Recently, I received an email with a question about reading tie-ups, specifically referencing a page in the The Handweaver's Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon.
If you look to pages 38 and 39 of this book (and elsewhere, this is just specifically mentioned in my email) the threading of the pattern looks simple enough. With most four harness patterns there are six treadles that are used. Two for the tabby and four for the twill patterning. In these drafts however there are 12-14 treadles being used. I also had that same surge of panic when I looked at those black blocks in the tie-up thinking to myself "how am I supposed to weave that?! My loom isn't nearly big enough to accommodate all of those treadles!"
Drafts are a map to weaving. Some maps display a single route. One tie-up that can be treadled in different ways. Other drafts, like the ones I am discussing here, show many alternatives for the threading that is there. It is also a documentation to see what kind of combinations can be created using only changing the tie-up and the treadling.
In order to read these drafts you have to break them up a little bit to isolate what you are looking for. The wonderful thing about the Directory drafts are that each specific pattern is designated with a new color. On page 38 there are three different patterns (purple, red and yellow.) This makes it easier to follow up the draft to the tie-up axis. Breaking these drafts up into their own space helps to visualize how many treadles you would actually need to weave the desired pattern. I personally try to go for the least amount of treadles because it helps to establish a rhythm and less time under the loom fussing with chains.
For this particular pattern I would go the least common denominator which would be tying each individual treadle to it's respected harness. To execute a pattern treadle that required three harnesses, you could use both of your feet and lower all three or angle your foot in order to depress the required treadles. It is a little tricky and takes some practice. This method of tie-up is often called the skeleton tie-up, because it is the very bare bones of the pattern that can easily be combined into different combinations.
This same philosophy can be carried over to the next page (pg. 39). By establishing a bare bones tie-up, you will be able to accomplish as much as your feet will allow you. As I progress back into the world of over four harnesses I will explain about how to establish a skeleton harness for complex multiple harness structures.
In the end, the easiest way to read a draft with multiple tie-ups is to break it apart. Kind of like highlighting a route on a map, you can highlight the directions on draft. If you have any questions, send me a line and I will do my best to explain the most efficient way to solve the problem.
Hope to hear from you all soon!