In my previous post I looked in detail at the tie-up: the part of the draft that brings shafts and treadles together. If you are weaving on a floor loom then you just need one more piece of information to complete your draft and that is the treadling.


draft in tie-up format

The treadling is written vertically and each column corresponds to one treadle, just as it does in the tie-up.The treadles are numbered from left to right, again reading outwards from the point where the draft elements meet.

treadling with treadles numbered

In most treadlings you will just see one square coloured in (or whatever symbol is used) on each row. If the symbol is in the first square, then you should depress treadle one; if it is in the second, treadle two; and so on.

Up or down?

The treadling is a part of the draft where conventions differ. Sometimes it is read from top to bottom; sometimes from bottom to top. How is a weaver to know which way to go?

In practice it may not matter which way you go: a twill diamond will be a twill diamond, whichever end you start. However, it pays to know what you are looking at. My experience is that books and magazines from North America typically expect you to read a treadling from top to bottom and will take this for granted. British books are more likely to expect you to read from bottom to top, but most contemporary publications will point this out in a technical introduction at the front. Always read that bit at the front! If you read Swedish books, you will see that they tend to write the threading along the bottom of the draft rather than the top: from there it makes sense to read the treadling upwards.

If you think about it for a minute, you’ll realise that when you weave you are actually weaving from bottom to top. That is, you are working away from your body, with each pick going into the cloth above the previous pick. So the Swedish way of writing a draft is really the most sensible: kudos to the Swedes.

Multi-pedal treadling

Occasionally you will see what is called a ‘multi-pedal’ treadling. This means that you need to depress two (and it is usually limited to two) treadles at the same time to make the required shed. With certain structures you can create flexible combinations of shafts by mixing and matching the treadles, and this enables you to get more out of your loom.

An example where this works well is double weave, because each layer is typically threaded on half of the available shafts. Each group of shafts can therefore be tied to a set of treadles which control that layer alone. The tie-up below shows how you might set up the treadles on a four shaft loom where shafts 1 & 2 have been threaded for layer one and shafts 3 & 4 have been threaded for layer two.

tie-up for four shaft double weave

In this tie-up, the three treadles on the left control shafts 1 & 2 while the three on the right control shafts 3 & 4. Essentially you are assigning one layer to each of your feet! Weaving the top layer only takes one foot, but weaving the bottom layer takes two: one foot to lift the top layer out of the way and one to make the shed in the bottom layer.

Here is the tie-up again with two different treadlings. The first treadling puts layer one on top; the second puts layer two on top. I have used blue for the left foot and yellow for the right foot.

tie-up and treadling for four shaft double weave

Use Tabby

There are a number of weave structures, such as monk’s belt and overshot, which are woven with two shuttles. You use one shuttle to weave a basic cloth in plain weave and the other to weave a pattern on it. When this kind of weave is recorded in a draft, it is usually only the pattern treadling which is written down. The plain weave will probably be included in the tie-up, as it is in the monk’s belt draft shown below. However, the only indication that you need to use plain weave is likely to be the words ‘use tabby’ written nearby. It is crucial to look out for this: if you try to weave the cloth using just the treadling, the chances are it won’t weave at all and it certainly won’t give you sound cloth.

monks belt draft with pattern treadling

But I don’t have a floor loom…

If you weave on a table loom, then all this talk of tying up and treadling can seem a bit strange. It simply doesn’t relate to the equipment you have in front of you. In my next post I will talk about the liftplan, and how we can convert tie-ups and treadlings into liftplans in order to weave them on table and dobby looms.


First posted on © Cally Booker