Saturday, April 7, 2018

All About the Twills

This weekend the local guild is having a workshop on twills.

I really love designing with twills.  You can keep it simple, ramp it up, make it over the top complex.  Yes, even with 'just' four shafts.

The design we call Swedish Snowflake here in North America was originally made popular by Margaret Atwater.  But her version of the threading was not...elegant.  In fact it was extremely difficult to thread and treadle.  And it was for eight shafts.

Along came David Xnaxis (apologies if I've spelled that wrong) who saw the symmetry and twill progressions that lay scattered through the threading, shuffled shafts and hey presto, the sense of the threading and treadling was revealed.  His conversion is the one we use most often now.

My personal take on Atwater's version is that she did a fabric analysis of an actual piece of cloth, and because there was no software to easily shuffle shafts, her draft stood for many years.

But - eight shafts.  Many people have four shafts and were wanting to do something like the Swedish Snowflake design and felt hindered by the lack of shaft capacity.  I sat down one day and analyzed the eight shaft draft, looked at how the threads moved to make the motif, realized it could be compressed onto four and came up with what I blithely called Canadian Snowflake,  Since then someone (I forget who) has done a six shaft American Snowflake version.

Understanding the logic behind the twill progressions, how to extend the line, break it, advance it - all of these things can come together to make very complex patterns on just four shafts.

You can also make very large, non-repeating designs.  See Bonnie Inouye's book for more on that.

The weavers taking todays class are not very experienced.  But I'm hoping to share the twill love and introduce them to how to manipulate twill lines to create interesting designs.


Louisa said...

It’s David Xenakis. Amazing man with an inquisitive mind. I still have some issues of his magazine “Prairie Wool Companion” which went on to become “Weaver’s”. His family-owned publishing company XRX expanded into knitting and sadly dropped the weaving side. Much missed!

Laura Fry said...

I was going to include the E and then got cold feet, even though it didn’t look right. I miss Weavers. :(