Summer and Winter: A Weave for All Season

Weaving is full of confusing vocabulary which, let’s be honest, a bit fun. I am absolutely certain I’m not the only person to giggle like mad at the comment, “You have to be warped to weave!” Sometimes weaving sounds so violent as we choke the cross and sley the reed. Weave structures can also be great fun: crackle sounds more like a type of pottery than cloth, overshot always makes me think of when I fail to catch my shuttle and it clatters to the floor, and then of course there’s summer and winter.

To the non-weavers among us, summer and winter sounds like a description perhaps of a fabric that would be suitable for all seasons. Perhaps something you might wear hiking or use for a tent. Or maybe a scarf with great colors that you can wear just as well in the heat of the July as you can in the chill of January. If you say, “I am weaving summer and winter” they will want to know “A summer and winter what?”

Summer and winter probably got its name from the color choices people made when weaving the structure many years ago. In many of the oldest examples of summer and winter (including gorgeous historical coverlets) you have a side of the cloth that is dominated by a lighter color of yarn (the summer side) and the opposite side would be dominated by a darker color of yarn (the winter side). (Of course, now that I think about it, one could absolutely take this to mean that summer and winter is basically the Star Wars of weaves because it’s all about a balance of the dark side and the light side—just with less lightsabers.)

Technicolor Picnic Cloth by Tracy Kaestner in summer and winter

Technicolor Picnic Cloth by Tracy Kaestner in summer and winter

It is a wonderful structure! It’s great for playing with color, especially because it’s reversible. You can go traditional and choose colors that contrast, or you can take a more contemporary approach and use colors that blend together beautifully. As with overshot, you use a pattern weft as well as a tabby weft, and unlike in overshot the tabby weft can be the same size as the pattern weft which means you can have even more fun playing with color!

As I’m in the process of planning what will next go on my loom (I made a new year’s resolution to warp my loom at least 6 times this year), I’m leaning heavily toward a summer and winter draft. I’ve been planning for years to weave a set of placemats to break out for nice dinners—or maybe I’ll do a spring runner for my living room table. Whatever I decide, I know I’ll be flipping through some summer and winter drafts and happily sharing with you whatever I make. (And I will absolutely giggle when anyone asks me, “A summer and winter what?”)

Happy Weaving!


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