Threading double weave on 8 shafts

When we weave double on 8 shafts, our choices start to multiply. Naturally, we have the same choice of threading options as on 4 shafts: odds versus evens or the front and back approach. We also have a blossoming of design options. Let’s consider these in more detail.

Moving from 4 to 8

We now have four shafts available for each layer of cloth. Essentially, then, we could choose what to do with each layer as if it were single cloth on a four-shaft loom. That gives us a huge number of options! In practice, two main options typically rise to the top of the list because of the flexibility they offer, so that’s what we’ll look at in this post. (I’ll use my preferred format of front and back, but all these drafts can be rearranged using the same principles described here.)

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Two four-shaft layers

If we assign shafts 1 – 4 to layer 1 and shafts 5 – 8 to layer 2, we can thread each layer using a straight draw, and interleave them like this:

We now have the option to weave our two layers in a variety of twills, for example, rather than being restricted to plain weave. This is an option I’ll park for now but come back to later. Let’s turn our attention to…

Two pairs of blocks

With the same assignment of shafts to layers, we can further split each set of four shafts into two pairs. This gives us two independent blocks of plain weave.

In block A, we have layer 1 (shown in blue) threaded on shafts 1 & 2, while layer 2 (shown in grey) is threaded on shafts 5 & 6. In block B, layer 1 is threaded on shafts 3 & 4, while layer 2 is threaded on shafts 7 & 8.

Altogether then, layer 1 is threaded on shafts 1 – 4 just as above. However, instead of the sequence being 4-3-2-1 repeated again and again, it consists of some sections threaded 4-3-4-3 etc and others threaded 2-1-2-1 etc.

Our threading is then constructed by alternating sequences based on the two blocks, just as for any other block-based threading (compare twill blocks on 8 shafts, described here). A design based on equal repetitions of each block will set you up for a checkerboard design, for example, although that is by no means the only thing you can do.

Unequal blocks can be used to create window pane designs and interesting geometric effects.

More layers

I’ve described a couple of different ways of setting up two layers of cloth, using four shafts per layer. However, if we limit each layer to two shafts, we also have the option to increase the number of layers to three or four. This approach has some interesting practical applications as well as the potential for exciting multi-layered art textiles. I’m going to continue to focus on two layers, but the principles of double weave can take us well beyond double!

Coming up…

Over the next few posts, we’ll look at the liftplans and treadlings needed to weave some of these 8-shaft double weave block designs.

First posted on © Cally Booker

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