Twills and the Rewards of Sampling

Last week I spent time weaving twills with some wonderful students. Every class has its own unique mix of student perspectives and experiences, and this group was absolutely delightful. A couple were fairly new to weaving in general, some had woven rugs and wanted to try weaving a lighter fabric, another had been concentrating on color for most of her previous projects and wanted to try some new patterns, and another had been a weaver off and on for many years and was coming back to the fold once again. We all found ourselves weaving dozens of different twill patterns, some planned, some serendipitous, but all quite lovely...


Warp Chain

Occasionally, customers will ask me if I would make a smaller, more affordable item for them. They love the look and feel of handwoven textiles, but they were hoping to spend just a little bit less for the special gift they had in mind. I'm always looking for new project ideas, and this got me thinking. Well... how about a little bookmark?

Oh, The Possibilities!

Sample treadlings (photo is rotated, warp runs left to right)

One of the best things about weaving is that the possibilities are virtually unlimited, and it would take many lifetimes to explore them all. Even weavers who have been working at this craft for decades will tell you that they have barely scratched the surface. Curoisity compelled me to actually do the math, and I found that even a 4 shaft twill could yield a number of combinations that quickly exceeds the scientific notation capacity of my calculator. Not all of them are worth weaving, but still, that's a big number. Then there are all the colors and fibers to add into the mix, so you get the idea - lots of possibilities.

Plaited Twill


The hallmark of a twill weave is the diagonal lines that form as a contrasting weft crosses the warp. The classic example is good old denim jeans. In this "plaited twill", the diagonals are arranged in such a way as to produce a fascinating optical illusion - it looks like the two colors are braided together on a larger scale, on top of the interlacement that forms the cloth itself. It is great fun to weave as I watch the pattern emerge.

I decided to use this pattern for table linens (a set of placemats and maybe a runner or two, at the end of the warp) because it is interesting without being distracting. Red is a good color for kitchens and dining rooms, as it suggests the warmth of the hearth fire, and stimulates the appetite. It is appropriate for festive occasions, as well as every day meals. Besides, it is certainly a cheerful color to work with.