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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What’s been on the loom…

You may have noticed I’ve talked about not-quite-as-expected projects recently, but I don’t want you to think that I’m having a bad run. It’s not all sad faces and mutant cloth! No, the number of slightly wrong outcomes is partly a reflection of my sheer productivity. I haz been a weaving. A lot.

Here is a selection of the (successful) produce…

A number of finished scarfsIt has been wonderful playing with new yarns and lots of different textures!

Disaster strikes down a scarf

I was in a bit of a weaving slump this past week. A scarf I’d had high hopes for turned into a bit of a disaster, and for the most unexpected reason too. See I had a warp of mixed yarns and was so focused on what I was doing with them that I somehow managed to take my eye off my selvedge tension. Result; one wobbly edge!

The yarn on that side of the scarf didn’t help things, but I can’t blame the warp tension, or the nature of the yarn. Nope. It was me. And I wouldn’t mind quite so much if I could make it a feature of the scarf… sadly not so.

On the positive side, this particular disaster did give me a chance to do some blocking. I haven’t really done any since I knitted with some unfortunate yarn a few years back, so it was good to re-familiarise myself. It significantly reduced the wobble! Just didn’t eliminate it.

Returning to the plain weave

Since I started in on the xmas presents at the end of last year, most of what I’ve woven have been fiddly things; 4 shaft patterns, double weave and loops.  Then tablet/card weaving came into the picture and, while not fiddly as such, it has certainly given the brain some exercise!

So, after reacquainting myself with my yarn stash, I decided it was time to do some good old plain weave.

You know, I’d actually forgotten how fast you can weave a scarf? Before I knew it I was at the hemstitching point! It was also very relaxing and my mind happily drifted as I wove.

Must make a note to myself to do a plain weave project in between double weave etc, so I can relax and enjoy the weaving. Not that double weave etc were too stressful, but you have to pay so much attention to what you’re doing. This was like knitting garter stitch (I’m sure you knitters know what I mean)!

The funny thing about this project was that it took me as long to finish as to weave. That was because I added some of that fringe-like, fluffy yarn that was all the rage a few years back for knitters and it took forever to free the fringe-like bits from the web. Still, it looks pretty much how I hoped it would. Now I just need to give it a bath.

And I’m going to predict that the next project will be plain weave too.

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!

How to read a draft #2

If you read the last post on reading drafts, hopefully you now have a good idea of how they work, but be prepared to come across a couple of variations!

The most common variation is the lack of the “drawdown” so you see just the threading and treadling guides.

The next variation doesn’t use black boxes. Instead, the threading guide, shows the shaft number and the treadling guide uses slashes.

image of a weaving draft

You’ll also notice in this example, that repeats in the pattern are summarised – the 5x notation – and this is a common way to keep drafts a useable size.

Of course, not all weaving instructions are drafts. For plain weave patterns you will sometimes see instructions like this (from a Schacht pattern):

image of a scarf pattern

Here the number of ends in each colour and the colour order is shown – i.e. a threading guide – but the weft colour instruction is in the text accompanying this.

And for rigid heddle patterns – particularly those that use pick up sticks – you will see patterns written out like a knitting pattern; saying “two over, three under, two over” etc.

So, that’s the essentials of navigating patterns and drafts.

The shadowy world of colour and weave

I posted a while back about how you can make patterns when weaving, with nothing more than plain weave and alternating colours in your warp and/or weft, but I gotta say doing it was just a ridiculous amount of fun.

Log cabin was my starting point for the technique called “colour and weave”, where you alternate warp and weft thread colours in a pattern, so when you weave the result is a particular effect. This was weaving heaven! Why? Because the pattern forms on the loom before your eyes.

image of log cabin pattern showing one block of the pattern on the loo
Even with just one pattern block you can see the optical illusion
finished log cabin scarf
Finished scarf

For log cabin you alternate your threads in a pattern of dark-light-dark-light-dark-light and then light-dark-light-dark-light-dark. You can change the size of each block by changing how many times you alternate between dark and light before reversing the order. In my scarf, I used blocks of 6 threads.

I chose B&W for this scarf because the stronger the contrast between the light and dark threads, the more the pattern pops out.

There is a whole class of colour and weave that is given the lovely title of “shadow weave”. Again these are patterns where you alternate colours. and in shadow weave it’s usually a single thread alternation.

Just take a look online for images of these patterns and you’ll find a remarkable range of variation in shadow weave and the other colour and weave effects.

It’s worth noting that some colour and weave effects are done not with plain weave, but with twill – which is the other main weave structure. I’ll come back to those some other time, because it is a big area, just on its own.