Playing with Balance

Plain weave isn’t necessarily balanced. For this floor loom project and the next, I’m taking balance to the extremes. What do I mean by balance? The Log Cabin project created a balanced weave structure – both the warp and weft were equally visible in the finished fabric. In contrast, this project shows only the weft threads – it is a weft-faced fabric.

The warp is a natural linen sett at 5 ends per inch – that’s a lot of space between warp threads. The weft is an 8-ply pure wool (think knitting yarn), packed in as tight as it will go. Other than at the ends of each piece, the linen isn’t visible at all.

You would think that would be pretty boring, but actually there are lots of things you can do to vary the look. The warp has been threaded over 4 shafts (1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4 ….), which allows for twills as well as plain weave.

In this sampler I started at the bottom of the frame with plain weave. Alternating colours gave vertical stripes, which could easily be turned into a checkerboard pattern. Two blue followed by two green gave thin horizontal stripes. While I was using my floor loom, all of the patterns in the bottom half of the sampler could be easily done on a rigid heddle or 2 shaft loom as well. To get the rest of the patterns I tied up some other patterns:

The first set of two treadles are tied up for plain weave. The 2/2 twill in the middle set was used for the diagonal lines and large blocks in the sampler. The 3/1 and 1/3 tieups were used for the open squares and roman key designs.

After completing the sampler, I had enough warp for a dozen more mats, so I experimented with zig-zags – the horizontal lines in this piece are all parallel, even though they look slanted:

And I experimented with shading:

In the end I had 9 mats, mostly about 12″ square:

The fabric is thick. These will be useful for protecting the table and benchtop from hot pans or as decorative pieces around the house.

2 Replies to “Playing with Balance”

  1. You’ve been busy. These mats look fabulous. If they are thick and sturdy enough to protect a table from heat, would a larger version, perhaps strips sewn together, make a good small rug?

    1. Thanks, Ellen. Yes, this technique could be used for a rug. Thicker wool yarn or fabric strips could be used as weft to make an even more sturdy rug. I can weave up to 110cm wide on my loom.

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