Designing Accidental Weaves

I recently came across a “Master Weaver” article on handweaving.net from 1956, “Accidental Weaves (Drafts based on Theory of Probability)” and was fascinated with the idea of designing weaving patterns this way – randomly.  It’s suggested in the article that you can get an accidental sequence of numbers by using a telephone directory, opening a large book with page numbers, rolling dice, roulette or even bingo.

I started by choosing to design on 8 shafts and came up with the threading draft by randomly hitting the number keys (1-8) on my computer’s keyboard until I had a total of 38 numbers.  After a few experiments on my weaving program I deleted 1 and ended up using repeats of 37 because the number of floats were now reduced to 5 or 6 which would be better for a more stable fabric.

The fun really began with my attempt to create a random tie-up:  I wrote the numbers 1-8 on 8 garbanzo beans (why not?!), put them in a cup, shook the cup and picked one out at a time, did this four times for each treadle (did not use the number if it was a repeat).  The first three samples were woven this way, weave-as-draw-in treadling, with different color combinations.  I used 20/2 cotton, the sett is 42 e.p.i. and I aimed for a balanced weave.  I really like the color-and-weave ones the best.

Accidental Weaves - Sample 1

Accidental Weaves – Sample 1

Accidental Weaves - Draft Sample 1

Accidental Weaves – Draft Sample 1

Accidental weaves - Sample 2

Accidental weaves – Sample 2

Accidental Weaves - Draft Sample 2

Accidental Weaves – Draft Sample 2

Accidental Weaves - Sample 3

Accidental Weaves – Sample 3

Accidental Weaves - Draft Sample 3

Accidental Weaves – Draft Sample 3

The next three samples are at a slightly wider sett of 36 e.p.i. and they are less random because I played around with the tie-up so it’s more regular as are the treadlings.

Accidental Weaves - Sample 4

Accidental Weaves – Sample 4

Accidental Weaves - Draft Sample 4

Accidental Weaves – Draft Sample 4

Accidental Weaves - Sample 5

Accidental Weaves – Sample 5

Accidental Weaves - Draft Sample 5

Accidental Weaves – Draft Sample 5

Accidental Weaves - Sample 6

Accidental Weaves – Sample 6

Accidental Weaves - Draft Sample 6

Accidental Weaves – Draft Sample 6

I was delighted when I posed a question about accidental weaves on WeaveTech and so many people thought it was a fascinating topic.  Here are a couple of links from people to their blogs where they write about their experience with accidental/random weaves:  Alice’s Weaverly (here and here) and Maggie’s Textiles.

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4 Comments on “Designing Accidental Weaves”

  1. Cindy in FL Says:

    Just amazing samples; thanks for sharing! (I liked sample #1 the best-it was balanced and random)

    • evasweaving Says:

      Thanks for your comment. I’d like to mention that when I asked about accidental/random weaves on a couple of weaving forums some of the terms and references people used in their replies were: fractal mathematics, Ralph Griswold’s monographs, bar codes, random number table/generator, sudokus, name drafts, genetic code, Luigi Veronesi’s paintings (he used parts of Bach’s compositions to create color sequences), Microsoft Excel’s “random” function, odd-shaped dice used in fantasy games, kids making random weaving patterns on the computer, etc. It’s so fascinating!

  2. buyathread Says:

    Sounds like you had fun. I liked 1 & 4 best, probably because they looked the most random. What next?

    • evasweaving Says:

      Thanks, Fern. You ask what next? I’m working on networked drafts for the next post – there’s a lot to explore on this topic.


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