Shaft Switching

Snakomg along grid

Design was created in a Cross Stitch program then copied into a document for further manipulation. Feel free to copy this design for your own use. If you would like the full picture and more details use my contact form.

Rug weavers use large floor looms to weave a variety of rugs and in order to achieve greater design variations many weavers install a Shaft Switching Lever device.  The opportunity to create more diverse and intricate patterns is  the greatest reward. Personally I have found the introduction of SS levers (Shaft Switching Levers) to my looms gave me renewed interest in rug weaving.  The  design possibilities were endless. Yet because you are still dealing with blocks you can also design to a precise pattern.  I will post copies of designs created on my computer. Here I must refer to Peter Collingwood’s books.  Peter was the inventor of the SS system I use.  His first book published in 1968  called “The Techniques of Rug Weaving” it is the most comprehensive manual for anyone interested in rug weaving.  Here there are references to SS on pages 313-316, 322, 327, 330-331. This was his earliest foray into the possibilities of SS.  Peter’s next book “Rug Weaving Techniques Beyond the Basics” first printed in 1990 revolutionizes the SS System for weavers. Here you can see how the lever system was designed and by following his instructions and pictures can make the system for yourself. The shafts that are designated for the switching on my looms are Shaft 1 and Shaft 4.


My very first loom (see story My New Toy) was a strong, sturdy countermarche loom very suitable for fitting SS levers. The loom came with 8 shafts.  So I removed 4 before fitting the levers.  The loom has two sets of jacks therefore space needed to be considered for the wires coming down from the castle that hold up the shafts. This didn’t seem a problem as long as you keep your levers the correct size.  The levers measure 18 mm. by 15 mm and 13 cms long. The reed is 4EPI . This produces a quality thick rug when using 3 threads of carpet wool. The tie-up once in place remains the same. I have 10  treadles but have only tied up 8.  Try to keep the most used treadles in the center and sequence them so you move from left to right when weaving. With a 3 end block you cannot produce tabby.  You really only need 4 treadles to produce the weave but I tie-up the other four as support. My tie-up is:   (T =Treadle):  T1, (1/2) … T2, (2/4) … T3, (1/2)T4, (2/4)…  T5, (1/3) …T6, (3/4) T7, (1/3) T8, (3/4)

When weaving with all lever to the back I throw shuttle A (colour on back) from left treadling T3 (1/2).  Shuttle B (colour on front) from right treadling T4 (2/4). bubble your weft then beat these rows together.Next  shuttle A ((colour on back) from right treadling T5 (1/3). Shuttle B (colour on front) from left treadling T6 (3/4).  and again beat these two rows together. This is one complete block for the three end block weave. The treadles used in sequence T3,T4,….T5, T6,  are in the center so it is easy to manipulate and less stress on your body when moving from side to side.  Also note that I have the levers over the back of the system when using this combination. Below I have pictures of my edges when using this method of treadling.

The enclosed pictures show the shafts after installation and in the process of being set up.  As your tie-up will always be the same the only change will be the width of your rug determining how many levers are used.


Fitting levers

Finished ready to weave6

Levers tied up ready to weave.

EDGES OF RUGS When I weave a rug that is two different colours on both sides (which is most of the time) I am particular about the way the edges are formed.

Here is a picture of the front of this rug.

Here is a picture of the front of this rug.

This is the back of the rug. Notice the dark edge which is the colour on the front. To achieve this effect follow the pictures below.

This is the back of the rug. Notice the dark edge which is the colour on the front. To achieve this effect follow the pictures below.

Left side being woven. The treadling is the same as listed at the begging of the article.

Left side being woven.  If you follow this method you will achieve the dark colour along the edge of the back of the rug.The treadling is the same as listed at the beginning of the article.


Right side of the rug. the loom is threaded as listed above

Right side of the rug.  Following this method will produce the line along the edge on the back of the rug.

You can see the jacks clearly in this photo

You can see the Jacks clearly in this photo.


Here I have pictures of the loom set up for 3 end block weave. It is a Horizontal Countermarche loom. You can see the cords holding up the Jacks don’t hamper the weaving process. This is a no name brand loom that I bought secondhand. It has been reinforced and weaves very solid rugs. My other loom with the 4 end lever set up is a Glimakra.


The design for this rug is called Corporation. A quick rug to make with not many lever changes.