Weaving patterns #6 – distorting with floats

A while back I spent a week playing with the different patterns that floats can give you, but one I didn’t tackle back then was honeycomb. Partly because this one really needs some extra shafts (you can do it with pick-up sticks, but the pattern changes often) and I was just looking at pick-up sticks.

The beauty of this type of honeycomb is that by alternating the position of weft and warp floats you distort the web/cloth slightly and this creates lines in the plain weave sections. Now I did too narrow a sample to really show it (I was obsessed with using up thrums on this!), but you can see the diagonal lines forming between the weft floats…

small sample of honeycomb weaveAny weaves that use floats to distort the cloth, work best if you use a heavier yarn to highlight the pattern. In honeycomb that means using a heavier weft (which I didn’t do) so that the “cells” have an outlined appearance.

So what other weaves use floats in a similar way? Well, you can also “deflect” or “bend” warp threads to create curves. Called deflected warp it again works best when the warp to be deflected is a heavier yarn:

sample of deflected warpHere, when the floats shrink in the wash the tug the warp in different directions and pull the warp threads into shapes.

That is another thing to note about these woven patterns; they don’t show until you take the cloth off the loom and increase in strength after washing. So don’t panic if they look uninspiring while under tension on the loom!

Weaving patterns #5 – texture

There are quite a lot of ways to add texture to weaving. Ones I’ve already talked about are:

There are also “finger manipulated weaves” which I’ll cover in another post, but I thought here I’d talk about something you see in some patterns almost as a side effect…

a textured 4 shaft weave
This draft creates a raised texture as well as a colour pattern

So here the weft is skipping sections of warp and making a surface texture as well as a colour pattern. This is a favourite draft for me since I tried it! I was so excited to see the texture on the surface (bonus!).

4shaft draft from handweaving.net

In a serendipitous blooper, I put the colours the wrong way around the first time (the first image above). I got lovely chunky sections of raised colour against a flat, black warp, and that gives the cloth a different character.  Some time I’ll do this draft in all one colour just for the subtle texture.

I suspect a few of these broken twill patterns would yield a similar result, so I’m on the lookout for this in drafts now!

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…

A lifetime of potential (drafts)

When I first decided on getting a rigid heddle loom, I was a bit worried that there wouldn’t be many patterns to weave with just two shafts. Then I came across handweaving.net and was pleasantly surprised at the number of two shaft/two treadle patterns that this wonderful free website has.

Scarily and excitingly, there are a bazillion more for 3+ shafts and treadles. You simply couldn’t weave them all in a lifetime I think!

So, if you’re comfortable with reading drafts and you are looking for inspiration, then check it out. The search function isn’t always perfect and some of the thumbnails are a bit teeny, but those are completely irrelevant quibbles in the context of what an amazing resource it is. I also love that you orient the draft to any of the corners so it doesn’t matter if you prefer your treadling order top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top.

One trick I would suggest though is to print the drafts in greyscale to get a full idea of how the pattern will look. It may just be a personal thing, but some of the colour combo’s get in the way of me really seeing the patterns.

Where am I at?

Many moons ago, my mum (also a yarn craft-er) gave me a nifty little tool called a line maker, for marking where you’re at in a pattern. Intended (I think) for cross-stitch, I realised it was perfect for following where I was at with a weaving draft!Counter1

It consists of a metal board with two magnets. One holds the pattern down (the grey strip to the left of the picture) and the other (which is a little ruler) you use for tracking where you are at.

Trying a complicated threading for the first time, this has been an invaluable helper. Thanks mum!

Patterns #4 – warp and weft floats

So, I’ve been talking about floats over the past few posts, but what textures can creating floats give you?

The answer partly depends on whether you’re creating weft floats, or warp floats, or both. To have a play, I did a skinny little sampler with a couple of techniques (I apologise for the blurry photos):

image of cloth on the loomAt this point I’d done – from the cloth beam – some “3/1 lace” (weft floats), then some windowpanes and some “spot lace” (warp and weft floats).

Weft floats are created the way I outlined in my last post. For warp floats, you insert the pick-up stick the same way to get the desired slot threads, but you then use it in an up-shed and slide it forward to the reed/heddle, keeping it flat.

Then I did windowpane with some supplementary weft (black, to match my black warp), which you can see on the left:

image of two pick up stick textures
The sampler is sideways here (black warp, white weft)

And on the right I was playing with the spot lace idea in regular rows.

The pictures here are all of unwashed cloth. What I found with the first sample I did with a pick-up stick was that the weft floats get tighter and more subtle on washing. That’s at least the case with these bamboo/nylon yarns I’m using.

Keep in mind too that if you create a weft float on the front of your cloth then you’ll have created a warp float on the back and vice versa. This may or may not matter depending on the use of the cloth and the effect you’re after.

Finally, I went a little crazy and created some weft loops!

an image of weft loopsThese aren’t technically floats, but I thought they deserved a mention!

In a future patterns post, I’ll talk about some other pick-up patterns, but these are some of the simplest ones.

The joy of floats

In weaving, a float is where a thread skips going “under” (or an “over”) and carries across 2+ threads. They can be weft floats or warp floats and they can appear on either side of the cloth.

image of my third sample on the loom
Me playing with floats in an early sampler

While they are used for patterns and textures, they are also an integral part the two other main weaving structures; satin and twill.

diagram of twill
Twill structure

Satin is largely floats and that’s why it’s so smooth; the floats are only caught down occasionally. While twill is based on short floats that are slightly offset with each repeat, giving it the diagonals it’s famous for (think of denim). In a way, plain weave is the odd structure out for having no floats at all!

While satin and twill are structures, not patterns, a lot of “colour and weave” patterns use floats to give different effects. Here is one of my favourites – pinwheels – where the curvy, spinning effect is created with a few well-placed floats.

pinwheel pattern
Itching to try it!!

Keep in mind that the longer the floats, the less stable the structure of the cloth will be and the more subject to abrasion. Also, the more likely that baby’s fingers/toes and other things can catch on them.