Exploring leno #2: basic technique

Is it hard to make leno? Not really. You do a normal row of weaving to start the leno, then the twist row in the middle and you finish with a normal row. As long as you have a pick-up stick, your fingers and some wool, it’s pretty straightforward.

Now despite my dislike of whole rows of leno, that’s what we’re about to do! Just because it’s practical when you’re trying it for the first time.

I need an even number of warp threads, because I’m going to twist one thread around another (i.e. each twist uses two threads). Incidentally, this is called 1:1 leno. It’s important that, whichever side you start from, you are raising the edge thread.

After I do a normal row, I’m ready to create my twist. I’ll start with a “closed shed”, i.e. no shafts are raised or lowered here – everything is in neutral. I lift the first pair of warp threads with my pick-up stick, working in front of the heddle:

The first leno step

Then I use my fingers to take the first thread of the pair (thread furthest from the end of the stick), lift it over its friend and drop it off the end of the stick:

Leno steps 2 and 3

You repeat this for every pair of threads, all the way across:

Continuing to work leno across the warp

Then you turn the pick-up stick on its edge to make a shed and pass your shuttle through:

Using the pick up stick to create a shed

Use the edge of the pick-up stick to beat the weft, and then remove it:

Half of the leno

This is half of your leno! To finish, bring your heddle forward to push the twists n the warp threads toward your fell line and then weave a normal row with the heddle up, beating firmly:

The completed leno

Ta dah! That is how you make a row of 1:1 leno. If you want to follow this directly with a second row of leno; you make another twist row and finish with another normal row. How easy is that?

The one tricky thing with leno is the draw-in. The twist row will draw in more than the row above and below it. Sometimes this is used as a design feature of leno, but to avoid it means practicing having the right amount of weft in the shed. For that reason, sampling is a very good idea.

If you decide to use anything other than wool (natural or acrylic) for leno, sampling is also definitely your friend, because smoother fibres will generally give you taller “windows” in your leno than grippy ones like wool.

A final note: If you found twisting your threads a bit awkward, you might want to try another approach to it (to follow in another post) or you can try starting from the other side of the web. Generally, you’ll use your non-dominant hand for holding the stick, but it might work better for you the other way around!

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