|What is Droppdräll?|
The short answer is:
Droppdräll is huck.
Droppdräll is NOT Bronson lace.
This blog is not so much about droppdräll as it is about how confusing weaving terminology can be, especially across different languages. But is also about how versatile structures can be.
In the January / February issue of Handwoven, Christine Jablonski wrote: “I inserted elements of a droppdräll draft into my log cabin threading.” Editor Susan Horton pointed out that the structure is no longer a log cabin, but a color and weave effect.
What is droppdräll? I asked myself.
From the draft of the structure and the photos of the lovely towels, I could tell that the element of droppdräll were the gold threads interspersed with the two colors of the original log cabin. But that didn’t really answer my question.
I looked up droppdräll in my Swedish weaving book but droppdräll wasn’t specifically explained. So, I turned to the web.
The first thing on my web search was a droppdräll towel by Adrianna Funk who said that “droppdräll is the Swedish term for Bronson Lace, applied here to create a whole lot of texture!”
I thought I had my answer until I scrolled down and found the drawdown for Funk’s droppdräll. It didn’t look like Bronson Lace.
To better understand the structure, I copied the drawdown (rising shed), and color coded it to separate the blocks and the plain weave areas. Here it is:
The structure has floats as many lacey weaves do; it can be described as a rectangular float weave in Emory’s classification, but it does not look like the structure we generally associate with Bronson Lace, shown below in the rising shed drawdown:
Maybe it’s a modification of Bronson Lace, but if that’s the case, I should be able to modify it back to its original structure.
Looking at the Funk’s drawdown, we see that the double floats in the two blocks are the result of two shots on the same shed, as opposed to the usual Bronson Lace which has its floats in the two blocks separated by a tabby. This means that the underlying fabric of Bronson Lace is plain weave, while in Funk’s structure, when one block has floats, the other block has pseudo plain weave, or half basket weave.
But it is possible to have plain weave across the fabric in Funk’s example, so I should be able to place a tabby between the double shots to match Bronson Lace.
Here is my modification of Funk’s original draft:
It’s back to being a traditional lacey weave, but is it Bronson Lace?
Bronson Lace is a unit weave, the distinguishing characteristic of which is that blocks can be combined in the treadling. This is shown at the bottom of the drawdown of the classical Bronson Lace (drawdown #2). It is not possible to combine blocks in the treadling of the modification of Funk’s droppdräll (drawdown #3) because the two blocks use different tabbies.
The color coding is great for allowing us to study the blocks, but it is confusing when looking at the drawdown to see the structure. Next is the same drawdown as above, with one color for the warp and one for the weft.
This looks like huck which is shown the next drawdown. While the threading and treadling are different, it is the fabric that defines a structure.
The drawdown for huck above shows the way that most recently huck is threaded; this makes it easier to add blocks with more shafts. In older books, however, we find the threading of huck as shown below:
So, what we have is three ways to thread huck. Funk’s original drawdown is a treadling variation of huck, interesting, but definitely not Bronson Lace.
While I was pondering this huck, my colleague Peggy Cole sent me a pdf of the Practical Weaving Suggestions One Color Upholstery Fabrics, Vol. 2-58, by Edna Olsen Healy and published by the Lily Mills Company, Shelby, N.C. The electronic version of the booklet is in the public domain and is available from the University of Arizona at this link:
Samples E-1, F-1 and F-2 in the pamphlet are droppdräll, which the author says it’s “a little known Swedish technique.” The pictures of the fabric show a lacey structure. Time to investigate.
The first sample uses 6 shafts. The booklet is too old to have computerized drawdowns, but the treadling, and the tie-up appear in graphical form, and the treadling is listed as treadling steps. Thus, it is possible to create the drawdown and check it with the photo of the fabric. Here is the sinking shed drawdown for the first sample (as given in the directions):
The fabric in the booklet shows the first motif but there are directions for a square pattern block which I added at the bottom of the drawdown. The author says that the structure is usually woven as a lace weave, but it can be used for upholstery by using a closer sett.
The next sample in the Lily booklet is droppdräll on four shafts. Edna Olsen Healy says that she had never found a 4-shaft version, so she devised one, which I reproduced below, using her graphical threading and tie-up and her treadling steps. The drawdown is for a sinking shed as published.
This structure was used for two samples: one for a lacey fabric, the other for upholstery. In order to weave the sturdy fabric needed for upholstery, she used the treadling steps in the drawdown above alternating a fatter pattern thread (treadles 1, 2) with the tabby weft, same size as the warp (treadles 3, 4). The fabric does indeed appear to be sturdy for upholstery.
The motif on 4 shafts (drawdown #8) resembles the square pattern block at the bottom of the 6 shaft drawdown (#7). I thought it should be possible to make it look more like the diamond, the first motif, by simply re-arranging the treadling of the blocks. Here is that option:
With the drawdowns complete is time to analyze them.
Looking at the threading, this, too, is a modification of huck. In drawdown #6 of the huck, we see that the two block threadings are: 1, 2, 1, 2, 1 and 4, 3, 4, 3, 4. Here Edna Olsen Healy has reduced the classical 5-thread block of huck to 4 threads. The tie-up is different because my tie-up is for rising shed, to match Funk’s drawdown (drawdown #1), while Healy used a sinking shed (drawdown #8). But here is the drawdown for a rising shed:
As I was working through these possibilities, a book called To Weave the Swedish Way was about to be published. Reserving the book pre-publication allowed me to get it here rather quickly. The book is great for beginning weavers, with basic information and lots of projects to weave. But in the midst of it, there is droppdräll, or huckaback. The authors are Adrianna Funk and Miriam Parkman. Funk is the same author whose information started this search, but now she is no longer calling it Bronson Lace, but huck! Maybe Ms. Parkman is a better translator.
But the drawdown for this huck is basically the same as the first drawdown in this blog, from Funk’s website, with double shots to make the double floats. The amount of plain weave between the blocks is the only difference in the book version.
So, according to Funk and Parkman, droppdräll is huck, albeit modified, and “Lily droppdräll” another modification. I had come full circle.
There must be a revival of Swedish weaving, because I read a review in the current issue of Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot of a book called The Weaving Handbook by Åsa Pärson and Amica Sunderström. I am grateful for the review and Tracy Kaestner who reviewed it because, from the title, I would not have guessed that the book is on Swedish weaving. But it is! Droppdräll is huck, no question about it.
The Weaving Handbook is wonderful for the details. It explains briefly how floats are derived from plain weave, which is the way I like to think of lacey weaves. Furthermore, there are lots of treadling variations, some on four, others on more shafts. As we know, the difference between huck and huck lace blurs with more shafts, but I like to think of huck lace as a treadling variation of huck.
Did I waste my time by re-discovering the wheel? I don’t think so, although my search started because of a misnomer. But in thinking this through, I have re-learned to be careful of what names people give to weaves. All of the structures discussed here can be classified as Emory’s float weaves derived from plain weave, also called rectangular float weaves: two interlacing elements forming rectangular blocks. I will be presenting a seminar at Convergence™ discussing rectangular float weaves.
I learned lots about droppdräll / huck variations which I plan to weave. I am hoping to post the samples in a future blog. And that will include not only all of those above, but this one which piqued my curiosity, using three shafts:
Try droppdräll, I mean huck!
If you want to learn more, come to my seminar at Convergence®, I would love to see you there!