Ever Changing Times

Marcy Petrini 

May, 2024

Aretha Franklin’s song applies to weaving!

I was writing the block monograph for my Convergence® seminar and I decided to add basket weave thinking “when one block weaves weft floats, the adjacent block weaves warp floats.”

The blocks may be more obvious if I showed a figured basket weave, which is a classification I learned from the book More Than Four. A Book for Multiple Harness Weavers by Mary Elizabeth Laughlin. What we often weave, same number of threads per shaft, is a common basket weave; if we combine basket weaves with different number of threads, we have a fancy basket weave, which can still be woven on two shafts. A figured basket weave is a combination of common and / or fancy which require more than two shafts.

I knew I had woven a table runner with a figured basket weave a long time ago. The task in front of me was to find either a picture of the runner or the runner itself so Terry could take a picture. Then I had to find the drawdown.

The first task proved to be easier than I thought. I guessed that the runner was woven in the early 1980s, so I checked Terry’s directories from those years, and I found it. A close up of the fabric is below.





I fill an Excell worksheet for every project I do now, but I wasn’t sure how long ago I started. Looking at my computer directory for projects, I found my computer files started in early 2000’s.

Before computer worksheets, I had used manual forms stored in many three-ring binders. However, I have discovered looking for other projects that I wasn’t always complete with the information, so I was concerned that my search would yield nothing useful. I started with binder #2 labeled 1980s (I started weaving in the late 1970s).

And there it was, in the middle of the fat binder, all the information about the figured basket weave! It turned out that in addition to weaving the runner, I had woven samples for the 1983 exchange of the Chimneyville Weavers Guild (as it was called then).

The information brought a smile to my face! Below is the scan of the manual drawdown. I had done only one repeat of the threading because filling boxes is time consuming, but I added three threads of the next repeat, to see what happens at the junction.



I had written a computer program to do drawdowns. Once I had the manual drawdown for a small part of the project, I could visualize the rest with the computer printout. Below is a scan of a part of the wide printout that was in the binder. Only certain characters were available on a dot matrix printer back then, so I used a star in the place of a box.



From the printout, I could see the overall pattern.

It’s hard to believe now, but some people objected to a computerized drawdown. The complaints were that handweaving was done by hand, computers shouldn’t be involved. Other people were also writing drawdown programs, so I wrote an article in defense of these programs, “Computers Don’t Weave” in Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot, XIV:3:62-65, Summer 1983.

For the monograph, I redid the drawdown using software, shown below.



It was fun going down memory lane. It reminds me of ever changing times.

Happy Weaving!



The Fabric Determines the Structure

But You Must Know the Structure

Marcy Petrini 

April, 2024

When faced with an unfamiliar structure, I generally do a drawdown which allows me to break it down starting with the Emery classification.

Glance a drawdown without writing it? That’s exactly what I did recently – and got it wrong!

I received a drawdown from a weaver asking me to figure out what a structure called Eskelhemsdrällen may be. Unfortunately, my software couldn’t read her wif file (I do need to upgrade!) but she sent me the pdf shown below:




It came at a particularly busy time, so I looked at it and I thought that carefully inspecting it would be enough. This is what I decided:

  1. By Emery classification the fabric is a “Rectangular Float Weave Derived from Plain Weave “ – blocks formed with one warp and one weft.
  2. Adjacent blocks are not combined in the treadling, thus it cannot be a unit weave, for example, Bronson Lace.
  3. There is plain weave across the width of the fabric and down the length of the fabric, which is typical of huck.

Scandinavian weavers do imaginative arrangements with huck, so I decided that it was huck.

But, in fact, it is Spot Bronson, the way I learned it many years ago.

The partial drawdown below and the one in the pdf are sinking shed. All the drawdowns that follow for the various structures are rising shed. All my looms are rising shed, so I find myself thinking that way. Of course, as always, the other side of the fabric is the opposite shedding mechanism.




Where did I go wrong?

I went wrong by using the plain weave along the edges as a characteristic and not remembering that one shaft – in this case shaft 1 – is common to all the blocks in both Bronson Lace (aka Lace Bronson) and Spot Bronson.

The Eskelhemsdrällen in the pdf is on more than four shafts. Plain weave can be added to just about any structures by using extra shafts, so the plain weave along the edge should not have led me to conclude that it was huck.

It is important to realize that Eskelhemsdrällen is NOT Bronson Lace. That part I did deduce correctly.

Let’s compare and contrast Bronson Lace with Spot Bronson first on four shafts, than on more.

The next drawdown is Lace Bronson on four shafts; there are two blocks, here repeated in the threading. Plain weave is woven across the fabric by alternating the two tabbies: shaft 1 vs. all other shafts. The tabby on shaft 1 is used in treadling every block.



Its most distinguishing characteristic is that blocks can be combined in the treadling.

Shaft 1 alternates with pattern shafts, but the float of each block is delimited by shaft 2.

Because of the tie in shaft 2, blocks are separated by one thread, most clearly visible in the lower portion of the drawdown where the blocks are treadled together. It’s that separation that allows the blocks to be treadled together, avoiding a long float.

If we sacrifice shaft 2, we can add a block. That’s exactly what Spot Bronson does. In the drawdown below, we see that the blocks are still threaded shaft 1, pattern shaft, but now the pattern shafts are 2, 3 and 4, giving us three blocks. The float is no longer delimited by shaft 2 as in Lace Bronson, rather, the float stops when the pattern shaft of the next block is encountered. The tabbies in Lace Bronson are still shaft 1 vs. all other shafts. The shaft 1 tabby is still used in treadling with every block.

In contrast to Lace Bronson that has one thread separating the blocks, those in Spot Bronson are “stacked” – since shaft 1 is in common with all the blocks, the end of one block is at the same point as the beginning of the next. This is visible in the drawdown.



The other consequence of not having a tie shaft in Spot Bronson is that the blocks of the same type (weft or warp floats) cannot be woven together, it would result in a long float over those blocks, as shown in the drawdown when treadling the first two blocks together.

Thus, Lace Bronson is a unit weave, Spot Bronson is a grouped weave, the same category as huck. It’s unfortunate that this distinction is not always clear. I hear people refer to the structure as “Bronson” – which Bronson?

In huck, as in Spot Bronson, blocks of the same type cannot be combined in the treadling, as shown in the drawdown below, however, the reason is different: to weave plain weave, the tabbies 1 & 3 and 2 & 4 alternate. The blocks with different tabbies cannot be treadled together because 1 & 3 and 2 & 4 would have to be combined for a tabby.

However, the fact that blocks cannot be treadled togethers puts huck and Spot Bronson in the same category.



The Eskelhemsdrällen that my pen-pal sent me is on more than four shafts. Let’s expand our structures to more shafts.

With eight shafts, Spot Bronson has seven blocks, shown in the drawdown below. With more blocks available we see that non-adjacent blocks can be combined in the treadling, adjacent blocks cannot; this is the same situation as Spot Bronson on four shafts, where each block is always adjacent to the others. Treadling adjacent blocks would produce a float over the two blocks.



Treadling together non-adjacent blocks can also be done with huck on more shaft than four, shown in the drawdown below. Adjacent blocks cannot be combined because they have different tabbies.



It is this characteristic that results in the most important difference between Spot Bronson and huck: adjacent blocks of different types can be treadled together in huck, but not in Spot Bronson. In fact, this is huck lace, in the drawdown below. This is possible because the tabbies are shared, that is, block A woven with weft floats has the same tabby as block B woven with warp floats.



In Spot Bronson, weft and warp floats can be woven on the same side of the fabric. The tabby on shaft 1 is used in weaving weft blocks; the tabby with all the other shafts is used in weaving warp floats, the two combined activates all the shafts!



The other characteristics are not so unique. These weaves are classified as “Rectangular Float Weaves Derived from Plain Weave”, thus most, but not all of them, can be surrounded by plain weave.

The Eskelhemsdrällen drawdown has plain weave along the edge, but with multishift structure, we can use one or two shafts, depending on the circumstances, and add plain weave.

Furthermore, if we want two, rather than three blocks in Spot Bronson, we can have plain weave down the selvage edge, as shown in the drawdown below. It’s still Spot Bronson.



When I was originally studying these weaves, they were often lumped together as “lace weaves”, a term that my lace making colleagues argue we shouldn’t use, because we cannot weave true lace. I prefer the term “lacey weaves.” The mantra we used to differentiate them was: one thread between blocks for Lace Bronson, blocks abut for huck, and one shared thread for Spot Bronson.

But even that mantra doesn’t hold true. Here is a Scandinavian huck with threads overlapping!

Below is a drawdown for droppdräll from Practical Weaving Suggestions One Color Upholstery Fabrics, Vol. 2-58, by Edna Olsen Healy and published by the Lily Mills Company, Shelby, N.C. It is in the public domain and is available from the University of Arizona at this link:


It was brought to my attention by my study group colleague Peggy Cole.



So, here is a summary of how to differentiate between these weaves:




Rectangular Float Weaves

Unit Weaves




for each block

Shafts 1,
or 2 alternating

Shaft 1

Shaft 1

to treadle plain weave
across the fabric

Odd vs.
even shafts
 (1 & 3 vs. 2 & 4) 

Shaft 1 vs.
 all other shafts 
  (1 vs. 2, 3, 4)  

Shaft 1 vs.
all other shafts
  (1 vs. 2, 3, 4)  

Treadling blocks with
 the same kind of float together 




Treadling blocks with
different floats together

Yes, huck lace

Not possible

Not possible


I hope comparing and contrasting these structures will give you some ideas on how to design with them.

 Happy Weaving!



In Defense of Weaving Classification

Marcy Petrini


February, 2024

In the early 90’s I became aware that weaving structures could be classified to help us understand them. Donna Sullivan published her book Summer & Winter A Weave for All Seasons and came to teach the workshop to my local guild. She introduced the classification for tied unit weaves which, however, were still pretty overwhelming to me. I promised myself that I would spend some time to learn more in the future. 




From then on, any time I came across a tied unit weave in a publication or sample, I would look at the block threading and treadling and make a drawdown. It was filed electronically in a subdirectory for that purpose.

Times goes fast when you are having fun, but finally I wanted to be serious about understanding tied unit weaves more fully. I submitted a proposal for Convergence® 2020 on the subject. It was accepted, but as we all remember, it wasn’t until 2022 that the conference actually occurred. Having a deadline and a purpose is a good way for me to focus.

I decided that I would use Donna’s book and systematically try to understand the blocks by changing the various parameters that she discussed.

I have talked about her classification before, but here it is again to simplify the discussion. It is based on the threading:


double, etc.

Number of pattern shafts
per block

# Tie shafts

Number of shafts
for the tie-down threads


the ties are next to each other
or not


# of tie-down threads
# of pattern threads
within a block


Summer and winter is a single, two-tie, unpaired weave with a ratio of 1:1.


From the threading we see that each block has one pattern shaft, block A 3, block B 4. Hence the single designation.

There are two ties, on shafts 1 and 2.

The two ties are not next to each other, they are separated by the pattern shaft, hence unpaired.

For each block, there are two pattern threads, albeit on the same shaft, and two ties; 2: 2 or 1:1 ratio. In this case the ratio is not needed as the rest of classification makes it unique to summer and winter.

As I was studying these structures, I thought: how about a single, two-tie paired structure? I couldn’t find one, so I did a drawdown following the classification directions.

Since the single, two tie paired can be woven on four shaft, I started the paired option on four shafts. (This and following drawdowns are sinking shed).



It is feasible. It doesn’t weave plain weave across the fabric, but that happens with other tied-unit weaves as well. I decided to weave it. Since the Convergence® seminar was on eight shafts, I expanded the four shaft version above to eight shafts and wove it. Below is the drawdown and the fabric front and back.








This was the first benefit of the classification: finding other options that may not have been previously published. Someone else may have tried it and not liked it, but I rather like the fabric.

The structure does require fourteen treadles to weave, but it can collapse to 10 by using two feet. If you don’t know how to do that, you will just have to read my “Right from the Start” in the summer issue of Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot.

I woven as many samples as I could, mostly individual blocks. There are various motifs published that combine blocks, and that is a great option for weaving, but I wanted to understand the blocks first – and I wanted others to do the same. The design comes later.

Finally, it was time for Convergence®. Most but not all of samples for the monograph were woven, but I did have drawdowns for all the ones I wanted to discuss. There were a few in my “to weave” list and I am sure there are others. I will continue to search for them and weave them as the opportunity arises.

After my seminar, one of the attendees came up to me to tell me that she enjoyed my seminar, but she was surprised that I didn’t include Quigley in my collection of weaves. I told her that I ran out of time, but that Quigley was on my list to do, especially since she was one of my “neighbors.” She founded the Memphis, TN Weavers Guild, one of my weaving friends from that guild told me.

I will be teaching a seminar at the upcoming Convergence®, on blocks in general, so I have been thinking about tied unit weaves again. Time to weave Quigley, I thought.

I started planning it with the drawdown below.



I was in the middle of the second block when I said to myself: “wait a minute, that’s a single, four unpaired ties with a 1:1 ratio – I have that in my monograph, the drawdown, not the sample.”

And sure enough, the following drawdown is in my monograph. It’s fun to give credit to the weavers who came before us and designed these weaves, but unless we use the classification, we don’t really know what these structures are.




I wove the sample below, front and back, just in time for my recent zoom workshop for the Intermountain Weavers Conference.






But there is more. Recently I was looking for Quigley in my files and I know that Robin Spady has woven it with different treadlings, and Louise French had an interesting treadling for a sample in the Cross Country Weavers notebook. Now that I know what Quigley really is, I can pay full tribute to my “neighbor.”

Happy Weaving!



The Fabric Determines the Structure

Marcy Petrini


March, 2024

Look at this fabric:





You undoubtedly recognize it as plain weave. What would you answer if I asked you: how did I weave it?

It you learned to weave on a four-shaft loom, you probably would answer 1&3 vs. 2&4 (on a straight draw), even though 1 vs. 2 when threaded 1, 2, would have been equally possible.




When I weave on my rigid heddle loom, heddle up, heddle down produces plain weave. For finger manipulated weaving, we use the mantra: one over, one under.

Thus, looking at the plain weave fabric there is no way of knowing how it was woven. The fabric determines the structure, regardless of how we may have gotten there. And there is more.

As shown below, while plain weave can be woven across the fabric on a huck threading using 1&3 vs. 2&4, Bronson Lace must use the treadling of 1 vs. 2&3&4 on 4-shafts, or 1 vs. all other on more shafts.




The ground cloth in overshot is formed by treadling 1&3 vs. 2&4 (drawdown on the left below), but in summer & winter we must treadle 1&2 vs. 3&4 (drawdown on the right below).




If we look at these drawdowns, we see that to weave plain weave we alternate raising (or lowering) every other thread. This is also the way we can determine whether plain weave can be woven across a fabric.

Look at the drawdown of M’s & O’s below. When block A weaves weft floats, block B weaves plain weave and vice versa. We can obtain plain weave down the selvage, but we cannot treadle plain weave across the entire fabric.




If we look at the “every other one thread” rule, we have for all the blocks:

First pick:      1, 1, 3, 3, 1, 1, 2, 2

Second pick: 2, 2, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2, 4, 4

Shafts 2 and 3 appear in both picks, thus plain weave is not possible across the fabric.

The fabric determines the structure not only with plain weave, but with all fabrics. Here is another example. Below is a sample of huck.




How did I weave it? With the threading and the treadling in the drawdown below on the left or the one on the right?




I color coded the two blocks and plain weave area to show how they are equivalent in the two drawdowns. When I first leaned to weave, I was taught huck with the threading and treadling on the left. Over time, the threading was changed to allow for the structure to expand easily to more shafts; the treadling steps of course also had to change, but the plain weave treadling was maintained. The drawdown on the right is equivalent to that one above next to the Bronson Lace.

Next time you are unsure what you are weaving, note the threading and the treadling steps but don’t forget to look at the drawdown and its characteristics. The fabric determines the structure.

Happy Weaving!



Always Mix, Never Worry

Marcy Petrini


January, 2024

 Well, almost never.

For a long time, my go-to-yarn size has been 10/2, starting with mercerized cotton. Below is a scarf that serves as a sampler for twills which also provides some texture.




I could add more textures using a rayon loopy yarn as weft on a 10/2 mercerized cotton as I did in the scarf below.




Eventually Tencel became available to weavers. Sometimes it is confused with rayon which includes bamboo, but Tencel has its own trademark from a proprietary process which is reportedly more environmentally friendly that the rayon process.

My favorite is 10/2 Tencel, which sometimes it’s hard to find; 8/2 is more common The scarf below was woven with a 10/2 Tencel warp and weft from a Convergence® color scheme.




Tencel uses the same yarn system as cotton, 10/2 is the same size for both yarns, so they can be easily combined. Whichever yarn I use depends on what colors I have available. The flexibility is great. The scarf below uses 10/2 Tencel warp and 10/2 mercerized cotton weft.



Then one day I was working with 10/2 Tencel and looking for a specific color; I picked up a yarn I planned on using, only to realize that it felt a bit different than the others: sure enough, it was 20/2 silk, which is the other yarn I like to use. It turns out that 10/2 cotton and Tencelare very similar in size to 20/2 silk, so I had another option for mixing.

Below is a scarf that uses 20/2 silk for the warp, except for 10/2 rose Tencel stripes and then 10/2 Tencel for the weft.



Other size yarns can be mixed. Below is a scarf with a warp of 8/2 silk in rust, light brown and light green; I needed a gold, so I used 5/2 mercerized cotton. The warp was sett at 20 epi and the weft was light yellow 8/2 silk.



When warping with yarns that are very different in size, I use a reed in which the largest yarn fits easily. Then I double or triple the other yarns as appropriate. For some rigid heddle looms, reed pieces with different setts work well for this purpose.

When using this approach, it is good to remember that if warp ends are threaded on different shafts, but sleyed together, they will behave as the original size. If threaded together, then they become approximately the size of the combined yarn. For example, if I use two strands of a 10/2 yarn threaded on separate shafts, the yarn will behave as a 10/2. If I thread it together, it behaves close to 5/2. I have seen rigid heddle weavers not realize this difference and end up with a fabric that felt differently that they had anticipated.

I combine synthetic yarns. Here is a scarf for the holidays: 5/2 silk in green and red and “Furreal by Knitting Fever”, a black faux fur. The sett was 10 epi, which brings me to my rule of thumb: if the weft is larger than the warp, open up the sett, as I did here. If the weft is smaller than the warp, sett the warp more closely.



When mixing animal and plant fibers, I am careful to wet finish for the more delicate fiber. Most wools full and shrink a great deal with warm water and agitation. That’s how we full wool on purpose, to make wadmal, for example. Yarns made from Down sheep are less likely to full. (I use the term full because “felt” is the result of fiber, not yarn, binding together).

Below is a scarf with a wool and silk blend for warp and a slubby rayon for weft. Even with cold water weft finishing, there was quite a bit of shrinkage, 15% width-wise and 10% length-wise. In a scarf it doesn’t matter, but if planning a project where a specific amount of fabric is needed, for example for a garment, there is no substitute for sampling.



Next time you want to weave a project with different yarns, plan and finish carefully, it should work, but sample if unsure.

Happy exploring different yarns together!