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Twill Blocks on Four Shafts

Marcy Petrini

November, 2018

When we think of twill blocks, we generally don’t mean on four shafts, but I was intrigued by the “Twill Blocks No. 2” in Marguerite Porter Davison’s book A Handweaver’s Pattern Book (page 31 of 1994 revised edition – but I don’t see a No. 1!), so I decided I would weave a scarf using treadling II.

I always do a drawdown for my projects and good thing I did! Using the exact directions in the book, my drawdown looks like this:

 

Click here for the full-sized draft (a PDF will open a new window)

 

At first I thought I had made a mistake, but, no, the error wasn’t mine. Length-wise warp floats appear in one block from shaft 1 always being raised, and on shaft 4 in the other block. In order to weave it, I would have to modify the tie-up to avoid the long warp floats.

The solution is to remove shaft 1 from one of the treadles for the 1st block and, similarly, remove shaft 4 from one of the treadles for the 2nd block.

I chose to detach the appropriate shaft from the 2nd treadle of each block. Here is the drawdown I used, but the solution is not unique, other combinations could be used.

 

Click here for the full-sized draft (a PDF will open a new window)

 

And here is a close-up of the fabric.

 

 

For another possibility, I thought it may be fun to have the blocks alternate a 2/1 straight twill; here is the drawdown. With 6 treadles, this is easier to weave.

 

Click here for the full-sized draft (a PDF will open a new window)

 

And here is a close-up of the fabric.

 

 

These blocks are so subtle that they are difficult to see while weaving, so I used the old lace knitting trick, the lifeline, and placed a sewing thread in the same shed as the first shot of the block.

 

 

 

Starting from the sewing thread, I could then easily count how many shots I had woven for the given block; at the end of the block, I removed the sewing thread and placed it at the beginning of the next block.

 

 

I used a strand of sewing thread long on both sides of the weaving edges to give me mechanical advantage in pulling it out after the weaving; to avoid the long thread getting in the way, I temporarily tacked it down with blue painter’s tape.

 

 

 

I used one set of blocks on each end of the scarf, but for the middle, I wanted the design to be more flowing, so I wove it with a straight draw which results in stripes of right-hand and left-hand broken twill lines. Here is the drawdown:

 

Click here for the full-sized draft (a PDF will open a new window)

And a close up of the fabric.

 

If you have never woven twill blocks on 4 shafts, give them a try!

Happy weaving!

 

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