Leno – True & Mock

I first learned to weave true leno in the late 70’s using a pick-up stick on my rigid heddle loom and later on experimented on my floor loom with bead leno, doup leno, as well as mock leno.

Having said that, I decided to backtrack and do some research to learn more about leno.  I found many articles in different weaving magazines as well as various descriptions in several weaving books.  My notes from Desiree Koslin’s ‘Weave Construction & Analysis’ class from the 80’s has the clearest distinction between true and mock leno:  “Mock leno weaves are those weaves which create open or lace-like effects without using leno twisting of warp ends.”

I also bought Irene Emery’s book, The Primary Structures of Fabrics (considered a classic reference book on terminology and structures of fabrics).  There’s a fascinating chapter (pp. 180-192) on leno/gauze with historical and etymological explanations as well as detailed descriptions of the various types.  Mock leno/imitation gauze is also explained on pp. 124-127.

Below are images of leno weavings I’ve done in the 80’s with additional information about each one.

True Leno:

There are two types of true leno: 1) weaver-controlled leno – the warp ends are twisted with the fingers and a pick-up stick or sword is used to help in making the twist stay in place and 2) loom-controlled leno – this includes bead and doup leno where a device is added to the loom that eliminates the tedious task of picking up the warp ends and twising them with the fingers.

Purple Top - Pick-Up Leno

Purple Top – Pick-Up Leno

Illustration of Leno Using a Pick-Up Stick

Illustration of Leno Using a Pick-Up Stick

I used a pick-up stick to weave the leno in the Purple Top.  The warp ends are rayon and cotton yarns sett at 8 epi and the weft is a thicker cotton yarn.  I drew the illustration to show a simple leno twist of 2 warps ends (1 end twisted once with 1 end).  The detailed image of the Purple Top shows a twist of 2 warp ends (1 end twisted twice with 1 end) as well as a twist of 4 warp ends (2 ends twisted once with 2 ends).  The pick-up stick is turned on its side so that a shed is created, the weft is passed through, the pick-up stick is removed and, in this case, plain weave is resumed.

If you’re interested to learn more about true leno, there are several great articles that include pick-up, bead and doup leno, all in one issue of Weaver’s magazine (#15, 4th Quarter 1991).  Also, there’s a wonderful article on doup leno on Weavezine from November 30, 2008, by Irma Spaargaren, “Give it a Twist: Doup Leno.”  If you want something really challenging, there’s a book by Ulla Nass, Harness Lace, that she published in 1977.  There is also a post by John Marshall on Japanese leno, karamiori, that is fascinating and beautiful.

Mock Leno:

Noil Silk Top - Mock Leno

Noil Silk Top – Mock Leno

Weaving Draft for Mock Leno

Weaving Draft for Mock Leno

I wove the Noil Silk Top using single/medium weight noil silk sett at 10 epi.  I wove a lot of yardage and made different things from it, and this particular piece was tie-dyed using fiber reactive dyes.  There was considerable shrinkage after the finishing process and the open, lacy effect shows really well, it’s incredibly light and I still wear it sometimes so many years later.  I got this commonly used weaving draft for mock leno from the time I freelanced as a sample weaver for textile companies.  In some of the weaving articles I read, other open weaves such as Bronson lace are mentioned along with mock leno and also discussed in Emery’s book.

Here’s a 4 shaft version of mock leno woven as Huck lace:

Huck Lace as Mock Leno (cotton sample)

Huck Lace as Mock Leno Draft

I’m not sure if this may be called mock leno:

Linen Top - Mock Leno(?)

Linen Top – Mock Leno(?)

Weaving Draft for Linen Top

Weaving Draft for Linen Top

But I’m including this Linen Top under mock leno because the fabric is open or lace-like and fits the definition of mock leno I mentioned at the beginning.  It also fits Emery’s definition because she says that mock leno is an “effect of openworks” and “not a specific structure.”  I used 10/2 linen sett at 12 epi and space-dyed the linen using fiber reactive dyes in several color batches before making the warp.  This Linen Top is one of my favorites.

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4 Comments on “Leno – True & Mock”

  1. buyathread Says:

    Nice post, Eva. I especially like the silk noil top. Tie-dyeing the leno fabric was a nice touch that I haven’t seen before.

    • evasweaving Says:

      Thanks, Fern. I really enjoyed working on this post and learning so much more now about leno than I knew about it when I wove these tops so long ago.

  2. Barbara Says:

    These are beautiful. I really like the tie-dyed top. I will have to try this. I also want to try some bead leno.

    • evasweaving Says:

      Thank you, Barbara. I tried bead leno at one time using straws cut into “bead” sizes, it was a lot of fun. Hope you enjoy your leno adventures! Eva

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