Linen Weave

Marcy Petrini

October, 2021


In the September / October 2021 issue of Handwoven, Judy Steward reviewing Shanta Eri silk for the Yarn Lab article, shows an example of “Linen Weave”. I had not thought about “linen weave” in decades, I remembered it as a textured weave, which Judy’s sample also shows.

I came across linen weave at a time when I didn’t really understand weaving classification of any type, so everything seemed to be a weave of sorts – linen weave, waffle weave, boundweave, etc.

Judy referenced Davison’s book in her article, so I had to look up linen weave. There are four entries for it in Marguerite Porter Davison’s book, A Handweaver’s Pattern Book. Judy’s version of the book is the 1944 edition, mine 1994, so I didn’t know exactly which of the four linen weaves Judy used. Time to explore.

The first linen weave is in the Canvas Weaves chapter, one threading with three treadlings (see drawdown below in the same order as in Davison). If we look at the third treadling, we see why this linen weave is in this chapter, it is a double block canvas weave. I decided it to adapt for a current project I am weaving which will be for a later blog.



The other two treadlings form columns of warp-dominant and weft-dominant stripes, accentuated by the sleying of cramming 4 threads in one dent, and then leaving one empty.

The second reference of linen weave in Davison’s book is by Caroline Halvorsen’s No 180, in the Texture Weaves chapter, Judy may have used this one for her sample, hard to tell from a small photograph. Looking at it, I realized that it is twill blocks, two blocks on four shafts. The threading is similar to the twill blocks I have used before, the entry for which is in the Pictionary©, but the treadling produces more pronounced differences, the blocks are more warp or weft dominant. Below is the drawdown; this, too, is a structure I would like to try. There are relatively long floats, 5-threads, but they contribute to the warp or weft dominant look.




The next two linen weave examples are from the chapter called Thousand Flowers; Davison says that “All of the patterns given in this chapter are four-unit overshot weaves…” Confusing terminology since overshot is not a unit weave.

The first sample, Linen Weave Unit has two treadling options, one with tabby and one without. The drawdown for the one woven with the tabby is below:




The second without a tabby is next:




The final example is called Linen Weave Plaid; it has two blocks, block A is the same threading as the Linen Weave Unit, the second block B is inverted. Block A is repeated 5 times, then to form the “plaid”, there is a block B, block A, block B. The thread on shaft 1 is omitted when the following block is different. The treadling uses a tabby. In the drawdown below I used 3 repeats of block A threading and treadling to make it more easily seen.




Even though Davison says that these structures are overshot weaves, I was intrigued by the Linen Weave Unit. Could it be woven as a unit weave? From the threading, it appeared that it could be classified as a double (2 pattern shafts per block), two tie (1, 2), unpaired (ties not next to each other) with a ratio of 1:4 (1 thread on a tie shaft for every 4 pattern threads). It could be easily expanded to more shafts for more blocks, three on 8 shafts, A, B, and C.

The treadling could be the classical way: the two pattern shafts for each block with each tie-down thread; that is, to weave block A, we would treadle: 1 & 3 & 4 vs. 2 & 3 & 4. Here is the drawdown, the first repeat shows the units, the second repeat shows how it is woven with the alternating tabby:




It can, in fact, be woven as a unit weave. As I looked at the drawdown, it looked awfully familiar. Because I was scheduled to lead a seminar on unit weaves at Convergence 2020 – and now moved to Convergence 2022 – I have been exploring and weaving unit weaves. I went back to my notes and there it was!

Below is the front of double, two unpaired ties with a 1:4 ratio, followed by the back of the sample:




This unit weave is sometimes called 4:1 Beiderwand. However, Donna Sullivan, in her book Summer and Winter A Weave for All Seasons, explains why she does not like the beiderwand designation for unit weaves because true beiderwand is a double weave cloth, with two warps and two wefts. Madelyn van der Hoogt has written a nice explanation of beiderwand in her “Ask Madelyn” column of November 24, 2015 (


Happy Weaving and Exploring!




Azalea Spring (2021)

Marcy Petrini

September, 2021




Finally, after our post-vaccine wait, we felt safe for some outings: small gatherings with our vaccinated friends, meals at our favorite restaurants with outdoor seating, shopping sprees at the local shops, and a haircut! Also, some necessary outings, doctors’ and dentists’ appointments.

One day when we were driving in the older part of town, there they were: azaleas! In all of their feathery gorgeous colors: whites, myriads of pinks, salmon, lavender. We have azaleas in our yarn and our neighborhood, but not as beautiful and ours hadn’t even blossomed yet. But this part of town is known for the older plants that are just spectacular. I had forgotten how much I like them. As one of my friends said about the lock-down: it’s not just the things that I miss, but the things I have forgotten about.

Days later, I was still weaving scarves in memory of R.T. (see August blog) and I wanted to buy more of the yarn Birds of a Feather (by Interlacements, hand-dyed by Tracey Schuh, rayon) in a grey solid color; I was browsing the on-line catalog by Yarn Barn, and there were those azalea colors! The company calls the color scheme African Violets and maybe they are, but to me they were azalea colors.

I decided to weave a shawl to celebrate the azaleas; I could use the Birds of Feather for weft in a false satin, 3/1 broken twill, so I could have a weft-dominant side. Here is drawdown, weft dominant, how I wove it:



And this is the back of the drawdown, warp dominant:



I used a 10/2 Tencel® for warp, lilac color. I usually sett 10/2 Tencel® for twills at 24 epi, but it needed to be a closer sett for an unbalanced twill; however, the sett needed to be more open because the weft was larger than the warp. I decided on 24 epi after all.

Here is the shawl with the two sides showing:


After weaving 6", I decided the shawl needed some variation in this sea of purplish pink, so I wove one repeat of Caterpillar yarn, 100% cotton, color Paua, and repeated every 6” or so; the color reminds me of the greens of the azalea leaves, the blue sky that was framing them and the gold of the sun shining down on them.

Here are the close-ups of the two sides, the weft dominant:




And the warp dominant:



I wondered what the shawl would look like with a darker purple warp….. Next time.

Happy Weaving!



Profile Drafts

Marcy Petrini

July, 2021


This month challenge for our on-line study group is to design various unit weaves based on one profile draft.

Profile drafts are a shorthand to list the threading order of blocks. Given the specific threading of each block, the profile draft can then be expanded to the threading draft for the particular sequence.

For example, we have the profile draft below and we want to weave it as a single, two-ties, unpaired structure with a 1:1 ratio, also called summer and winter:









This can also be expressed as:

A, B, B.


We know that the design has one block of A and two blocks of B. The profile draft would expand to the drawdown below:



I choose to treadle it as single, but that is not specified by the profile draft. However, we generally treadle the number of repeats of the blocks, one repeat for block A, two for block B (note the drawdown is sinking shed).

In general, a block can be treadled using its pattern shafts with each tie down thread. In this example, for block A we have 1 & 3 vs. 2 & 3 (with tabbies in between).

In weaving, of course, we repeat that sequence throughout the fabric, and we would obtain the following cloth:



Given that unit weaves have fixed blocks which can be repeated, and organized in a variety of ways, profile drafts are ideal for designing with this group of weaves. Blocks can be combined in the treadling, adding more to our design possibilities.

I have seen profile drafts used for other weaves, but they can be unclear, as easily illustrated using overshot.

Some people define block A of overshot as:

                                                            1, 2

Traditionally, as defined by Mary Black, the block A is:

                                                            1, 2, 1, 2

But the threading could be continued, being aware that the supplementary weft float will span the width of the block.

When we come to the A, B, B profile draft, how would we translate it to overshot?

                                                1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4


                                                1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4

There is ambiguity.

But we can use the same profile draft, A, B, B, for other unit weaves easily.

For example, we can use the double, two-ties, unpaired unit weave, with a 1:1 ratio.

From its classification, we can deduce the threading; we also know that the rendition of the structure will require 6 shafts: 2 ties, plus 2 (“double”) pattern shafts per block and we have two blocks, A and B.

Here is the expanded drawdown, treadling the two blocks in the classical way.




 Here is a challenge for you:

Assume you have 8 shafts available on your loom. If you don’t, you can still do the challenge because, if you understand a structure, you can design it with any number of shafts. If you have more, feel free to expand to more unit weaves.

Use unit weaves only. The number and arrangement of pattern shafts can be changed, and the number and arrangement of tie-down shafts can be changed, giving lots of options.

Use this profile draft:







































 How many different unit weaves have you discovered?


Happy Weaving!



R.T. Remembered

Marcy Petrini

August, 2021




Our post-vaccination time was to be over on March 8 and the weekend before we were finalizing our ‘re-entering” strategy with excitement. But when on Saturday, March 6, 2021, I went to the mailbox, my excitement turned into sadness: there, by the mailbox, laid the dead little body of our cat R.T., killed by a car. Terry argues that I can’t know what happened, but what I do know is that people drive around our semi-circle as if they are escaping from home.

R.T. was so named because he was the runt of a litter by a feral cat who herself had been a runt. He was beloved and loved everybody, friendly and inquisitive. Here he is supervising Terry’s photoshoot in 2017.


As I did for the other stages of my covid life, I found comfort in weaving. I wove scarves in memory of R.T. for the four people who R.T. loved. My sister Ellie and brother-in-law Jess will pick their favorite scarves first, but not all of the scarves were ready when Ellie and Jess were finally able to visit in April. We sat a date for September. The scarves are ready, but the pandemic is back with the delta strain in Mississippi, so no visit from Ellie and Jess.

The scarves are woven in black, white and grey, R.T.’s coloring. Since I wanted fuzzy scarves both for comfort and because R.T. was fuzzy, they were all woven with textured yarns in plain weave on my rigid heddle.

I wanted to see the interaction of textured yarns with and without variegation and with untextured yarns. I used Birds of a Feather by Interlacements hand-dyed by Tracey Schuh, rayon with a recommended sett of 8-10 epi. I purchased from Yarn Barn the color grey wolf which is variegated and charcoal which is a solid dark grey. For variety I also used Knit and Crochet Confection, 100% polyamide, 155 yards/176 oz. which the company calls dark gray for color but in fact it has a light grey fuzzy core with bits of white fiber caught in the plying.  And finally, Lion Brand Basic Stitch, premium acrylic, 3.5 oz/219 yards, color charcoal. Acrylics have certainly changed since the 70s when I started weaving now that microfibers are in use.

All warps were sett at 8 epi; fringes were braided rather than twisted, as we do for chenille. Here are the combinations I wove:






Birds of a Feather color Grey Wolf, variegated, rayon

Birds of a Feather color Grey Wolf, variegated, rayon


Birds of a Feather color Grey Wolf, variegated, rayon

Knit and Crochet Confection,
grey with white fluffs of fiber, polyamide


Knit and Crochet Confection,
grey with white fluffs of fiber, polyamide

Lion Brand Basic Stitch color charcoal, acrylic


Birds of a Feather color Grey Wolf, variegated, rayon

Birds of a Feather color Charcoal (solid dark grey), rayon


And here are the scarves:




Hug your pets and Happy Weaving!



I thought about little R.T. while weaving and wondered what it would have been like to have him as an old wonderful cat. It was not to be. Life goes on.

Hug your pets and Happy Weaving!

Happy Weaving!




A Wonder Year of Weaving - An Assessment with Answers

Marcy Petrini

June, 2021

Last month for the May 2021 blog, I posed a set of 8 questions that the study group I am leading used as a review of the first 4 months.

For these months, here are the answers. If you haven’t looked at the questions yet, you can do that now (in the May Blog, click here) and then check how well you know Emery’s “simple weave.”

Here are the 8 questions, 2 per month, that I posed to the group. The instructions are to try to answer as many as possible from knowledge, but then to look up what they don’t know, have forgotten or need to check.

How well did you answer these questions?

1.  What is the difference between tabby and plain weave?

Plain weave is a fabric with the most interlacements which range from warp to weft faced.



Tabby is a perfectly balanced plain weave, 50% warp, 50% weft on both sides of the fabric, wpi = ppi. For a given yarn, the wpi is not fixed; we would sett the tabby ground for an overshot more openly than for a plain weave tabby cloth.



2.  How would you adjust the warp sett to weave a weft-faced fabric?

To cover the warp and produce a weft-faced fabric, we open the sett to as low as 5 epi, depending on the size of the weft.




3.  What is the best option for nice selvages on a straight twill woven as a straight draw?


Enter the shuttle on the side of the warp where the first thread is down. Every warp thread on both sides will be caught. If you forget this and you don’t catch the warp ends on both sides, reverse the entering side of the shuttle. This expects the threading to start at shaft 1 and be complete (end on an even shed).

No floating selvages are needed!



Here is how to tell on paper:

The figure below shows that when entering the shuttle from the right, there is no warp to catch the weft at the other end.



This figure below shows that when entering the shuttle from the left, there is a warp to catch with each shot.



4.  What is the most efficient way to tie-up a 6-treadle, 4 shaft loom for a pointed twill to be woven tromp as writ?

There is not an absolute answer to this, it does depend on the ergonomics related to the loom and your preferences, but you should always disconnect treadles that are not in use to minimize errors.

Here are two possible ways for the tie-up.

The standard way is shown in blue below (only 4 treadles in use, two are disconnected, generally one on the right, one on the left). The aqua section shows what happens if you forget the location of your repeat. You just wove 3 & 4 – what’s next, 1 & 4 or 2 & 3?



The second way to tie-up is what I prefer shown in the pink drawdown below. I use the extra 2 treadles to double tie for 4 & 3 and for 2 & 3 which are used twice. Then the treadling is across the 6 treadles.



Let’s take a detour. In the drawdowns, which of course are identical, the pattern starts in the middle of the repeat. Patterns are written for convenience, but they are not necessarily how we want to weave them.



Compare the original pink drawdown on the left with the green drawdown on the right. The pattern is the same, but the threading has been adjusted so that the repeat starts with the beginning of the pattern.

Does this pattern needs floating selvages? Yes! No matter where we start, the weft won’t be caught at the selvages.



5.  What is the most important difference between twills and satins?

Using Emery’s classification, twills are defined as progressive successions of floats in diagonal alignment (pink weft).

Satins are intermittent progressions of floats and suppression of the appearance of diagonals (yellow weft). The apparent diagonal is not formed by adjacent threads.



6.  How would you weave plain weave across the width of a 7-shaft satin fabric?

The straight draw in the drawdown below is a 7-shaft satin.



To weave plain weave, we need to activate two sets of alternating threads in succession.

The pink threads in the threading below show that it is not possible to alternate. No plain weave across the fabric is possible.



This method works with any threading.

But the original question asked “How would you weave plain weave across the width of a 7-shaft fabric?

It depends on the fabric. First example is huck:

Huck has blocks that alternate shafts 1 and 2 as the delimiter. It is possible to weave a 7-shaft huck, but block using shaft 1 must alternate with those using shaft 2.

Below is one example: block E (2, 7) is followed by block D (1, 6).

Plain weave is woven 2 & 4 & 6 vs. 1 & 3 & 5 & 7.



The next example is Bronson Lace, drawdown below.

In Bronson Lace every block uses shaft 1, which alternates with other shafts depending on the block.

Plain weave across the fabric then will be 1 vs. all other shafts.

In this case 1 vs. 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7.



Below is an example of summer and winter, a tied weave.

The tied weaves have various shafts for ties and the rest of the shafts for blocks.

Ties vs. shafts in  many cases form plain weave for the ground.

Our summer & winter uses shafts 1 & 2 for ties and, in this example shafts 3-7 for blocks, one shaft per block;

S & W plain weave is 1 & 2 vs. 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7.



7.  What is the difference between Huck and Huck Lace?

In huck (blue & pink weft in the drawdown below) when one block weaves floats, the other weaves plain weave.

In huck lace (yellow weft), one block weaves weft floats, the other warp floats.

With more than 4 shafts, the two are often combined.




8.  Why is the unique difference between Huck and Bronson? (Bronson-Atwater)

In Bronson lace (the drawdown below) blocks can be combined, no matter the number of shafts.



On 4 shafts, in huck (the drawdown below) blocks cannot be combined with the same float (huck lace combines weft and warp floats as we saw above).

In huck with more than 4 shafts, blocks with the same tie-down thread can be combined.



I hope this exercise helped you in the understanding of these structures.

Happy Weaving!