Adventures in Lace Weaving

  Laura's butterfly design for this wall hanging was woven in plain weave on a lace background.
imageplaceholder Laura Fry
Contributor, Weaving Today

I love lace weaves!  I fell in love with them early in my weaving days and wanted to know how they worked and to create my own designs. My approach was to do drawdowns of every draft I could find–in Davison's 'green' book, to begin with, then every other book I could find with information on lace weaves.

There was no weaving software in those days, so I would get a big thick pad of graph paper and a soft pencil with an eraser and draw the drafts down by hand.  I found the exercise meditative and informative as I watched the design develop on the paper.  As more books became available, I bought them and did the drawdowns the way some people solve crossword puzzles.

As I acquired a loom with more shafts, I learned how to do profile drafts, which helped speed up the process. But when weaving software became available I was able to do many more iterations of my designs much quicker. Weaving software did not mean I spent less time designing; rather I was able to process more options in the same amount of time. In the end, I feel weaving software allowed me to become a better designer as I didn't stop at the second or third drawdown, but might generate 20 or 30 in the same time as I could do a handful laboriously drawing them out on graph paper.

Once I understood how the "classic" lace weaves worked, I began to see how other threading systems could be woven in a lacy manner and I played around with Summer and Winter, Double Two-Tie Unit Weave and others.
Then came pick up.  Suddenly I was free from the constraints of the loom and it didn't matter how many shafts I had! For the third level of the Guild of Canadian Weavers, I was to weave a wall hanging with no specifications for how that might be done.  I chose to design a large butterfly woven in plain weave on a lace background, which was donated to the local cancer clinic treatment room.  If this design had  been woven loom controlled, it would have required 54 shafts or a drawloom.  Instead I wove it on a 4-shaft loom in about an hour or so.  Detail was added to the butterfly by the placement of half units of Bronson.  In order to weave it, it was charted on graph paper by hand. The chart was used as a cartoon.

Not only can lace weaves be used for making cloth that allows light to permeate through, but they can be used for texture…and insulation.  Lovely warm blankets can be woven as well as lighter-than-air silk scarves.

If you'd like to learn more about the versatility of lace weaves, please join me for my upcoming webinar on Monday, July 27 at 1 PM Eastern time. I hope to see you there!


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