False Tabby

Handwoven MagazineAsk Madelyn


Dear Madelyn,

I have a copy of Handwoven's Design Collection 16 from Interweave. There are directions for shadow-weave towels that call for a "false tabby." I have not heard of that term before this reading. Would you please explain "false tabby"?

Thank you,

—Bev Littlejohn

Hi Bev!

This is a really good question because once you know what "false tabby" is and have seen it in drafts a few times, you forget there was ever a time when you didn't know. And it's not actually a very meaningful term, just a simplified way of covering a lot of situations.

The threadings of many weave structures, particularly irregular twills and types of doubleweave, don't allow the raising/lowering of alternate threads, which is the interlacement that produces true tabby. Lots of times, though, the closest to those sheds as the draft will allow is used to weave a header or spread the warp or for various other purposes. Those sheds are usually Identified as "false tabby" just to point out that they are not really tabby.

Even calling them tabby is sort of a misnomer since we would normally call the sheds that weave true tabby, "plain-weave" sheds. Tabby is usually reserved as a term to distinguish the tabby weft from the pattern weft, not as an inclusive synomym for plain weave.

Weaving vocabulary can be very confusing!


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