Double Weave for Dummies and Virgins – Part 2

The part 1 post was published on April 30, 2021. You can read it HERE.

The threading for this series of posts is a straight draw: 1,2,3,4, etc.

There are three basic variations of double weave.

1. Weaving two separate layers at once.

2. Weaving a tube.

3. Weaving double width. (You can weave a cloth twice as wide as it is on your loom!)

I like to have students practice writing the sequence of sheds on paper before weaving a sampler. I’ll give three examples to practice for each concept before suggesting that one go to the loom and begin to weave. That way you get plenty of practice and understand what to do. I write the sequence of sheds using “T” to indicate the top layer and “B” to indicate the bottom.

Make a Key
Start with a key to plan the sequence of sheds for a particular variation of double weave (weaving two separate layers, a tube, or double width).

The key will indicate which shafts you have determined will be for each layer. I have given three keys to work with in my sampler. More keys could be made, but these three will give you a start to understanding the principles of double weave. In making a key, you may arbitrarily decide which shafts to use for the layers. On the other hand, the colors in the warp may make the determination, depending on which shafts each color is threaded.

Key #1:
This key determines which shafts to use to form the top and bottom layers. For this key, let the top layer be woven with shafts 1 and 3, and the bottom layer with shafts 2 and 4.

Key #2:
This key indicates that shafts 2 and 4 are to be used to form the top layer, with shafts 1 and 3 forming the bottom layer.

Key #3
In this key, shafts 1 and 2 are to be used to weave the top layer, and shafts 3 and 4 for the bottom layer.

The sequence of sheds can be worked out once you know which shafts will be forming which layers. (They key) The sequences change depending on which variation of double weave you want to weave (two separate layers, a tube, double width).

The part 3 post will be about the sequences for the variations of double weave: two separate layers, a tube or double width.

How Double Weave Works: Double Weave for Dummies and Virgins

Weaving tubes and double width and blocks will probably be in future posts. This post is about the underlying principles for all double woven textiles. There is a large section on double weave in my book, Weaving for Beginners.

You might like to print out the principles to hang on a wall in your studio.

I like to teach double weave by using words to describe what to do instead of giving a weave draft because a draft doesn’t really show what the cloth will be like. It does show both layers being intermingled, which is not useful at all for actual weaving. Drafts are in my book, but I like to use words for the threading, tie-ups and treadlings.

Seven Principles for Weaving Double Cloth

  1. The cloth to be on top at any given time is determined by you.
  2. The cloth to be woven on the bottom at any given time is determined by you.
  3. The two layers are woven simultaneously.
  4. You determine which shafts will weave the cloth that is on the top and which shafts will form the bottom cloth.
  5. The order; or sequence, that you use to lift the shafts to make the sheds is what makes the two cloths weave simultaneously and determines which variation of double weave as well. (eg. separate layers, tube, or double width.)
  6. Usually, in double weave cloth the layers exchange positions frequently to make the design or pattern—(what was on top at one time becomes the bottom and vice-versa).
  7. If there were only one set of shafts used for all the top layer, you would end up with two completely separate cloths instead of one cloth double thick—it’s the exchanging of the layers that holds the cloth together as one piece. If there were no exchanging of the layers, the two cloths would fall apart from one another.

Unwinding Skeins of Very Fine Threads

I bought a few skeins of fine silk in Japan a few years ago. I ran into all kinds of trouble. I finally asked the owner of Habu Textiles if she would unwind them on her machines. All but one skein she wound onto cones. The final skein she sent to Japan; it was so hard to undo. It came back on about 10-15 cones, each with small amounts wound on and some with threads flying about. Even they found it nearly impossible! I bought proper Japanese equipment but still decided it was worth it to pay to have them unwound. I’m unwinding a bunch of skeins now from Junco Sato Pollack and using my equipment. Many skeins come off beautifully. A few still gave me fits. It’s a joy to crank and wind a spool when all the threads come off easily. My advice is not to buy those skeins or to admire them and leave the threads in the skeins. I have cut a skein or two creating lengths of threads that I’ve laid into warps. Here are a few details.

Unwinding skeins of very, very fine threads can be an extremely tedious, and near impossible task. Special equipment can make a difference. The extra circumference of Japanese spools is important. Winding on small spools or cones can be impossible.

You also need a proper skein holder or skein maker. A common umbrella swift doesn’t hold the skein flat due to its X shape. If the skein isn’t held evenly the threads can fall down and tangle.

This is the winder that winds the Japanese spools. When a thread breaks, pat the skein from the inside and hopefully the broken end will fall out, and you can continue nicely. It’s imperative to open the skein properly. See below.

Here is the winder with an empty spool on it, ready to go. Notice the guide arm that guides the thread onto the spool. This is essential. I had an antique one, but the guider was gone. It was terrible trying to guide and crank. Another empty spool is shown alongside.

Open any skein CAREFULLY. You must find the precise place that is the center of the ring of threads in the skein. This is true for all skeins if you want them to unwind easily. Search for the ties that encircle the threads.

Look carefully for the ties that tie the skein so the exact center can be found.

You can’t check the ties too carefully. Really see that not a single thread is out of place. Often there are two ties that just tie the center of the skein and another one that does the same plus has the ends of the thread tied to it. Find which end unwinds easily and tuck the other end inside the skein holder. Also note that where the ties cross within the skein is not an exact place. It just keeps the ties from slipping.

My Own Fine Weaving

Now that life is getting busier, I’m planning to post less often. Maybe weekly or so. I want to get to my looms and experiment and do some fine weaving again. And I have a dye project I want to start. If you still need something to have breakfast with, try reading the posts I began a year ago when the pandemic began. I still love getting comments.

This is my 125 ends per inch silk weaving. I had big plans, but it was almost a “dog on the loom”. I wanted sheer fabric and I didn’t want to beat in the wefts too hard. I wove a double weave tube so there would be more resistance on the beater to prevent beating too hard and still be sheer. A tube meant only one shuttle, of course. I made so many threading errors, I thought I had lost my mind! It’s really not hard to thread so many ends when the cross is right there to guide you. Sometimes I crossed threads and sometimes it was in the heddles. I already had made several fine silk tubes before at 96 epi. This shouldn’t have been so difficult. I’ve got more  fine silk threads from Junco Sato Pollack so am eager to weave them up.

The weaving went terribly with a huge number of stops and starts to correct broken or mis-threaded ends. I properly repaired many threads and replaced many warp threads with colored sewing threads so I could see what I was doing. I had to throw away a lot but managed to get 40” woven as a tube.

After the 40” I decided to just weave off what I had left and not bother with corrections. I managed to get a hanging out of it. It hangs in front of an ikat hanging I got in Okinawa.

In the end, I gave up weaving the sheer cloth and decided to just weave off whatever I had left of the warp. Probably the warp was on the loom a few months before I made up my mind to get it off. I wove the layers separately.

I used the handspun cotton from Bhutan for the weft.

I couldn’t snug up the wefts at the selvedges so just let the wefts all hang out.

The handspun cotton on the fine silk. I think it looks OK. I do like where the cloth splits into the two layers and divides to hang on either side of the “single layer” the tube.

Weaving that Almost Isn’t. April Fool!

Jan Hudson wove 2 scarves on a whim, and I asked her to make the April Fools Day post.

I used a variegated rayon knitting yarn as warp on the orange and blue scarf. The weft is a very thin unidentified cotton yarn I had in my stash but sewing thread would work also.

The sett was “guesstimated” at 5 epi. I wove 3 pics, then placed a 2 cm spacer cardboard in the shed, and wove 3 more pics, repeating the process to the end of the scarf!

The technique is used in Guatemala on textiles made on a backstrap loom. This time I wove a few more pics before leaving the spaces.

It’s only plain weave, so only 2 shafts are required! Peggy adds: So what if the ends don’t end up the same length!

Cocoon Scarf: Another Two-shaft Idea

This is my 834th post! I began them in November, 2010.  Before that on my original website I had posted over 100 weaving tips. They are still available and used today on this website. For the last year Bob, my tech guy and I have posted nearly every other day. I enjoy making the posts and still have ideas for more. I love getting comments! Any suggestions for posts are welcome, too.

I got this beautiful, fine silk scarf in Japan. We visited the silk grower who showed us his refrigerated storage shed for cocoons ready for making threads. Usually, silk threads are made up of several strands—that is from several cocoons. His breed of silkworms are not grown commercially and his processing is not done commercially. His weavers weave these scarves with threads of single cocoons. I treasure my scarf so here are several photos.

My scarf is generous in size: 18” x 72” not including the fringe. In a pile about the size of a dinner plate, it is gossamer.

I love the structure, too. There are two breads of silkworms used. I have a cocoon from each one. The thick threads are from a different breed from the thin ones.

Of course the selvedges are perfection. I’m inspired by the structure. Putting that little thicker thread in regularly makes it so you notice the fabric.  Another two-shaft idea which doesn’t have to use such fine threads, of course.

A close-up. I find it looks really great close and at a distance. And, amazingly enough, it doesn’t snag on my sort-of-rough hands!

Here’s how the fringe was handled. Again perfection!

More Inspiration for Hand Manipulated Weaves – And another two-shaft weave

Mary Balzar Buskirk is the artist who wove the piece shown in the previous post, dated March 20, 2021.

I love textiles that interest me, especially ones that are weavable or peak my curiosity. This linen-like piece fits all of the criteria. Often when I come across a fabric I remember where I got it and have a nice memory or story behind it. This one I don’t remember at all. I’m getting back into my studio and doing a bit of sorting and somehow, this piece turned up. It is 14” wide so that means it probably came from Japan.

The cloth is so simple. It is yardage so the groups of tassels repeat the entire length.

So my curiosity took me to see what they did at the selvedges with the tassel wefts. The thick weft is carried up a little shy of ½”. That seems just right and not disfiguring. In fact, I think it adds a subtle bit of interest.

I put my macro lens on my iPhone to see just what the wefts were doing. I needed to see how the tassel weft fit into the plain weave. The thick weft goes halfway across the fabric in its own shed. It’s interesting that the wefts before and after it are in the same shed with just the thick weft in the opposite shed and going only halfway across the width of the cloth.

Here we can see that the thick weft has its own shed—but we know that it only goes ½ way across the

Also interesting to see what makes up the thick weft. Several strands and not alike.

Often there are clues at the cut end of a cloth.

An Inspiration for a Hand Manipulated Weave: Another two shaft weave

This is a black and white photo I’ve saved for many years. In real life, it is very colorful with LOTS of color changes. If I remember correctly it was woven by Mary Balzar Buskirk. I googled her name and found she died in 1981 at the age of 52 and lived in Pennsylvania. It’s really hand manipulated and slow to weave, but has a lot of potential.

Here is a detail of another area. I think it’s interesting that she left some modules unwoven. It looks like the warp threads were black and spaced as sections in the reed.

Ghiordes Knot

This knot is one that is used for making pile rugs. It can also be used for texture and decoration.

Usually, a few strands of wool yarn are used together if you want to make pile as in rugs. Yarn or thread of any color or texture can be used if textures are desired. Use single strands or multiples to achieve the look you want.

Start with some rows of plain weave.

The shed is closed.

Cut the yarn in short pieces in your desired color(s)—approximately twice the length you want your pile to be plus a little extra. You want to cut them long enough, so it isn’t difficult to make the knots. You might cut the pile shorter after it is on the warp and waste some yarn, but it is well worth it so you can make many knots quickly. Experiment with different lengths (and different numbers of strands to use together) to determine what works best for you.

Step 1: Lay a length of one pile yarn (or group of yarns) over 2 warp threads as shown in the illustration.

Step 2: Wrap the ends of the yarn around the 2 threads and bring them back up between the warp threads as shown.

Step 3: Pull on the tails gently to tighten the knot and slide it down snuggly against the previous row of plain weaving.

Step 4: Continue making knots around pairs of warp threads across the warp or where desired.

Don’t worry if the pile yarns aren’t all equal in length or are too long because you will probably trim them later.

Step 5: Weave two rows of plain weave between rows of knots. This action is important because if you don’t, you won’t have any cloth, just vertical rows of pile knots that will be separate from each other. It’s the plain weave between the rows that integrates the knots into the cloth. The pile usually is long enough so these rows are hidden.

Step 6: Trim the pile to the length desired and for a tidier look.


This is how many pile carpets are woven. If you look carefully between the rows of pile you can see the plain weave rows. You can also tell where the weaver began and ended a carpet. Because of the way you slide the knots down snuggly in step 3, the pile lies in one direction. Pet the carpet as you would pet a cat. If it’s the smooth direction, you are petting the carpet from the end toward the beginning.

If you think you’d like to make a real pile rug, consult books especially written for making rugs.

Also, there are special scissors available for cutting the pile evenly. Most pile rugs have designs in them made by using different colors for the knots. Geometric designs are easy to make using this technique. For more detailed designs, you would need a very fine scale with thin threads and hundreds of knots per square inch.


This technique can be used as an edge finish or in a contrasting color as a decorative stitch. It creates a flat, dashed line on the surface.

Weave some plain weave.

Use a separate weft in a matching or contrasting color.

Cut a length of weft as long as 3 times the width of the warp.

The shed is closed.

Start at the right edge of the warp.

Fold the weft in half and center it on the right selvedge thread, one half of the weft goes over 2 warp threads, the other goes under the same 2 warp threads and then they swap places. Repeat across the warp.

The number of warp threads in the groups can vary according to the look you like. You can experiment with this technique and invent different looks. The main thing is that the top and the bottom “threads” switch places.

Danish Medallion

This makes a very nice decorative “stitch”. All the steps sound confusing, but it is clear what to do when you are at the loom and do as the directions say. You may be quite surprised that your work does look like the illustration. It is a lovely technique.

Wind the “medallion yarn” on a separate shuttle. Often this yarn is a contrasting color. If the same color as the warp is used, it makes a more subtle pattern, which is nice in silk.

You might want a small crochet hook for this technique. A tapestry needle might work for you just as well.

Work on an open shed. See the instructions for working on an open shed at the end of the directions for the medallions, below.

Remember always to keep the plain weave order of the wefts.

Weave a plain weave heading and end with the shuttle on the left side such that the outside warp thread on the right edge of the warp is up in the completed row, as in the illustration.

Step 1: Open the next plain weave shed. (Now, the right edge thread will be down.) Enter the medallion yarn into the shed and end with the shuttle on the right edge of the cloth.

Step 2: Follow with several rows of plain weave using the same yarn as in the heading. To make the pattern work out, weave an odd number of wefts between pattern rows. In the case of the illustration, three rows of plain weave are woven.

Step 3. Open the next shed. (This is the same as the one for the first medallion shed.) Enter the medallion yarn part way into the shed from the right. You will have carried the medallion yarn up at the selvedge from its first row. Note that in the illustration, this row of medallion yarn starts with a partial pattern so the staggered design will work out. In this case, when you begin the row, go under 1 thread as per the directions for working on an open shed, below.

Step 4: Bring the medallion yarn to the surface.

Step 5: Here is an overview of the next step. In it you will do the preparation necessary to hook the second medallion weft into the first one below it. You will pass the shuttle through a loop you will make in the first medallion weft and then, take the shuttle up to the open shed to continue the stitch. After the shuttle has passed through the loop in the lower medallion weft, the lower weft will be straightened out, which will pull the second weft down, which makes the loop shown in the illustration. (After this step, the initial loop in the first weft will not exist anymore.)

Follow these directions. Trace the warp thread next to the one where the shuttle came out of the shed down to the first medallion weft. (It will be a warp from the bottom of the shed.) Using a small crochet hook or tapestry needle, pick up the first medallion weft yarn and make a loop on the hook or needle. In other words, where you hook the lower medallion weft should line up with the space where the upper weft came out.

Step 6: Enlarge the loop so that the shuttle can pass through it. In doing this job, you’ll be pulling on the bottom weft and distorting things a bit in order to make the loop large enough. Pass the shuttle through the loop.

Even with a cloth where the warp threads are close together, you can easily do this operation. You just push apart the warp threads.

Step 7: Straighten out the bottom row loop. Pull the bottom row straight again so it pulls the top row down to make its own loop.

Repeat the steps for more medallions in the row, now passing the yarn under 4 warp threads. (To make multiple rows of the pattern work out, you need to pass the shuttle under 4 threads from now on as you go across the row, as shown in the illustration.) Future rows should alternate where the loops are. See the illustration. Remember to make the design work out, take the shuttle under 4 threads in the open shed and use an odd number of wefts between medallion rows. It is important. You need to have a total of seven warp threads between the medallion loops. It matters because if you don’t, the shed sequence won’t work out and the staggering of the loops won’t be evenly spaced. For clarification on counting threads in an open shed, read below.

Working with an Open Shed: How to Count the Threads: (Repeated from the previous post on Spanish lace.)

See the photo and see that the shed is open, and the shuttle is passing part way across the warp before it is taken out of the shed. (Then it will be on the surface of the cloth.) I numbered the threads to show how to count the threads when the directions say go under a certain number of threads. I do it by counting the number of threads that are above the shuttle—that is, the threads the shuttle is passing under. In the illustration, the shuttle is going under 10 threads.

A Series of Hand Manipulated Weaves: Spanish Lace

The chapter, Hand-Manipulated Weaves is in the Appendix of my book, Weaving for Beginners. It was written by Tracy Kaestner who is the owner of Lone Star Loom Room. She suggested it when we met at a conference some years ago and agreed to produce it. The illustrations are by Ron Hildebrand, my illustrator.

Spanish Lace
With this technique, after washing, the fabric looks lacy because the weft curves and show up more.
You will always work with open sheds. This is an important point.

Working with an Open Shed: How to Count the Threads:
See the photo and see that the shed is open, and the shuttle is passing part way across the warp before it is taken out of the shed. (Then it will be on the surface of the cloth.) I numbered the threads to show how to count the threads when the directions say go under a certain number of threads. I do it by counting the number of threads that are above the shuttle—that is, the threads the shuttle is passing under. In the illustration, the shuttle is going under 10 threads.

How to weave Spanish lace
You will always be taking your shuttle into open sheds as you normally would—except that you won’t go very far into the sheds, and you’ll be taking the shuttle back and forth. Say, the shuttle is going left in a shed then, when it goes to the right it is to be in a new shed. When it goes left again, it will go in a new shed as well. Every time you change directions of the shuttle, you will be changing the shed, too.

Basically, this is what you’ll do to make Spanish lace: You’ll go back and forth with the shuttle (left and right) a bit, then, move on to a new group and go back and forth again and then, on to the next group, and so on, all across the warp.

To get the idea of how to make this stitch, I suggest you read the instructions as you follow along in the illustration. (Remember, when you go under threads, you are counting the upper threads in the shed only.

Weave a heading of plain weave, and end with the shuttle on the right edge of the cloth. Divide the width of the warp into groups of threads. You choose how big each unit of lace will be. The illustration shows two sizes of groups: 2 threads and 3 threads. You are the designer, and the groups can vary in size. Note there is one thread between each group.

You can weave it just like the illustration, or after you get the idea of how it works, you can start out with experiments. You can try out different sizes of the groups and how many times you want to go back and forth before moving on to a new group.

Follow these instructions to make the pattern in the photo, which makes two rows of Spanish lace.

For the first group of threads:
Step 1:
Moving to the left, pass the shuttle under one thread (in this case warp #1), and come up out of the shed.

Step 2: Change the shed. Working toward the right, pass the shuttle under one thread, (warp #2) and come out.

Step 3: Change shed. Working to the left, pass the shuttle under 3 threads. You are now going to work on the next group of threads.

For the second group of threads:
Step 1:
Change the shed. Moving to the right, pass the shuttle under 2 threads. (In the illustration, notice that you have already made the first row in the group by going under 3 to the left.)

Step 2: Change the shed. Moving to the left, pass the shuttle under 3 threads to complete this group as well as to move on to the next group.

For the third group of threads:
Step 1:
Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 1 thread as you move to the right and make the second “row” in the group.

Step 2: Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 1 thread as you move toward the left.

Continue across the warp.

For the second row

A second row of pattern is worked from the left side towards the right side.

To start the second row: You’ll follow the same process, but you’ll be going from the left edge of the warp toward the right.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Change the shed and pass the shuttle under one thread, moving to the right. This begins the first group in the second “row” (the one on the left in the illustration).

Step 2: Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 1 thread, moving to the left.

Step 3. Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 3 threads, moving to the right. This completes the first group and starts you on the middle group.

Step 4: Change the shed. Moving to the left, pass the shuttle under 1 thread.

Step 5: Change the shed. Moving to the right, pass the shuttle under 3 threads to finish that group and begin the next.

Step 6: Change the shed, and moving to the left, go under one thread.

Step 7: Change the shed, and moving to the right, go under one thread.

And you’re finished with two rows of “lace”! Read on.Note: You will go across the whole warp before beginning the second row of “lace”. When you’re back where you started, you can weave some tabby. Weave an odd number of rows before beginning to make more “lace”. If you want the counting and the placement of the groups to be the same.

A Counting String that Comes Out Fast

No matter what your warping method is, you often will need a counting string. When I first learned to make one, it was annoying to take it out when no longer needed. Jim Ahrens (A part of AVL) taught us to make this special crocheted chain that pulls out fast.

First: take a long string (maybe 3 feet for your first practices), fold it in half and slip the two tails through the loop at the fold around your first group of threads. This makes a lark’s head knot over these threads. The lark’s head is in the next photo.

With the tails of the lark’s head, you will begin to crochet around the bundles as you make them. Read on.

Measure out your next group of threads. Fold the tails between the first bundle and the new one, making a loop. Then put your right thumb and forefinger into the loop, while holding the tails with your left hand.

Encircle the new bundle with a “crochet” by using your finger and thumb to draw up another loop from the tails. Holding onto the tail, pull on the loop to snug it up around the bundle. Leave that loop and the tails dangling (don’t pull the tails through the loop, as you’ll be tempted to do).

The lark’s head is the foundation. From now on, you’ll crochet-chain using your fingers like this. Measure the next group of threads. With thumb and forefinger, reach through the old loop, drawing up a new one from the dangling tails, and tighten to secure the new group of threads.

After each crochet, both the loop and the tails should hang freely, ready for the next bundle.

This is taken from the Appendix in my book, Weaving for Beginners.

Great Loom Needs a Home

This loom is available and looking for a good home. For someone who likes good engineering and production with pleasure. It was built by my mentor, Jim Ahrens in the 50’s.  Ahrens is the “A” in AVL.  My looms are either built by him or by AVL. It’s like my own loom: 10 shafts and 10 treadles. The side tie-up means you don’t have to get down on the floor to tie up the treadles. The height is 46,” Width 52,” Depth 27″  

There’s a great warping mill—large and strong and stands on the floor. That could be separate. Other equipment like shuttles, etc. goes with it.

Go to this website which my apprentice and I made to see more features and how to use them.

Besides, it is made of beautiful birdseye maple and has been in a home so is in great condition. Probably all the cords and strings will need to be replaced. I used Texsolv cords and you can get Texsolv heddles, too.

It is located in Rossmore, in the San Francisco Bay area. Call the grandchildren at 858-335-3524. Asking $200 or best offer.

Double Weaver’s Knot

This is used when smooth yarns won’t hold with a regular weaver’s knot. Remember though, even this knot won’t hold very slippery yarns. Jim’s fisherman’s knot is for them. See “Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps” for the chapter on knots.

Note: The double can also be undone like the regular weaver’s knot.
Another Note: See my eBook, Weaver’s Knots on the website to order from Amazon.

The double weaver’s knot is a regular weaver’s knot with an additional step. One way to make it is to begin like the “ears” method.

As soon as you have the thread between the ears, go to the next illustration.

As soon as you have the thread between the ears, take it once around the right-hand ear as well.

Then do the same last steps: take the right-hand ear down under the thumb and…

Tighten by pulling on the right end.

How to Undo Any Weaver’s Knot: and know if you’ve tied it correctly.

The key to knowing you’ve tied the weaver’s knot correctly is to be able to release or undo it.

To undo it, you want to straighten out the thread that makes the “U” in the completed knot. No matter which way you tie it, there is one thread in a U-shape and the other thread winding itself around the first.

Pull on both ends of that “U” thread—in opposite directions—to unbend it and straighten it out.

The squiggly portion can be slipped right off, and even the squiggles relax so you have two fresh threads when you’re through.

One Way to Tie a Weaver’s Knot: with “ears”

The weaver’s knot’s characteristics—non-slip and a quick release—are valued not only by weavers but by climbers and sailors, too. The knot can be used whenever two cords are tied together or to fasten one cord to a loom part. Because it can’t be tied under tension, it is a good knot when measuring the warp when you have a slack thread to work with. It can be tied with short ends, but not with very slippery threads, such as silk. It’s slower to work than a square knot, but more secure and smaller. So, if a square knot doesn’t hold, try a weaver’s or double weaver’s. Even so, some threads aren’t compatible enough with each other or are too slippery to tie either a square or a weaver’s knot.

There are several names associated with the weaver’s knot, such as bowline and sheet bend. I found five different methods for tying it, not including the double weaver’s knot. The method here I call the weaver’s knot with “ears”.

Check future posts for how to undo the knot and for the Double Weaver’s Knot!

This is the way Jim Ahrens taught and is in many books. The worker thread should be the longer of the two. If you are using this knot to tie on new warps, the worker thread is the new warp. In repairing a broken warp, the new thread (being longer) would be the worker and the existing end would be the non-worker.
Step 1. Cross the two tails, left over right, and hold the crossing part between the thumb and first finger of the left hand. The “ears” are the ends of the tails that should stand up straight. Make the ears long enough but not so long as they bend over.

Step 2. The right end is the worker thread. Take it around over the thumb and pass it behind the left-hand ear—just the left one—and bring it to the front between the two ears.

Drop the worker. Take the right-hand ear, bend it down into the circle, and place it under the thumb so it is pinched by the thumb along with the thread already under the thumb. The bent thread is actually bending on itself and held to itself in the pinch.

To tighten, continue holding the thread bent on itself in the pinch between the thumb and index finger of the left hand WHILE pulling on the remaining end with the right hand.

Tying a Weaver’s Knot when One End is Very Short

With warp threads likely to break at any place, you might need to tie a weaver’s knot with one end very short. Another time might be when tying on new warps if the old warp behind the heddles is very, very short. Here are the steps and a word of caution.

1. Make a slip knot in the long thread—that will be the worker thread.
2. Slip the loop over at least 3/8” of the short warp thread.

3. Pull the tail and the standing end of the worker thread away from each other (in opposite directions from each other). This capsizes or flips the knot inside out.
4. Tighten by holding the tail and standing end of the short thread between the thumb and forefinger of one hand; pull on the remaining standing end with the other hand.

One word of caution from Vince Webers of Wilmington, Delaware: If you make the slip knot too tight to start with, this weaver’s knot won’t “upset” (capsize) in Step 3. He says you soon learn how much you should pull on the two threads. If you want to test this, try it with two ropes.

Changing 2-shaft Weaves to 4 Shafts

All but two illustrations are from my book, Weaving for Beginners. The 2-shaft drafts come from the book shown in a previous post, Adventures in Weaving on a 2-harness loom. NOTE: harness is a common word used for shafts. Shaft is the more correct word and is used here and in my books.

The book, Adventures in Weaving on a 2-harness loom” shows the threading for 2 shafts like in the illustration. (Shafts are often called harnesses.) The two rows represent the 2 shafts. Dots show every other thread on the bottom line and the alternate threads on the top line. And, to show a different color of threads for a stripe, the squares of the graph paper are filled in. In other words, for one color area, both shafts are that color and for another area, both shafts are threaded with another color. The first shaft is always indicated on the bottom line and shaft #2 is on the line above it in American books.

To change from 2 shafts to 4 shafts we often think of odd and even numbers. With a threading on 2 shafts, you could think of shafts 1 & 2 alternating as “odd, even, odd, even, etc. rather than 1,2,1,2,1,2. You would use that idea to switch to 4 shafts. The odd shafts are 1 & 3 and evens are 2 & 4.  Then you would use the rows in the threading draft 1 & 3 instead of the bottom row (shaft #1) and 2 & 4 for shaft #2. In the illustration the sequence of 1,2,3,4 is shown for the threading.  When weaving, you would raise shafts 1 & 3 for a row and 2 & 4 for the alternate rows. Then you would be getting the same plain weave (or “tabby”) as though you were weaving on only 2 shafts, alternating rows with shafts 1 & 2.

In weaving drafts for more than 2 shafts, the American convention is always to show shaft #1 on the bottom line and each additional shaft on the lines going upwards from the bottom. The illustration shows how the threading for 4 shafts would work. If there were 8 shafts, shaft #1 would still be on the bottom line, but there would be 7 more lines above that to indicate 8 shafts. The same principle would be for 12, 16, or 32 shafts, etc.

In my previous post on January 27, 2021, Log Cabin patterns were the subject. That particular pattern depends on threading alternate threads in light and dark. The illustration shows an example of a threading and some patterns on 2 shafts. In the illustration, dots represent light threads and solid squares, dark threads. Note that in the area on the left the lights (dots) are on shaft #1 with darks on #2. In the right area of the draft, it is the reverse with darks on shaft #1 and lights on shaft #2.

To change from 2 shafts to 4 shafts, think again of odds and evens. What was shaft #1 becomes #1 & # 3 –both odd numbers. What was on shaft #2 becomes #2 & #4 –even numbers. And notice carefully that in the illustration, the lights are on the odd shafts on the 4 threads at the ends of the draft and the darks are on the odd shafts for the center 8 threads.

The illustration shows that by switching the placing of the lights and darks, the pattern changes. Note too, that the WEFTS also alternate dark and light to create the patterns and the changes. This is typical log cabin. Often the blocks are all the same size, but they don’t have to be. The widths in the threading determine the widths of the blocks. The height of the blocks is determined by the number of rows woven in a light/dark sequence.

This illustration shows a different way to think of 2-shaft weaves. With 4 shafts you can think of 2 looms: 2 shafts (1 and 2) for one loom. And shafts 3 & 4 can be thought of another 2-shaft loom. That means you could have two different things going on at once. For example, log cabin on shafts 1 & 2 and what every you might like on 3 & 4 for example solid areas or stripes. We call the different “looms” block A and Block B. With more shafts and different patterns, you can have more blocks, say C and D.

Another illustration of 2 blocks. This would be a good idea when using thick and thin WEFTS like in my post on January 29, 2021. You decide what you want to show in Block A, (e.g., lights) and in Block B: lights as well, or darks. Because the blocks are on different shafts they can act independently. See the next illustration.

Thick and thin wefts are woven in this variation of rep weave. Notice that the 2 blocks can be alike (at the top) or different when weaving. The threading can never change, but which shafts you choose to have showing at any one time is up to the weaver. More information about this weave is in Weaving for Beginners. Here I just want to show how 4 shafts can be thought of as 2 looms with 2 shafts each.

Here’s a draft showing an example of the shaft numbers for a two-block design: a center field with borders on the edges.

Weft Ikat Revisited

One way of making weft ikat seen here is to stretch out a guide thread and paint or stencil the design for the weft on it. Then it would be stretched out along beside a long bundle of yarns needed for the weft for the entire warp. Where the dark pattern hits the bundle is where the bundle would be tied to resist the dye. I would die to have one of these weft frames with a weft pattern on it.

This shows the areas on the weft where the pattern was to be tied to resist the dye. (The resisted areas resisted the dye and remained white.) Here the wefts are woven on a traditional dark warp.

Here the same wefts woven on a white warp.

Remember this tote bag from a previous post? The egret could have been put on a frame like in the first photo and that pattern thread used to mark the weft for tying and dyeing. Note that white wefts were woven on the dark warp for the light area where there was no pattern.

Remember this pocket I made from an earlier post? Did you see the horses?

Here are the horses! The stencil for the horses was made by the creative young weaver in the previous post. Note that she chose to use a white warp with the stencil for the ikat weft. Her name is Butsusaka Kanako.

What a Difference the Warp Makes (and the weft, too): – Inspiration from a 2-shaft lesson

Slide the vertical line in the photo back and forth and see the difference the color of the warp makes on this weft ikat cloth. We visited a young weaver in Japan who made these 2 different cloths using the same weft threads she ikat dyed.

When I turned back to see what the first lesson was in the 2-shaft book, I liked the idea of one warp color with different colored weft stripes. Weavers with any number of shafts should not forget about this possibility. Often, we weavers sample different wefts to see which we like the best, but seldom make stripes with different colors. Even though the warp changes all the weft colors a bit, many combinations of colors can make good-looking fabric. Using the example from the previous photo, the same idea could apply with a dark warp. This is what inspired this whole post.

This is the traditional way we are used to seeing these cotton weft-ikat fabrics in Japan. White threads for the weft are tied and then dyed in indigo. This results with the pattern being white with a dark background when the warp is also dark.

A close-up of the dark warp with the ikat weft.

I only saw one other example of using a white warp with indigo dyed ikat weft patterning at one other studio—It was a piece displayed on the wall designed by the weaver’s wife’s mother who was an artist. Our young weaver used the non-traditional in the same unique way: using a white warp instead of the traditional dark one.

Two Shafts with thick and Thin Wefts

Lesson 6 in the Adventures in Weaving on a 2 Harness Loom makes stripes in the warp and weft but these are thicker cloths. How thick depends upon the thicknesses of the weft yarns. Usually the warp yarns are about the size of a thinner yarn. However, all of this can be experimental and just how thick or how thin is the choice of the weaver and whether you want a fabric or a mat or a rug and which colors you want to dominate or recede.

An example of a thick yarn is a rug wool which has 250 yards per pound.

A thin yarn can be 5/2 cotton at 2100 yards per pound.

Notice that in the threading draft, some areas are threaded with 2 colors alternating like in log cabin. Other areas are threaded in all one color.

All the examples in the book are woven with only thick weft yarns. You get a fine stripe in the areas where the warp colors alternate and solid color when only one color is used in a warp stripe.

In my book, Weaving for Beginners, I describe a variation where thick and thin wefts alternate, and 2 colors alternate in the warp. This lets you choose which warp color you want to dominate. You do that by having that color warp threads up when you throw the thick weft. Alternately, when the thin weft passes, the other color will recede. The illustration shows how you can have one or the other dominate as you choose for your design.

Log Cabin on Two Shafts

This book from 1950 was in my Two-Shaft file. It specializes in color placement in the warp and weft using Maysville yarns. I’m not sure if they exist anymore.

I like the weave structure, log cabin. There were interesting photos in the book.

Here is the draft from my book, Weaving for Beginners, which shows how the dark and light threads in the warp and weft create the pattern for 4 shafts. The next photo shows how this could be threaded on just 2 shafts.

Here is the threading draft in the Adventures in Weaving book. Dark and light threads alternate.

Of course the blocks don’t have to be all the same width in the warp. Or the same height in the weft, either. Another photo from the 2-shaft book.

Thick and Textured Yarns on Two Shafts

Fine and coarse yarns are designed in the warp and weft in this example.

The same warp threads, but a different look when thick, textured yarns are in used for some of the wefts. They wouldn’t be good choice for warp threads because of getting caught in the heddles or abrasion from the reed but make good choices for wefts.

Again, the same warp threads with a different design for entering the wefts.