reducing to expand

I’ve been weaving the scarves for the summer show on the Megado. This is so that I can use 16 shafts rather than 8 and get richer results from the echo weave threadings. However, my Megado is not a very big loom. The weaving width is nominally 70 cm (about 27″) but in pratice I haven’t managed to thread anything wider than 60 cm (24″) because of the near impossibility of using all the heddles on all the shafts. After finishing, then, we’re looking at a maximum width of about 55 cm (22″); in order to weave anything more substantial I need to use the Delta. So, having been asked whether I could produce something like these recent scarf designs but in a wider format, I have had to give it some careful thought.

The advantage of the 16 shafts is that there is space for different things to happen. I have tried to illustrate this on the image below, though I can’t help feeling I would do a better job if I used a pencil and paper rather than trying to edit a draft in Photoshop! I haven’t done anything clever in the draft: the threading is an advancing twill with a parallel threading line offset by 4 shafts, the tie-up is a mix of 1/3, 2/2 and 3/1. For the zig-zag treadling I am not using the whole tie-up. I experimented until I found a slice of it which gave me the most contrast at the edges of the cloth* and then re-pegged the chain accordingly — I have left it as a slice for this image, however. The little skip at the turning point is just to help keep the float length down.

16 shaft zigzag extract

The important practical point is that the threading advances in a fairly tight-knit group, so that there are distinct sections which correspond to different things happening in the tie-up. The green ovals show an area of threading on shafts 11-15 which corresponds to a weft-faced section of the tie-up when we are near the turning point of the treadling. The same part of the treadling produces a warp-faced area for the ends on shafts 3 -7, highlighted by the blue ovals.

On 8 shafts there is simply less space for these distinct areas to form. It is not too bad with only one warp layer…

8 shaft advancing twill with zig zag treadling
Draft 1

…because the slowly advancing threading provides some of that grouping of the shafts needed to produce warp-faced areas and weft-faced areas.

However, when you have two warp layers, even with a modest offset of 3 shafts, each little area of threading is suddenly spread out over most of the loom.

8 shaft advancing twill echo with zig zag treadling
Draft 2

The result is a much less clear-cut distinction between warp- and weft-faced areas, and in practice the density of the warp means that the weft won’t get much of a look in once the cloth is finished. Not that you don’t get attractive effects! After all, that’s why we do these things, isn’t it? But is there anything I can do to make the draft above look more like the 16 shaft version below?

16 shaft recoloured
Draft 3

The most obvious thing which occurs to me is to stick to a single warp layer and either paint it or blend different solid colour yarns to get a colour-change effect going. I’d like to persist with the echoes, though, and try a few other options. For one thing, I haven’t tried fiddling with the tie-up yet. The tie-up in draft 2 is 1/3/3/1. Suppose we made that 1/3/2/2 and maybe spread out the treadling a bit?

Draft 4
Draft 4

OK, it’s beginning to be rather difficult to see what’s going on! The effect is much more subtle, but there are definitely broad areas of weft, of dark warp and of light warp. I don’t know how structured the pattern would appear in cloth form, but I would quite like to weave this one and see how it turns out.

Taking another tack, one of the nifty things about my dear old Delta is that it has 14 treadles. This gives me some freedom to play with the tie-up even more. Supposing I started with a 1/3/3/1 tie-up but shaded into something else part-way across?

Draft 5
Draft 5

Now I do like that. It’s like the 16-shaft version seen through a fog… And it is almost completely unreadable, so FYI the tie-up looks like this:

shaded tieup
Draft 5 tie-up

I’ve no idea how the 2/2 areas would work out in practice, so that’s a very strong motivation to weave it.  I’ve got a gazillion or so other drafts I’m tinkering with, but it’s dinner time!

* Why would I do that? Because the contrast between the face and the back of the cloth is one of the key things which makes this photo so effective.

reducing to expand” was posted by Cally on 14 July 2013 at

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6 Responses

  1. Sandra Rude
    | Reply

    I would also try different “offsets” between the warp layers. Odd numbers are good – try 5? Or, try a 3/2/1/2 tie-up? What about making the length of the threading units longer or shorter? The nice thing about the interleaved threadings is that there are so many variables to juggle. It can, however, become a huge time sink!

    • Cally
      | Reply

      I’ve noticed that time seems to speed up when I’m playing around with these things! The last week has vanished… And my file names are also getting longer and longer as I try infinitessimal variations in threading, offset, tie-up etc. I’d adopt a system of abbreviation but my usual practice is then to forget what it means!!

  2. Meg
    | Reply

    Curiouser and curiouser, Cally. I’m trying to think eight – I’ve not had a eight-shaft loom save the tiny sample loom, and since that’s all that’s available to me, I keep thinking of networked twill, but not one in two layers/styles. Thanks for the head up – I might modify some of my past networked twills and turn them into something interesting… Or stick with the simple stuff I’ve come back to. (Moms are table looms, too, so I can’t get too complicated lest I get bogged down in the lifting, you see…)

  3. Bonnie Inouye
    | Reply

    Cally, I will be teaching echo as part of my 3-day workshop for Handweaver’s Studio of London in November. This one is called Opposites Attract and it is about using extended parallel threadings. You are on the right track with your drafts. Of course you cannot get just the same effect on 8 as you have with 16, but there are ways to play with the 8-shaft drafts to make the cloth look good from a distance and also with a close view. Using all of your treadles is a good idea, assuming they are comfortable for you to reach. You are lucky to have long legs!

    You could try advancing the treadling point instead of repeating it. Another way to avoid the longer warp floats coming from points in the treadling is to use network drafting, which can still give pointed designs if this is important to the look. I am not sure it will give the look you want, but it is worth trying on the screen.
    Bonnie Inouye

    • Cally
      | Reply

      Thanks for the suggestions, Bonnie! Another thing I was fiddling about with was turning the draft around so that the points are in the threading rather than the treadling, but I am not sure it was very successful in achieving what I wanted. Interesting to try them all out though!

  4. neki rivera
    | Reply

    to all that has been mentioned by bonnie and sandra i’d add trying thinner yarns.but with those on screen rendering is difficult so you’d have to sample .

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