order of the treadles. I have said above that we read the tie-up from left to right and I have numbered the treadles 1, 2, 3, 4 in that direction. However, depending on the sequence you are going to weave – and that will be the topic of my next post! – you may find it more comfortable to work with the treadles in a different order.
For example, if your pattern calls for you to treadle 1, 2, 3, 4 that would typically mean using your left foot twice (to treadle 1, 2) and your right foot twice (to treadle 3, 4). You might prefer to treadle left-right-left-right, in which case it would make sense to swap treadles 2 and 3 and write the tie-up like this instead:
I’m sure you can think of other options too. This is about finding what suits you as a weaver and it may take time to establish the rhythms that you are most comfortable with. What works like a dream for one person may not be right for another, so try different configurations and listen to your body as you weave with them.
Another kind of adaption is needed when you want to weave a pattern that needs more treadles than you have on your loom. This is quite a complex topic and really needs a post of its own. Fortunately, Robyn Spady has already written one! She also mentions an online facility, Tim’s Rudimentary Treadle Reducer, which can help you to find a tie-up that will work for your loom. Sometimes, though, however much we wish for it, it simply isn’t possible to adapt a draft in this way and it is necessary to rethink the design to work with the tools you have. One of the things I love about weavers is how they exercise their ingenuity to get the most out of their looms!
First posted on weavingspace.co.uk © Cally Booker