Countermarch heddle length and lamm length
There is a question in the chat forum about the number of shafts one can have on a countermarch loom. This came from a comment from Madelyn van der Hoogt in a new e publication from Handwoven magazine. The comment she made is from her experience with her Glimakra Standard looms, which she purchased in the 80s. I believe that she has heddles which are too long and that can cause complications in the tie-ups. One should also take note of falling shafts, which also has a bearing on the subject Madelyn was referring to. These two issues make a big difference on how many shafts one can tie up on a countermarch loom. Since countermarch tie-ups are something that I have studied a long time, I am learning some of the things which were done in the past with Glimakra countermarch looms.
During the early years of countermarch looms coming to the US, hand tied heddles were used. Technically, one can tie heddles whatever length you would like, but the Glimakra looms came with heddles which were 10 1/2 inches long. This is the same length of the heddles on most floor looms at that time, including Leclerc looms, which were very common then. A 10 1/2 inch heddle will give one a good size shed, at least 4 inches at the shafts. But, when Texsolv heddles came in about 1980, someone recommended using longer heddles and the distributor started to send longer heddles with the looms. The factory recommended 11 inch heddles. This size gives one a very large shed. In fact, it is often easier to weave if you do not have the maximum shed size that 11 inch heddles can give you.
If you have had problems with your countermarch tie-up, especially if you are weaving with more than 8 shafts, measure the length of your heddles. If you have heddles longer than 11 inches, part of your problem is that your heddles are longer than is recommended.
It is also helpful to know about a change which was made to the lower lamms of countermarch looms during the early 80s. If you have an older loom from the 70s which has the lower lamms the same length as the upper lamms, you will find that the shafts will drop when the locking pins are taken out. This causes the treadles to rise and may cause lamms to touch the treadles. You can either upgrade your loom with heavier, longer lower lamms, or you can weight the lower lamms. I describe this on page 26 of my book, Tying up the Countermarch Loom.
If anyone is having problems with their tie-up, let me know. When one has a loom which is out of date or has heddles or other parts which have been changed, you have a loom which may not be performing at it's best.