Reading a Tie-up

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

draft in tie-up format

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…

tie-up in detail

…we can slice it up into rows to see how it relates to the shafts.

tie-up showing shafts

Columns are treadles

However, if we slice it up the other way – dividing it into columns – we are now looking at treadles.

tie-up showing 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.

draft format tie-up and treadling showing direction of reading

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.

tie-up showing shaft tied to 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:

tie-up rearranged

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 © Cally Booker


2 Responses

  • Hello Cally, Having been used to a table loom and not having to worry about tie ups and treading, I’m finding it very difficult to get my head round how to tie the treadles up for different weave structures. I have a new Louet Delta loom and although have managed tying up for plain weave on 4 shafts, I’ve got a new sample warp to go on 8 of the 12 shafts I have on the Delta. Any suggestions how to tie up the treadles so that I can weave a variety of twills – 2/2 3/1 1/3 etc etc. on this warp. It sounds as if your next post may be helpful. I would like to be able to ‘walk the treadles’. Thank you

    • Hi Mary, and congratulations on your new Delta! It is a lovely loom and will give you lots of weaving potential, especially with the 12-shaft option. I am assuming, then, that you have all 14 treadles? This is a great advantage, even when you are using only 8 of the shafts.

      The thing you need to account for when planning tie-ups for the Delta is its countermarche action. This means that when you tie up your shafts you need to tie up both the shafts you are going to raise and the shafts you are going to lower. For twills in particular, this is not the most economical set-up, so you need to think ahead to what you want to weave. You mention 3/1, 2/2 etc so are you planning to weave two blocks of 4-shaft twill or are you thinking of threading a continuous twill across all 8 shafts? These require slightly different approaches, and probably at least one whole blog post to explain – I will get onto it! In the meantime, though, you might find this post I wrote for Craftsy useful: it is about shaded twills and includes a couple of two-blocks-on-8-shafts options which might interest you.

      One more thought for this brief reply: I find that walking the treadles becomes very complex once you get to eight or more shaft combinations, because there are so many ways to vary the treadling for different patterns. When I have tried to be smart about it, I have ended up getting lost. We are all different in this respect, but I’d recommend trying a straightforward tie-up first (reading from left to right or from right to left as you prefer) and see how you get on.


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