Thursday, September 28, 2023

Project Planning Continued: Sample Color Swap

Yesterday, I showed you some graphic samples for planning my next weaving project. Your feedback was very helpful and got me thinking. Valerie mentioned the large solid areas and suggested swapping color order to avoid them. So, I experimented in WeaveDesign. All of them can be enlarged by clicking. As a side note, I have no idea about the cross hatching in the solid areas. Quirky things happened between WeaveDesign, Gimp, and Blogger. They look better when enlarged.

I started with sample #4 from yesterday's post.

First I tried swapping the medium gray warp for turquoise.

Definitely more interesting. Then I thought, well, the turquoise is just supposed to be an accent color. What if I swapped something else?

Next I tried swapping the medium gray for light gray in the warp. 

Then I tried swapping the medium gray for turquoise in the weft.

The thing is, preferences are all so subjective. Next, I definitely need to do some sampling on the loom.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Project Planning, What's Next?

Even before I'd finished the twill gamp dishtowels, I was thinking about what to do next. And while I have a study project in mind, first I wanted to think about the sample squares in my gamps, choose some of the ones I like, and see what I can do with them. Plus, with gift giving season coming up, I need to plan for that. It's been a long, long time since I've given a gift of handcrafted love.

The first project that comes to mind is a table runner for my daughter-in-law. I have the yarns in her decor colors, so that's a start. 

Her style is modern (contemporary?), so I want something that will compliment her home. Large stripes? Plaid? Classic twill? Suggestions?

I've been doodling on WeaveDesign, to see if anything strikes my fancy.

Sample #1: Random stripes of balanced twill and reverse with different colors for warp and weft.

I like that one, but need to see how the colors blend. I'm thinking the turquoise and light gray are too close in value to present a good contrast. I'm also concerned about the black and white. I confess these can be troublesome for me, because of their tendency to visually dominate. Yet they are very much a part of her decor, so I would like to incorporate them if I can. 

Sample #2: Fibonacci stripes in different colors for warp and weft. The weave is alternating warp and weft dominant twill. I like that this structure features the colors better. (I'm ignoring the errors).

I like the diamond pattern created at the reverse points of the twills. Stepping back, 

Can you see the diamonds? You can click the image to enlarge.

I like the way the black behaves in the above sample, but the horizontal white stripe is distracting. 

Sample #3: Here's one repeating the colors in warp and weft with white omitted. 

Using the same colors in both warp and weft creates some solid squares, but the software doesn't show the texture that would be there. Also, I want to see a larger sample for the overall affect. 

Sample #4: It occurred to me that the white might be more visually balanced if I treated it the same as the black, i.e. use it for warp and weft in the smallest stripes. I tried it alternating with the black.

This is identical to #3, except I added the white stripes.

The grays are dominant in the above sample, with the turquoise secondary. The black and white are accents. That pretty much reflects how she used these colors in her decor. The Fibonacci stripes gives it an asymmetrical look, but how would it look with equally sized stripes?

Sample #5: Stripes are all roughly the same size, except the black and white.

The squares aren't all the same size, but you get the idea.

Sample #6: Color change-up. I put the light gray and turquoise in the warp and the dark gray in the weft. The white and black continue to be accent stripes.

I have no idea where the faint checks in the background
came from. It was something Gimp did on its own.

At about that point I was getting a wee bit bleary eyed and needed to walk away from it. But that's the progression of my ideas so far.

What do you all think? So far, I like #4 and #5 best. I realize this is only a computer drawing, and the real thing will give me a better idea of what it will look like. I'm especially curious as to how the turquoise will blend with the grays. So, sampling on the loom is next. Unless I come up with another idea (which is likely).  

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Monday, September 25, 2023

A New Shuttle to Help With Two Things

Before I started weaving the overshot-fashion dishtowel of my twill gamp, I wanted to review yarn sizes. My warp was 8/2 and I needed a heavier yarn for the pattern weft. It's that heavier yarn that brings out the pattern. Of course, recommendations vary somewhat, but something I ran across was the idea to simply double the 8/2 to effectively make an 8/4 pattern weft. Since my stash is mostly 8/2s and 10/2s, that idea was certainly appealing. Yarn has gotten so expensive since I started weaving again, that I'm glad to use what I've already got! I can do this yarn doubling a number of ways: winding two 8/2s on the bobbin together, using two individual shuttles, or 

Double bobbin boat shuttle by Handywoman.

I found it on Etsy, where I had a $5-off coupon. This shuttle will expand my options for pattern weft as I can now easily double what I've already got without having to buy more yarn.

It came with two plastic bobbins!

It's so pretty that I just had to share it. The shuttle is expertly handcrafted, beautifully finished, and reasonably priced. I had a choice of woods and chose cherry. I especially like it because it is compact: 12-inches long and only 1-inch high, but it holds standard 4-inch bobbins. 

It was designed with rigid heddle looms in mind, which are smaller than floor looms and so benefit from equipment suited to them. I don't have a rigid heddle loom, but my table loom is small as well, and I find that using my taller shuttles means that it isn't long before I can no longer pass the shuttle through the warp shed. This low profile shuttle is not as tall as the more expensive brands, so it will give me a little more weaving room before I have to advance the warp.

Janet's shop on Etsy is here, but if you visit her website - - you'll find a greater selection of items, more choices of woods, and better prices. She carries handcrafted weaving and spinning equipment and tools, including some amazingly unique shuttles, and even weaving themed jewelry!

Even though I wasn't planning to buy more equipment, this shuttle is something I'm glad I bought. It will help with both my yarn stash and my table loom. Many weave structures use a heavier pattern weft—including Summer & Winter, one of my favorites—so I know this new shuttle will get plenty of use in the future.

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Friday, September 22, 2023

Tablet Weaving: HallTex 152

This is another historical pattern developed from a very old piece. It was one of six tablet woven fragments excavated in the Kernverwasserungswerk Austrian salt mine in 1991. It's been dated between 400 and 800 B.C. Even though this pattern uses four threads per tablet for a total of 48 warp threads, a subsequent analysis determined that the extant piece was actually a skip hole design. So the original had 36 warps threads. I'll try that one in the future, but for now, will stick with the easier pattern shown here.


These come from Lady Elewys of Finchingefeld, where she offered two options:

Option 1
Option 2

To start, I chose option 1. The difference between the two options is that option 2 uses yellow in the pattern as well as the borders. She also offers the skip hole pattern on the same web page, which I plan to try later. 


Lion Brand Coboo, a cotton and bamboo rayon blend.

My Band

I've been so focused on finishing my twill gamp that I haven't done any tablet weaving for about six weeks. So, I was pleased when this band started off well; the handling the cards no longer felt awkward and they seemed very cooperative in my hands. Maybe I'm finally catching on! Until (there's always an "until," lol) I messed up. I tried to unweave it, but just got confused. But, that's why I'm doing practice pieces, so if I make mistakes I can just start the pattern over. 😏

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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

It's a Wrap! The Twill Gamp Dishtowels Are Done

My three dishtowels are off the loom, wet finished, and hemmed. I have to say that this was a great first project for my return to weaving. I learned that a gamp is definitely an interesting way to explore possibilities. I can see why weavers can spend months weaving them. I'd say gamps are the very best in sampling options. It's fascinating to see the patterns revealed pick by pick, how the colors interact, and be able to compare the different patterns side by side. 

Here are some close-ups of each of the towels.

Towel #1: Same color for both warp and weft gave let me see the textures.

Towel #2: Different color weft was good to see color interactions.

Towel #3: Overshot manner gave a completely different look to it.

Finishing them off, I realized the impact of having them in hand. When I look at a photograph of handwoven fabric, I see it. When I hold the actual fabric, I experience it. Does that make sense?

Notes and Observations

  • I knew the draw-in for the various twill samples would vary, but it's acceptable.
  • The draw-in for the overshot fashion towel was consistent for the length of the towel, however.
  • Even though my favorite is the towel woven in overshot fashion, overshot is not something I am drawn to exploring. It doesn't spark my interest.
  • I experimented trying to get the squares square, but I failed, I fear. With towel #1, I tried to weave each weft section a quarter inch longer than the square width. The other two, I made the same number of weft picks (threads) as warp ends (threads). My observation is that the different patterns react differently in their draw-in, take-up, and shrinkage.
  • All the obvious random warp tension issues seemed to work themselves out with wet finishing.
  • Hemming. I need to weave more between the towels for hemming, from now on.
I really like several of the individual woven samples in the towels. I'll get pics of them and make a draft for each, to file away for future projects.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Weaving Software That Runs on WINE : WeaveDesign (Revisited)

WeaveDesign is another weaving software program that I looked at years ago. I didn't seem to use it much previously and never gave it a proper review. But in taking a second look, I see that it now has a liftplan option I can use for my table loom. So for this blog post, I'll include lots of screenshots for anyone else researching software.

To review: I'm looking for four things in weaving software:
  • Liftplan option for table looms
  • Can export WIF files
  • Can print drafts
  • can convert tie-up to liftplan

I'm starting with freeware, and will progress on from there if needs must. 

WeaveDesign is a Windows program, but it will open in Linux in WINE (for which I'm using PlayOnLinux). After opening the program, I had the option of starting a new draft or of importing an existing WIF file. I started with a new draft.

After selecting the single harness loom style, I was able to set up shafts, treadles, pattern size, fabric density, warp and weft colors and the loom system; liftplan for a table loom.

Like other programs, it's just a matter of clicking squares to create a design. The repeat function is easy to use and requires no highlighting.

As you can see, it creates a drawup rather than a drawdown.

I was happy to see I can save files in WIF!

And drafts can be printed out too.

"A Halvdrall Runner"

As with other programs, I can make whatever changes I wish.

A few more features. It has three views: grid (above), thread, and thread plus (below). The thread plus is nice because it shows the interlacements.

There's also an option to save color palettes for future use.

The big question was, could I change this draft from a tie-up to a liftplan???

Unfortunately, that option is grayed out. 

Even so, it's definitely more useful than WeaveDreamer and less finicky than DB-Weave.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Weaving Off the Twill Gamp Warp

After I wove my three dishtowels plus a good ending header, I still had some warp left on the loom. Of course, a warp can never be woven completely to the end; rather, it can only be woven until the back apron rod gets too close to the heddles to make a good shed. Once I can't pass the shuttle through the opening between the warps, that's it. So, there's always loom waste. The question is, how much?

I gave myself plenty of length when I calculated how long my warp needed to be, so just maybe I have enough leftover to experiment a bit. I got this idea from Peg's blog post, "End-of-Loom Sampling" over at Talking About Weaving. It's true that questions and ideas pop up during the weaving of a project. What better place to sample than the end of the warp?

After I wove the off enough to hem the last towel, I figured it would be a good time to clear off some bobbins. Which I did, and was intrigued by the random stripes that occurred. 

I like stripes. And plaids.

And that made me think of random plaids. So, perhaps that's an idea to tuck away for future use.

What I was really curious about, though, was a thicker yarn for the "overshot fashion" treadled dishtowel. It seems that the common recommendation for my 8/2 warp and tabby weft is a 3/2 pattern weft. Of that, I have only pink and a brownish-gray, but I didn't think I could subject myself tor that color combination. Some weavers double the 8/2s (which is equivalent to an 8/4 yarn), but I finally decided on some cotton crochet/rug yarn, of which I inherited a lot when I bought my Schacht Mighty Wolf loom. It's a bit fatter than the recommended 3/2, but it's just an experiment. 😁

Next decision. What color?

What do ya'll think? Blue? I agree. Blue it is.

So, here it is overshot fashion with the heavier weft. 

Left side of the warp

Nubby selvedges, I see. And of course contrast is key (maybe I should have used the orange). 

Right side of the warp

I don't know if I chose the best pattern, but it gives me an idea, anyway. A heavier weft will truly make the pattern more dominant. 

I wove until the apron rod was advanced as far as it could go.

The end of the warp at the back of the loom. 

One problem I ran into was that some of the knots securing the warp bundles to the apron rod became untied once they were no longer wrapped around the back beam. I retied them, but will probably switch to lashing on the warp in the future.

The end of the warp at the front of the loom.

That was as far as I could weave, but I still had a good shed at that point and could easily throw the shuttle. That's a good thing to know about any loom. 

The unwoven warp from the back apron rod to the fell edge (edge of the weaving) measured 13 inches. This is my back loom waste. In the front, I measured about 5 inches, including the header. So my total loom waste is 18 inches. This is important information, because it enables me to not be wasteful with my yarn. I need enough, but there's no sense wasting it, especially if the yarn is expensive or in limited supply. I allowed 20 inches, which turned out to be a pretty good guess. 

The next step is to cut it off the loom and prepare it for wet finishing.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Twill Gamp Weaving 6

This is the last of it! The third of my three dishtowels is woven, so the next step is getting it off the loom. Then I'll wash it and dry it, and we'll see how they turned out.

I only had one thing to figure out this time. I wove through many of the short treadle draft patterns first and then took a look at some with longer sequences. I'm using The Weaving Book, remember, and many of the patterns have sections that repeat the treadling anywhere from 2 to 6 times. This is characteristic of overshot and creates large pattern shapes, but I avoided these at first because I wasn't sure how to keep track of the treadle order. 

This one, for example. In my case, it's a liftplan, so it indicates the pairs of shafts that I'm lifting:
1. 2 - 3 (x 4)
2. 3 - 4 (x 2)
3. 1 - 4 (x 2)
4. 1 - 2 (x 2)
5. 1 - 4 (x 2)
6. 3 - 4 (x 2)

That's a total of 28 pattern weft shots. Did I really want to work with 28 beads? My numbered bead method for keeping track was working well for ten or less treadle changes, so I had to decide what to do about the repeats. I finally decided to work with just six beads and slide the bead to the middle of the stick until I completed all the repeats.
I'm on #4 in the pattern, lifting shafts 1 and 2 twice.

When I complete the repeats, I slide the bead all the way to the right and I'm ready for the next one. I found this works quite well, because it's easy to see the repeats in the fabric and make sure I've got them all.

For future reference, here are the last five sections.

Weft section 5, II 238 to II 241 (page 73)

Weft section 6, II 254 to II 257 (page 74)

Weft section 7, II 278 A to II 281 D (page 75)

Weft section 8, II 298 A to II 301 D (page 77)

Weft section 9, II 294 A to II 297 D (page 76)

Current length on the loom is about 24.75".

Twill Gamp Weaving 6 © Sept 2023

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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Book Review: The Handweaver's Pattern Directory

Since picking up weaving again (intended!) I've been absorbing weaving websites, blogs, and videos. The most commonly recommended book I'm seeing is

by Anne Dixon

Seeing that it was published in 2007—two years before I packed up my loom for 14 years—I initially wondered why I didn't have it in my library already, considering what a bibliophile I am. But the subtitle explains it, "Over 600 weaves for 4-shaft looms." About the time this was published, I was selling my 4-shaft jack loom and weaving exclusively on my 8-shaft Glimakra. At the time, I was buying books specifically geared toward 8-shaft weaving.

Now, I'm weaving on a 4-shaft table loom, and have to agree that The Handweaver's Pattern Directory is a must-have for every 4-shaft weaver.

The book has two main sections: the introduction and the pattern directory.

The introduction starts with what to expect from the book and how to understand the weaving drafts. Next, it discusses basic equipment, fibers, yarns, selvedges, sett, weave structure, calculating warp length, color theory, and sampling. Everything is laid out logically, with plenty of photographs, making this section an excellent reference resource.

The directory is divided into four pattern sections: basic threadings, block drafts, lace weaves, and special threadings, which include things like undulating twills, advancing twills, syncopated threading, turned Monk's Belt threading, distorted weft, supplementary warp, warp face weaves, etc. Each section begins with an introduction and basic explanation, along with tips for weaving that category of patterns. Then comes the eye candy.

The photos are all in color, which gives this book a distinct advantage over the books I've been using for my sampler and twill gamp. The interplay of color in the various samples is interesting and helpful. And I think, makes it easier to follow the drafts. For example, the treadling draft uses the weft colors in the piece (rather than just long columns of tiny black squares) so it's easier to follow the changes and keep one's place.

Most pages are set up three samples per, and explore a variety of treadling options (lever lift options for me!) for a particular threading. Some are set up as a two-page spread with three different threadings and three treadling patterns. This is perfect for gamps (definition here), which are excellent learning projects. In fact, I have my eye on "Crackle," pages 130 to 135.

The book wraps up with a chapter on how to finish handwovens, and includes everything to consider before taking it off the loom (preventing unraveling and uneven shrinkage), hemming, fringes, hemstitching, plus detailed information on wet finishing. Following are a glossary, an index (yay!) and a page of weaving resources. Also noteworthy, it's spiral bound, so the open pages lie flat, and the back flap, which folds out with a quick review of how to read the weaving drafts. 

So, yes, highly recommended. Amazingly, I almost didn't buy this book because surely, I don't need more books. But the price on Amazon was the best I'd seen and I needed to round up an order to get free shipping. Or so I told myself, lol. Anyway, it is now the first book I reach for, and it will be one of my most used weaving books, without a doubt.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Twill Gamp Weaving 5

Two dishtowels down and one to go. But first, I had to decide how I wanted to weave it. I've done something different with each towel, so for this one, I finally settled on exploring the 'overshot fashion' section in Helen Bress's The Weaving Book. It continues with the same four twill threadings I've been using for my gamp (straight twill, point twill, rosepath, and broken twill), with overshot's heavier pattern weft and a tabby weft the same as the warp. 

Third twill gamp dishtowel woven in overshot fashion.

For my non-weaving friends, overshot is a traditional weave structure that uses two weights of yarns. The heavier yarn creates the pattern, and the lighter weight yarn basically holds the pattern in place. This is important because the patterns typically call for multiple repeats to build shapes of color in the cloth. The lighter weight tabby (which is just plain weave) serves as a binder between the rows of heavier yarn. You can see pictures of an overshot coverlet woven by my 4x-great-grandmother here.

My yarn stash is mostly 8/2 and 10/2 cotton, with very few choices in heavier yarns. Of the 6/2 that I thought would be an option, the only colors I have are pink, gray, white, and navy. Only navy looked good with my warp colors, so navy it is! I'm using navy for the pattern weft for the entire length of the dishtowel, and rotating tabby colors the same as my warp.

Notes and Observations
  • My lever sequence counter is working very well, although I still have to remind myself to move the beads when I change the levers.
  • I think I'm going to need to clamp the loom to the new desk. It has a smooth surface and the loom wants to move with every beat.
  • I'm finally starting to take advantage of the two dowels on which the beater bar can rest. Being a compact loom, there isn't much distance between the breast beam and the castle, which means I have to advance the warp frequently. Simply moving the beater back gives me a few more inches before I have to do that!
  • I'm wondering what it would look like if the pattern weft was a little heavier, although for the purposes of a dishtowel, it' fine.
  • Maybe that's just an excuse to talk myself into buying more yarn.
  • The addition of a third color makes each unit visually more complex, which intrigues me.

Even though I'm finding weaving on a table loom to be pretty slow, I still seem to be making good progress. Here are the first four weft sections, each with a different treadling pattern and tabby color. The treadling patterns don't have specific names, so I'm just identifying them with the codes given to them by Bress plus their page number in the book. All can be enlarged by clicking on the image.

1st weft section,  II 198 A to II 201 D (page 70)

2nd weft section, II 210 A to II 213 D (page 71)

3rd weft section, II 270 A to II 273 D (page 75)

4th weft section, II 202 A to II 205 D (page 71)

Twill Gamp Weaving 5 © Sept 2023

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