My handmade monster

Hi There,  I have been a lurker here in the past and found so much useful advice through other posts and questions that others have asked.  I am however stumped right now and hoping someone here could help me out.  I purchased a beautiful handmade loom but am having trouble understanding how to get it functioning properly.  The pulleys in the top castle look like they resemble a vertical countermarch system but I have yet to get the cords to function properly.  Every way I tie them up they do not seem to rotate the pulleys correctly.  In fact I can't get the shafts to go up or down smoothly and the entire collection of shafts constantly sinks down.  UGH  I have posted some pictures here so you can see what I am working with.  I am just hoping and praying that someone here has seen something similar and can spot something glaringly obvious that I am overlooking.  The only loom I have come across that looks remotely like my system is the Woolhouse Tools Gurtrude.  The difference is that mine does not have a floating lower lamm.  I know this loom runs smoothly once together but for the life of me I am stumped.  I would so greatly appreciate any help.Loom from the backShafts from a lower anglePulleys from the front-ish perspective from the loomShafts from the side

Pulleys from the sideLooking up at the pulleys


Posted on Fri, 12/22/2017 - 21:49

It's a little hard to see, but it looks like you have a jack loom (rising shed) using vertical jacks.  If you look at these jacks, when a lamm is pulled down, the cord from the bottom of the jack to the left will raise the left side of the shaft; and  the cord from thoe top of the jack to the right will raise the right side of the shaft.  Not sure what the cords from the bottom of the jacks to the right are for.  If you have attached the cords from the bottom of the jacks to the right, the shafts probably won't move.  

Posted on Fri, 12/22/2017 - 22:08

Yes but that's just it.  There are no other spots o. the loom to counter the weight.  Only that top pulley.  The two other cords somehow counter the weight to the lamms but I do not know how.  Today I tried attaching the upper lamms to the shafts and then pulled those two cord sections out to see if there was a way I could tie them down the center to the lower lamms.  They do not.  I am not sure where they go... So frustrated.

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 04:16

YOu have one of those jack looms with vertical coupers. It looks to be similar to the Leclerc Colonial - go to their web site. They have good information on how to use their looms. That would be much nearer your loom type than the Woolhouse Gertrude. You have only one set of lams bec ause your loom is NOT a countermarche.

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 07:25

But I do have two sets of lamms.  The lower lamm is not floating because it is hinged onto the one side.  The loom has two lamms though. I just went to look at the colonial to be honest it doesn't look like mine.  Each one I have seen has double jacks or pulleys at the top.  I would be so happy if mine did perform like that.  That would make this so much easier but I cannot tie up my loom like that.  It won't work.  There is no way to send the cords down the middle of the loom like that. If I do the pullry won't balance or pivot correctly.

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 13:21

The photos do not show two sets of lamms. And for an 8 shaft weave, each treadle should have 8 treadle cords.  Perhaps if you could send photos of the lamms and your tie-up, that would help. 


Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 13:22

It could be that your jacks are just too short.

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 15:08

In reviewing your comments, it appears that you find the treadling hard, rather than finding it not moving the shafts.  Most parallel countermarch looms use pulleys and you have a rotating wooden dowel.  Pulleys make the movement much easier.  You might try to lubricate the rotating dowels. 

Plus, parallel countermarch systems are usually used on small looms where the extra friction of so many cords is not so noticeable.  It does make the treadling harder than other types of countermarch.

Please let us know if any suggestions are helping.

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 15:40

I think I see the upper lamms in the top picture. they are tied to the lower shaft bar.  If you look at the tie up for a vertical cm loom on the Glimakra website, it might be helpful.  You keep talking about pulleys, and I don't see any pulleys.  I think what might work is for you to throw out everything you think you know (I'm sorry, but starting over from scratch is sometimes best), look at the diagram on Glimakra's website, and tie it up like the diagram.  The only difference between your loom and the diagram is that your upper lamms do not pivot.  They are tied up in the same way that traditional pivoting lamms are.  I have seen this arrangement; I think it was on a Bexel.  As I said in my first post, you have cords there that do not belong.  Once you get it tied up so that it works, then you can fine tune the balance between lamms and shafts.  Your shafts don't look very heavy and the lamms are substantial, so that may not be an issue.  You mention other spots on the loom to balance the weight, but the balance is between shafts + upper lams vs. lower lamms + treadles.  This is one reason I think you should start over with the Glimakra diagram.

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 15:50

As Joanne mentioned, a full parallel countermarche has a lot of cording and is a very complex system.  Your loom, with only the upper lamms floating, is tied up as any other vertical cm would be, which is fairly simple.  You do not have lower floating lamms and the extensive system of cords and pulleys to support them.

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 18:35

Ok so yesterday I started experimenting with where to put the two extra sets of cords that run out of the top.  Without them going anywhere the shafts cannot go up and down.  When I am referring to a pulley that is what I mean maybe I should be calling it a jack instead that seems to be more correct yes?  There are two strands that run down to the shafts from that jack to move them up and down and then the other two that counter the weight go.....?  There doesn't seem to be anywhere to attach them.  At first I had them attached to the upper lams because their pre cut length and where knots used to be suggested that that is where they might go.  However it doesn't work because the upper lams either get caught up in the shafts while treadling or down in the lower lamms.  I admit all of my experience is on counterbalance looms so I am learning as I go with how this works.  I so appreciate all of your input I just do not understand where this second set of cords at the top jack go.   I looked up the Glimakra CB model and again when looking at horizontal jacks there is always two and an appropriate place to run the cord down the middle of the loom to the lower lamms.  I look at the vertical Glimakra ones and there are 3 cords, two that run to the shafts and one that counters the weight and goes outside of the loom down to the lower lamms.  The lower lams I have do not have a spot on the edge to tie onto nor do the cords seem to run down the outside and there are 4 sets of cords on mine not 3.  There is an eye screw right in the middle of the lower lamms and each shaft has an eye bolt coming out from the bottom with a pre cut cord attached to each one.  I have included a few more pictures of the lamms at the bottom... which are messy now because I've been exprimenting at the top but yes.  Each of the Upper lamms and lower lamms have pre cut and attached cords for all 8 shafts, and all 10 treadles.  I have even been examining the loom for any areas of being worn to see if there is a part I am missing or if I can see any indication of cords going elsewhere to how I have had them.  Again, I really appreciate all of your input, I know it is difficult to see the problem in the pictures. upper and lower lammstie upextra cordsno where to put the extra cordsfrom the back again with the extra cords hanging down

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 18:44

I should also say that the jacks on the top are not stiff.  They pivot on the dowel really well.  So it doesn't seem to be a lubrication or swollen wood problem.

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 19:04

jackThis is what the jacks look like.  4 eye screws pointing outwards from each corner.  Came assembled like that.  I have not altered anything.

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 19:28

I am trying to decide if I should just renovate it to resemble one of the looms some of you have mentioned on here.  Change the positions of where cords come off of the jack at the top turn it into a 3 cord system and add an extra piece off to the side of the castle so I can add longer cords that run the outside of the loom down to the lower lamms so that it will actually function like one of those looms that some suspect is the same as this one.  Maybe that would make everything easier?  I just really wish I could figure this out and get it to work the way it was intended.

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 22:20

In your first set of pictures, the fourth one down, there is a row of pieces with cords tied to them at the bottom of the picture.  What are these? 

In the next picture I see two sets of cord that appear to be turning arou d a dowel and going down.  Where are these going?  They look as if one set goes to shafts, and one set goes down to the lamms, exactly like the Glimakra  diagram.

A pulley is a circular piece that rotates on a shaft and carries a cord in a groove on its rim.

The fourth cord, the one that I said doesn't belong there, may have been added to immobilize the jacks during tie up.

Posted on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 23:40

Yes so in that 4th picture I had the one cord going to the shaft and then second cord going down to the upper lamms.  I did this because of the length of the cords, where the previous knots were and experimented with how this would work.  It doesn't work but that is as far down as those cords reach.  They do not make it down to the lower lamms from the sides.  In that picture where the cords go down around that dowel one is going to the shafts and one is going to the floating upper lamm.  Again I am not sure where else to tie these.

Posted on Sun, 12/24/2017 - 01:40

When I tie up lamms, I often do not run the cord all the way to the lamm.  I tie a loop in it and attach it to the lamm (or heddle bar) with a shorter piece.  I do this to use cheaper cord for the majority of the cord; more expensive Texsolve for the adjustment and attachment points.  For a big loom with a lot of cordage, this can be a big savings.   So relying on the cord length to show you where they go may not work.  

Posted on Sun, 12/24/2017 - 01:45

Lower lamms are tied to jacks to rise, upper lamms are tied to treadles to sink.  Look at the Glimkra diagram for vertical cm, study what happens when a treaddle is depressed; what goes up and down.  Then look at your loom for similarities.

Posted on Sun, 12/24/2017 - 04:27

One thing you have not mentioned is what your problem is.  Is it a very small shed?  If that is the case, it looks like the lower lamms and the treadles area very close to each other.  That alone might be the problem if you sheds are not big enough.

If your breast beam height is at least 33 inches and your heddles not longer than 11 inches, you should be able to get a good shed.  However if your treadles do not touch the floor when you press on them, the first thing I would do is to lower the treadles, to give more space for the lower lamms to move.


Posted on Sun, 12/24/2017 - 18:36

Hi Joanne, my apologies for not making my issues clear.  I so respect and value all of the suggestions here and can see that if you do not understand the root problem it is difficult to give advice.  My problem is that my set up is different than the brand name looms out there.  I know at first glance my loom resembles some others but what I am failing to convey is that at the top of the loom my set up is different.  I do not know where to properly tie the two extra cords from the top jack.  'If' I tie them to the upper lamms which length and everything seem to indicate that that is where they are supposed to go.. the upper lamms get tangled into the shafts or down into the lower lamms up if I lower their position. Because of the tangling the result is a small messy shed and gets more tangled as I try and weave in this way.  In addition to everything getting tangled up, the shafts slowly and collectively sink down.  I don't know why.  This creates even more problems with the placement of the shed because the weight of the sheds sinking down makes a dip in the warp and then again makes the shed non exisitant.  Because of this not running smoothly it is impossible to weave.  Which tells me that I have something set up glaringly incorrect.  So my reason for posting is get my loom running smoothly.  The tie up is different then anything I have found online and I am finding it difficult to show you wonderful experienced ladies how.  

Posted on Sun, 12/24/2017 - 19:25

Have you tried taking your loom down to just TWO shafts and treadles so you and we can get a clear look at what you're working with? That would simplify changes and make the paths of the cords much clearer. Your "jacke" - technically coupers, have cords tied to them that do not match the way a vertical cm loom is set up. If you are working with only two shafts for starters, it will be easier to follow the cords and get the shafts moving correctly.

Posted on Sun, 12/24/2017 - 21:37

When someone sets out to build their own loom, regardless of what kind they want,  they tend to copy a loom that works, so their loom will work.  That's why everyone who has responded has referenced existing loom tie ups.  You keep insisting that what you have is a unique system, but I doubt that.  It has also been suggested that some of the cords that you are trying to find homes for may not be intended to tie up the loom; they may have other uses.  Sara has a very good suggestion.  You need to figure out what does what instead of randomly connecting cords based on how long they are.  you haven't  said how you got the loom or where it came from.  There are a lot of  reasons why the cords may not be long enough  to reach where they  need to go, or why you have extra cords.  You are workin on the assumption that  the cords on the loom are in the exact configuration needed to work.  I have only seen that on one used loom that I have bought, one that was assembled an in use when I bought it.  I have seen some really garbled tie ups.

Posted on Mon, 12/25/2017 - 01:58

Yes so this loom was originally custom made for a tiny Amish woman.  Other than a couple pulleys on the brake system, the reed and some eye screws there is no hardware on the entire loom.  It is all held together by post and beam and wedges.  This woman upgraded to something with more shafts and sold it to the second owner.  Amish lady came to set it up for second owner, second owner barely used it then second owner took it apart due to not enough space which is why she sold it to me for a steal. I cannot seem to connect with second owner I have even asked for contact info for Amish lady but with no luck.  I have a little experience putting together looms with little to go on which is why I was comfortable taking on this challenge.  If I could connect with the Amish lady I bet she would be able point out my blunders and pin point the problem in 15 seconds or less. I will set up the two shafts like Sara has suggested and go from there. That is a really great idea and will take a lot less time to trouble shoot.

Posted on Mon, 12/25/2017 - 12:05


Would this work? I wonder why they never turned pulleys? And I can't imagine what the 4th jack tie is for, it would be at a hard angle or into the warp with side to side motion, not desireable. Might want to add some wax on the cords where they go over those dowels to cut down on friction. If you had 3 sets of pulleys and make the jack 5 or 6" longer on the other end of the hole in the jack, with the longer end to the top when vertical at rest, the system would work a lot better. Make yourself a locking pin mechanism. Redo the whole jack design, which isn't that hard, but you need the tools on hand or it isn't economical.

Posted on Mon, 12/25/2017 - 19:34

Yes Reed Guy this is the closest to my set up.  The challenge is the dowel off to the left of the castle where the shaft cords and the lower lamm cords pass over together. The cords have friction because they are running in opposite directions.  Shaft cords going up and Lamm cords pulling down.  There is no where else to run the cords as there are no other dowels in the castle to seperate the two sets of cords so the only spot is off to the side together.  You are right wax could really help this friction I will try that.  The other problem is down below at the lower lamms.  Ok so this loom is well used.  It has worn marks all over it to give me clues to where everything goes.  There are no eye screws or any worn areas on the left side of the lower lamms and that tells me that they have never been attached in this manner. The lower lamms do not even stretch all the way across to the left side so the cord running down to them would awkwardly run on an angle through the corner of the shafts.  What I do see is an eye screw at the top of the lower lamm located smack dab in the middle indicating to me that this is where a cord somehow runs down the middle and attaches.  From where I have no idea and I do not know.  So I can either make new lower lamms that extend accross the entire width and reach the appropriate spot that the cords would run down and attach off to the left but this is becoming quite a mystery to me and I have this overwhelming need to figure this out.  I have an idea I am going to try out today and see if the physics works but hard to describe.  I couldn't sleep last night thinking about it.  Reed Guy thank you for sending me that diagram it maybe how I have to alter the loom to work if I cannot solve this puzzle.

Posted on Mon, 12/25/2017 - 20:40

You couldn't run a cord down from the jack this way because it would rip at your warp as it pivots from the jack. With horizontal jacks they are joined by a V cord to a single cord that goes straight up and down vertical to the lower lamms through the middle of the warp. You would not want that cord off at an angle. Your photos don't show the lower lamms well, so I could't tell if they go out the side of the loom on the free side.

See if you can find tie-up instructions for a Kirsten Floor Loom at Woolhouse tools. It looks peculiarly similar in the jack mechanism.

Posted on Mon, 12/25/2017 - 21:15

Yes you are absolutely right on all points.  Up above in the feed I had written that I think my set up is similar to woolhouse tools Gerteude which is very similar to Kristen.  I cannot tell from pictures if Kristen has a floating lower lamm, this was for me the difference between what I have and Gertrude.  If I had a floating lower lamm it would almost make more sense to the 4 cord jack or couper on the top.  Weird huh?  

Posted on Wed, 12/27/2017 - 15:45

OK, I have concocted a tie up that will:

1. Use all four cords on the jacks

2. Run the tie cord to the lower lamms through the center of the loom to the attachment point in the center of the loom.  

My diagram is not as neat as Reed Guy's, but I think you can see it.  I'm skeptical that this will work because there will be too much friction where the jack cords round the top dowels.  You may want to try this with a couple shafts to see if it will work.

Posted on Wed, 12/27/2017 - 18:02

Sorry I have not checked back with you.

I think that your original tie-up is as it was intended to be.  Here are some comments.

1.  Floating lamms and lamms attached at the sides work in the same way and would not change your upper tie-up.  Floating lamms are simply used on narrow looms where the treadles need to be close to the sides of the loom.

2.  Lack of wear on the lamms may mean that the original weaver may have simply tied the loom up as a jack loom.   Now you are trying to make it work as a countermarch.  You are correct that the cords at the top need pulleys to pull the cords different directions.  If you look at the Leclerc website, you will see two sets of pulleys on each side of the top of the loom.  This separate pulley system makes the treadling a lot easier.

The sinking of the shafts can be corrected by making the shafts and upper lamms lighter weight or making the lower lamms heavier.  That is what balances the shafts and keeps them from sinking.  This is important, as when the shafts sink, the treadles rise and make the weaving uncomfortable.

If the treadles do not touch the floor when you press on them, they can be set lower.  This will give you a bigger shed and make the treadling more comfortable.  So, if with your original treadle tie-up, you had put the treadles lower, that would have given you a bigger shed, as it would avoid having rising treadles hit sinking lamms, therefore stopping the opening of the shed.

Good luck.  It is not easy to work with a hand made loom, especially a countermarch, where so many moving parts need to be planned and the balance is important.


Posted on Thu, 12/28/2017 - 05:00

Wow Big White Sofa Dog that is one well thought out tie up.  I HAVE to try it of course.  It could work in theory it will be interesting to see what angles, friction and proper balancing do to this scenerio. This diagram really blows me away.  Thank you so much for taking the time to think it through.  I really appreciate it.

Posted on Thu, 12/28/2017 - 04:56

Joanne those are great pointers.  I am going to try Big White Sofa Dog's suggestion but I will likely need to return to my first set up.  It is just so clumsey because of the lamm cords attaching to the upper lamms and not all the way down to the lower. but it is the only way so far that I've been able to get anything happening at all.  I will need to play with the where the upper lamms get tied so they don't keep getting caught up in the shafts like they did before.  That is part of what is confusing me.  The way this looks to me is that the 3rd and 4th sections of cords from the jack perfectly allign with placement for the upper lams.  The bottom of the shafts have an eye screw with a cord attached to them which lines up with the eye screw on the lower lamms.  So this is backwards from everything I look at in terms of tie ups.  Usually the shafts are attched to the upper lamms and the cords from above go to the lower lamms.  On this loom though there isn't the optiom to do that unless I alter the loom.  Or deal with the backwards tie up and have to make sure the upper lamms are placed just so.  More work to do... lol

Posted on Fri, 12/29/2017 - 02:17

I think that we are getting someplace now. 

With your description of the lower lamms being tied to the shafts, you have a jack loom tie up.  Actually, a reverse jack tie-up, pulling the shafts down when you treadle.  And that is why the shafts are sinking.  Perhaps the original weaver never had this loom tied up as a countermarch. 

To tie it up as a countermarch, there needs to be cords going down from the top of the loom to the lower lamms to raise the shafts.   Then pulling on the lower lamms when treadling, the shaft will rise.

You have 2 cords for each shaft, going over your dowels.  One of them goes down to the lower lamms to make the shafts rise.  For this loom, make the lower lamms free moving, not attached to the side of the loom.  That way, a cord from each side of the loom will go down to the lower lamm for that shaft.


Posted on Sat, 12/30/2017 - 15:33

I'm not sure how it would return to the lifted position. If you lifted the shafts instead, gravity would work with you returning the shafts downward. For me, a very easy fix is to install a steel rod/dowel so that the path is for tie-up to the lower lamms, straight down. The two outside dowels for the tie-up to the shafts and pulling down of the shafts with the upper lamms tied to the shafts. That way lower lamm cords are not abraiding shaft cords. Like in my schematic only not sharing that left dowel rod, but one just to the right of it. You said the lower lamms don't extend beyond the loom width.

Posted on Sat, 12/30/2017 - 18:57

Yes Reed Guy I totally agree with you.  Even if I was able to detach the lower lamms from the frame (which I cannot.  They are all linked together in a system) They would still not be long enough to reach the full width of the loom so Joanne your idea would be tricky unless I made new lower floating lower lamms that were each much longer.  Reed Guy where would I attach the rod/dowel? Parallel to the dowels on the outer edges of the castle?  Just maybe closer to the jacks?

Posted on Sat, 12/30/2017 - 19:24

Near to the left side, with enough space to the right of the far left dowel/rod so cords can go straight down to the lower lamms without interference. Is there eye hooks or holes on the ends of the lower lamms? Yes parallel to the dowels that exist and at the same level.


Posted on Sun, 12/31/2017 - 16:35

Reed Guy there are not eye screws on the ends of the lower lamms just in the middle.  I could add a set or move them over though it would probably give me better control over their up and down movement if I lifted closer to their end and better balance of weight for the shafts.  I wanted to get this up and running the way it was meant to but at this point I am open to rearranging some things. I like your idea it is very simple, would solve many issues at once and really would not be difficult at all to execute.  Before I start drilling holes in anything I'm going to clamp a dowel or something on the castle in about the right area so I can see how it functions first.