Bergman Tie-Up Tips

August 3, 2008

I’ve been outpaced.  One of the ladies who has come to my blog for information about setting up her Bergman loom is already at the stage of crawling around under her loom (for 2 days!) trying to figure out the tie-up.  This is no joke with a Bergman!  There is is a bracing cross-bar with a sharp edge (on mine at least) about six inches off the floor, between the back of the loom and the lamms. You have to sit parallel to it, twist sideways, and lean over it when you’re doing anything with lamms.  And you can’t sit up straight under your warp.  So: duck, twist, reach!  My heart and back muscles go out to you, Deborah.

The good news is that you won’t have to spend as much time down there in the future, once you’ve got an idea of pretty much where everything should hang, and have adjusted the default length of your tie-up cords accordingly.  A really short footstool (mine is about 8 inches tall) and/or an arrangement of firm cushions helps too.  (The other good news is that if you are under 5 feet tall this may be just the loom for you.)

Deborah’s Bergman loom has a very interesting history, and she has a very interesting history.  Fortunately for us she’s started a blog, here.  She’s been up against a lot, since her loom was shipped from overseas years ago and was in the “Can this bundle of sticks possibly be a working loom?” category for quite a while.  It’s missing a back beam, so she’s tied a temporary one on in order to do her tie-up, which seems to me the essence of weaverliness!

Deborah asked some questions in the comments section of my post, Warping My Bergman with Mrs. S-G.  In the course of this general overview I’ll try to answer them.


Important Points On Bergman Tie-Up

First important point:  You need a real warp on your loom.  At least 4 inches wide.  Wider, if you want to be able to evaluate your sheds, because it’s impossible to assess bad sheds when you can just hand your shuttle from one side of your warp to the other.  That’s why I did the warping post first.  You can try out your cord and your knots and learn the mechanics of your loom without a warp, but you need a tensionable warp to get a feel for how your lamms and shafts are going to behave when they’re hooked up to your treadles, how that affects your sheds, and to start making adjustments.  My first Bergman warp was a 4-shaft twill band.

Second important point:  Not all Bergman looms are the same.  Mine is one of the early ones, from the 30’s.  Later the Bergmans made a change in the placement of the lamms to improve the function of their looms.  The document “Getting Acquainted With Your Bergman Loom,” which I’m adding as a separate page (look to the side and you’ll find it), pertains to the tie-up of the later-style looms, as it dates from 1969.

I know this because I tried following these instructions exactly, but they didn’t work because my loom doesn’t have the same measurements as the looms the instructions were written for.  I’ve made a diagram to show you the lamm slant that has worked best for me after trial and error.  If your lamms are set the same distance from the floor and the same distance apart as mine, you will find this a good starting place.

Third important point:  Don’t be afraid to fiddle with your tie-up.  As you start weaving see how things go and make adjustments.  If you are using a traditional cord tie-up, this means that the cords suspending the shafts, lower lamm wires, and upper lamms will be loops, therefore doubled.  You can make fine adjustments by giving the knotted end of loop an extra twist around the cup hook on either end of the jack.  In most places these doubled cords will be attached to the loom with a simple Lark’s Head knot, which will also admit a little adjustment by twisting.

Replacing Wires With Cord

In my Bergman Beginners post I strongly recommend using the original wires that came with your loom, if you have them, because the Bergman loom was designed to work best with wires.  The wires suspend the lower lamms from the inner jacks.  You can sand them or treat them with a rust remover if necessary.  They don’t need to be perfectly straight.  If you must replace them with cord, you will want to do something like this:

Originally, I had tried it without the rings like this:

Just a Texsolv loop over a single slack cord connecting the inner jacks.  It didn’t work at all!  For some reason (partly because Texsolv is bumpy), it was necessary that the cord replacing the wire NOT have the possibility of back and forth play indicated by the arrows, in order to have each of the pair of jacks do their fair share in evenly lifting and lowering.

The rings should be strong, because a lot of pressure will be put on them.  Mine are plastic rings from the drapery section of the fabric store, meant for Roman blinds.  I chose the smaller size (just shy of 1/2″) because I could picture the larger size stretching out into ovals.  These have worked fine so far.

The only thing you need to remember when you are replacing the inner-jack-to-lower-lamm wires with cord, is that the cord has to be thin enough to slip between the shafts without causing them to pack together and produce friction.


Shaft, Lamm, and Treadle Height

Your shafts will always hang with the center of the eyes of the heddles at the same height as the top of your breast beam.  If you’ve suspended them at this height, and they still hang too low, the only correction you can make is to get (or tie) shorter heddles.  Mine are 9.5 inches long, and I kind of wish I’d tried out some that were even shorter.

Most of the time my loom works best when the top of the tips of the upper lams are 23 1/4 inches off the floor.

In theory, the lower lamms are are suspended parallel to the floor.  In practice, mine tilt down a hair.

The top of the tips my treadles are 6 1/4 inches off the floor, which means I can’t use a piece of lumber to keep the height and tension even when I’m tying the lamm-to-treadle cords, as described in the “Getting Acquainted With Your Bergman Loom” instructions.  It’s a good trick if you’re treadles work okay for you when they’re that low.  I’ve learned to eye-ball mine instead.

The big, big, thing about all this is that ALL your shafts, ALL your upper lamms, ALL your lower lamms, and all your treadles are exactly the same height.  I haven’t been able to achieve this military precision with Texsolv, as I described earlier in the Texsolv post.  Maybe that’s why Athena hasn’t yet blessed me with perfect sheds.  I think the idea is that once you’ve achieved military precision, and your sheds still aren’t even, you can tell where you need to make adjustments.

It’s all about making adjustments!  For instance, I like to tie my left hand treadles up a little tighter getting gradually looser as I go to the right.  It’s too complicated to describe why I do this mechanically (It has to do with the way the lamms behave), but I discovered my preference as I wove.


A Further Note About Tying up Bergman Treadles

If your loom has 8 shafts, you may have noticed that your treadles only have 4 holes, for 4 treadle loops.  After you have put all the lamm-to-treadle cords through your lamms for your pattern, you will tie 2 adjacent cords onto each loop with a Snitch Knot.  It goes like this:

It’s hard to tie a snitch knot if your treadle loops are too short, so watch out for that if you are making them from scratch.

With Texsolv, you’ll make loops in the lamm-to-treadle cords and secure them with arrow pegs.  Unfortunately, these are a lot harder to adjust than the snitch knots.


If Shafts, Lamms, and Treadles Make Contact

I described this in the Texsolv post.  The only thing I can say is that if your loom is like mine, yes your upper and lower lamms will probably want to run into each other, and possibly the shafts and the upper lamms.  (The treadles and the lower lamms haven’t been a difficulty for me.)  Joanne Hall talks about how to correct for this at the end of her book, Tying Up the Countermarch Loom.  The only problem is that with a Bergman (the ones like mine at least) there simply isn’t much margin for correction, because it is short in the castle.  If you’re weaving a pattern that allows your upper and lower lamms to shuffle between each other a little without sticking, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  But if you have to reach out and unstick them with every 4th change of shed–as I did with my first big project–Something Is Very Wrong.  You shouldn’t have to lose your rhythm, monkeying with your lamms!  Treadling smoothly helps.

You will figure out what works best as you start weaving.  Your sheds will never be spacious, but that’s okay if you can get them clear.  You will probably want to use old-fashioned Swedish shuttles with paper quills, the low profile kind.  That was the only kind my loom’s original owner, Mrs. S-G used, and they were Margaret Bergman’s regular type of shuttle as well.  Actually, I adore all the skinny old shuttles that came to me with my loom!  My very favorites are a pair of beautifully weighted maple ones that I’m sure were Mrs. S-G’s favorites too, since they are more worn than all the others, and she took the trouble to write her initials on them.  My treasures!  They are only a little over 3/4″ tall.


22 Responses to “Bergman Tie-Up Tips”

  1. These are wonderful posts you are writing. Perhaps there is a monograph in your future?

  2. deborahbee Says:

    Wonderful wonderful stuff. I am about to descend to the place under the loom once more. Amazingly I have achieved balance but as you wisely remark I need a warp to test it out. I am delighted that I have independently worked out the system with rings (mine are soft furnishing brass rings ) for the cords I have used to replace the wires. In my next [post I will include a photo of my Bergman) and funnily enough I inherited a shuyyle just like yours.I need to read your post carefully now. Also appreciate the drawings of knots and of a 1936 Bergman. Just like mine

  3. Leigh Says:

    I have a small shuttle almost exactly like yours! It’s lighter in color however, so perhaps a different wood. I know it’s old.

    Very interesting post. The drawings are very helpful.

  4. Laura Says:

    Thank you a million times for posting information on Bergman looms. I have been working with mine off and on for about seven months and have only been able to weave tapestry on it. If it ever does work it’s by chance, but your information will prove most helpful in getting my lamms to stop crashing!
    I also have a teensy tiny little Glimakra shuttle!

    “Portland-Metro area”? Do you live in Vancouver? I live near and attend Oregon College of Art and Craft. Nice to meet you.

  5. I’m only now beginning to understand the details in this post, as I’m finally preparing my loom for weaving. My jacks have the original metal wire, and, I think a lot of the cording, tie-ups, and even heddles are original. I’ll post pictures on my site when I’m finally tied up and warped. Thank You so much for the gems of information!

  6. Jacquelynne Says:

    If you have changed to Teksolv cord, you might like to try this method of tie-up.
    Lift the top lamms out of the way by tying them up with a cord towards the back beam. Just get them out of the way.
    Using a small hand level, level the 1st bottom lamm, bring your appropriate teksolv cord down to the eye hook. Insert the approppriate hole in the teksolv through the eye hook, wrap cord once around the hook, insert teksolv hole through eye hook again, wrap around top and slip knot.
    This will never slip AND you can make adjustments while standing at the loom and pulling at the cords,
    Do top lamms the same way. Insert Teksolv into eye hook as previously, bring up through bottom shafts, and peg with Teksolv pegs. Now adjustment can be made to those while standing also.
    It can also save time and trouble later if you drill completely through the spot on the side of the loom where the lamm pins go. Replace with a threaded rod. Much easier to add or take off lamms, and will not be so apt to make that bottom screw hole give way.

  7. trapunto Says:

    I noticed your comment on the warping post about seeing a 60″ Bergman for sale, Jacquelynne. Sounds like you went for it!

    I’m interested in this method of attaching the lamm cords to the cup hooks on the lamms. I tried it out, but I think I’m missing something. Do you have a photo of how the finished knot looks on the hook?

  8. Jacquelynne Says:

    Actually, I should have explained in an easier way. Unfortunately I can’t take a picture.
    When you attach the teksolv line(small eyelet cord) to the lamm cup hook, make it go through 2 holes rather than 1. This makes it almost impossible to slip off.
    Draw the top of the cord through the harness hole (you may have to use a threader or small crochet hook to help,) bring it down though one of the cord holes below, and fasten with an arrow peg where it has gone through. This is what I called a slip knot.

    I am now in the process of getting a proper shed on this loom. I have the board that came with the loom, and found that didn’t help a bit. Luckily since I have another countermarche, I have some idea of what I could or should try.
    I have kept the original treadle loop knots on the treadles. I have also made loop knots for the lamms, using teksolv cord (not eyelet). You could use any cord or string that will not stretch. You definitely need threaders or a crochet hook for these.
    I then cut teksolv eyelet cords for the lamms – DYEING THOSE FOR THE TOP LAMMS SO I COULD IDENTIFY THEM IMMEDIATELY. Teksolv goes through treadle loop, slipped through 2nd eye to allow for abrasion, up to lamm, through lamm loop, through hole in teksolv where it is pegged by arrow peg.

    I am measuring each treadle as I attach things. I am only using 4 of the harnesses, as this is a get acquainted weave.

    Since these will always be paired tieups, I tie the first 2 lamms nearest the front first. I go to the back of the loom to be sure the treadle is 5 1/2″ off the floor. I then tie the next back 2 lamms, using the same tension, which just means you can feel a tightness to the cord. Then on to the next treadle.

    I have found there is very little cord needed for the bottom lamm tieup. I may use small teksolv loops tied with arrow pegs, or I may use the little metal toggles used on Schacht looms when I do the next tieup.

    Once the bottoms lamms are level, it is rarely necessary to fool with them – since they go up they usually are well out of the way.

    When you test a shed you can see right away where the problems lie, and it is usually the top lamms, which are not going down enough. Look at the harnesses; if 2 and 4 are not even (on a tabby), then bring the teksolv peg down or up one or two holes ON THE TREADLE CORD, NOT THE HARNESSES.

    I have been battling a cold and getting down on that cement floor hasn’t been possible for a couple of weeks, but I hope to weave off my dishtowels soon.

    I did find those treadles to be really close together, and will be weaving in stockinged feet. Also, this loom seems to be much highter than the norm; I have found I have to use an old revolving piano stool, else my arms wouldn’t clear the breast beam!

    I hope this was of help.

  9. Susan Berlin Says:

    My recently-acquired older Bergman came with the original documentation — and it’s different from the 1969 version. If you like, I can copy it and e-mail it to you. My loom is now cleaned up, the (original) heddles all washed and counted out — and now I’m faced with trying to understand how everything gets tied up! I can see how nearly everything works — but the wires to the lamms defeat me. I don’t have a complete set, and someone has sort of randomly tied the remaining ones together at the top in a way that makes it difficult to figure out how they SHOULD be tied. Thanks so much for your explanations — I expect if I read them over and over, it will all come clear.


  10. trapunto Says:

    Congratulations on your loom acquisition! I’ll look forward to reading that documentation. Isn’t it vexing when you inherit somebody else’s jerry-rigging along with the loom? I had to replace some stretchy cotton treadle loops that looked like they were made out of cotton drawstring rope (the sort you’d use for a bag) from a fabric store. My wires were also replacements that had to be replaced with cord.

  11. Susan Berlin Says:

    Having just finished renovating my newly-acquired Bergman loom, I’m now about to move on to tying it up. I’ve read a ton of notes and articles on how to do that — some of which contradicts other information. Has anyone seen the Peter Collingwood article (from ‘Peter Collingwood – His Weaves and Weaving” 1963) on tying up countermarche looms? VERY interesting; he talks about overcoming the inherent imbalance of the several treadles through a kind of tilted tie-up. Does that make sense to people? Since I’m only just getting there, I can’t say, myself, and would be interested in comments.


  12. I was absolutely thrilled to find your information on Bergman tie-ups as well as the 1969 manual.

    I bought a 48″ Bergman with 8 shafts from Craigs List and even with the former owner coming over to help me a couple of times, I still managed to wind on the warp in the the wrong direction twice! I also had problems with my sheds but after printing out the directions and taking them with me under the loom, I was able to adjust my treadles.
    For a former Le Clerc jack loom owner, everything on the Bergman seems backwards so having diagrams and pictures and measurements really helps!

  13. kathy Says:

    I just aquired a Bergman loom and I need help understanding it. Anyone live in the Portland Oregon area? Totally ne to weaving!

  14. Eve Says:

    Kathy here I am on the site like 3 years later, just been given a Bergman loom, wow. love all your comments and I haven’t a clue what to do but really want to learn…

  15. Dianne McGee Says:

    11 months after the last post and I am part way through getting my “new” Bergman up and running. After reading all these posts, I am so grateful that most of my Bergman is still intact. I need to take the measurements suggested to the garage and finish the tie-up tomorrow. It looks like I only need to replace a few treadle cords. We’ll see if that’s all when I’m finished!!? Right? There was a warp on the loom that I decided to salvage in order to weave the previous owner a tidbit. It is tangled, matted and a bit soiled, but at least it is there so I can check the sheds, etc. I believe this must be an old one. The number is 5A36. The 36 I’m sure refers to the size. Does anyone know how to decipher the number code? It also says Bergman Looms Poulsbo WN Pat. No 2057997. That must have been before Washington’s abbreviation was WA.

  16. Gail Yano Says:

    I inherited my mother’s 8 harness Bergman loom which I believe she purchased from Margaret Bergman in Tacoma WA in the late 1930’s . Susan Berlin: I would love an email copy of the original instruction manual you mentioned.

    Also I where is the patent number and serial number on the loom? Can’t wait to start using it!

  17. gramribbit Says:

    I just got a Bergman 3C30 It must be older than all the ones I have seen to date. Do you know where I can obtain a manual or at least a photo of my type loom so I can set the strings up so I can use it.
    It doesn’t have 2 lams and there is a top rail but it has a very different harness to hold the next set of bars.
    Thank you for any assistance You can offer me.

    • trapunto Says:

      Hi Gram, congratulations on your new loom! I am the author of this blog. If your Bergman has only one set of lamms it might be a counterbalance instead of a countermarch. The mechanisms work differently. Most Bergman looms are countermarches like mine, but the Bergmans also made two kinds of counterbalance loom; here are links to blog posts about them with pictures. Does your loom look like either of these models?

      To my knowledge, there were no illustrated instructions or manuals for the Bergman looms. The Bergman family included a set of rudimentary typed instructions with their looms, that’s it. I have posted these instructions here on my blog; they are for the countermarch looms only:

      Getting started, the right book will save you a lot of aggravation. I highly recommend Laila Lundell’s Big Book of Weaving. Well worth the money. It shows clearly how to set up both countermarch and counterbalance looms and begin weaving on them. Bergmans are slightly different from typical Scandinavian-style looms (I wrote a lot of blog posts to help people with these Bergman-countermarch-specific issues, so you will probably want to check back here again later on, and read them), but in general the same tie-up principles apply across the board. Not as helpful as Lundell’s book, but with clear diagrams, and easy to find used/cheap/library: Foot-Power Loom Weaving by Edward Worst. Tying Up the Countermarch Loom by Joanne Hall is also a great resource.

      By the way, have you checked out the site Weavolution? Lots of information and knowledgeable weavers there.

      Good luck!

  18. Kay Wylie Says:

    I have a Bergman countermarch 8 harness, great shed #2057997 and A423. I Bought it in Eastern Washington. Any Idea of the age?
    I love it, it looks like its pine and oak mix wood, I have put on teksolv cords and have no trouble with them. Only drawback is the treadles are close together and I have to weave barefoot, but love it!

  19. Linda LaMay Says:

    I just acquired a wonderful Bergman 4 shaft loom- M NO 5AL2501, patent # 2057997. The tag under the castle says this loom was patented in 1936, but I don’t know if that was the manufacturing date. Is there any way of knowing? Also, Is there a source for the original set up instructions- the loom seems to have a few pages of hand typed instructions, perhaps these are the originals? I am really looking forward to setting this loom up, it is truly lovely.

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