Block Weaves vs Unit Weaves

Handwoven Magazine Ask Madelyn

Hi Madelyn,
I took your seminar on block weaves at the Association of Northwest Weavers Guild conference last spring. I bought the eBook Best of Handwoven: Comprehensive Guide to Designing and Weaving with Blocks to continue studying the subject when I got home. And now I have the latest issue of Handwoven (November/December 2011), about blocks. I understand the distinction between block weaves and unit weaves.  My question concerns the weave structure Ms & Os.  Why is 4-shaft Ms & Os considered a block weave but not a unit weave?  

Thank you for your help,

Barbara Taylor

Hi Barbara!

This is a good question. First of all, as I can see you know, all unit weaves are block weaves (but not all block weaves are unit weaves). Unit weaves contain threading and treadling units that have within them all the interlacement necessary to the weave structure. For that reason, you can thread and treadle many successive units of the same block or only one unit of that block (as you cannot in overshot, for example, because the pattern float does not interlace within the block). You also can weave either pattern or background in selected blocks without restriction (in overshot, for example, you can't weave pattern in all the blocks or background in all of them). 

For 4-shaft Ms & Os, the restriction is that you must weave pattern in one block and background in the other or vice versa. This therefore limits the block designs (profile drafts) you can use with Ms & Os. Unit weaves by definition can be used with any profile draft without restriction.


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