countermarche vs. counterbalance?

I've been reading a lot in books and online about what a countermarche system does (which is what I'm used to) and what a counterbalance system does (which I've only used briefly on a 4-shaft loom). What I haven't been able to find is a good explanation of the difference(s) between using an 8-shaft countermarche and counterbalance system.

If anyone here feels like taking a stab at a simple comparison I'd be grateful - I'm buying a Berga Savonia counterbalance loom (see my other post about this) and was planning to convert it to countermarche, somehow - but I'm wondering just how much of a difference it will make, and in what weaving arenas? I get the impression that weaving unbalanced weaves is harder with a counterbalance system, but is it that much harder, or does it just require a different tie-up/treadling technique?

What's your experience, please?


Posted on Sat, 01/29/2011 - 14:14

Counterbalance is possible for more than 4 shafts - I have seen pictures... By that you might guess my own experiences aren't very good. The more shafts you have the wobblier it gets - . At a class I was teaching they gave us an 8-sh CB intead of the 8-sh CM I had requested, and... we did get it up-and-weaving, but there were many more adjustments to make before it worked as we wanted.

Or, of course, you can use "drälltrissor" - but that requires an "opposite" tie-up. This is a picture from Lundell: Stora vävboken (also in English - Big book of weaving, I think)

Somewhere I saw a picture of a 16-sh cb tieup (with several levels of horses), but I can't find it - but it proves it can be done...

Re "harder weaving unbalanced on cb looms" - that I had not heard until I started to hang out on 'net forums. It could be that us Swedes just don't notice, but 3/1 twill is a very common structure here, has always been.

Have fun! (And yes, Bergå went out of business some time in the '90ies, I believe)

Posted on Sat, 01/29/2011 - 14:54

There seems to be a company called Berga Väv but I guess that's just coincidence!

Meanwhile, I'm hoping for a photo of the countermarche castle on someone's Savonia (I found an owner online in Canada) to see if I can build one myself.

Posted on Sat, 01/29/2011 - 15:30

Hi padmavyuha,

I would weave on the loom as it is.  After a few warps, you can decide how it is going.  If you want to weave a narrow warp, write to me at [email protected] and I will send you directions for adding an additional tie that will stabilize the shaft bars. 


Posted on Sat, 01/29/2011 - 18:51

Counterbalance looms are responsible for the vast majority of fabric produced by mankind. "The Big Book of Weaving" has diagrams for how to set up CB looms for 2-8 shafts.

Your loom is a standard Swedish model from the 70's or 80's, and as such can be converted to countermarche with some additional woodworking, but I'd wait until you are familiar with your loom. You may decide to keep it as made.

What people don't recognize today is that countermrche looms with snitch knots in linen loom cord were difficult to maintain and used mostly in workshops of professional weavers. Weavers at home used the counterbalance models with great success. It is only with the advent of Texsolv buttonhole cord that countermarche looms became popular "for the masses". I bought my first one in 1981, and at that time there were lots of discussions about the longevity of the polyester cord and how it would work if you didn't use loom cord. Evidently it works well because there are now lots more CM looms around.

And NO - you won't notice any difference in fabric quality between the two loom types - both have a countershed with equal tension on top and bottom.

Posted on Sat, 01/29/2011 - 21:32

Bergå spinning mill (can't remember the full name of the company) was once owned by Hemslöjden (Swe crafts assoc). They also sold the looms, but I don't know who made them (Joanne is probably right, but to us it was always "a Swedish loom").

The mill was closed several years ago - either Hemslöjden closed it, or they sold it and it went bust. The "new" Bergå garn is probably the same mill, owned by new ppl - at least, it seems to be located in the same village as the old. *If* I'm right: nice that old machinery is being re-used instead of scrapped!

Posted on Sun, 01/30/2011 - 20:26

Thanks for all the responses - this has become 'academic', as the person I was buying from has gazumped me to sell it to someone else who can collect it sooner, sigh.

Meanwhile, someone a lot closer to me may want to sell a Louët loom, so this could be the answer to my dreams!

Posted on Fri, 04/14/2017 - 18:08

I have a Normalo 32200 loom from Finland.  The instructions are in Finish, which I cannot read.  I'm using the drawings to assemble it.  I do not know if it is countermarche or counterbalance.  Could someone tell me what the purpose of lamms is, on a loom.  I have experience with a Schacht Baby Wolf only.  This experience of putting my beautiful loom together is just wonderful.  Mind expanding.  Thanks for your help.  

Posted on Sat, 04/15/2017 - 14:35

Go to the Glimakra USA site. Click on Resources, then Learning about Looms. Scroll down and click on Basic loom info. The first file will answer many of your questions. The second file will show you how the counterbalance works and the third file is about the countermarch.

Posted on Sat, 04/15/2017 - 21:29

The Normalo is an outlier. It seems to be a one way shed - most likely sinking, though the only diagram I can find doesn't show the shed open and it is in Russian.
Try just putting it together according to the instructions and see what it does - they have been out there a while and do weave cloth.

Posted on Mon, 04/17/2017 - 18:56

If you have a Baby Wolf, it has lamms. They are the bars that the treadles are attached to. Being a jack loom, it has one set of lamms. If you had a Wolf Pup, with direct tie up, there would be no lamms.

Posted on Mon, 04/17/2017 - 18:56

If you have a Baby Wolf, it has lamms. They are the bars that the treadles are attached to. Being a jack loom, it has one set of lamms. If you had a Wolf Pup, with direct tie up, there would be no lamms.

Posted on Tue, 10/22/2019 - 17:49

<p>Could someone help me with a question...actually I have many but seem unable to figure out the weavolution format!&nbsp; So here is one: Can someone please help me with directions to change my Savonia to CB?&nbsp; Almost no instructions came with the loom (none in english!) and the only other loom I have is a CB Leclerc - which has very different parts for the CB system.&nbsp; She has been sitting waiting for me to weave on her for years...and in order to make use of her I will need her to be a CB or find her another home :(.&nbsp; Thanks so much for the help...and hopw I can find the replies as I&#39;m unable to see my old password to reset and get back in!</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Posted on Wed, 10/23/2019 - 00:33

<p>I suggest you get Joanne Hall&#39;s book on tying up your countermarche loom.&nbsp; From what I can see, Savonias are CM looms, and why you would want to downgrade one to a CB is beyond me.</p>