The Liftplan

Not too long after I had gotten my brand new loom, I realized I was instantly drawn to complex 8-shaft patterns.

The first draft I bought (and used for my first multishaft project!) was an advancing twill design on all 8 shafts.

If anyone is not familiar with advancing twills, some have long or not easily identifiable repeats when you are threading your warp yarns (which was the case for my pattern). Its the same story for the treadling – like a complex knitting chart, you need to work very slowly and pay attention.

This immediately created a problem for me. My table loom has no treadles. Not only do I have no identifiable pattern, for each treadle I have to set the 8 levers exactly. The  headache that was going in my mind wondering how I I would keep my sanity while trying to make sure I made no mistakes made me wonder if this was the right loom. Should I have gotten a floor loom with treadles?

 I started brainstorming immediately to find ways to simplify this process. My first solution is the subject of this post. My even better refinement will be the subject of another one.
My first thought was – since I don’t have treadles – I don’t really see the point in referring to that part of a weaving draft. I devised a sort of Numbers template (a mac equivalent to Excel) where I could convert one row of a weaving draft into the sequence of levers I had to depress:
This is better to visualize then explain. Below is the draft that I posted in a previous post:
 
And this is what I converted it to in Numbers:
In the original draft, the first step is to lift the 8th treadle, and you can see in the tie-up that it lifts shafts 1,3,4 and 7 – so in the spreadsheet, I fill out those numbers. (The numbers go from right to left because that is the way the levers are arranged on my table loom).
Then I write out the rest of the treadles until it repeats.
And that’s pretty much it! I print out the chart, keep it by my loom and follow it, pressing the levers indicated in each row.
Being a new weaver, what I actually had created, unbeknownst to me, was a liftplan.
A weaving lift plan shows the same information as a typical weaving draft, with a couple of key differences. The tie up section is empty. The treadling section no longer represents the the treadles that have to be pressed – they now show which shafts have to be raised on each row.
After inputting the draft above into Fiberworks, I had it converted into a liftplan. Now the draft looks like the following:
This is exactly what I was doing in my spreadsheet diagram. (Leclerc Voyageur table loom users beware – shaft 1 on a liftplan is the leftmost shaft, but the lever that controls it on the loom is the rightmost! You may need to invert a lift plan.)
At the end of the day, since the software can easily convert a regular weaving draft to a lift plan, I could cut time in my preparation by simply using what the software was giving me, rather than spend time in a spreadheet creating my own charts:
I thought this would solve my table loom woes, but there was something even better…