A Few Corrections

I’ve just published updated versions of a few charts to correct errors; in one case it was merely a typographic mistake but in others I had reversed either the loop colors or the over/under weaving pattern in a way that garbled the charts.

My thanks to Allie Hoffman, Brie Zobel, Kathryn Kelly, and Teri Stratford for writing in to let us know about these issues.

If you’ve previously run into problems with any of the “Parallel Chevrons” or “Floating Double Circle” patterns, please accept my apologies and grab a fresh copy from the charts page so that you have the corrected version.

Unfortunately, occasional mistakes like this are hard to avoid in “live” projects like this, where we don’t have a separate editorial team or dedicated test-weavers to double-check our work — so we’re very grateful to those of you who are willing to try out the charts that are marked as “New!” and let us know when something has gone wrong.

If you spot a problem, please do drop us a line, either in a comment on the relevant blog post or by using the Contact Us form — and thanks for being part of our team!

Visiting Harrisville

We took a brief family vacation this week to see the eclipse, and on the way home we detoured through Harrisville, NH to visit the folks at Harrisville Designs, makers of the Friendly Loom potholder-weaving loops.

We had a lovely conversation with Nick, the managing director at HD, and Hope, their creative manager, as well as the team that runs the retail shop. It was great getting to talk to folks who are so deeply engaged in this field, and to express our appreciation for their work.

We look forward to visiting again in the future, and perhaps taking a tour of the production facilities.

[Postscript:] A few people asked about the shop, so I figured I’d add a note about it here. The retail store fills nearly the entire first floor of that building, and it’s spacious and bright.

Potholders are just one part of their business, so the loops are all over in one corner, while the rest is filled with various kinds of yarn for knitting, crochet, traditional weaving, and so forth. The staff is all super friendly, and they host various kinds of local crafter gatherings.

The product offerings and prices are all basically the same as what you’d find on their website, but seeing them in person was nice — if you find yourself in southern New Hampshire, it’s definitely worth the visit!

One of the original Cheshire Mills buildings, now home to Harrisville Designs.
The Friendly Loom potholder section of the store.
Obligatory selfie in front of the old mill.

Recent Website Updates

Frequent visitors to our site may notice a few changes that rolled out over the last day or so.

The biggest of these updates is that the full list of charts has moved from the front page to a secondary page; this hopefully makes the front page a little less overwhelming to first-time visitors, who are now greeted with a bit more introductory text and navigation options.

Among those new navigation options are links to browse just one section of the chart listing at once; for folks who know they only want to work in plain-weave or are looking for a specific style of twill, this should make the search for charts slightly smoother. This section filter also appears as a pull-down menu on the chart listing.

A less obvious addition is a new option appearing at the top of the chart listing: a “Show Images” checkbox. Turning this on reorganizes the page to include thumbnail images of each chart, making it much easier to scan through the designs for one that catches your eye.

I hope these changes make our site more useful to readers, but if you run into any rough edges or have suggestions for how to further improve it, please let us know!

Lozenge Twill Madness

Lozenge twill, sometimes called diamond twill, is an attractive family of weaving structures that produced by reversals in twill direction.

I say it’s a “family” because there are many variations, depending on how frequent the reversals are — ranging from little “birds-eye” twills up to big chunky diamonds — not to mention the variations produced by switching between 2/2, 2/1, 3/3, or any number of other twill ratios.

But how many such patterns are there, given the constraints of our tiny potholder looms, and how different would they look? A bit of web-searching failed to turn up an answer, so with Piglet’s help, I decided to try to explore this question systematically.

The results were startling — even just confining ourselves to 2/2 twill, and the limited canvas provided by the traditional-size loom, there are hundreds of distinct possibilities.

I charted a few dozen of them, and Piglet got to weaving, figuring that by sampling a few points in the space of possibilities we could decide which ones were the most attractive, and add those to the collection on our website.

… but they were all lovely, and it’s impossible to decide!

I’m not sure the world really needs a hundred different lozenge twill potholder-weaving charts, but I figured I’d start by presenting some of what we found and we’ll work out the rest of the details as time goes on.

You can view the first tranche of more than fifty charts in this PDF file, and I’ve included an analysis of some of the similarities and differences between them below.

Pattern Comparison

To understand the relationships between the patterns that appeared at different scales, I gathered small versions of each on a summary diagram.

The diagram shows a range of repeat sizes, along with two variations available at each size. (Each of these variations also has an equivalent with inverted colors, which I am omitting for simplicity.) Below each miniature chart is a label that encodes some information about it, explained more fully below.

Next Steps

As you scan across the diagram, you’ll find various motifs that repeat in adjacent charts, and similarities that emerge at regular intervals across them, and you can guess at charts that might look good side-by-side as a pair… but it’s important to remember that the woven products will look different than these digital charts, and the real test is when the loops come off the loom and draw up into their final fabric form — so it’s no use just staring at the pictures, you have to dive in and weave them up and see how they turn out in real life.

… which is exactly what Piglet has been doing. More photos in the next post!

About the Chart Labels

Each image on this grid is labeled with [Half Repeat Width] / [Half Repeat Height] — [Center] [Adjacent].

The repeat scales are shown as half of the number of loops in the warp or weft before the pattern repeats.

The center and adjacent values refer to the “spot” in the very center of the design, and to the corresponding spots that are diagonally adjacent to it; they are shown as:

  • A: black dot
  • B: black plus
  • a: white dot
  • b: white plus

Each image’s center/adjacent values can be one of the following:

  • AA / BB: tiles all same colors, same center.
  • Aa / Bb: tiles alternating colors, same centers.
  • AB / BA: tiles all same colors, alternating centers.
  • Ab / Ba: tiles alternating colors, alternating centers.

At each given repeat size, the pair of images will fall into one of these groupings:

  • AA + Bb: identical black-dot tiles paired with alternating-color plus tiles.
  • Aa + BB: alternating-color dot tiles paired with identical black-plus tiles.
  • AB + BA: black-dot and black-plus tiles; paired versions are same pattern but offset.
  • Ab + Ba: tiles have mixed centers and colors; paired versions are inverted and offset.

Updated PDFs Available with New 2023 Charts

We’ve posted a lot of new charts over the last year, but haven’t gotten around to updating the combined PDFs that let you download the entire collection at once.

The turning of the year seemed like a good time to rectify that oversight, and so over the last week I’ve taken a pass through all of our files and published the results as a complete PDF of the 2023 edition.

There is a lot of new content, with 94 new designs bringing our collection up to 343 distinct patterns. More than half of those designs are available in multiple sizes, with 168 new pages giving us a grand total of 528 charts in this edition.

If you’ve already downloaded and printed the December 2022 edition, there’s a separate PDF just of the new charts added in 2023 so you can print those and add them to your existing collection.

Also new in this edition are separate files by weaving style. If you know you particularly like shadow weave, or you only want to work in twills, you can download separate files that contain only those types of charts.

You can further narrow your selection by loom size, as there are separate files for seven-inch (18-peg “traditional”) and ten-inch (27-peg “pro”) looms. All in all, we have almost two hundred charts for seven-inch looms, and just over three hundred charts for ten-inch looms.

We hope these charts are useful to you, and we look forward to seeing what you create!

Searchable Index

The front page of this site, which contains a listing of all of our published charts, now includes a simple search feature that makes it easier to locate specific charts.

When you visit the home page of potholders.piglet.org, you’ll see a gray field near the top prompting you to “type to search.”

As you type into that field, the list of charts on the page will be filtered to only show matching entries. For example, if you type in “basket” the page will show only basketweave patterns.

Searching only works on the visible titles, so this will not find descriptive commentary that may appear in the comments area on an individual chart.

You can filter for charts by size, so if you type in “19” you’ll see only patterns which include a 19-peg chart.

Search Links

You can also include search terms in links, so if you send someone a link to https://potholders.piglet.org/?nine they will see a listing of just the nine-block charts.

This allows linking to individual charts such as https://potholders.piglet.org/?hallstat, or just the PDF files with https://potholders.piglet.org/?pdf.

Regular Expressions

The search feature uses your browser’s regular-expression engine, so you can search for “17|19” to find patterns with either a 17-peg chart or a 19-peg chart.

These can be included in links, so https://potholders.piglet.org/?waffle|padded will lead people to a page displaying patterns which contain either “waffle” or “padded.”


December Edition

The December edition of our potholder design collection has been posted as a downloadable PDF. It contains 249 designs, many at multiple sizes, for a total of 360 charts. All of the individual charts are also available as single images on our website’s home page.

A total of 109 designs have been added since October, of which 40 are available in multiple sizes. The new charts are highlighted in the table of contents, both online and in the printable document. If you already have the earlier edition, you can download just the new charts as a separate PDF.

Many of those are described in recent posts by Piglet here and on Facebook, including photos and commentary on the resulting potholders.

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]

October Edition

The October edition of our potholder design collection has been posted as a downloadable PDF. It contains 135 designs, many at multiple sizes, for a total of 211 charts.

Of those, 46 designs and 72 charts are new in this edition. The new charts are highlighted in the table of contents, both online and in the printable document. If you already have the earlier edition, you can download just the new charts as a separate PDF.

Many of those are described in recent posts by Piglet here and on Facebook, including photos and commentary on the resulting potholders.

Also published at the same time is a new edition of the blank-chart templates, which now include options for split-loop designs.


Adapting A Pattern: Diamonds Case Study

Some of our weaving patterns are adapted from historical sources, but at times this journey can require a fair amount of revision until we settle on a final design we’re happy with.

For the curious, here’s an example of one such journey. I was flipping through images on handweaving.net when one particular design caught my eye.

Detail from “Softened Diamonds,” handweaving.net pattern 74570

I started by choosing a section of that design to replicate as a 27-peg potholder weaving pattern.

I handed this off to Piglet, who promptly wove it up, marking up the chart as she went along.

However, when it came off the loom, the results were disappointing — those long floats weren’t consistently stabilized, and some of them mashed together, producing a design that was no longer symmetrical.

Nonetheless, the diagonal tile effect was attractive, and I was determined to salvage something from this, so we brainstormed a revised design that utilized only the center section, repeated over the entire fabric.

Piglet wove this one up just as quickly, and we crossed our fingers that it would be an improvement.

When it came off the loom, we were pleased to see that the results were much more regular.

But we were still not content with the center of the individual tiles, which lost their crosspieces when off the loom, leaving just a set of angled bars that broke the four-way symmetry of the diamonds.

We were pretty sure we could fix this by switching the center pick of each tile,

And sure enough, that wove up pretty much as we expected:

The result is much more evenly symmetrical.

This version of the “Diamond Tiles” pattern has now been added to our portfolio, along with a related version named “Open Diamond Tiles” that has a bit more space in the middle of each tile.