Swapping A Loop

Sometimes, in the middle of weaving, you realize that you’ve used the wrong color of loop — here’s a simple way to make it a bit easier to  swap in a different one.

When I put in my first row, I accidentally used a white loop when it should have been yellow. I only noticed after putting in the rows above and below. Working middle rows is trickier when they are forced atop each other for the 19-peg pattern. So I looped my replacement yellow into the white loop that was there, and threaded it through in its place. Best to work it through one crossing at a time, I find, because the knot is lumpy. Slower, but so much easier on a complicated pattern than taking it out and starting from scratch.

Blocks and Crosses

Some things come off the loom and they are so perfect you can’t stand it. This is one of those things. What a delight!

The pattern is unexpected from the chart. Rotational symmetric floats form boxes that draw up on themselves. The front has four interlocking knots; the rear four connected boxes. The knots and boxes stack atop each other, so the fabric is extra thick at those four points. The result is soft and thick, yet still drapey and flexible. A marvelous pattern!

Tensioned on the loom, you see the exploded version of the front knots.
On the front, you can see 4 interlocking knots, like textile frogs.
Similarly, on the rear view, the boxes have drawn up to obscure 4 white dots you see on the chart preview (upper right corner).
The thickness is more apparent in the hanging view, here of the boxes on the back.
And here on the front view, the knots stand out from the fabric physically as well as visually. The boxes on the back line up, so the result is not distorted or wavy.

Hallstatt 74

Inspired by a 2,700 year old (late Iron Age) textile fragment from a salt mine in Hallstatt, Austria, we have a lovely 2/2 twill with 3 direction changes, generating a regular fabric with 3-floats spread among the columns. The outcome is flexible and drapey, with very little bias, so it does not skew. In honor of the Iron Age culture, I chose flax for the background, and willow (which could be produced by woad overdyed with weld.)

I happened to have 7 loops in an older dye lot of willow. This is a perfect place to use them. The stripes are separated enough that the contrast is not obvious. The pattern change seems deliberate. They will fade in use to be closer in color. And the variation honors natural dying (as you might expect, overdying woad with weld can produce *many* shades).

Hallstatt, an elegant two over two twill that changes direction in three places to produce, in combination with the threading pattern, two rows of chevrons in the same direction.

Hallstatt back, identical.

Changing direction in the 2/2 twill rows creates 3-floats in the columns. Don’t panic when you see loose columns at the points! Front view…

…and rear view, showing the 3-floats on the back columns. The adjacent rows will tie those down.

With the 5 center rows in place, all columns are locked down.

Our color pattern begins, with no change in the weaving pattern.

Here we have reached the mid-point of the chevrons, and are about to reverse our direction.

Shifting our 2/2 twill into reverse, we have again generated 3-floats in our columns, which we will lock down on adjacent rows…

Here are the full stripes in place. From here we continue in the same direction we were going, finishing out the background color.

Here is the chart for this iteration. It is doable in a traditional version, with some design modification. I would not recommend plucking a subset of rows and columns directly from this 27-peg chart.


Padded Basketweave

Let’s get ready to weeeeeeeeeave!!!! Today’s new fabric is a solid winner, with lots of color work potential. Inspired by the recent 2-float twill tumbling boxes, this pattern combines 3-floats over tabby squishy boxes, that create an amazing 3-layer fabric, thick, flat and bendy, with little bias. It draws up very small and evenly. The surface is flat, making this great for coasters and trivets. It would be great on cast iron, as it is thick yet not stiff.

I wove the first version in lavender and hydrangea alternating boxes. The color potential became clear after taking it off the loom, when the tabby-like section formed by the box centers was covered by the floats on the surface, forming a basketweave illusion.

For the second version, I highlighted the color-hiding and surface display by making a stairstep of alternating daffodil and tigerlily on the surface, with hidden white centers. It uses the same weaving pattern, with a different color threading.


Experiments in classical weave structures continue with Overshot!

This fabric has a base plainweave (tabby / over-under across each row), with a design pattern overlaid on it, created by rows with long floats. The design pattern appears to float on the surface.

This one is adapted from the Swedish Halvdräll style, in honor of which I chose flax and willow Harrisville loops. The result is textured, cushy, with tabby sections drawn up into pillow layers by the alternating longer floats on their surface.

To highlight the structure for my (and your, since I remembered to take photos!) understanding, I wove starting with the base tabby layer, using all the column pegs, and every other (even) row peg.

Having established that plainweave fabric, I then took my dozen willow loops, and wove them into the base fabric according to the pattern. You may observe that adding the new loops forced floats where there had previously been simple over/unders in the columns. Those smaller floats help pinch the longer floats in the rows into patterns on the surface, and pull the fabric along their length.

For the last 2 rows (top and bottom), instead of the design pattern as charted, I decided to plainweave (tabby / over-under across the row) both rows, to flatten the edge for a more attractive bindoff and function a bit like a selvage. (Chart update pending.)

I am curious if I could shift the plainweave rows now at the top & bottom of the entire chart (1 and 27) to be in between color row changes (new rows 9 and 19, respectively), so the surface floats could be pinched towards each other in 2×2 bundles (like the center section), instead of the 1x2x1 pinch we are getting in the top and bottom sections right now…


I mentioned to a weaving friend that I was working on overshot today… and they suggested *gauze*. And we laughed heartily… And then I did it. Lol. Who’s laughing now?

I am (as ever!) surprised by how it came off the loom. It is suitable as a light-duty potholder, and would make a great coaster. You could even sew it onto something (around 3 edges) as a patch pocket! It gently bulges. Another amazing fabric, courtesy our ancestors in string technology.

Ok, so what is gauze, you ask? Wikipedia is pretty solid here:

In technical terms “gauze” is a weave structure in which the weft yarns are arranged in pairs and are crossed before and after each warp yarn keeping the weft firmly in place. This weave structure is used to add stability to fabric, which is important when using fine yarns loosely spaced. However, this weave structure can be used with any weight of yarn, and can be seen in some rustic textiles made from coarse hand-spun plant fiber yarns.

— Excerpt from Wikipedia: “Gauze” (CC-By-SA)

Because of the crossings, I knew my warp threads would tighten up significantly, and also required more space between them, so I decided to use half as many weft loops, on alternating pegs. The last skipped row looked like it would bind off too loosely, to my eye, so I added another weft row on the last row. The result would vary depending how many weft loops were used.

Hopefully the photos give you an idea of how to work the twists. Because we are using potholder looms, with closed loops, we could experiment with putting all the twists in the same direction, introducing a skew in the final fabric that might be interesting. (Also, having done these twists makes me want to try sprang as a technique, lol.)

Postscript, February 2024: I added these notes for someone who was confused about how to weave this structure. — Matthew

The whole piece is worked split-loop, treating the two arms of each warp loop as a pair.

On your starting row, weave over/under across, going over one arm of each warp loop and under the other.

On the next row, for each warp loop, twist it so the arm that was “under” the last time comes up and over its mate, and then back down again so that it can be “under” again but on the other side when the next weft goes through.

The result is that each warp loop is twisted back and forth on alternating rows, with the same arm always being “under” but hopping over its mate to switch from being under on the left to being under on the right and back again.

The result is a light, breathable fabric — the loops are tensioned into place, so they don’t gap or flop around, but there are lots of little spaces built into it.

Early Modern Pattern Books

Piglet and I ventured out today to see the “Threads of Power” exhibit at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery, exploring the development and social significance of lace, including examples of needle and bobbin lace from the sixteenth and early seventeenth century, courtesy of Switzerland’s Textilmuseum St. Gallen.

Although the fabric examples were impressive, the thing that particularly caught my attention were a few fifteenth- and sixteenth-century examples of “pattern books” — printed collections of designs to be used as source material by people working with fiber and fabric.

Those early pattern books are notable not because they’re entirely original creative works — indeed, they’re just collecting and organizing motifs that have mostly been developed by others — instead, their value lies in the crucial role they play in propagating those ideas to a wider audience beyond the narrow limits of guilds or court society, making it easy for a wide range of people to learn existing patterns, practice their skills, create items that others will appreciate, and eventually branch out to create new unique designs while drawing on this shared heritage.

These early works provide a historical reference point for the work I do in my own life to make heraldic art and small-scale weaving patterns available to facilitate the work of today’s artisans.

It was inspiring to see examples of this type of resource dating from four hundred and five hundred years ago, and I’m very pleased that I am, in my own very small way, helping to continue this tradition.

Alienor examines two sixteenth-century pattern books
Left: Schönsperger’s Ein new Modelbuch (1524). Right: Froschauer’s Nüw Modelbüch(1561).

Schönsperger’s Ein new Modelbuch (1524). [Scans at archive.org]

Froschauer’s Nüw Modelbüch (1561). [Scans at archive.org]

Parasole’s Gemma pretiosa della virtuose donne (1625). [Scans at archive.org]

Danieli’s Vari disegni di merletti (1639). [Scans at archive.org]

Tumbling Boxes

Oh!! This one is delightful! Such fun to touch. And also easy to weave, with the same pattern shifting across each row. The texture on this one pulls to the inside of the fabric, leaving a remarkably flat surface, good for trivets and coasters. The back side is deeply waffled, or honeycombed. The front is a flat tiled surface. The potholder as a whole is small and thick.

Three-Three Offset Bands

Last week we posted about “Three-Three Offset Twill,” a weaving pattern that produced a thick and textured fabric with prominent diagonal grooves. Here’s a variation with that same texture, but reversing the direction of the grooves part way across the fabric: “Three-Three Offset Bands.”

The photos below don’t really do the three-dimensionality of it full justice. The potholder is noticably thicker than a plain-weave potholder would be, and because the horizontal weft loops puff out over the surface of the vertical warp loops, both faces of the potholder winds up showing much more of that color, with more of the warp loops hidden inside the thickness of the fabric.