2010 Weave of the week #5: Wool links

Wool links, front view.

I began to collect weaves during the years that I worked as a sample weaver and designer for the apparel textile industry in NYC (read about it here and here).  My co-workers and I wove so many interesting samples  (we wove plenty of dull ones,  too,  of course) that I started to keep swatches and write drafts of the ones that I especially liked for . . . well,  I’m not really sure what I planned to do with them,  other than have a library of interesting drafts.

This week’s featured weave (front view above,  back view below)  is a favorite from the deflected-threads file.  It came to mind when I was researching chain-link fences for my last post, but I was surprised at how much the design really does resemble fence links.  Before I wove this sample,  I had never seen a cloth with distorted floats,  and it made such a deep impression on me that I remember where I was on that day the same way I remember where I was for more momentous events.

Wool links, back view.

I was in Burlington House,  1345 Avenue of the Americas,  a new, 50-story skyscraper that my employer,  Burlington Woolens,  had recently moved to.  I worked there as a handweaver,  and that day was the first time I worked with Minos,  a newly hired designer.  He gave me a layout for three different weaves that could all be woven on a 16-harness straight draw,  and one of them was the deflected-thread weave that is my subject this week.

Last year I wrote another post about a more recent deflected-thread sample (here) that contained this explanation of the structure:  Yarn distortions are created by weaves that juxtapose areas with few interlacings (loose yarns) with areas of tightly interlaced tabby (firm yarns). I should add that the distortions that appear in the fabric won’t appear in the design as it’s shown on graph paper or a computer screen.  For example,  the 16-harness computer draft shown below will produce the weave shown at the top of this post,  even though you can’t tell from the draft what the finished cloth will look like.

Wool links draft on 16 harnesses.

That was certainly true for the sample that I wove that day;  it was magic.  Not only had I never seen a deflected-thread weave before,  but the crepe and rib structures were new to me too, and I didn’t know that three such disparate weaves could be woven on the same warp.  I handwrote drafts of all three weaves for my file,  but only kept a swatch of the deflected-thread weave that I called “floating diamonds” because I didn’t know it had another name.

Computer renderings of the crepe and rib weaves are shown below:

Crepe weave draft on 16 harnesses.

Rib weave draft on 16 harnesses.

Preparing to write a post about a fabric always makes me look more closely at it than usual,  and something I hadn’t noticed until now about “floating diamonds” is that it doesn’t have to be woven on 16 harnesses and treadles.  Burlington Woolens’ designer chose natural wool for warp and weft and had me put it on a 16-harness straight draw,  so he — and the mill — could have maximum flexibility to weave different fabrics on the same warp,  and probably piece-dye them.  But if flexibility is not a concern,  the same weave can be done with a 9-harness draft,  as shown below.

Wool links draft on 9 harnesses.

In fact,  the crepe weave is an 8-harness,  8-treadle weave that was expanded to fit on the 16-harness warp, so it can easily be reduced back down,  and the rib weave will work on 6 harnesses and 4 treadles,  if it is threaded this way:

Rib draft on 6 harnesses.

To date,  I haven’t used the deflected-thread weave for anything except this post,  at least partly because the long floats make it impractical for the kind of functional weaving that I do,  but I admit to being more inspired by a 9-harness-and-treadle weave than by a heavier 16-harness one.

My thanks to friend and fellow WordPress blogger Eva Stossel for her clear instructions on how to post drafts on my blog.

8 Responses

  1. Fern-As always you’ve written an informative post with clear photos and instructions! Felicitas

    • Hi, Memphis Weaver, glad you liked the post. Thank you for reading and commenting; it means a lot.


  2. Hi, Judy,

    You have an ambitious weaving blog for someone who has been weaving such a short time. I’m fascinated by the endless ways there are to become a weaver. Thanks for reading and commenting.


  3. Hi Fern
    Thank you for leaving your comment. Very interesting to have the different perspectives. I’m still pretty new to weaving (under 3 years) and the choices and possibilities just keep growing.
    I always enjoy your stories about your past experience, and you have a wonderful collection of samples and textiles. Thanks for sharing them all.

  4. Fern,
    Always interesting your blog. Thanks. I was really interested in the 16 shaft crepe weave. I may try using all 16 of my shafts again. I had pretty much given up because they were so hard to lift when I had to reach to the first or eighteenth treadle. Legs just not long enough. With that draft you only use eight treadles which I can center and get to easily. Fun.
    Interesting commentary again, as usual.

    • Hi, Terry,

      It’s a nice crepe, but it only needs 8 harnesses, so why not do it the easy way?

      Thanks very much for your comment. Glad you liked the post.


  5. Fern, your drafts turned out great! I love seeing samples and other interesting things from your collection and enjoy reading what you write about them. Your description of Burlington brings back memories of the time they had an ongoing exhibition open to the public with lots of mechanized looms weaving away.

    Your friend and fellow WP blogger,

    • Hi, Eva, That public exhibition in the corner of the Burlington building was called “The Mill,” and I haven’t thought about it for years either. I don’t know when it was discontinued, but I liked it too.

      So thanks again for the tutorial. It worked fine : )


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