Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mystery of the Twill Zig Zags

After I finished my first project on the Glimakra loom, I faced something of a dilemma, i.e. what to weave next. I hadn't yet finished my Summer & Winter weave explorations, including several project ideas based on some of the dishtowels I had done. Also, Peg has been posting about crackle, and I've really been tempted to give this a try. Then too, I had the zig zag mystery to solve. Plus, I thought it might be a good idea to take advantage of the threading and treadle tie-up already on the Glimakra loom. Woven afghans as Christmas presents would certainly take advantage of that plus give me an early start on my Christmas gift giving list.

My first handwoven sampler.Considering all the effort and energy that went into getting the Glimakra ready to weave for that first blanket, tying on won hands down! Since these will be for adults however, I decided to start calling them afghans instead of blankets.

My interest in weaving zig zags started with the very first sampler I wove (detail at left) from Deb Chandler's Learning To Weave. I learned a lot from that first little sampler, which has long since become a well loved cat blanket. For some reason I always liked the little zig zags, and knew that someday I wanted to weave them again. They became the inspiration for the Project Linus blanket. Little did I realize what those mismatched zig zags were about to teach me about twills.

Since I was still puzzling over why those zig zags changed color like they did, I decided to start with a solid color warp and a solid color weft. I chose red and black because I have a particular person in mind as the recipient of this afhgan, and I think these colors will be appreciated.

The fun thing about doing it this way is that the afghan will be reversible. Black zig zags on one side, red ones on the other.

Front & back of a twill afghan.As I wove, I observed the zig zags and how they formed. I paid attention to where they started and where they turned. I followed the warp ends back to the corresponding shafts and finally I realized that my answer to my mystery was in the nature of twills.

Plain weave is a one over one under one pattern. Each thread follows that path. It is the plainest pattern one can weave. Twill goes over (or under) more than one. How many depends upon the type of twill being woven. For example, if the threads to over two and under two, then it is called a 2/2 twill.

Here's what I figured out. The twill pattern I chose from Eight Shafts A Place to Begin, is a 3/1/1/1/1 pattern. This means that the weft travels over three warp ends and then alternately over and under the next four. However, my color stripes were 8 warp threads wide, one for each shaft. This mean that the points of the zig zags however, had to "borrow" extra warp threads from the next color stripe to create the zig zags.

Detail of the blanket's twill zig zags.This would be no problem for solid warps and wefts, but it didn't work with my color stripes.

I immediately set out to figure out what I would have to do to get the effect I wanted. Then I got an email from fellow WeaveTech member, Ruby Leslie. She pointed out that by changing my treadling pivot point, I could achieve the look I was going for. Eureka!

Now of course, my mind is working overtime as I plan several more afghans. Fortunately, I have a very supportive family, who love receiving handcrafted gifts, unsolved puzzles and all. So if my next project turns up with an unexpected surprise, I know the work of my hands will be appreciated anyway.

Related Posts:
Twills - The Basics


Peg in South Carolina said...

Good work, Leigh! And thanks for sharing your process. I love the black and red as well.

Susan B. said...

I love how you have puzzled this out! And then write about it so clearly. At least, I understand it so it must be clear! On with the afghans!

Sharon said...

Karnak says, "I see teaching in your future."

Anonymous said...

I love the reversibility (and colors) of the red & black afghan.

Tracy said...

Hi, Leigh.

Thanks for the comment on the singles for my shawl.

All the blankets look great. I have to say that I really like the mulit-colored one even though the zig-zags don't show up much. I like the added texture. I envy you having more-than-four. I'm enjoying watching you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Leigh,
Thanks for your comments. Beautiful job on your new loom. I also LOVE the alpaca. What a great job.