Back in the Day

(This blog post was originally published March 11, 2015 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

In which I begin an occasional series of blog postings on the body of my work that began seriously in the late 1980’s.

Back in the day, I produced a lot of weft-faced rugs and small loom-controlled tapestries based on block weaves, mostly 6-block Summer and Winter, woven on my 8-harness loom. I could squeeze a lot of design out of six blocks. There would be a background, and for contrast, up to three other shuttles with different colors. I rotated the shuttles carefully, always keeping them in a certain order, and would change the colors out as the design progressed.

While I referred to the technique I used so often as “Polychrome Boundweave on Summer and Winter”, many now have replaced those six words with the very economical term Taquete. Woven without a tabby, the pattern blocks are woven on opposites, combined and defined by the weft colors.

The rug above is an example of this technique and was part of my Master’s thesis, written in 1987, titled “Computer Design in the Handweaving Process” at Iowa State University. (There is a scanned copy of my thesis available on-line now (sans pictures). You can find it here.) Titled “MacKintosh Variation #2”, this rug is one of several riffs I did off the design work of Charles Rennie MacKintosh, a Scottish architect working at the turn of the 20th century. I did two other rugs as part of that thesis. Then I graduated.

Another piece titled “Plaited Rug”, woven later that same year, and using the same technique, is shown here:

Here is a detail, which shows the color blending a lot better:

Here is a copy of the page from my weaving notebook, showing how I planned this piece:

The draft shown is a profile draft with 6 blocks. (Going back through my old records I am constantly amazed at how consistent my design ideas have remained!)  My rubric was using a straight draw in the threading quadrant and in the treadling quadrant, and finding the design in the tie-up. I wanted to express the image of a plaited twill. I used at least two shuttles. When there was solid gray, I used two shuttles to maintain the same texture throughout. Mostly, I would alternate between gray and a pattern color, but there were times when I would need three shuttles, when there were three different color areas across the same row. Since this didn’t happen often, I guess I must have figured the overall look of the rug wouldn’t suffer.

I only have ten treadles on my loom, and the combinations of tie-ups were many more. I would have had to do a a lot of crawling under the loom to keep making changes (I think I’ve blocked that memory out…).

Anyway, this Plaited Rug really marked the beginning of the series of loom-controlled tapestries that I worked on for the next 8 or so years. I quickly shifted to a smaller format, from wool to cotton, from the floor to framed pieces. I have been scanning the slides of the work that I did, and am just beginning to appreciate the intensity and consistency of this body of work.

More to come! I’ll keep you posted 😉

Old Things (continued)

In my previous episode I casually revisted an old project that I turned into armrest covers. The book from which I took the draft for that project named the structure “double two-tie unit weave varied by two weights of yarns.” You will recall that this book is Kathryn Wertenberger’s 8,12…20 An Introduction to Multishaft Weaving. Interweave Press, 1988.

Here is my simplified rendering of the unit structures from this draft. On the left is the front side view, and on the right is the back side view. This is a thick and thin structure, so the drawdown reflects that with the ultra-teeny tie-down threads on harnesses 1 and 2, and the ultra-teeny treadling on the tabby wefts:

In a seemingly unrelated sequence of events, I was sorting magazines and sorting books and making some choices about where to put them on some new bookshelves in my studio, when I was surprised to find the same project by Kathryn Wertenberger for Asian-style mats in a very early issue of the Handwoven Magazine’s Design Collections. No. 2 to be exact. Published in 1981.

In this early version of the project the fabric description is “Modified double summer and winter.” Same mat, same threading and treadling, but different tie-up. Here is my rendering of that draft:

I am inclined to favor the description of the structure as modified double summer and winter (as in the Design Collection magazine). But, I favor the tie-up in the book. So go figure. And don’t get me started on the epi (it is 20, not 21).

Just chalk all this up to ravings of someone who has been weaving so long that I’ve forgotten whole projects. To wit: I found notes for another project in this weave structure that I wove in different colors in 1991, seven years before the purple runner of 1998. Plus. I found another runner of the same design in yet another colorway in a box in the attic with some other woven items that I forgot about (from 1991-ish, I presume) that I have no notes for at all. Bad form. Really bad form.

Those who have both publications in their libraries, should take a look at both drafts. Then scratch your heads.

Technical details: I chose different yarns and setts for my runner projects compared with the published projects. My thin warp and weft was 40/3 cotton and my thick warp and weft was 5/2 cotton. I sett the warp at 32 epi, 4 per dent in my 8 dent reed.

Here is a quick photo of the project-with-no-record in my notebooks:

Thickandthin copy

There. Now it’s documented.

Somthing Old, Something New

You’re looking at our new armrest covers for the couch. Not that a dark purple (officially, Eggplant) couch will show the grime that much, but after a year we wanted to be, uh, proactive.

A little background.

I didn’t weave something specially for this purpose, but I did happen to have a table runner that wasn’t doing anything and that was, lo and behold, the perfect color, and the perfect size, at least width-wise. As soon as I determined that the future of this runner was going to be on the couch I cut it in half and hemmed the cut ends.


I wove this runner as a one-off in February 1998. So, almost 20 years ago. The weave came from 8, 12…20 An Introduction to Multishaft Weaving by Kathryn Wertenberger. It’s a double two-tie unit weave woven on 8 shafts with two weights of yarns in both warp and weft: 40/3 cotton and 5/2 cotton. I really love this weave and I go back to to it occasionally. If you can get hold of a copy of this book the photos are on pp. 46-47, and the draft is on p. 117.



A Little Something Extra (but not quite enough)

I’ve had a dishtowel warp on the loom for months. Oh wait, was it only April? That’s not that long…. sigh.

I wound enough warp for six towels, the most I’ve planned for, ever, because I’m not exactly a production weaver. More like a see-where-my-whims-take-me weaver. But, my pattern seems to be that my measuring/estimating skills are not quite up there with the professionals. That last towel turned out to be a placemat. But I love it anyway…. 😉

Circles and Checks Towels 04

Truth is, just about all, OK all, of my dishtowel warps have just enough left over for a small mat. My collection is growing.

This warp was threaded in my Circles draft for Turned Taquete. I alternated natural color 10/2 cotton with different color stripes of 10/2 cotton from the stash. The idea was to use up some cones, and I did that. I threaded 32 epi.

Here are a couple of shots of the group:

Circles and Checks Towels 02Circles and Checks Towels 03

As you can see I produced dishtowels with the original circles treadling and dishtowels with the checked treadling. I used the 10/2 natural cotton as weft for two of the towels. Then I switched to checks.

As in this drawdown:

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 2.53.17 PM

I alternated natural and brown on one. On the second I rotated natural, tea rose and camelia.

Then I went back to circles and wove one with all mauve. The short number six was woven with all camelia.

Quite a cheerful bunch, I think. Next up, I will get them photographed and in my etsy shop. It’s a good thing, because I am currently all out of dishtowels and I need to stock up!






Turned Taquete Circles into Checks (oh my!)

You’ve seen this:


And I’ve been weaving circles, quite a lot of them in fact. I have the treadling down cold. All I have to do is press a treadle and I know where I am in the sequence. To date I’ve woven three warps of circle scarfs.

Black and white:

Turned Taquete Circles BW 01 copy

Gray and reds:

Red and Gray Dots Scarf 01 copy

And now, gray and greens:

Greens Circles Scarf 2

As you know, one of my recurrent themes is trying to find different designs on a threading, making it do double, triple, quadruple duty if I can. So, toward the end of the third warp I started asking myself what else I could weave on the same threading, besides circles. Heck,  maybe even the same tie-up so I wouldn’t have to crawl around on the floor. Something that folks like and want.

And just like that, I thought of checks. Sort of the yang to the yin of the circles thing. So I sat down with the weaving software and played with the treadling and came up with this little gem:

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 2.53.17 PM

Here it is in a different colorway:

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 2.57.03 PM

So, a dish towel warp could do extra duty and also save the weaver from simple boredom, or, worst case, falling asleep at the loom ;-).  I think this design would be fun as bright and colorful placemats as well.

FYI, for those with only four harnesses, there is a nice little draft on for four harness Turned Taquete checks. Shared by Bonnie Inouye, it is # 61535. As for the circles, you’re still gonna need eight.

Circle Scarves in Living Color [Red]

So, I finally finished the first warp of rayon chenille Turned Taquete scarves in my color stripes circle design. I wove two, each with a slightly different gray weft. Then I wove a little end-of-warp piece with a dusty red weft called Geranium and made it into a cowl for me.

Here are the pics for one scarf that is now in my Etsy shop:

Red and Gray Dots Scarf 01 copyRed and Gray Dots Scarf 02 copyRed and Gray Dots Scarf 03 copyRed and Gray Dots Scarf 04 copyRed and Gray Dots Scarf 05 copy

I am amazed at how far I have come since I started this project. The results has definitely been worth it!

The next warp is going on the loom now. The neutral is the same gray, but the stripes are in greens, and the width is one stripe wider, up from 7″ in the reed to 9″.

Here is a quick iPhone photo:


Because the word needs all the circles we can give it. 🙂



Jitterbug Turned Taquete – It’s not just for 8 harnesses!

About two years ago I blogged about taking an overshot pattern called Jitterbug and converting it to an 8 harness Turned Taquete weaving draft. You can read all about that here. I don’t know why my mind wandered back to that, but I started wondering about how it would work on 4 harnesses. In her article “Turned Taquete: an Introduction” (*see below), Bonnie Inouye describes how it can be done by interleaving a four harness overshot threading with a second threading on opposites. I did not try this method, but I did decide to explore another method.

In her book Weaving with Echo and Iris Marian Stubenitsky suggests some ways to substitute blocks of four harnesses, each arranged in a different order, for the threading blocks in a design line. This means that each block will be switched for a four-thread sequence. Here is the substitution formula from page 71:

For Harness 1 we will substitute 1324

For Harness 2 we will substitute 3124

For Harness 3 we will substitute 3142

For Harness 4 we will substitute 1342

Other sequences of substitution in her book had issues. One could only be used on a rising design line, not descending. Another ended up with many double threads that needed to be deleted. This method had no problems and only the caveat that this threading rubric does not work with iridescent effects (four colors per block), but only with two alternating colors per block.

Off I went. First I re-wrote the design line to the minimum (keeping in mind that it would be expanded by 4x):


FYI– this is what it looks like with two repeats of the threading and treadling:


This is one repeat of the threading draft after four-thread substitutions are made:

Jitterbug Threading

And this is one repeat of the threading draft with the tie-up and one repeat of the treadling draft, which includes tabby on alternating picks:


The longest floats are 4 threads according to Fiberworks, which should be fine for most close sets. So, lest you four harness weavers should feel left out of the Turned Taquete craze, this is a perfectly serviceable technique to join in the fun. Enjoy!

*The complete article can be found here: Complex Weavers Journal, June 2014, pp 36-40.