Treadles and Tie-up

First, we will look at the path of the cords that connect the  treadles to the shafts on the three-beam looms. The information on tying up the two-beam looms, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Semi profile tie up side

On this photo we can see the paths of the cords from the treadles to the side tie-up area and the cords from the shafts to the side tie-up area, and how they are connected in the side tie-up. On this page we are going to show in detail how to connect the treadles and the shafts in the side tie-up and how to change the tie-up as required by your weaving drafts. Before you start working on your tie-up for a particular project, read the whole page from start to finish.

Springs2 side

If you do the tie-up before the chains are hooked up below the shafts, it will be easier on your hands. The chains and springs add weight to the shafts to prevent them from floating up while weaving, on the other hand, they make it harder to lift them for tying up. However, in real life, often the tie-up is the last thing to get done, and the springs are already hooked up. The tighter the springs (shorter), the more weight they add to pulling down the shafts. Read more about springs and chains at the end of the page.

Tying up the treadles

Treadle pulleys front

There is a cord from each treadle going to its own pulley. Notice the treadle cords on the left are the longest. They are going toward the right, where the side tie up is. The longest cords lead to the treadles on the left; the nearest treadles and shortest cords are on the right. As you progress right to left the cords get longer and longer. There are 6 treadles tied up  in this photo, the two on each side are hitting the floor, not in use right now, not tied up to any shaft.

For efficient weaving we like to “walk the treadles.” This allows the weaver to engage both feet in an alternating rhythm: left-right, left-right. To achieve this, the first treadle should be the outside left, then outside right. Third one would be next on the left, fourth one the next on the right. It is easier for your foot to find the outside treadle and work inward.

Cord path front bottom

Here the cords are going around the pulleys on the right side of the loom. You may want to notice that the cords from the treadles farthest away are going around the outside pulleys. In other words, the cord that we see on the front of this picture is going to a far treadle on of the outside left. Each treadle’s cord is guided by these pulleys. The treadle closest to the right side of the loom has its cord path going to the center-most pulley. From the center pulleys you are working outward from right to left, remembering that the treadles farthest away will go around the pulleys on the outside of the row of pulleys seen in the photo.

Tracking the treadle cords

Tracking treadle cords 1

The longest cord goes from the farthest treadle on the left to the outside pulley on the left on the photo.
Tracking treadle cords 2

The cord from the second treadle goes to the pulley on the outside right in this photo.

Tracking treadle cords 3

Tracking treadle cords 4

The shortest cord goes from the treadle on the right to the pulley in the center.

Tracking treadle cords 5

Tracking treadle cords 6



Tying up1

There is a piece of wood above the pulleys on the right with holes in it. Each treadle cord has its own hole and comes up through its hole to its own dog clip. You can see that six of the cords are taut. That means they are tied to shafts. You can see four cords that are not tied to any shafts, with their dog clips hanging.

Side tie-up

Tying up 6pulling up one shaft by hand

Each shaft has a hook (dog clip).  A tie up cord will join a hook from the shaft with a hook from the treadle.

Tying up4

This picture shows lifting a shaft by pulling on two of the tie-up cords, tied to the same shaft according to the weave draft being used. This will give you slack so you can easily attach it to a treadle cord.
Tying up 7 tie up cords loopYou will need a bunch of tie up cords. Each tie up has a loop at each end. One end hooks into the shaft cord dog clip  and one end hooks into the treadle hook dog clip.

Tying up 8 pulling up one treadle by hand

This picture shows pulling up the treadle cord for the treadle on  the outside left, and getting ready to open the clip. That clip will be hooked to one or more cords attached to one or more of the shafts. When that treadle is pressed, all the shafts hooked up on that treadle’s hook will be lifted.

Tying up 10joining treadle and tie up cord2

This shows a tie-up cord from a shaft being clipped to a treadle’s cord. See the next picture for the easy way to do this.

Tying up 9 joing treadle and tieup cord

Pull the tie-up cord from the shaft down. It lifts that shaft, then you have some slack in the cord so you can put it into the clip from the treadle. If you are tying more than one shaft to that treadle, hook one tie-up cord onto each shaft to be lifted. Then pull all of those cords from the shafts so you have slack and clip them into the hook from the treadle. This is an important tip.


Tying up 11Two treadles tied up to one shaft

The red circle shows two cords tied up to the same shaft. This means that this shaft will be lifted by either of the two treadles it is tied to. The rest of the picture shows many cords tied to four shafts.

Tying up 12two treadles to same shaft zoom out

Zooming out, we see the two cords from the previous picture going from one shaft to two different treadles. One cord goes to the pulley on the end of the row, which tells you it’s the outside left treadle. The other cord, the one on the left, runs to a pulley in the center, and then to an outside right treadle. Also know that the treadle cords will be criss-crossed all over the place, as each treadle will be tied to multiple shafts and each shaft will be tied to multiple treadles, as your weaving draft requires.

In this picture the first four shafts are tied to six treadles, as the draft requires.

Top pulleys

Semi profile tie up side with graphicsCord path top 5 with graphics

If you follow the path of the cords upwards from the side tie ups, you will see three rows of pulleys on the top of the loom: two on the tie-up side and one on the opposite side.

Top pulleys top view2

From each dog clip, there are two cords going to each shaft: One turning downwards at the second pulley, and the other going all the way across to the other side of the loom and turning downwards at the last pulley. The first set of pulleys merely keeps the cords aligned. In the photo you can see that the cords are in correct alignment in the six pulleys farthest away from the camera. The four closest to the camera are misaligned.

Cord path top 2

This photo show the same two rows of pulley from below.

Top of the loom full length

This photo show the cords going over to the pulleys at the left side of the loom.

Top pulleys side view2

This shows the cords to the shafts on the left side of the loom.

Tying up 12two treadles to same shaft zoom in

The shaft cords are actually very long. Each end of one long cord is tied to one of the two screw eyes on the top of one shaft. The cord is folded and knotted at the dog clip.

Cord path top 5 with graphics

The three pulleys on top of the loom keep the two ends of the long cords aligned, running together from the dog clip to the first pulley, separating at the second pulley and one of them turning downward to the closer screw eye, the other end running across the width of the loom and turning downward at the third pulley to the second screw eye on the top of the shaft. Try to see the fold and knot in the cord in the photo showing the shaft tie-up dog clips. Since the height of the shafts can be adjusted with some extra length of the cord at the screw eyes, make the cords about 4-5 inches longer than what you measure from the fold to the screw eye on each side.


Treadling1 pulleyf front

When a treadle is pressed it will pull down the tie up cords and raise the shafts tied up to it. In this sequence you can see a tie-up where the treadle is tied to shafts 2 and 3. The treadle pulls down the cord, which then runs over the treadle pulley and under the lower tie-up pulley and through the fourth hole from the left.


Treadling3 path to shaft

This shows lifting shaft 2 and 3. Notice that the shaft clips for two and three are pulled down by one treadle tied to the two shafts. We can see that shafts 2 and 3 are lifted and the shaft cords going to the same treadle on the side pulled down. In other words, one treadle and two cords raise shafts two and three.

Treadling5 cord path side Treadling4 cord path side

The operable cord is in the fourth hole form the left. You can see another treadle cord going down, and that’s because in the tie-up draft a single shaft can be raised in different combinations with different treadles. Here, the treadle next to the one we pressed also moves shaft 2 because in the tie-up draft, shaft 2 but only shaft 2, is tied to another treadle, therefore its cord also moves. This is normal.

Tying up two-beam looms

Here we are going to show how to tie up shaft one to its treadle. Repeat the same for the rest of the shafts.

Two Beam cord path 1 - bundle from top

The path of the cords from the shafts to the treadles goes first up, then down. They start at the screw eyes on the top of the shafts, go upward to the pulleys on either side, then across toward the center, and turn downward at the center. On this photo you can see Peggy holding the bundle of the four tie-up cords that we are going to tie to the treadles.

Two Beam cord path 6 - knots under top pulleys

The cords have knots right below the castle. This prevents them sliding up and unrolling from the pulleys.

Two Beam cord path 7 - knots under top pulleys low angle

Beneath the castle you can see the cords coming through the small holes from the pulleys and the knots holding them down.

Two Beam cord path 2 - place behind shaft

We are going to tie shaft one to its treadle. Take the cord behind shaft one, and drop it down towards the springs. The rest of the cords are still hanging in the front. Later as you tie them up, you will lead each cord behind the corresponding shaft. For now, the other treadle cords are just waiting to be put in position.

Two Beam cord path 3 - path from shaft to treadle

In this photo Peggy is in position to guide the cord behind the spring on the path to the treadle specifically for shaft one.

Two Beam cord path 4 - path behind spring

Here you can see the cord going behind the spring for shaft one. You will pull up the treadle using the dog clip attached to the treadle and  hook it into the loop of the cord coming down from the pulley.To tie up the remaining three treadles always guide the cords behind their specific shaft and spring.

Two Beam cord path 5 - to treadle

This shows the 4 treadles which are different lengths. That is because each treadle is to be tied to a specific shaft. In the photo shaft one is now tied to the treadle designated for shaft one–the shortest one. The treadle for shaft two is the next-to-the shortest, the treadle to the right of treadle one. (The treadles get longer as they are designated for shafts farther and farther from the front of the loom.) Treadle three is the one on the far left and treadle four is on the far right. Jim arranged the treadles for this loom, working from the center outward. For example a 2/2 twill would be treadled  1&2, 2&3, 3&4, 4&1 starting with both feet on the center-most treadles. For 2&3, the left foot moves outward to the treadle next to it and the right foot stays on treadle 2. This way you can “walk the treadles” for efficient weaving. For tabby, one foot will press the two treadles for 1&3 and the other foot, for 2&4. This tie up will work for all the possible combinations of shafts on 4-shaft looms and you will never have to tie up the treadles again. That’s why there are only 4 treadles.