2009 Weave of the week #33: Smallville
August 30, 2009


Smallville front view

Hi,  I’m back to blogging, and this week’s featured weave — which I call “Smallville” (though the mountains certainly don’t suggest Clark Kent’s  Smallville, Kansas) — is an unusual supplementary-warp weave from my swatch collection (see above).  It came from a book of vintage European swatches, and the fabric appears to be cotton.

Supplementary-warp designs (aka “embroidery weaves” or “dobby weaves”) were everywhere when I worked in the textile industry in the 1970s.  I have already written some blog articles about them, and will write more, but except for fine shirtings, like the ones in this post, most domestic fabrications looked more like this,


than like the Lilliputian scene in “Smallville” (detail shown below), which is less than 1/2-inch high.


I didn’t take the swatch apart to analyze it, but under magnification I could see that all the details came from threading the blue and green supplementary-warp stripes on twelve harnesses.  Allowing two harnesses for the ground tabby still leaves another four harnesses — on a sixteen-or-more-harness loom — free for the ribbed orange stripes.  The treadling is a different matter, which I did not try to analyze (too much like work).

Below is the back of the fabric, which looks a lot like the front, except that the weave shows up more clearly.  In a construction this fine and tight, floats are not a problem, but in a coarser construction, like the unicorn shown above, long  floats would not have been practical.  Floats can be clipped, as they were in fine cotton shirtings (see link above), but inexpensive synthetic fabric would more likely have been backed.

Smallville back view

Smallville back view

Yes, it is small, but what really impresses me about this design is that it looks like a drawing in thread.   I was surprised at how few lines it takes, if they are put together creatively enough, to make an entire landscape that can be woven on a shaft loom.

2008 Weave of the week #14: Star-spangled twill
November 1, 2008

Star-spangled twill

Star-spangled twill

After last week’s Halloween cats I didn’t plan to use a pictorial weave this week, too, but I couldn’t resist the chance to mark the arrival (finally!) of Election Day with this fun (and nondenominational) woven stars-and-stripes design from my swatch collection.

I’m SO relieved that this nasty, lower-than-the-lowest-common-denominator campaign is finally at an end!  Be sure to VOTE on Tuesday!

2008 Weave of the week #13: Boo! and Meeeow
October 25, 2008

Woven navy cats

Doublewoven cats

A whimsical worsted doublecloth, with cats. See my Gallery page for the reverse side. Happy Halloween!