Threading double weave

Threading four shafts on your loom for double weave is different from threading a four shaft pattern, because in double weave two shafts weave the top layer of your cloth and two shafts weave the bottom.

The most immediate difference is with e.p.i., as only half the warp ends are used for each layer – i.e. if you threaded your loom at 12 ends per inch you’d have 6 ends per inch in each layer of cloth. In other words you use double the sett you normally would for that yarn.

On a multishaft loom you need to watch how you thread and watch which shafts are raised and which lowered so the two layers of cloth don’t get caught together.

On a rigid heddle loom (I think) sett is simpler for double weave. Why? Well using two rigid heddles to get 4 shafts means you automatically double your sett, so the fact you only use half the e.p.i. on each layer cancels out the initial doubling! In other words, you just use rigid heddles of the size you’d normally use for that yarn.

Using two rigid heddles also means you can clearly see your treadling – one rigid heddle will go up to weave the top layer and the other will go down to weave the bottom layer. The two pick-up sticks, that allow you to move your slot threads, are also easily seen to belong to the upper or lower layers as one is literally on top of the other at the back of the loom.

Threading is probably where the rigid heddle is more brain-bending / eye-straining, but after having done a few double weave threadings now, I’ve got a system that works for me…

Begin with four warp threads in each slot; two each for your upper and your lower layers (see the left hand diagram below). If you warp directly onto the loom, you’ll probably do this first step then, but if you use a warping board, simply see this as stage one of threading.

You then take one of the upper layer threads out and put it through the front hole to the right and take one of the lower layer threads out and put it through the back hole the left (shown on the right below).

diagram showing threading for double weave on an RH loom
Here I’ve got blue threads for my bottom layer of cloth and red for the top layer

As I continue threading, I treat each group of four threads as though they exist in isolation – ignoring all the other threads. In the end, it will look like this:

double weave threading on an RH loomAdd your pick up sticks and you’re ready to go!

The forgotten double weave cushion cover

A few months back I started talking about double weave and used some pictures of the early stages of a cushion cover, but I never followed up with a post about the cushion cover! Well, better late than never.

So, I was aiming to weave a cushion cover for an existing cushion and overall the cover came out well. There were however some stunning problems, which I’ll mention in a Bloopers post. For now I’ll stick to what worked.

The goal was to weave it so it had the same variegated weft running over both sides of the cushion, but the warp would be black on the bottom and purple on the top. This worked really well. It also made threading the double weave easier and I highly recommend different colours for your upper and lower warp as you do your first double weave project.

I wanted to do as little sewing as possible for the cover, so I decided to weave it with three closed edges. How? Like this:

diagram of my cushion cover

To explain… starting at the lefthand edge, I wove a pick of my top layer, carried my weft around the righthand edge to weave a pick of the bottom layer and then did the same in reverse. Carrying the weft between the top and bottom layers on the right, closes that edge. The left remains as two separate selvedge edges.

I closed the bottom and the top, by treating both my rigid heddles as one unit (lifting / lowering them together) for a few picks. This makes a single, dense layer of cloth for just those picks and a perfect seam!

This way when I took the cloth off the loom it only needed finishing of the warp ends, and to be turned inside out, to be ready to use. Though I might have added a little closure for the open edge to keep the cushion in place if things had gone to plan.

CushionCover1
You can see the denser seems at the warp end edges

One thing to note about the way I wove this is that, if I hadn’t woven closed the top and bottom edges, it would have unfolded to give a single piece of cloth, double the width it was on the loom. Half would have been purple and half black with the variegated yarn running the full width.

Exercises in doubleweave

Something I’ve played with recently is more doubleweave. Having done tubes and a two colour cushion cover, I decided to try doubleweave:

  • with different patterns on the top and bottom layers
  • where the top and bottom layers are swapped over for part of the weaving

The patterned piece has log-cabin on the top layer and a stripe on the bottom. This led to me trying a few new things, including threading front-to-back.

Crossing is kind of a feature of threading log-cabin on a rigid heddle loom if you direct warp, and doing that with another set of threads for the other layer of my double weave seemed like it would make a big mess. So I figured if I threaded the loom front-to-back and then wound onto the back-beam, I’d have lovely flat threads. It actually worked well.

First up, I direct warped like normal and then put some Ikea bag clips to work to hold the threads ‘in order’.

direct warping the RH loomThen I cut the threads from the back-beam and pulled all the threads clear of the rigid heddle (I only had one in place when I warped, for simplicity). I then added the second rigid heddle and threaded them. Finally, I tied onto the back-beam and then wound the warp on, under tension, removing my clips as I went. Then I tied onto the front-beam like normal.

So, it was a bit sort of backwards, but it did exactly what I wanted. Nice flat threads!

The idea for the second doubleweave piece is that you begin by weaving two layers, each with a different coloured warp and then ‘swap’ the warps part way through. How does this work?

In this little diagram, the bit on the left shows how doubleweave works; i.e. there are two separate sheds and in this case the top and bottom layers are different colours. This means you see just one colour on top while you weave, as shown by the lines to the right.  When you bring the lower warp up to the top, you then see the other colour, as shown by the blue in the middle of the last part of the diagram.

This is damn hard work on an RH loom because you have to manually pick out the warp to bring it to the top for half the picks. For the top layer that’s just a bit time consuming, but for the bottom layer it’s kind of mind-bending!

I’ll pop some photos up of this soon.

And we’re back… with a sucessfully delivered gift scarf

There’s not been a lot of weaving happening during my blogging break, mostly because of the same things that meant no blogging! But also because it was kind of tiring working on a gift scarf. (Me, a perfectionist…? Never.)

The good news is that the recipient of the scarf likes it (yay) and while it’s hardly scarf weather here, I’m hoping she’ll find it useful come the chillier months.

And how did I feel about the end product? Pretty good. My selvedges were alright and I only made one, not too visible, error in the pattern. Phew!

sample of the finished zig-zag pattern
Can you see the zig-zag pattern? It’s green and teal which I don’t think this pic shows all that well…

What did I learn from this scarf? A lot! Some of which I’ll talk about in more detail in future posts.

  1. When calculating sett with two reeds on a rigid heddle loom, it simplifies things if you just look at the front reed/heddle.
  2. Patterns in twill can change in interesting ways when you take the tension off and wash them.
  3. Just because you use a floating selvedge doesn’t stop you getting bumpy bits when you are using two shuttles… you need to think about how the floaties relate to the rhythm of the pattern.

I will say that I feel like I’ve conquered 3 shaft twill now. Though I have a few other fun patterns for 3 shaft to try! I might tackle a 4 shaft next…

Getting started with double weave

What happens after you put a second heddle on a rigid heddle loom? The double weave calls to you!

Double weave is one of the more literally named techniques in that you weave two layers of cloth at the same time. Yes, you read that right – two layers of cloth!an image of a woven shuttle holder

Now, if you’re scratching your head and going “why is that exciting?” then consider this; it means you can double the width of the cloth your loom creates, and it means you can weave tubes or weave open and closed sections (pockets) like in this example of a shuttle holder from the Ashford’s double heddle instructions.

The thing about double weave is that it can sound really complicated when you read the instructions, but it’s not. What I found most useful for getting my head around it was when I saw an image like this:

Image of two open sheds on the loom showing the two layers one above the other

The bottom shed is black and the top shed is purple and I’ve got both of them open so you can see how one sits above the other. When you weave you weave one set of threads at a time.

image of two layer of cloth being woven separately on one threading
The open edge of double-wide cloth

So, if you want to create a double-width fabric you use one shuttle and weave top layer / top layer / bottom layer / bottom layer. the u shape you get when creating double width clothThis means your weft joins the two layers together on just one side.

To weave a tube, you change the order to be top layer / bottom layer / top layer / bottom layer and your weft will join both edges.

You can weave two separate layers of cloth, by using two separate shuttles. To create pockets like in the picture above, you alternate two separate layers of cloth with sections where you treat your two heddles as one, to get a single layer of very dense cloth.

So, how does this magic happen? Each reed/heddle controls one layer of cloth, but you need 4 shafts (equivalent of an up-shed and a down-shed for each layer of the cloth) and that’s the reason for the pick-up sticks in the image of my loom.

You need to move the slot threads with pick-up sticks. This is because you need to get the slot threads for the layer you’re weaving away from the slot threads of the other layer, remembering on an RH loom only the threads in the holes actually move.

Obviously, on a multi-shaft loom you would just thread 4 shafts.

I’d say the only tricky bit of double weave is the threading, because you have to get the right threads in the front and back holes. And it’s easy to make mistakes. You can see here I crossed a bunch of my threads and this will stop you getting a shed.

image of crossed threads between the two reeds/heddles

I realise this post probably does make it sound complicated, but honestly, once you do it you’ll find it’s not really!

From 2.5 to 3

I’ve been in no hurry to put a second heddle on my loom, despite having bought the required kit, but after doing my two and a half shaft yarn-speriment, it seemed a good time to move to three. So, on went the double heddle kit and I chose to try my hand at twill.

Now the thing that I’ve been curious about with twill is it has a different drape to plain weave. In the spirit of research I decided to see how big a difference by doing my twill with the same yarns as my first scarf!

Now, I wasn’t scientific in my approach, so I ended up with more ends per inch than I’d used in the plain weave (and slightly fewer picks per inch), but the result was interesting. Hopefully this image captures that the plain weave is crisper/stiffer:

plain weave versus twill - a side by side comparisonThe twill is on the right and, despite being denser in e.p.i. terms, it is “softer”. The cotton and mohair yarns are the same in both.

Very interesting.

As for weaving with 3 shafts, well, it was easy. The treadling order became a rhythm quickly and I was surprised I didn’t have to concentrate more.

As you’ll know from my bloopers post, I did eventually stuff up the order, but I blame that on having stopped to do some leno (a manually twisted weave):section of leno in my twill scarf

That got me all out of rhythm. Still, it was also an interesting thing to try in a piece of twill.

At some point I’ll tackle a 4 shaft twill, but the next application of my two heddles is definitely double weave!