Friday, October 10, 2008

Summer & Winter: A Basic Definition

By Leigh

I decided that the best place to begin my study of tied weaves is with a review of summer & winter. This isn't the first time I've woven S&W, and hopefully thanks to that experience, I am better able to understand it now.

Before I get started however, I'd better warn ya'll that I'm fixin' to get a bit weave geeky here. I'm doing this to try to wrap my head around the technical definition of S&W, which isn't necessary to weave it, but which is helpful in understanding it and designing for it. My plan is to write a basic definition in this post, followed by a series of posts dedicated to summer & winter threading, tie-up, and treadling. My hope is that by trying to explain it to someone else, I'll gain a better understanding of it myself.

So here goes. A basic definition might be:

Summer & winter is a two shuttle weave which weaves a pattern tied to a plain weave ground cloth. This is achieved by assigning two shafts (commonly 1 and 2) to serve as "tie down shafts" which hold the pattern in place. The remaining shafts are "pattern shafts," and are used to create the desired pattern. The shafts are threaded so that the tie down and pattern warp ends alternate (td-P-td-P). One shuttle is used for the tabby weft, which is usually similar to the warp. The second shuttle is used for a heavier, pattern weft.

Recently I've learned that a more accurate name for summer & winter is Single 2-Tie Unit Weave.

Single - because each threading unit uses only one pattern shaft

2-Tie - because each unit uses two tie down shafts

Unit Weave - because it uses units to produce the pattern. For S&W, it is a four thread unit.

OK. So what's a unit? I first attempted to define this when I was weaving M's & O's.

A unit is the smallest number of warp and weft threads needed make the weave unique. For a 4-shaft S&W, two warp units are required.

4-shaft S&W units.In going back to the definition of S&W above, we see that each unit uses two tie-down shafts, both 1 and 2. Each unit also features only one pattern shaft, either 3 or 4. We also see that the tie-down and pattern shafts alternate (1-3-1-2 or 1-4-1-2).

The weft must be woven similarly: tabby-pattern-tabby-pattern. It is the interaction (interlacement) of the warp and weft threads which make S&W uniquely itself.

If we had more shafts, then we could have more threading units, but the above two are all that are needed to weave summer & winter. The units can be repeated as many times as one wishes to create "blocks", which in turn create the overall pattern of the piece. Treadling can vary too, as long as it follows a tabby-pattern-tabby-pattern sequence.

OK. So that's it for a basic definition. Next I'll try to elaborate on S&W threading.

A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns, edited by Carol Strickler
Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers, Madelyn v.d. Hoogt
Eight Shafts: A Place to Begin, Shelp and Wostenberg
CWTW Fall 2008 Newsletter, Su Butler
CWTW S&W Lesson 1, Su Butler

Posted 10 Oct. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Summer & Winter: Threading
Summer & Winter: Tie-Up
Summer & Winter: Treadling
Summer & Winter: Structure and Theory


Peg in South Carolina said...

Looks like this is going to be another good series. Have you thought about collecting some of your series posts and putting them (links) in the sidebar?

Anonymous said...

What perfect timing! I'm proposing to use my green warp to try summer and winter for the first time! Can't wait for your next post...

MadScientistK said...

I can't tell you how much more sense this makes compared to some of the other explanations of S&W I've read. Thank you!

Leigh said...

I hope so Peg. No, I hadn't thought about putting this series as a set of links in my sidebar. I will have to consider that. The one's on your blog are very helpful.

Cally, that's excellent idea for that gorgeous warp! I'll be very interested in how it turns out.

Kara, thank you so much for that. I admit that I've been confused by definitions I've read in my books, so it was imperative that I understand S&W well enough to explain it on my own!

bspinner said...

Thanks for the information. I agree with Kara your explaination is well written and easy to understand. I can't until the next installment.

Sharon said...

I'm licking my lips. It took quite a while for me to understand what color and weave is and I still am completely at sea on summer and winter. I wish I could say that I totally got what you were saying, but the truth is - not yet. I am confident that the pieces will fall into place as you go along.

Leigh said...

Thank you Barb!

Sharon, I have to admit that I'm not one who does well with written instructions and descriptions. I learn best by doing. I find that if I'm willing to stumble my way through something and do it, then when I go back to the book it all begins to make sense. This is true of S&W too. Last time I just followed the instructions/drafts. This time, I'm beginning to actually understand what is going on. Very exciting. But then, that's my learning style.

Anonymous said...

Everybody loves it when you get weave geeky. Great start to the series.