Posted tagged ‘chenille’

Diversified Plain Weave (variation): Pillows & Scarves

October 16, 2011

My latest weaving projects – pillows and scarves – are very different in their appearance and function, but they share a common weave structure, a variation of Diversified Plain Weave (DPW).

In my research, I found an early reference to DPW in G. H. Oelsner’s, A Handbook of Weaves (downloadable at, first published in 1915.  Oelsner describes diversified weaves as patterns that “can be obtained by adding or removing risers from a ground weave,” and calls them “diversified plain weaves” when the ground is a plain weave.  In later books and articles there are references to Klara Cherpov’s 1972 monograph, “Diversified Plain Weave,” that seems to be a definitive study on the subject.  DPW is sometimes described as a weave structure where one color of heavy warps and another color of heavy wefts form a pattern and are tied down by fine warps and wefts that form plain weave.  The woven cloth is two-sided with the reverse pattern showing on the back.  There are no long floats, the surface is tightly interlocked so it’s great for such uses as upholstery fabric.

I then came across Madelyn van der Hoogt’s article, “Thick ‘N Thin Again” in Weaver’s magazine #36 (Summer ’97) where she describes a new variation of DPW that I decided to use for the pillows and scarves.  This new DPW is more appealing to me than the original DPW because it seems easier to follow and in some cases allows for more blocks with fewer shafts.  Some weavers prefer the original DPW because they say they like the surface structure of the woven cloth better.  For more information about DPW, Judy (Fibres of Being) has some great drafts and detailed notes about it.  Madelyn van der Hoogt’s book, The Best of Weaver’s: Thick ‘N Thin, is a compilation of many articles about it that were first published in various issues of Weaver’s magazine.

Below are images of the pillows and scarves with drafts and notes on how I designed and wove them.

Diversified Plain Weave (variation) Wool & Pearl Cotton Pillows

Diversified Plain Weave (variation) Pillows, wool and pearl cotton, 15″x15″, 2011

Diversified Plain Weave (variation) Fabric for Pillows, wool and pearl cotton

Diversified Plain Weave (variation) work in progress on the loom, wool and pearl cotton

Diversified Plain Weave (variation) Draft for Pillows

When it comes to block weaves, I sometimes like to design a pattern in the tie-up rather than start with a profile draft.  About two years ago I designed a Summer & Winter table runner this way.  Experimenting with different swirly patterns in the tie-up, it was great fun watching the pattern evolve until I liked it enough to use for the pillows.  Note the thick and thin warps and wefts in the draft and how they interlace to create this weave that looks a little bit like needlepoint in the woven cloth.  Erica de Ruiter’s article in Weaver’s #44 (Summer ’99), “Petit Point Scarves,” shows a beautiful scarf with an intricate pattern woven on only 3 shafts that is also similar to the newer variation of DPW in a free-form pick-up technique.

I wove the fabric for the pillows using a tightly twisted 4-ply worsted type wool as the thick warp and weft (except the lavender pillow weft, I think, is a 2-ply woolen type) and 20/2 pearl cotton as the thin warp and weft.  I wove a few small samples first with different setts and finishings and ended up using 24 e.p.i., 3 per dent in an 8-dent reed, 2 thin and 1 thick per dent, with almost the same p.p.i.  Using 2 warp beams, one for the wool warp and the other for the cotton, helped eliminate any potential tension problems.  I know that wet finishing is best for wool in most cases but since these are decorative pillows I chose to only steam iron the back side of the fabric.  This preserved the loftiness of the wool in the front and at the same time softened the stiffness that the cloth had when it came off the loom.

Since I weave on a 16-shaft treadle loom, it would have been difficult for me to weave the pattern the way you see it on the draft because many shafts tied to one treadle can be very heavy to lift without some kind of lift assist.  So for easier lifting, I rearranged the treadles (divided the 14 shafts tied to one treadle to two treadles, placed them in the center and pressed with both feet) and reversed the other tie-ups so the back side of the pattern was facing up as I wove.

Diversified Plain Weave (variation) Chenille/Rayon/Cotton Scarves

Diversified Plain Weave (variation) Scarves, chenille-rayon-cotton, 9″x65″, 2011

Diversified Plain Weave (variation) Draft for Scarves

After having some success weaving a shadow weave chenille scarf some time ago, I thought I’d try chenille again but together with other fibers.  I wove a series of scarves using rayon chenille (1450 yds./lb.) as the thick warp, rayon bouclé as the thick weft, and 20/2 cotton as the thin warp and weft.  The sett is the same as for the pillows, 24 e.p.i., but the p.p.i. is a bit closer at about 28.  The possible color combinations are endless and by changing the color of the thin warp and/or weft the saturation (intensity) and value (light/dark) of the heavy warp/weft colors may be altered in subtle ways.  The draft for the scarves shows only one possible color scheme and doesn’t represent the actual number of repeats I used.

As the weaving progressed, the chenille became slack while the cotton remained tight, so winding the chenille separately on a second warp beam was very helpful to correct this.  If you don’t have a double warp beam, on a short warp you can insert a rod and suspend it with weights so the chenille warp is weighted down enough to even out the tension.

To finish the scarves, they were first washed with a little detergent and rinsed on the gentle cycle in the washer, agitated for only half a minute, spin dried carefully (you can roll them in a towel instead), and laid flat to dry.  Instead of placing them in the dryer as I usually would with chenille, I steam ironed them because the rayon looks beautiful this way and the chenille, even though it’s flattened, has a sheen to it.  Also, instead of fringes, I hand sewed hems on these scarves.


I’m sorry to share some sad news, my weaver friend, Fern (also known as “buyathread”), passed away on September 14 after a long illness…

In Memory of

Fern Devlin


Friend, fellow weaver and blogger, renowned scarf designer, and a truly nice person.  Fern, you will be missed and never forgotten.


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Shadow Weave #4 (version using variegated colors of chenille)

May 29, 2009

Below are images of a different version of the rayon chenille scarf I wove, this time using black and variegated colors.  To view images of the other similar scarf, the weaving draft and notes on finishing techniques click on Shadow Weave #4 (& my experience weaving with chenille).

The more you weave with chenille and discover what works best for you, all the effort is worth it in the end!

Shadow Weave #4 Variegated Colors Chenille Scarf

Shadow Weave #4 Variegated Colors Chenille Scarf

Shadow Weave #4 Variegated Colors Chenille Scarf (detail)

Shadow Weave #4 Variegated Colors Chenille Scarf (detail)

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Shadow Weave #4 (& my experience weaving with chenille)

May 8, 2009

I have worked with chenille in the past but was never quite satisfied with the results because I encountered problems with the finished fabric such as worming (tiny loops of the yarn appear on the fabric), the fabric shed too much when I shook it, and the fringes became partially untwisted.

So I asked other weavers how they solved these problems.  Su Butler recommended that I use a closer sett that was very helpful.  I also read Ruth Blau’s article (Rayon Chenille: A Primer) in issue #41 of Weaver’s magazine that I highly recommend.  The article also includes step-by-step instructions on how to weave a beautiful rayon chenille “Snowflake Shadow Shawl.”

Ruth gave me permission to quote from her article and here are some points to keep in mind:

“A rayon chenille of 1450 yds/lb, for example, should be sett at 15 or 16 epi for plain weave and as close as 20 epi for twills.”

“Because chenille has a tendency to ‘worm’ (little loops of the fiber migrate to the surface of the finished fabric), choose structures with no floats or very short ones.  Plain weave is the safest choice.  Shadow weave, a plain-weave structure with occasional 2-thread floats, can also be used….”

“There may be as many ways to finish chenille as there are weavers who use the fiber….” Ruth goes on to describe three ways of wet finishing that work well.

I recently wove some rayon chenille scarves and I’m happy with the results.  Below are images of one of the scarves, the weaving draft and a description of the finishing techniques I used.  The weaving draft is from a pattern I tweaked (#8-8-11) from Marian Powell’s book, 1,000 (+) Patterns in 4, 6, and 8 Harness Shadow Weaves.

Shadow Weave #4 Chenille Scarf

Shadow Weave #4 Chenille Scarf

Shadow Weave #4 Chenille Scarf (detail)

Shadow Weave #4 Chenille Scarf (detail)

Shadow Weave #4 draft

Shadow Weave #4 draft

Shadow Weave #4 draft showing structure

Shadow Weave #4 draft showing structure

  1. I used rayon chenille (1450 yds/lb) sett 18 epi and a floating selvedge on each side.
  2. After removing the woven scarf from the loom, using a fringe twister I tightly twisted the fringes (2 ends with 2 ends).
  3. I then washed it and rinsed it by hand in lukewarm water, placed it in the washing machine on the spin cycle only and stopped it every now and then to make sure it doesn’t crease too much.
  4. Next, it went into the dryer with a couple of towels on low heat and I alternated between heat and air dry (my dryer is temperamental) being careful it doesn’t get too hot and removed it when it was completely dry.
  5. I trimmed the fringes and put a little bit of anti-fray fabric glue on the bottom of the knots.

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