Sunday, October 17, 2021

Something about Inlay (especially for Rigid Heddle Weavers)

I love playing with pick-up sticks, and I love the magic of inlay in all of its many variations (and there are many!).   For Rigid Heddle weavers, it's a relatively painless way to put geometric patterns and even more complex images into our woven projects - often only needing a pick-up stick (though sometimes multiple heddles are needed).

I've been having trouble finding a definitive definition of inlay, but Betty Linn Davenport has a pretty good one in her book Hands on Rigid Heddle Weaving.  To summarize, I've made a list of the characteristics that inlay usually exhibits:

Supplemental weft (maybe also supplemental warp?)

Discontinuous thread (usually doesn't go all the way from selvedge to selvedge)

Plain weave ground, usually (though twill is also used in multi-shaft weaving)

Woven in (not added later like embroidery)

Usually a heavier thread than the ground weft and the warp

Usually in a contrasting color/colors

Can be on a balanced weave or on a weft-faced weave

It includes:

Simple inlay, laid-in patterning, wrapped inlay, inlay with cut wefts, Theo Moorman technique, transparency, brocade, Swedish Krabba and Dukagång, Bhutanese Kushutara, Kutch supplemental weft patterns, and many other gorgeous ethnic and world fabric techniques for which I do not know the names.  

It probably also includes looped, twined, and knotted textural supplemental weft techniques like Boutonné, Flossa/Rya/Ghiordes knots, Soumak, and probably other techniques I’ve yet to discover!

And here are some resources that have inlay info and drafts and projects.

1.  Books that Heddlers might have:

  • Davenport, Betty Linn, Hands on Rigid Heddle Weaving, Interweave Press, 1987, pgs. 61-68. 
  • Davenport, Betty Linn, Textures and Patterns for the Rigid Heddle Loom, Revised Edition, 2008, pgs.19-25 
  • Mitchell, Syne, Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom, Storey Publishing, 2015, pgs.73-181, 212-215. 
  • Patrick, Jane, The Weaver’s Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid-Heddle Loom, Interweave Press, 2010, pgs. 108-113, 141-160.

2.  And other important weaving books that have inlay info:

  • Black, Mary E., New Key to Weaving, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1957 edition, pgs.  98-104, 117-147.
  • Dixon, Anne, The Handweaver's Pattern Directory, Interweave Press, 2007, pgs. 238-241. 

I haven't really explored my magazines yet, but the Handwoven magazine March/April 2017 is all about Scandinavian weaving - for inlay, try pages 14-15, 48-50, and 56-57. 

Eye Candy:

Norwegian Textile Letter

Warped for Good

This is my sampler from a Joanna Hall class on Swedish Art Weaves - some done in class, some done later on my own.  From bottom to top, has Krabba, Rolokan, Halvkrabba, Monks Belt, Dukagång, more Halvkrabba, and more Krabba (playing with a larger scale on this one, to see if the floats are still manageable).  

Not all of these rows are inlay.  Rolokan is not an inlay - though it is a discontinuous weft, its wefts form part of the ground structure and so they are not supplemental wefts ( Rolokan is a tapestry weaving technique). 

Can Monks Belt be considered inlay?  I don't know.  In this sampler, it uses a discontinuous weft pattern that does float over the plain weave ground like the other inlays, so maybe?  

Sampler is weft faced, uses Borgs Faro single ply wool weft and Bockens 16/3 linen warp sett at 10 epi.  And a pick-up stick.  And the occasional heddle stick (for Monks Belt and Dukagång)

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Winter is coming! Well, Summer and Winter anyhow.

Quick and non-curated bibliography for my local structures study group - few annotations, very few links, very little attention to proper bibliographic format, but hey - it's a start!


Multiple variations - Brick treading/singles/traditional/alternating, and "O's/pairs/roseate/birdseye, and X's/pairs/hourglass, and Dukagang fashion 1 and 2/columns.  And then you can change the look of the pairs by starting the tabby with 2 instead of 1!  And then you can turn the draft.  And then there's polychrome!  Yikes!

It has a relation to Crackle, and Taquete, and Samitum, and Half Satin, and even Tied Overshot and more!  

1.  Handwoven Magazine 2006 to 2021 (the number in brackets at the end of a listing tells how many shafts are needed).  May/June 2006 is almost all summer/winter, and has a van der Hoogt "School for Weavers" section that was quite helpful to me.  If you need more, search for Handwoven Magazine Indexes and have a look at the earlier issues.  There's lots.


Bauhaus Weaver Hand Towels. MA21, 50-52 (4)

Fishing for Compliments. SO21, 62-64 (8) 


Adventures in design: weaving upholstery fabric. SO15, 22-23

Both sides of summer and winter: linen placemats. JF16, 44-46 [7] 

Bread cloths. ND20, 40-42 [4]

Four blocks on four shafts: summer and winter towels. MJ13, 27-29 

Hail to the hostess bottle bags. SO16, 42-44 [6]

Inspired by color towels. MJ18, 48-49 [4]

Inspired vest. SO12, 48, 50-51 [8]

Spicy scarves. MJ14, 52-54 [8]

Starry sky placemats. SO16, 50-52 [4]

Stars & stripes picnic blanket. SO16, 34-36 [8]; errata MA18, 67 

Summer & winter squares. MJ20, 30-32 [6]

Summer and winter. SO16, 18-19

Summer and winter kitchen towels. MJ16, 38-40 [4]

Summer and winter silk scarf. MJ16, 46-48 [4]

Summer and winter spelled out. ND15, 20-21

Summer and winter with a twist polka-dot towels. JF15, 46-48 [8] 

Sunshine napkins and raffia placemats. MA12, 38-41 [2, 4]

Turning autumn towels. SO20, 61-63 [4]


Bookmarks and a Polychrome Challenge. MJ06:56–59 [8]

Color Gradations in Summer and Winter. MA11:60–61 [4]

Color Play in Summer & Winter. MJ10:38–39 [6, 4]

Farkle Game Bags in Summer and Winter. SO07:60–62 [8]

Fun and Functional: Turned Summer and Winter Towels. MJ06:52–55 [8]

A Run of Linen Runners on the Same Warp.  MJ05:52–55 [8]

School for Weavers: A Summer and Winter Family Reunion. MJ06:74–77

A Small Coverlet Is within Your Reach. ND11:62–63 [6]

Summer and Winter Polychrome—A Yarn’s Best Friend. SO10:58–59[8]

Summer and Winter Resources. MJ06:14 

A Summer Shawl.  MJ06:48–50 [8]

Technicolor Cloth.  MJ06:44–47 [4]

Warp Once, Weave Two Throws—or More!.  SO09:60–62 [6]

Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. MJ06:40–43 [4]

2.  A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns.  Ed. Carol Strickler,  pgs. 145-161.
Has a lot about using a profile draft too.  And even though I took "Unlock the Block" (thanks Janet Dawson!) and had no trouble with the threading and the tie-up, the treadling substitutions made my brain hurt until I put it all up in Fiberworks.  (Some of us have to actually do a thing to understand it) Did the sheep in all the variations.  Fun.  Though the original still probably looks the best out of all the possibilities.

Don't have this one yet, but it looks good.

4.  The Best of Weaver's Summer & Winter Plus Ed. Madelyn van der Hoogt
A lot of projects for 10 shafts and up, but it does have 6 @ 8-shaft, 1 @ 5-shaft, 1 @ 6-shaft (turned), and 4 @ 4-shaft (with pick-up).  Also a lot of info on tied unit weaves.  Deep structures dive.

5.  New Key to Weaving.  Mary E Black,  chapter 9.

6.  Summer and Winter: A Weave for All Seasons.  Donna Sullivan (I'm putting this in here, but hoping it is at the guild library as it's a bit pricey everywhere.)

7.  The Complete Book of Drafting.  Madelyn van der Hoogt

8.  Best of Handwoven: Summer and Winter eBook - these are all projects from Handwoven magazines, but a choice if you don't have a subscription.

9.  And a video download Weaving Summer and Winter  Madelyn van der Hoogt 

10.  A Handweaver's Pattern Book.  Marguerite Porter Davison, Chapter XX Summer and Winter

11.  Learning to Weave.  Deborah Chandler,  Lesson 14 Summer and Winter.

12.  And if you took Janet Dawson's "Unlock the Block" class, she has given us a few pages of lovely Summer and Winter essentials info including threading keys and treadling keys.
As well as a gorgeous draft in Towelpalooza 2020!

13.  And of course, if you're a Rigid Heddle weaver,  I have a blog post about that!

My take on the sheep draft from Strickler (playing with the variations).  
From top to bottom - bricks,
 o pairs, x pairs,
columns 1 and columns 2.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Perfectly Wonderful Plain Weave! And some first thoughts on color and pattern too.

 This post is a work in progress.  Beginning with just a list of starting points for weavers, and hope to add written details, photos, and maybe links as time goes on.

The list:

1.  Let the yarn do the work - 

  • Warp and weft are both a self-patterning yarn.
  • Warp is a fancy/self-patterning yarn and weft is a plain yarn
  • Warp is a plain yarn and weft is a fancy/self-patterning yarn

2.  Let the yarn work, but add some stripes - planned or random, symmetrical or asymmetrical
  • Warp has stripes but weft is plain
  • Warp is plain but weft has stripes 
  • Warp and weft are both striped!  (Think checks and plaids, or just borders on top/bottom/sides, or a grid on a plain field)

3.  Color and weave effects - plain yarn in a dark/light pattern in warp and weft
  • Houndstooth
  • Log Cabin

4.  Yarn special effects - in warp or weft or both, regular pattern or random
  • Use a thicker yarn, or thick and thin yarn, or structured yarn (eyelash, boucle, beehive, ribbon, etc.).  If using for warp, remember to test for strength and stretch and stickiness and abrasion resistance (rubbing off in the holes/slots).  And most important - will it fit through the space in the heddle reed (slots are bigger but not infinite!).  Some flashy textured yarns are best as weft only.
  • Use thin strips of fabric (light weigh for drape or heavy weight for placemats, rugs, etc)(probably best as a weft)
  • Use thrums (small lengths of leftover yarn) and overhand knot them together as you wind onto bobbin or stick.  Let the knots and tails become a textural design element.

5.  And more!  Is there more?  What am I forgetting?

  • Try some fulling (washing more vigorously for thickness) or even hard-fulling/felting
  • Leave a gap (use a cardboard spacer in the weft)(skip slots/holes in the warp) and let the yarns shift (or lightly felt them to hold the openings in place). 

Part Two - Colors

My main advice on this is to look everywhere and steal like an artist.  

If you see a great color pattern somewhere - can you get similar color yarns and translate that to plain weave on your Rigid Heddle?

If you see a great pattern somewhere but don't like the colors - can you use that pattern in plain weave and translate it to colors that you love?

I'll be back later.

Friday, April 16, 2021


Here are some thoughts about waffle weave, which happens to be one of my favorites.  There's just something charming about the way it shrinks and bubbles and makes little pockets and, well, waffles!

My local weave structures study group is doing waffle weave just now (Yeah, and it's all my fault.  Someone asked if anyone else had anything they wanted to do and I said I liked waffle weave and the next thing I knew . . . ).  

Anyhow, I thought I would try to be a little organized about the whole thing.  

So here's my table of contents!

1.  What the heck can waffle weave be used for?

2.  Of Setts and Shrinkage

3.  Going wild with color (or not)

4. Yikes!  I almost forgot to talk about yarns!

5.  Resources (as of April 2021 anyhow)

6.  Especially for Rigid Heddlers!

1.  What the heck can waffle weave be used for?

  • towels of any kind or size (fingertip towels to beach towels to kitchen towels to spa towels), plus washcloths, spa cloths, dishcloths
  • placemats and table runners (you might want to pick a shallow draft and/or thinner yarns so your glassware doesn't dip into the waffle and take a dive)
  • hotpads, microwave pads (cotton only), casserole cozies, basket liners (to cushion breads, rolls, muffins, fresh fruit)
  • blankets, throws, pillow covers
  • scarves, shawls, wraps. ruanas
  • yardage for garments - shirts (remember cozy thermal shirts - yeah, waffle weave), bathrobes, jackets
  • rugs!

2.  Of Setts and Shrinkage
When you wet finish it - it shrinks.  
(this photo is hemp (2ply neutral and 3ply color) in a little 3 shaft-ish waffle weave done on a rigid heddle loom)

It shrinks a lot.  In both directions.   

Lunatic Fringe 10/2 cotton @ 28 epi (24 epi for the plain weave) - all 8 shaft drafts on the exact same warp, with the same washer and dryer treatment (and many years of use) - from biggest to smallest -
plain weave, twill, waffle with tie down (like Strickler #512), and full waffle (like Strickler #511)

Of course what it loses in length and width it gains in depth/thickness (cozy blankets)(thirsty towels).  
These are not folded over!  This is the actual edge-on view of these towels!  Cool, eh?

Madelyn van der Hoogt suggests using a twill spacing on the sett.  Check out some waffle weave patterns and take advice from those designers.  And then sample and wet finish your sample (wash as you intend the finished project to be washed) - especially do the sample if the finished size is really important - because your yarn might be different, or your "beat" in weaving might be different.  
Next month I'll post any discoveries that my study group finds.

3.  Going wild with color (or not)
  • This structure is lovely with stripes to bring out the edges and the pockets (see Teaching with Towels for some color ideas).  And here's a 7shaft sample I wove in a Janet Dawson class with her draft and her own color design.  I love the way the white highlights the peaks and the brown deepens the valleys on the stripes.

  • In a color gamp (the Lunatic Fringe kit has 2 - 8shaft waffle weave patterns in the instruction packet - ) the full waffle (first photo) and the waffle with little tie downs in the middle of the waffle (second photo)

    And here's a closeup of those tie downs - those little dots in the center mean that the waffle pocket doesn't get quite as deep so it doesn't shrink quite as much.

  • And just with a lovely soothing solid color - seen here on a Sue Willingham cotton bath towel (7shaft?).  (She sells these (and more) at if you're interested).  

4. Yikes!  I almost forgot to talk about yarns!

Cotton, cottolin, linen, hemp, tencel, wool, fabric strips, and probably anything else that's appropriate to your project! (no acrylics or nylons or other manufactured yarns in the kitchen please - they might melt!) 

In Handwoven Magazine Jan/Feb 2013, Laura Fry has a brief comparison of Lamb's Pride Worsted from Brown Sheep Company and Pony Worsted from Henry's Attic (both wools) and how they perform in waffle weave after fulling the cloth.  Short but really interesting.

And the different fibers probably all shrink at different rates - we'll find out!

5.  Resources (as of April 2021 anyhow) - sorry, these are in no particular order at this time.

6.  Especially for Rigid Heddlers!