Back to huck

It’s taken a while, but I’m back at the double huck samples. The ‘while’ is the whole month of May, which got away from me, so is it any surprise that the notes I had made as I wove are now completely incomprehensible to me? Really, what does “all warp swap as before” mean, for instance? What had I done before? Was it “spots(warp)” perhaps? That appears to be the nearest entry, but the two manoeuvres described under these headings are mutually incompatible, so that can’t be it.

Anyway, moving on. When I wove the first few samples (here and here), I started with a peg plan which gave me the basic layer exchange – blue on top or grey on top – and a block exchange. Incidentally, it’s quite expensive to set up blocks of huck as you need four shafts per layer-and-block, so my 16 shafts only give me two blocks.

double huck threading

I tried this out for a bit and it was working very nicely. Alice Schlein has written an article about double woven huck which is now part of the Best of Weaver’s book on huck: I hadn’t read it before I started, so I am relieved to find her approach confirming my own, even though we favour slightly different threadings! Interestingly, Alice’s examples use two layers of the same colour but she uses the block exchange to create a lovely quilted effect in the cloth. Everyone who has handled my samples has commented on just how soft and puffy they are – it really is a delight. My own starting point was the simple wish to see two layers of huck lace in different colours back to back, which I can report is truly as pleasing as I thought it would be. Why would it be pleasing? Because the warp and weft floats allow you to stitch the two layers together completely invisibly, and if you set it wide enough you get holes lined up through both layers, and this combination of features really tickles me. I am smiling just thinking of it.

I’ve digressed again. So I started with the chain pegged to do the above. But the beauty of pegs is that you can think as you are weaving, “what if I swapped over the pattern ends in that block?” and quickly do exactly that. So I gradually tried swapping pattern ends, swapping units and so on, and my notes were supposed to record which swaps did what. It’s not that difficult to work out, especially once you’ve tried it, but I do sometimes have a mental freeze when I am trying to mix and match different parts of the pattern: layer? block? unit? end?

This approach to working with pegs is great fun, but it can get quite chaotic. To weave one repeat of five-end double huck takes 20 picks using 8 distinct lifts: two tabbies and two pattern picks for each layer. I prefer to peg up 12 lags rather than 8, so that I have tabby-pattern-tabby for each layer (interleaved with the other layer) as it considerably reduces the amount of winding back and forth. I then make a note for myself that lags 1-12 weave this configuration, 13-24 weave that one, and so on. But by the time I have carried out half a dozen experiments, the chain is a complete and utter mess. So my next step is to set up some chains specifically to repeat some of the things I have already tried out, whether I can read my notes or not.

First of all, I thought I would do a chain for the full “unit swap” (or “half-unit swap”, if you prefer), which gave me this rather alarming arrangement:

huck unit exchange peg plan

At the top of the photo you can just see the end of the more conventional one-layer-on-top peg plan, where shafts 1-8 are all lifted out of the way to weave on shafts 9-16. In the next section the units on shafts 2 & 3 swap places with their opposite number on shafts 10 & 11, ditto for the units on shafts 6 & 7 and shafts 14 & 15. I am still weaving grey with grey and blue with blue, so it is only the lift-this-layer-out-of-the-way pegs which are moving, but it looks a total muddle. Did the trick, though, and so I ended up with weft floats in blue and warp floats in grey:

huck unit exchange

Of course, you can then play around with these mini-blocks in the same way that you do with any double weave blocks (with the added bonus of those smiley holes).

huck units surrounded

All in all a good way to get back on track. More to come…

Back to huck” was posted by Cally on 6 June 2015 at

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4 Responses

  1. Alice

    I find it fascinating that different people can arrive at the same destination independently. Loving the smiley holes. This is going to wet finish gorgeously! I hope you will bring a sample of this cloth to CW Seminars so that I can touch it.

  2. Dianne

    Don’t you love these mind bending challenges that weaving presents.

  3. Lisa Belfield

    I find your peg board intriguing and wonder what the correct name is for it and where I can obtain one? I find your weaving inspirational. Thank you for sharing.

    • Cally

      The pegs and lags are part of my loom, Lisa. It’s a mechanical dobby and this is the dobby chain. The chain consists of individual bars of wood (lags) each of which has 16 holes in it, i.e. a hole for each of the shafts. Putting pegs in the holes for the shafts I want to lift is a bit like tying up a treadle, but I can have more of them – up to about 100 different combinations. It’s not as versatile as a computer dobby, but that just makes me think harder about what I am going to do!