TempoTreadle is a very unique solution for hand weavers with traditional looms who want just a bit of technology to help make the weaving process more enjoyable, without fear of treadling mistakes.
Here’s a picture of the back of my Macomber loom. As you can see, the little tray with the treadle sensors fits neatly inside the loom, out of the way.
I have used a couple of software applications that display the treadling sequence. They are very nice at the start as you “learn” the pattern, but I find it disrupts my rhythm with the need to both look at the screen and press to advance every few picks. In addition, I also have found that I sometimes press a wrong treadle and don’t realize it until an inch or so has been woven. I do not enjoy unweaving!
I love it when I get into the rhythm of weaving a pattern, but there was always a little anxiety that I was too relaxed and may inadvertently “get lost” or make mistakes. Thus, a few months ago, my quest to solve this was underway! I have a background in software development and could imagine a combination of software and hardware that would be just what I needed. I talked to a friend who loves to work with electronics and software development; he came up with an ingenious device that inconspiciously detects the treadles pressed and combines that with software to follow a WIF (standard Weaving Information File). When using this, I have it set to alert me with an “error beep” when I make a mistake. I love not having to look at a screen or paper while weaving.
This is a wonderful device that doesn’t require any modification to my loom and gives me exactly what I wanted. To date, this is been used on three different looms and works flawlessly!
In early testing, we quickly realized there were a few things we’d need to accommodate. For example, the software accommodates those tie-ups on certain looms that cause an extra treadle to move when another is pressed. The software uses the tie-up to determine the intended shafts that are lifted, then uses logic to determine if the treadles detected impacted the correct shafts. It works!
The software also accommodates treadling sequences that require more than one treadle pushed at once. You can also ignore “tabby treadles” when weaving something like overshot where the tabby treadles aren’t in your treadling sequence. In a future version, we’ll test this on a table loom that essentially looks like a direct tie-up. It should work well there as well.
After the first prototype was proven to work, we’ve made a few improvements on the software. The software is now able to display the color code from the WIF, and optionally beep on a color change. I decided it would be nice to be able to count total picks, total sequences woven, have a free-weaving mode (detecting treadles, but not following a WIF), and to be able to reset where I was in a sequence without treadling through the pattern. The little device is super easy to use. It has a rotary dial for a menu, and a place to put in an SD card with your weaving pattern. It doesn’t require any type of internet connection, just a little power!
Hardware for TempoTreadle:
1. Small Display Box: Printed from 3-d recycled organic PLA material, the circuit boards are contained within, along with a display and slot for an SD card (so you can load WIF project files). The box is approximately 5 inches by 3 inches, and can be attached to the loom via Velcro in a convenient spot, such as on the left side of the castle.
2. Cables: A neat ribbon cable runs from the display box down to a small power supply and to the floor.
3. Treadle Sensors: Contained within a narrow track are the sensors for the treadles. The track is placed under the back of the loom, directly below the treadles. Small magnets are attached to the ends of the treadles with Velcro or double-sided tape.
Software for TempoTreadle:
The software is something you never have to load or touch. TempoTreadle does not require any type of interface to a computer, requires no internet access, and is totally self-contained. The only interface is the small SD card (like those used in cameras) to transfer your WIF file.
The software is written to accommodate from 2 to 16 treadles at the current time. The software is “intelligent” in that it recognizes the tie-up and treadling sequence to know if the correct shafts are impacted based regardless of what treadles are detected.
Quick version of how to use TempoTreadle:
Tempo treadle will display the previous, current and next treadles expected. It also displays any treadles detected as they are pressed. If the treadles are as expected in the WIF, an optional “ok beep” is sounded. If the treadles pressed do not equate to the shafts expected, then an error “beep” is sounded.