The in-between yarn

I have some lovely silk that is just begging to be woven, but it has always struck me as being a little bit skinnier than wool of the same ‘size’. So, before launching into this project, I decided I should do the wraps per inch test just to be sure. I discovered it is a 12 wpi yarn and so technically needs a 6 dpi reed.

Well, this is where I had to stop and think, because the 5 would be too open and the 7.5 a little crowded. What to do? I know I could have gone the 7.5 and it wouldn’t have been a bad thing – after all it’s silk! – but I decided I’d try to actually get 6 dpi. How? By taking my 10 dpi reed and threading 6 ends out of every ten!

This worked pretty well with a pattern like so:  ||- -||- -||||- -||- -||

It also gave me a weird sense of achievement (I have conquered yarn!!!!) (*ahem*) which will only increase if the cloth turns out as silky and delicious as I imagine.

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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!

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.