There is absolutely nothing like a multi- shaft loom to make weaving magical. Recently, I bought a used 40 shaft loom from a friend. I already had a 24 shaft loom which was and is perfectly fine, but the 40 was on my bucket list and available, so I bought it. It had to be torn down to be transported and after a few days of anguish thinking that my husband and I might never get it back together, it started to come to life again.
My first warp was on a straight draw threading and some so-so cotton. I looked in the Handweaving.net and found some liftplans and wove off napkins - each in a different design. All the while, I'm thinking to myself - I don't know how to design for this many shafts! Then, another warp for scarves. This time I played around with designs and used 32 shafts and a four shaft basketweave selvedge. Fun - yes, but I was still not making my new loom sing.
Finally, I got out my copy of Marian Stubenitsky's Echo and Iris. Her designs only go up to 32 shafts so I knew that I was going to have to absorb a lot of the information in her book and make it my own for 40 shafts. My first task was to do a skeleton double weave tie up for 40 shafts. Trying to keep everything correct for 40 shafts and 80 treadles, proved to be an eye-boggling task. I finally discovered that I needed to make a straight draw threading and then convert it to a parallel threading, use my skeleton tie up and a straight treadling sequence and look at the draw down. Errors in my tie up stood out in the draw down and I was able to fix them and then go to the next step. Turned taqueté and turned samitum were easy design work. The four color double weave was a bit more challenging.
I warped the loom, using my tension box and spool rack in four colors. The sequence was red, blue, green and yellow. My designs had three echoes in the threading.
As I watched what was happening on the loom, I was totally enthralled. The four colors moved around in the pattern and interacted with the weft color or colors. I finally felt that I was starting to utilize the power behind all those shafts.
Since this warp, I've been designing for the next one. This time I'll use just one echo with two colors in the warp and a variety of double weave tie ups. I'm feeling back in the swing of things and have more ideas than time. 40 shafts are lovely indeed!