Posted tagged ‘color-and-weave’

Turned Twill Adventures

September 24, 2013

It all began with our new dining room table that needed a functional and pretty runner.  I say functional first and pretty second because this project was going to be designed so that form follows function and not the other way around.  I must confess that sometimes I do weave things out of curiosity without thinking too much about what useful things I can make from them.  The pattern I designed for the table runner turned out to be a traditional turned twill block design woven with lustrous pearl cotton.  I liked the clean lines between the warp-float and weft-float areas in this design and wondered what a design with fuzzy lines would look like, so I tried that too.  Here are photos and drafts of the runner followed by a few more daring adventures:

Turned Twill Woven Table Runner – 4 Blocks

I wove a few samples first, one with a pearl cotton warp and a linen weft that was lovely, but I liked the colors of pearl cotton I had in my stash better.  So I wove the table runner using 5/2 pearl cotton for warp and weft with a sett of 24 epi and about 21 ppi, using a very firm beat.  A wider sett of maybe 20 or 22 epi would have been better for a more balanced weave woven with a lighter beat.  I wove a few inches of plain weave at the two ends with a thin 20/2 cotton so that I could turn and hand stitch a hem for a neat and lasting finish.  I should mention that I used a floating selvedge on each side that was not threaded through a heddle, only sleyed through the reed.  The woven piece was washed in the washer on gentle and ironed while still damp.  The finished runner is 18 inches wide by 60 inches long, perfect for our table:

Turned Twill Woven Table Runner, 4 blocks, pearl cotton, 2013

Turned Twill Woven Table Runner, 4 blocks, pearl cotton, 2013

I weave on a 16-shaft treadle loom, good for a 4-block, 3/1-1/3 turned twill pattern.  I designed a profile draft where Block A is threaded 1,2,3,4; Block B – 5,6,7,8; Block C – 9,10,11,12; and Block D – 13,14,15,16.  The treadling blocks are the same as the threading blocks.  The direction of the twill lines depends on whether you treadle top to bottom or bottom to top.  I chose to weave it so that the warp-float twills go left to right and the weft-float twills go right to left on the side that I wanted to show when I place it on the table, the way you see it in the above photo.  You can repeat the blocks in a profile draft to your liking, easily accomplished with weaving software, and with block substitution you can try it out with different weave structures.  Below are the profile draft followed by the thread-by-thread draft and a close-up of the draft that shows how the warp and weft are interlaced:

PROFILE DRAFT for Turned Twill Woven Table Runner, 4 blocks

PROFILE DRAFT for Turned Twill Woven Table Runner, 4 blocks

Draft for Turned Twill Woven Table Runner, 4 blocks

Draft for Turned Twill Woven Table Runner, 4 blocks

Close-up of Draft for Turned Twill Woven Table Runner, 4 blocks (interlacement view)

Close-up of Draft for Turned Twill Woven Table Runner, 4 blocks (interlacement view)

Without elaborating too much, I would describe turned twill as an uneven twill, and in this project, blocks are made up of 4-end units of 3/1 twill and 1/3 twill.  The contrast between warp-float and weft-float areas on the same side of the fabric can be used to design many kinds of patterns – from stripes to fancy figures.  Sometimes turned twill is referred to as twill damask.  Irene Emery describes it in great detail in her book, The Primary Structures of Fabrics.  To learn more about blocks and profile drafts, I recommend Madelyn van der Hoogt’s book, The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers, Chapter 5: From Blocks to Units.  I think Madelyn also has a video out about block weaves.  I have a few past posts with profile drafts, you can find them if you go to my home page and click on “Profile Drafts” in the Categories cloud.

Networked Twill Woven Fabric – Turned Twill with Fuzzy Borders

After the table runner project, I continued experimenting with turned twill but digressed and kept only the tie-up and instead of blocks I tried networked threadings and treadlings.  I liked the fuzzy borders, very different than the clean cut ones in traditional block turned twill, and the longest float was still only 3.  I also read an article by Alice Schlein in Handwoven magazine in 2001, “Network Drafting – Turned Twills on Eight Shafts,” that inspired me to experiment with this idea.  Below is a photo of some yardage I wove from one of my designs using 20/2 cotton in alternating dark and light colors in the warp and a solid color for the weft, at 42 epi and about 40 ppi.  I washed the yardage by hand and ironed it while it was still damp.  The yardage is a bit narrow in width, about 16 inches, not really functional for my purposes, but hey, it’s kind of interesting and I may use it for next year’s Fine Threads Study Group at Complex Weavers, cut into swatches for members of my group:

Networked Twill Woven Fabric, cotton, 2013

Networked Twill Woven Fabric, cotton, 2013

Below are the drafts for the fabric.  If anyone would like the WIF file with the complete thread-by-thread draft, let me know.

Draft for Networked Twill Woven Fabric

Draft for Networked Twill Woven Fabric

Close-up of Draft for Networked Twill Woven Fabric (interlacement view)

Close-up of Draft for Networked Twill Woven Fabric (interlacement view)

More Turned Twill Drafts – Variations

These are drafts I like but haven’t tried to weave.  This one with a 5-end advancing twill threading and treadling illustrates the fuzzy borders between the warp-float and weft-float areas, and the longest float is 3:

Draft for 5-end Advancing Twill

Draft for 5-end Advancing Twill

Here’s an 8-shaft, traditional 2 block draft and the dramatic change that you see when color-and-weave is used on the same draft – 4 dark and 4 light ends alternating in warp and weft:

Draft for 8-shaft, 2 block, Turned Twill with color-and-weave version

Draft for 8-shaft, 2 block, Turned Twill with color-and-weave version

And here’s the same draft as the previous one, with some fun colors for the color-and-weave effect:

Draft for 8-shaft, 2 block, color-and-weave Turned Twill

Draft for 8-shaft, 2 block, color-and-weave Turned Twill

Hope you enjoyed reading about my Turned Twill adventures.  Just one more thing…

Something Completely Different:

E-Reader Case, Crochet, pearl cotton, 2013

E-Reader Case, Crochet, pearl cotton, 2013

OK, this is not woven, but I just love this little crochet case with the little button that I made for my e-reader.  It’s just simple continuous single crochet with 5/2 pearl cotton going round and round and then back and forth for the flap, finished with a double crochet edging.  It’s sitting on a shadow weave mat so there is some weaving in the picture!

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Color-and-Weave Diamond Twill Scarf

May 31, 2010

I recently started to learn how to design and use profile drafts with my weaving software.  My prior experience with this was mostly with a pencil on graph paper or by copying and pasting rows and columns of blocks using Excel, a spreadsheet program.  I’m also learning how to use a feature called “block substitution” in my weaving program that can generate patterns of different weave structures directly from a profile draft.  Amazing!  A profile draft is made up of blocks and is a shorthand notation of a thread-by-thread draft.  To learn more about profile drafts check out Kerstin’s website: Part 1 and Part 2 of her clear and enlightening explanation about this topic.

Starting out with a fairly simple 4-block profile draft, I tried several different weave structures and chose a diamond twill (turned twill).  I liked it but I just had to see what would happen if color-and-weave effects were added.  I liked it even more and wove this scarf:

Diamond Twill Scarf with Color-and-Weave Effects, Pearl Cotton, 11″ x 72″, 2010

Diamond Twill Scarf with Color-and-Weave Effects, Pearl Cotton, 11″ x 72″, 2010 (Detail 1)

Diamond Twill Scarf with Color-and Weave Effects, Pearl Cotton, 11″ x 72″, 2010 (Detail 2)

To weave the Scarf I used 5/2 pearl cotton with a sett of 20 e.p.i., washed the finished piece by hand, air dried it until almost dry and then steam ironed it.  Here are the profile draft and thread-by-thread weaving draft for the Scarf:

4-Block Profile Draft

Draft 1 – Diamond Twill With Color-and-Weave Effects Generated from 4-Block Profile Draft

The colors I chose, blue and red/orange, appear to mix (referred to as optical mixture or visual mix) as the viewing distance increases into a lavender-like color, and the pattern appears subtle with small areas of color next to one another.  Drafts 1, 2, and 3 are identical in threading, treadling and tie-up and the only variable is color.  So, if instead, I would have woven the Scarf with solid colors in the warp and the weft, there would be larger areas of colors next to one another and the pattern would be more striking with less optical mixture and look like this:

Draft 2 – Diamond Twill Generated From 4-Block Profile Draft

The size of the areas of color next to one another and the viewing distance is important in how optically mixed the colors appear.  There are also other important factors: 1)  value – how light or dark the colors are in relation to each other, 2) hue – what color family they belong to such as the warm family of red, orange and yellow or the cool family of green, blue and violet, and 3)  intensity – purity of the color, whether it has black or white mixed in it.  There is more optical mixture if the colors are not only small in area and are viewed from a distance but are similar in value, hue, and intensity with value having more effect than hue or intensity.  So, if I wanted the pattern to be even more striking with even less optical mixture I could have used a lighter blue and a darker red/orange and it would look like this:

Draft 3 – Diamond Twill Generated From 4-Block Profile Draft

I learned about color theory in an art class back in college in the 70’s, and Josef Albers’ book, The Interaction of Color, was the guiding textbook for the course.  We had to go to the Library to be able to see the early version of the book that had all the color plates in it.  What an inspiration that was!

There are a series of incredible articles on color theory in “The Weaver’s Journal” magazines.  Unfortunately, these magazines are probably not easily available but libraries or local weaving guilds might have them.  The articles, “Color Theory for Handweavers” are in four parts written by Pat Boutin Wald:  Part I: The Basics (issue #38, Fall 1985), Part II: Visual Mix (issue #39, Winter 1986), Part III: Visual Illusions with Color (issue #40, Spring 1986), and Part IV: More Visual Illusions with Color (issue #41, summer 1986).

Lastly, here’s an enjoyable way to learn about color theory, from a lecture at the Textile Museum in Washington D.C. on color in oriental rugs and textiles.  Thanks to the weavers who recommended it!

Just one more thing – there are links to other posts I did about color-and-weave on my “Weaving Drafts and More” page.

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Color-and-Weave Medley on 4 Shafts

January 4, 2010

Margaret Windeknecht studied color-and-weave and wrote about it in her books, Color-and-Weave and Color-and-Weave II.  Her article, “What Is Color-and-Weave?” in Weaver’s magazine #20 (1993) is the best concise explanation I have come across about this topic.  Her work has inspired me so much, and I’m sad she passed away in March, 2009.

Briefly, color-and-weave refers to a pattern effect that you perceive as a result of the combination of a weave structure (the way the warp and weft interlace, as in plain weave, twill, etc.) and the sequence of light and dark or contrasting colored warp and weft threads.  For example, shadow weave falls under this category and is described as a color-and-weave effect with a mostly plain weave structure.  I find that the pattern is most prominent viewed close-up when using fine threads and at a distance when using thicker threads.

I have explored shadow weave and wrote about it in some of my earlier posts as well as in my article.  With inspiration from Margaret’s books and Marian Powell’s book, 1,000(+) Patterns in 4, 6, and 8 Harness Shadow Weaves, I recently designed an alpaca scarf and a few samples with my weaving software.  Below are images of the woven pieces with their drafts.  I tried to capture with my camera the softness and lightness of the alpaca scarf, the springiness and surprisingly nice feel of the acrylic/wool sample, and the sturdy and flat feel of the cotton sample.

After a bit of research, I learned that alpaca is often woven as plain weave or twill with a proper sett and the finished cloth is sometimes brushed well for a stable and soft cloth.  But my curiosity led me to try something I always wanted to do:  weave an alpaca scarf so the yarn remains lofty and to do that I decided to weave it looser than I normally would.  I used 4-ply alpaca (1600 yds./lb.), 12 e.p.i. sett, a broken twill (I think that’s what it is) threading with color-and-weave effects.  I hand washed the finished piece, lay flat to dry (shrinkage was negligible), and lightly brushed both sides.  It turned out super soft, stable enough so the yarns don’t shift even though it’s loosely woven, the brushing probably helps to keep the yarns together.  Here it is:

Alpaca Scarf (color-and-weave), 9 x 68, 2010

Weaving Draft for Alpaca Scarf

I wove the acrylic/wool sample using a type of wool-ease knitting yarn that’s 80% acrylic and 20% wool, machine washable and dryable.  I used a 10 e.p.i. sett, again a broken twill threading with color-and-weave effects, hand washed the sample and machine dried it, shrinkage was negligible.  I was surprised at how the pattern resembles overshot.  This could work well for an easy-care, soft scarf.  Here’s this sample with its draft:

Acrylic/Wool Sample (color-and-weave)

Weaving Draft for Acrylic/Wool Sample

The final images are of the cotton shadow weave sample and its draft.  I was having fun with the draft and just had to see how it would look woven.  I used a 20/2 cotton doubled up and a sett of 24 e.p.i., washed it by hand, ironed while still damp and shrinkage was about 10%.  A table runner might work well with this yarn and pattern.

Cotton Sample (shadow weave)

Weaving Draft for Cotton Sample

If you like looking at color-and-weave drafts, there are 475 of them at!

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Double-Width Woolen Blanket in Plain Weave (with color-and-weave effects)

November 24, 2009

In my study of handweaving, one of the first things I was really excited about learning to weave was double-width cloth.  Way back then my first floor loom was a 4 shaft, 36 inch wide jack loom, and I wanted to weave a woolen blanket that was wider than the width of my loom.  In addition, I decided to weave it using color-and-weave effects.  The images below don’t show it well, but I did make a few mistakes such as the “fold” mark that shows at close inspection and the selvedges on the open sides are not very neat.  Next time I would try to weave it better by using some of the tips I learned in my recent research that is included in the Additional Notes at the end of this post.

Woolen Blanket, 1983, 60″ x 80″

Woolen Blanket (detail)

I created the weaving drafts to illustrate how I wove the Blanket.  Draft 1 shows a commonly used threading and tie-up for plain weave, double-width cloth.  It helps visualize the top and bottom layers, and the notes describe how to weave it so that one side is open and the other side is closed (the fold).  If you want to weave a tubular cloth you would simply eliminate one warp thread at one end, begin at either side and treadle 1, 2, 4, 3.  Draft 2 shows how I used dark and light colors to create the color-and-weave effects.

Draft 1 for Woolen Blanket (showing plain weave double-width structure)

Draft 2 for Woolen Blanket (showing color-and-weave effects)

Additional Notes:

For the warp I used a light weight two-ply (2/10) Vermont virgin wool (dark navy and white) that was spun with extra twist in the singles and in the plying so it was easier and stronger to weave with.  I used the same yarn for the white weft and a singles less tightly twisted wool yarn for the dark gray weft.  I sleyed the reed double than for a single layer cloth (10×2=20 e.p.i.).

The Blanket was 36″ wide on the loom (72″ if opened) and about 100″ long.  Once removed from the loom, I braided the fringes and started the finishing process:  it went into the washing machine with a little detergent, about 10 minutes in the hot water, regular cycle, then in the rinse cycle, and finally in the dryer (knits setting) for about 30 minutes until it was dry.  It shrunk to about 60″ x 80″ , about what I wanted, just a little felted and pretty soft.  You would need to sample and experiment to see what you might expect for a final result because there are variables such as the type of wool yarn, the sett – a closer sett can result in a firmer and smoother felting, different washers and dryers perform differently, timing – longer agitation in the washer usually results in more felting, it can also be hand washed and air dried, etc.  There are some links to a few online articles about the finishing process of woolens in my post, 2/2 Twill: Handwoven Woolen Wearables.

One of the problems in weaving double-width is the fold line that can show when it’s opened up.  To remedy this some weavers use a temple (stretcher) but then some don’t like the temple, some skip a dent before sleying the last two warp ends on the folded edge, and some use weights on the last few warp ends to compensate for the natural drawing in at the edges.  Because it’s hard to see what’s going on in the bottom layer, some weavers use a mirror while weaving to catch any mistakes.  I found a great online article at from the Master Weaver series (February 1953, #7), “Double Weaves, Circular and Double-Width Cloth,” that discusses in great detail the problems of the fold line.

In her wonderful book, Exploring Multishaft Design (chapter 7 on double weave), Bonnie Inouye has some tips for weaving double-width cloth.  One of her tips for the fold mark problem is to use “helper” warps, a few extra strong yarns next to the real warps (threaded through the same heddle and dent) that are removed when the weaving is off the loom.  The Master Weaver article I mentioned earlier also has something about removing warp ends: to pull out some of the warp ends where they’re too close together and hoping that it will even out after washing.

I would also recommend at, Paul O’Connor’s monograph, “A Reference Guide for Double Weave.” I find to be a great online resource because not only can you find thousands of weaving drafts but you can search by topic and find lots of articles and books to download and study.

If you’re looking to weave double-width cloth in a weave structure that’s different than plain weave you will probably need at least 8 shafts.  For example, there are several excellent articles about double-width overshot in Weaver’s Magazine, issue #34 (Winter 1996).  Unfortunately, Weaver’s Magazine is out of print but you can find back issues on ebay.

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