Time for Twill

  4-shaft Twill
  4-shaft twill in herringbone and bird's eye
  8-shaft Maltese Cross
8-shaft Maltese cross twill

If memory serves me correctly, I think I’ve written here a time or two about my love for twill. My first ever real weaving project was a set of twill dishtowels and it only took a few treadling repeats for me to become smitten with the structure. My second project was a twill scarf in Tencel and the drape was so lovely, I fell completely in love with twill.

Since then I’ve woven many more projects in twills, both 4- and 8-shaft, from herringbone to bird's eye and snowflake. I’ve done a few projects in other structures, too, but something keeps me coming back to twill. Maybe it’s the drape; maybe it’s the patterning possibilities; whatever it is, I can’t seem to get enough of twill. In fact, I currently have a 9-yard warp on my loom right now threaded in 8-shaft twill that I'm very happily weaving through.

Given all this, it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to hang out in the video studio when Robyn Spady was in town filming her video Totally Twill: The Basics. Going in I thought I knew a lot about twills. I knew the difference between various twills, when to use floating selvedges, and a few ways to vary the pattern by changing my treadling.

After spending a day watching Robyn talk about twills, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about twills. For example, while I knew about the basic twill structures I had no idea what a twill circle was and how it could be used to design twill patterns. I also had no idea that you could create double-faced cloth using unbalanced twill. As I watched Robyn weave up a sample, I imagined the design possibilities—maybe a set of reversible placemats or a fun silk scarf. Best of all, pretty much every style of twill you can imagine can be woven using just four shafts, so it's rare to get a case of shaft envy when working with twill. 

What I really gained from watching Robyn present her workshop (and from later viewings of the video) was a good grasp of twill theory. It’s one thing to pick a draft out of Strickler, Dixon, or Davison and weave it; it’s a completely different matter to create your own. In fact, I think it might be fun when I'm done my current project to warp up my loom for a twill gamp and see what happens. 


Christina Garton

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