Gone with the Warp: Scarlett OHara and Deflected Doubleweave
Many years ago, I had my first class in floor loom weaving from Madelyn van der Hoogt at The Weaver’s School. (And when I say “first class,” I mean this was the first time I had ever woven on a floor loom.) The class was a whirlwind tour of weave structures. In one short week, in addition to warping and weaving basics, we studied structures and drafts for plain weave, twill, turned twill, summer and winter, huck lace, Beiderwand, overshot, even-tied overshot, taquete, doubleweave, and deflected doubleweave. Considering that I was a rank beginner, most of the structures made a surprising amount of sense to me. Plain weave was just the over-under that I knew from weaving potholders as a child. Overshot and even-tied overshot seemed familiar from the Norwegian skillbragd pieces I had grown up with (Skillbragd isn’t really overshot, but there’s a ground cloth and pattern weft.) It seemed obvious that lace would make holes, taquete is a bound weave like the tapestry that I had studied before, and Beiderwand was very geometric (and a little fussy), which made me happy. Doublewide and deflected doubleweave, however, threw me for a bit of a loop.
In theory, doubleweave made sense: you weave one layer of the cloth while the other layer is out of the way, with its warp threads above or below the layer you’re weaving. Yes, the selvedges gave me fits. (“OK, what is it I do if I don’t want the layers connected at the edge?”) But to be fair, pretty much all selvedges were giving me fits at that point. Deflected doubleweave, on the other hand, was a complete mystery. I got that there were two fabrics happening, but they didn’t seem to be layers, exactly, and then in the finishing things moved around like lace. What the heck? In the end, I channeled Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind and decided “I’ll think about that ti-marra.”
When I came to Interweave and began to work on Handwoven, I finally got my arms around deflected doubleweave and realized that, simply put, it’s two separate layers of cloth that weave in different spaces instead of on top of one another. And the fact that one layer weaves when the other doesn’t is what causes floats that allow the fabrics to “deflect” and create new shapes. What I didn’t know, until I worked with Madelyn on her new video, Weaving Deflected Doubleweave, is how versatile and exciting this weave structure could be. There are endless ways to mix up treadling to create different deflected shapes in the cloth. You can play with color to make patterns, subtle or striking, and you can mix yarns and use differential shrinkage to create fabrics that poof and pucker and make yet more shapes. You can even weave interlocking fabrics that move independently from each other. And you can create your own drafts easily and play to your heart’s content.
I don’t know if Scarlett ever did think about how to get Rhett Butler back, but I know I’m thinking hard about deflected doubleweave and where to start my explorations. I invite you to join me. Madelyn’s video and the included booklet of projects and drafts will get you started on what may be an endless new weaving adventure.