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.
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.
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.