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!