Complex Weavings for 4-shaft Looms Introductions

Let's all get to know each other.  Tell a little about yourself, your looms, your favs, and your expectations.  Lets get the fun started.




Posted on Tue, 09/08/2009 - 23:30

I'm Traci, a part of Silver Wheel Yarn is a weaving studio in downtown Lexington, KY specializing in hand woven heirloom quality textiles, spinning, knitting  and education in these crafts.  I work off an antique 1920's Berea Hilltopers Guild Loom with 4-shafts.  The other half of SWY is my husband and fellow weaver who has this strange ability to produce crazy complicated loom patterns all designed for a 4-shaft loom.  We will be leading the first weave-along when the system gets up and running.  I look forward to meeting everyone and working with you soon. 

Posted on Wed, 09/09/2009 - 11:56

Hi Traci,

   I'm Janet.  I've been weaving on an unknown brand, four counter balance loom.  I took two terrific workshops from Robyn Spady in the last year on the subject of weaving complex weaves on four shaft looms.  Her workshops are titled "Fab Four", and "Extreme Warp Makeover".  I have learned a lot, and will be applying those lessons in my weaving. 

I'm currently struggling with warping a 30" 20 epi, in 10/2 cotton.  I've threaded huck lace, and will try some of the weave structures we learned in "EWM", as soon as I get this warp under control.


Posted on Wed, 09/09/2009 - 20:32

I understand, mines a counterbalance.  I like to say there like mules; hard workers when you get them going, but doing so is where the "temperamental" comes out.  I don't know what you exact problem is, but I find on wide warps putting sticks in your sheds up by your back beam helps with tension problems while you getting it wound.  Let me know if I can help you some how. 

Posted on Wed, 09/09/2009 - 21:37

Thanks Traci, but The problem is complex.  I am an infrequent weaver, trying to reform, but I forgot my warping lesson.  I have everything threaded at the moment, but on the front beam.  I'm trying to wind onto the back beam now, but breaking threads.  I am not giving myself enough time to work on it.  Eventually I'll get it.  I will take a lesson on warping when the loom is empty again. I've had three friends help me on this warp, so far.  May still need physical help.  I sure hope I don't have to cut it off and start all over.  We'll see.

Posted on Sat, 09/12/2009 - 12:54

Hi, I have a 4 shaft Schact standard floor loom. I'm always looking for different ( complex) 4 shaft weaves. Long treadling patterns no longer worry me - I use number beads ( learned from Robyn Spady) to keep track of complicated treadlings - they can be used for threading also!


Posted on Sat, 09/12/2009 - 14:24

Hi Trish,

   Don't you just love Robyn's teaching style.  She is very knowledgeable, and a terrific presenter.  Her workshops have given me a real boost.  I think I can become a real weaver now.


Posted on Mon, 09/14/2009 - 00:12

LOL, I followed her around at CNCH like a lost puppy.  I went to all of her seminars, and then took her three day version of Fab Four.  Then I talked our guild into bringing her to Eureka where we got to take her three day workshop "Extreme Warp Makeover".  She threw in an evening seminar on Inkle weaving in the Twenty First Century.  Robyn Spady fan here.


Posted on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 01:47

What are you using for warp? Some warps cannot stand winding on through both reed & heddles. You may have to sacrifice the threading; re-capture the cross. I would spread the warp in a raddle & gently wind on using leash sticks.

I've always recomended that new/infrequent weavers put on short warps - the more you set a loom up, the easier it goes. There are times I've wished for a shorter warp; several "sacrificed" warps are taking up space in my studio.

Posted on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 01:58

I have two looms currently limited to 4 harnesses. My oldest loom, the first, is a 36" Fanny by LeClerc. This is a counterbalanced loom, very sturdy. Just now its threaded 4 color log cabin in a course rug wool. Fulling will reduce this about a third -  with a lovely soft hand. This will make a nice sized blanket I hope.

My 2nd 4H is an older loom, most recent loom purchase. The Dix Ohio Co loom is a direct tie up jack type mechanism. The treadles are low wide  & flat to make it easier for the foot to slide along. I'm getting a chenille scarf warp on here, could weave twill. The complexity comes with the color changes & stripe pattern.

Posted on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 10:12

I'm afraid you may be right.  It is unmercerized cotton.  I keep walking away when all is going wrong, so it is taking me a while to get to the point where I can make that decision.  I'm too busy to deal with the mess, but haven't committed to sacrificing the work done so far.  I have three fairs in the next three weekends, so it doesn't look like I have time now to decide which way to go.  I think I'll have to move over to one of my band looms for some stress free weaving.

Thanks for the advice.

Posted on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 23:59

There is such a thing known as a dog on a loom. I had one that stuck more than a year. However, unmercerized cotton is fairly sturdy; it can take a fair amount of abuse.

Posted on Sun, 09/27/2009 - 17:45

Hi, I'm Anne from the soon-to-be very cold north.  I used to do a lot more with complex weaves - lace, summer and winter, shadow weave, but for the past few years I've been mostly making rugs and tea towels - mainly to sell.  So it would be nice to start something a bit more challenging.  We have just moved to a new house, so my loom is in many pieces and it always seems to be the last thing that gets put back together.


Posted on Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:00

Hi, I'm Laurie from MA.  I am interested in complexity in any form, on any number of shafts.  The weavers of the 40's-60's knew a lot about ways of introducing complexity to 4S, and wringing the last drop of juice out of any warp with treadling techniques and variations, more blocks on limited shafts, finger techniques, etc.  I'd love to see discussions here about how people are going beyond the ordinary to create their own brand of complexity on "just" 4S.

Posted on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 13:57

Hello everyone,

I am new to weaving. I picked up a loom on Sunday and managed to get it in working order by Wednesday. It does not have a makers mark, it was set up without the lams, and had no heddle horses. Several weaving books came with it and I managed to see how a counterbalance loom was supposed to be set up. Low and behold it worked. I am truley amazed. I have never seen a counterbalance loom in action. I warped a small band width of warp just to try a few patterns. I will make book marks, belts, and purse straps out of these.

 While reading in one of the books it said you can't do unbalanced tieups with a counter balance loom. What does that mean? I could use any help I could get.

 I also spin, knit, crochet, and I made my spinning wheel.

Kathy in AR

Posted on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 15:40

Unbalanced tie-up means having a different number of shafts up than down (1 vs 3).  Generally you can do these on a counterbalance loom, but depending on the loom may have to do some fiddling or have a smaller shed on these lifts. I tried to find a good online description but didn't get far.  This is a start:


Posted on Sun, 10/18/2009 - 16:10


Thank you Laurie. I am up and running making sample weaves on 2" warp just to try things out. Thanks for the link. I went ot a workshop yesterday with Edwina Bringle. I learned alot.

I plan on making a few scarves next with my homespun alpaca.


Posted on Mon, 10/19/2009 - 21:10

Hi I'm JoAnna from TN. I bought my first loom in May. A Macomber B4-D. It has a 48" weaving width and came with 4 shafts and 6 treadles. It's an add-a-harness so there is room for at least 4 more shafts but I don't have the money to upgrade it right now. Anyway, I'm very interested the capabilities of a 4-shaft loom. I have taken two weaving classes at the Appalachian Center for Craft (where I go to school) where I fell in love with weaving in the first place. I have been weaving all summer trying to learn as much as I can by experimentation. I still haven't done much. But I'm itching to do more.

I was really excited to find this group! I have been having a hard time finding patterns, projects and ideas for 4-shaft looms. It seems like everything is for 8-shafts or more. I'm determined that my 4 shaft loom can make just as beautiful and complicated fabrics as an 8-shaft. haha.

I am currently interested in learning more about loom controlled lace weaves, overshot and color and weave. I'm also still investigating different yarns. Being a college student and a weaver can be limiting. I can't afford anything really expensive so I'm mostly using cotton, rayon and lyocell. (lyocell is my "extravagant" yarn)

Posted on Thu, 10/22/2009 - 11:16

My name is Leslie and I live in Hamilton Ontario.  I have been weaving on and off for a number of years, due to children, work and school commitments.  I have finished school, my kids are now teenagers, so they don't undo what I have taken hours to thread in a matter of seconds. Better still they sleep in!!  I want to explore what my loom can do. 

A LeClerc, 45" four shaft counter balance loom and two four shaft table looms.  I have two because my husband stole mine, so one is now actually his. 

Posted on Sun, 10/25/2009 - 15:20

Ooo, I love weave-alongs.  Will you put it up on Weavolution like they did in the Backstrap weaving and Rigid heddlers group?  That way we can follow along and weave along and post pictures and comments all in one place.  You can also keep track of the project as you weave in your profile.

I am happy to help everyone learn how to use all these tools on Weavolution.  There is also a brief tour in the Help section here. 

Claudia, Weavolution co-founder

Posted on Thu, 10/29/2009 - 21:58

I'm marie and I live in Austin, TX. I weave on a 4 shaft CB Glimåkra mostly... I always kind of cringe when I hear complex-- I have this thing for simplicity, but thought I'd see what's here anyway.  :)  I  enjoy working with linen and am slightly obsessed with goose-eye type twills. I also like weaving with oddball materials like wire and straw .

Posted on Thu, 10/29/2009 - 22:01

Don't listen to them :O  I'm weaving 1-3 twill on a CB loom now. I was concerned it wouldn't work, but it's just fine, not problems at all and I could drive a truck through that shed.  OK maybe only a toy truck, but it's big enough for a big shuttle, which I"m needing since this is full width on my 110 cm (43") loom.   CB looms are awesome IMHO-- truly wonderful feats of extraordinary simplicity!


Posted on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 15:13


Hi, I'm Debbie from Massachusetts. I weave on an 8-shaft Schacht, but often use only 4 harnesses. I've been playing with highly twisted yarn, differential fulling, gauze, unusual yarns such as paper, reeds, metal, etc.


Posted on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 04:39


Just purchased the book, Weaving Designs by Bertha Gray Hayes.

The whole book appears to be 4 harness weavings with amazing diversity. Check out the op art effect in "Jitterbug" on page 68 or "Lambeth Walk" on page 69 - electric plus !!!

Have not had a chance to really study this text but it looks wonerful.

Has anyone reviewed this book in detail? tried any of the designs??






Posted on Sat, 11/28/2009 - 10:10

Hi Traci,

WOW!  A weaving store in Lex; how I would have loved that when I lived in KY!  I lived in a little hiccup called, Jonesville, near Owenton.  I love KY and miss it and the people greatly. :(

I'm glad that you opened one since weaving has such a long history in KY.  Have you gone to Louiseville to see the Lou Tate place, the LIttle Loom house? 

I think you should.  Maybe you could form a relationship to help promote weaving in KY again.  I know that many women in Friendship Spinners are weavers as well, but there isn't any guild in KY for weaving.  Maybe you could start a guild?

I think it's great that your husband is a weaver too.  I would love for my husband to weave, but that's not likely to happen.  But, he is very supportive of my weaving and shows my weaving to his friends.  

I currently live in Jordan without looms and  miss them tremendously!  But, I'm glad I found this group and hope to follow along to learn more weaving techniques and patterns.

Happy treadling,





Posted on Wed, 12/30/2009 - 20:46

I love using number beads - you can buy small beads with numbers on them at a craft store like Hobby Lobby  or Michaels. (The number beads are not as easy to find as the alphabet beads - but are usually available) Then you can string the number beads on perle cotton or dental floss in the order of your treadling or threading. I put them on a long enough string so I can move the beads across as I use them. I just string one repeat if the pattern repeats  several times. I  find it easier than writing the treadling (or threading) on paper and following that. I physically move the bead on the string and know exactly where I am. The only caution is that you do have to move the bead everytime! Hope this helps! If I haven't explained it clearly - let me know.

Posted on Wed, 12/30/2009 - 21:59

How's that work with 500 or 1000 thread repeats?  ;-)  You could also get letter beads and use them for block weaves, or combine letters and numbers (5A, 4B, C, 6D, 4C, etc.), or symbols (simple twill or twill order of blocks example: /\\\\//\MWW//...).

Laurie Autio

Posted on Thu, 12/31/2009 - 01:41

Wow! Thanks y'all for the answers. I was also wondering if anyone completed the WAL in this group. I'm not sure where to look for pictures!

Posted on Thu, 12/31/2009 - 12:46

Hi PattyAnne,

Pictures are usually with the posts or with the projects. This group has been pretty quiet since before Christmas. I think everyone went on vacation or got involved with family things.

Hopefully, it will pick up after the first of the year, There is a new WAL group, check that out, maybe someone posted there.


Posted on Thu, 01/07/2010 - 03:46

 Happy New Year Everyone!

I'm Carie from NY. I have a 4 harness, 6 treadle Artisat loom and an 8 harness, 10 treadle AVL. Right now I'm in a 4 harness weaving spell.

I just finished a 4H advancing twill snowflake scarf that was easy to weave (as long as I didn't daydream) and pretty complex looking. Once I buy more batteries for my camera, I'll post the other project from that warp. Here's the link to the snowflake scarf.


Posted on Thu, 02/04/2010 - 04:57

Here's the scarf - that - wasn't  from which the scarf in post #34 was woven. I love how "complex" techniques such as advancing twills can work so well on only 4 harnesses.


Posted on Thu, 02/04/2010 - 13:16

Hi Carie,

I took a look at your projects and saw both scarves and what you wrote and they look really nice. I am still considering this draft for my placemats which are not yet threaded on my 4 shaft Baby wolf.  I am torn between this and an advancing twill I saw at

Tough choices.


Posted on Mon, 03/01/2010 - 23:43

Hello Everybody!


I'm John from El Paso, TX.  Sugar Honey baby is a 4 shaft Schacht Baby Wolf.  I'm just getting into complex weaves after being inspired by Anne Dixon's book _The Handweaver's Pattern Directory: Over 600 Weaves for 4-shaft Looms.

Unfortunately, many of her designs require more than 6 treadles, which is all I currently have.

Thanks for the hints on the number beads, I was wondering how I would keep track of the treadling pattern.


Posted on Tue, 03/02/2010 - 13:19

John, on a 4 shaft loom you can do all the combinations with just 4 treadles, using direct tie (each treadle ties to only one shaft).  To get the different combinations use two feet and/or one foot across two treadles.  As a bonus, weaving with direct tie will teach you more about weave structures and reinforce what you are doing at the loom.  Have fun!

Laurie Autio

Posted on Wed, 03/03/2010 - 06:55

You have just told me more about direct tie-up than I knew.  The pleasure of being self taught from books with iffy glossaries.

Sounds challenging and fun.


Posted on Wed, 04/28/2010 - 12:35

Hello Everyone,

Well weaving is now part of my daily routine so I decided today to find somewhere to come and chat about weaving. I'm not experienced but know all about pushing boundaries.





Posted on Thu, 04/29/2010 - 16:20

At the moment I am experimenting with lace and have been twisting threads and making as many different laces. I found my Tunisian crochet hook was a great help. At some stage I do want to try double weave, perhaps next week.

Posted on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 22:27

Sorry, I am still getting to know the forum and how it works. I should have replied to you directly.......


I am weaving lace and open designs at the moment and trying to think up my own patterns and record as I go. Probably the designs I do will be recorded somewhere and discovered years ago. I have been using my crochet hook, fingers and Tunisian hook to good effect. What challenging technique would you suggest I try as a newcomer to weaving?

Posted on Sun, 05/02/2010 - 02:16

Making complex designs in leno either by contrasting with plain weave or by changing the number of threads in the crossing has fascinating results.  Also, working tapestry on a leno  base is cool (in one of the Tidball monographs).  Look up Peruvian gauzes in various books and monographs or an old book by Matilda Wahe called Pitsia Kangaspiussa (Finnish, 1954).  Variations on Spanish lace and Danish medallion are interesting, and you can add beads as you go.  Layer patterns in different techniques. Juxtapose rya or pile with the openwork.  You might enjoy embroidery weaves/brocading.  Take a look at Peter Collingwood's macrogauzes on his website.  Complex Weavers has a dvd of him and his techniques that is excellent.  Have fun playing!

Laurie Autio

Posted on Wed, 05/12/2010 - 15:40

Thanks Laurie - I'll get along to see Peter Collingwood's work. It's amazing (2 hours later)

I have done a bit of what you say already and very pleased to say my "The Handweavers Pattern Directory"( Anne Dixon) arrived yesterday. Its amazing to see what can be done on a 4 shaft loom. It's inspiring.


Since my last post my loom table and treadle set arrived. Can't say the treadles are easy to use. Using the levers became second nature and its already hard to change. Tut tut.  As a novice, warping is still an ordeal - please tell me it gets easier. I couldn't figure out the warping frame so cut 140 7' warp threads for my loom. The threads got horribly tangled while the warping frame sits idle in the corner.


My next lesson is in ten days fortunately, where hopefully my patient teacher will take me step by step through the warping frame and how to use it properly.


My loom, now warped in rainbow colours Petra 5 (similar to DMC) about 8" wide and 7' long and its time to weavealong to my music again. Hooray!

Posted on Thu, 05/13/2010 - 06:56

Cutting individual threads is certainly about the hardest way to warp that I can think of.  I commend you on having the determination and persistence to make it work! Any good beginner book for 2 shafts or more should have pictures of how to use a warping board. 

Make a guide thread the length you need and go across the top, then back and forth from side to side, and perhaps down one side until you reach a peg to end on.  You are making a zigzag, which may have a little tail.

You will find three pegs in a row, usually at the top of the board.  The yarn will travel a figure 8 around these peg, forming the full figure 8 on a complete pass (down and back).  The midpoint of the figure 8 is called the cross.  If you look down on the top of the cross you will see that the threads alternate with one going down then up, and the next going up then down.  The cross is what keeps the threads in order and makes warping so much easier.

Use a counting thread as you warp.  Lay a longish piece of yarn in contrasting color behind the first thread.  After the number of threads in an inch (of half inch), bring the ends of the thread to the front, cross them, and push them to the back.  This separates the warp into little bundles, making it easy to spread in a raddle if you are warping back to front, and keeping them from tangling.  It is an easy way to keep track of the bundles you use.

When you are done you tie specific areas of the warp.  One tie goes through the first and last peg, to preserve the loops.  Put 4 ties on the cross (one on each arm) to preserve it.  Add a tight tie (choke tie) a ways past the cross, and a looser tie every yard or so. 

Weaving with treadles and warping are much faster when you get used to it.

This post probably should be in Weaving 101 but I don't know how to cross-link.  Sorry.  Have fun weaving!

Laurie Autio

Posted on Thu, 05/13/2010 - 14:50

Thanks Laurie,


Yes, I guess this is a 101 matter. I took a look at the websites and books you suggested and found Collingwood's work very interesting indeed. It reminded me of Sunfilter curtains that were the rage in the '60's. My primary interest is weaving something for my windows using a lacy or open design.

I'll definitely give warping another go tomorrow and do as you suggest with the contrasting yarn and use my treadles.





Posted on Sat, 01/29/2011 - 05:24

Hi.. I am a rather new weaver shopping for a good used loom.  Someone fairly close to where I live in Oregon is selling a Murphy 4-shaft counterbalance loom with a 32" weaving width.  I won't be able to see it to make a decision until early March.  The current owner doesn't have much information about the loom and I am unable to locate much on the 'net.  If anyone has knowledge or experience with a Murphy loom, I would love to know more.


Posted on Fri, 02/18/2011 - 13:16

I am Rena (aka sewwhatsports) and I am a fairly new weaver, 5 months. I have 2 looms, a 22" Harrisville 4harness/4 treadle that I have warped for a class in 2 weeks with Bonniye Inouye and a 48" Macomber 4H/6T that can be expanded to 16 treadles. It is warped with kitchen towels for my daughter and is my pride and joy. I love weaving on her.

The class I am taking a class with Bonnie is her advancing twills and though I am a bit nervous (I will be the newest weaver and the one with the least experience she has ever had in class), I am excited to learn new things.

I am signed up for the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association (MAFA) conference in July and hope I got my first choice of Extreme Warp Makeovers with Robyn Spady.