The Trick to Avoiding Disfiguring Floats


Susie Kelly loves to learn new things and works until she is a master. She’s well known in our area for her excellent photographs. She has also greatly mastered kumihimo, beading, pottery, cake decorating, quilting, embroidery, sewing and more  that I can’t remember just now. It was a miracle that I got to know her. She met my photography teacher and blog guy at a photography show where  they were exhibiting,  and she mentioned she was taking a beginning weaving class. My friend mentioned that I was a weaver, and the rest is history. We  have an arrangement now: I teach her weaving and she began to teach me how to process my photos on the computer and now all manner of things on the computer and off! It’s a relationship made in heaven.  

This piece is fresh off the loom woven by Susie with only 1 ½ semesters in weaving classes and a few months studying with me . Four shafts weren’t enough for her right away and she borrowed my 8-shaft table loom. She has been cruising through the book, “A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns from the Friends of Handwoven” commonly known as “The Strickler Book”.  This was her first attempt at block weaves.

Turns out that Susie chose patterns #247 and #248. Her teacher explained the threading and weaving  of these straight and broken twills in warp and weft faced squares and off she went.

Success! Lovely squares with clean, straight vertical and horizontal edges—for the most part. Stay tuned.

Some blocks did not have clean edges on the squares. Being Susie, she quickly used her needle and thread skills and made most of the edges look perfect. I convinced her to photograph one of the places that the flaw was not so noticeable. Notice there are 4 white warp threads going out of the all-white square into the square with the black twill wefts. There were  longer “bad” floats in the sampler before her repairs. But we did find a place with shorter warp floats to show the problem. (not clean edges).

Here is the simple trick to getting all the edges clean with no threads floating across the edges. Where there is a change in warp face and weft face, the tie -down threads at the edges must look like the illustration. In other words, a weft tie-down thread on an edge must meet a warp  tie-down in the adjacent square. If you want to weave more rows than a complete repeat, that’s fine, just in the new square (or rectangle),  begin with the row that has the opposite tie-down thread.

Here is a tie up showing a warp thread opposing a weft thread at the vertical and horizontal edges of the squares. Again, you can weave a square as long as you like, just remember  If you want to weave more rows than a complete repeat, that’s fine, just in the new “square”, begin with the row that has the opposite tie-down thread.

Other weave structures use the same trick. Notice that all the vertical warps are stopped by a horizontal weft where the blocks change. This is an example of a “damask diaper: A self-patterned weave; a simple form of damask with rectilinear pattern formed by the contrast of warp and weft faces of a satin weave; much used for simple table linens.” From Warp & Weft A dictionary of textile terms” by Dorothy K. Burnham. Royal Ontario Museum. 1980. Burnham also lists a twill diaper which is the same idea as the twill weave similar to Susie’s pattern.

Dorothy Burnham chose twill blocks for the cover of her book. Notice not all the blocks are the same size or square but they all have beautiful clean edges.

Fine Threads Part 3 – Words of Wisdom from Junco Sato Pollack and Mr. Ashenhurst

Junco Sato Pollack is a nationally and internationally known artist. She served as a cultural ambassador for a while, at the same time, her interest was always to find ways to do 3-D surfaces and forms by combining fabric and layered techniques. She has used a variety of techniques in fiber. These include weaving, surface design, sculptural work, heat transfer printing, and paper making. She is Professor Emerita of Georgia State University where she taught in the Textiles Program.

In one very early series of her art were silk hangings woven in damask with printed warps. After the cloth was off the loom, she added silver leaf which was adhered to the woven surface by screen printing adhesive and pressing silver leaf onto the surface. The silver leaf in this hanging has tarnished to dark grey.

This detail shows more of the damask patterning in the cloth itself. The silk damask has screen-printed warp images of ivy. Then she adhered silver leaf leaves on the woven surface. The weave is a 16-shaft damask.

Reed and Sett
Junco tells that “Japanese silk hand weaving is mostly plain weave based on tsumugi fabric which is hand-spun weft on plied reeled silk warp. The weft is coarse, but both warp colors and weft colors are interactively visible. (What we call tabby.)

“So, denting is usually double dent, and this is why we have so many fine reed numbers per inch, ie. 45 coarse, 55 medium, 65 fine. Double dented, they become 90 epi, 110, 130 and so on. Thus, achieving well distributed warps and no dent lines, called “shirome” (white looks) of lines.” (What we call reed marks.) The photo is of a bamboo reed of mine I have “ for show,”  

Peggy O.

Besides being an artist, ambassador, and teacher, she has grown silkworms and reeled out the filaments. The reason for raising silkworms was that she wanted to create 3 dimensional raised patterns on silk fabric. That required the use of sericin-rich silk threads to create the thermo-plastic silk for a 3-D surface. She wove in “shibori binding stitches” while on the loom, and heat set the pleats after the stitched-in threads were gathered up. This process is now called “woven shibori.” By weaving on a jibata loom, it was easy to create an extra harness to weave in shibori stitching threads. Images of her work can be found at

This is a diagram of how the Japanese traditional jibata loom works. A loop of string attached to the loom’s heddle stick and the weaver’s toe is how warp threads are moved to make the sheds. The backstrap of course lets the weaver lessen and tighten the warp as needed. This helps to make clean sheds with dense warps of fine threads.

Jim Ahrens (a part of AVL as you all know by now) taught us Ashenhurst’s way to calculate sett that industry uses. It’s especially handy when winding such very fine threads on a ruler would be difficult! I use this method and teach it to my students. This worksheet is in my book, Weaving for Beginners, and the information also is in Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle (in the big chapter on sett). 

The Ashenhurst formula calls for the square root of the yards per pound. I don’t even have a cheap enough calculator anymore and certainly don’t remember how to find square root. What to do?? I Googled “what is the square root of 30,000.” That was a yardage Molly McLaughlin gave in the previous post. The answer: 173. Then I multiplied 173 by 0.9 (on iPhone calculator) to get 155 for the diameters in an inch. That’s a calculation for the wraps per inch concept. According to Ashenhurt’s Rule you should then divide the diameters by .5 for plain weave or .67 for twill. However, it looks like Molly skipped that step and took 80% of the diameters to come to 124.5 for 120 epi for her 30,000 ypp silk. Previous tips on my website explain the calculation more thoroughly. See them HERE. Here are two Tips: “A Weaving Tool: Ashenhurst’s Rule” and “Good Reasons to Use Ashenhurst’s 80% Figure”.