A little weaving project to get back into the swing of things

I decided that, seeing as I haven’t woven anything too much in recent months, I should ease back into the weaving thing with a small project. But what to do?

Well, as it happens, I have a satchel which until a few months ago had a beautiful image on it. Then the image decided to fall apart, one flake of PVC at a time! So, I picked apart the sewing holding the image panel and measured it for a new woven panel…

This is the panel freshly washed and dried:

spot pattern woven panel

Trust me that the colours are a lot brighter than this photo indicates!

Now I just have to sew it into the existing seems of the bag (guaranteed that won’t be as simple as I just made it sound) and then I can flaunt my new wearable woven around town!

I should add that I was moderately proud of my edges considering it’s been a while… and I was very pleased that I remembered to make the right adjustment for draw-in.

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Shaping on the loom

Due to my long history as a knitter, I’m always checking out what people are doing with their needles. One knitted item that’s been showing up a lot is the “shawlette” and I think they’re a great idea because you can use it as a shawl or as a scarf and – as a knitter – you can do all manner of patterns and stitches!

But I’m not knitting right now. I’m weaving. So could I make a shawlette on the loom? I figured I could.

Here is the unwashed, cotton “proof of concept” shawlette. It certainly proved the the concept worked!

A woven shawlette
I couldn’t resist messing with the colour of the points.

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Spots and dashes

It’s early days for me to be discovering a favourite pattern, but that might just be what’s happened! First I did it in black and green and now I’ve done it in black and a variegated…

Scarf with green spots on a black ground

image of spot pattern scarf
Not a great pic – I’m awkwardly holding it up in mid air

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I love about this pattern, aside from how easy it is to weave, is that you have so many colour combination possibilities… I’m already planning my next version.

The other pattern I’ve played with recently was a sort of “dots and dashes”:

image of a patterned scarf

detail of sparkly yarn patternOf course I also chose a very hairy, sparkly yarn for my pattern which makes the pattern less clean, but I like the effect overall.

 

I’m loving being able to create so many different patterns with 2 shafts and just different yarn combos. Even though I now have a second heddle kit for my loom, I’m not ready to use it yet!

How to read a draft #1

Weaving drafts can be a bit brain bending at first, because all you see is a graph without any words. Also, because the little coloured boxes in the draft mean different things depending on which part of the draft you’re looking at! Once you get the hang of them though, they are a great tool.

So, let’s start with a draft for some basket weave, and imagine you’re sitting at your loom looking at this cloth; the bottom edge of the diagram is your cloth beam and the top edge is your fell line.

Because it’s basket weave it goes over, over, under, under:

diagram of basket weave

To create this over, over, under, under structure we need two shafts with pairs of threads alternating between shaft 1 and shaft 2:

threading diagram

So this part of the draft is your threading guide, with the black boxes indicating which warp thread goes on which shaft (for a rigid heddle loom, what goes in slots or holes).

How do you know which lever to press to raise, say, shaft 1? This is shown in another set of boxes to the side of the threading guide and is called the tie-up:

diagram of a tie-up

Here a black box indicates which shaft is tied to which lever or treadle. (With rigid heddle looms these are the up-shed and the down-shed.)

Finally, we need to know which lever / treadle to use for each pick of weft, so in the third set of boxes – the treadling order – a black box indicates a lever:

treadling diagram

And this is what the final draft looks like:

weaving draft for basket weave

The big area in the middle is called the draw-down and shows how the threads interlace. This isn’t always included.

Nor are the two sets of coloured boxes along the outer edge that show the colour order for warp (bottom) and weft (side) always shown.

One final note: In this example I’ve shown the threading guide and tie-up at the bottom of the draft, but you often see drafts where this sits at the top. The only difference when a draft is laid out like that, is you read the treadling order from the top to bottom rather than – as here – bottom to top.

In another post I’ll look at other ways that weaving patterns are written.

Rigid heddle looms and two shaft weaving

As I dicussed in my post about what looms do, most looms have “shafts” that allow you to lift a specific set of warp threads when you need to.

The rigid heddle loom is a bit of a special case, because it acts as a 2 shaft loom, even though all it’s heddles are all linked together. How does it achieve this? Well, by having a reed with “slots” and “holes” as you can see in the pic below.

image of the reed from a rigid heddle loom

When you raise the reed into an “up-shed”,diagram of sheds the threads in the holes get lifted up to form the top of the shed. When you lower the read into the “down-shed” position, you pull the threads in the holes down to form the bottom of the shed.

The threads in the slots don’t really move – the slot allows the reed to move around them as it is lifted or lowered.

This allows you to do some fun patterns using plain weave and techniques where you manually manipulate different threads.

Generally, the plain weave patterns will be determined by warp and weft colour…LogCabin4a

…while the manual manipulation of threads gives you textures. image of my third sample on the loom

There’ll be a lot more to come on this!

One thing to keep in mind when looking at colour patterns for 2 shaft looms, is that not all of them will conform to a neat slot/hole/slot/hole pattern. It’s easier to explain this if you think of your slots as “shaft 1” and the holes as “shaft 2”.

In some cases, a pattern might require you to thread the reed:

shaft 1/shaft 1/shaft 2/shaft 1/shaft 1/shaft 2

You can do this with a rigid heddle, but it’s important to keep in mind that the reed partly determines the spacing of your warp threads, so if you start bunching too many threads into a single slot, you might hit a problem.

The alternative is to spread the threads over multiple slots, but skip the holes between them – again, assuming this doesn’t mess with your warp spacing (sett) too much. Skills to learn!