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!