Weaving a Coverlet with Eight Shafts

Handwoven MagazineAsk Madelyn


Dear Madelyn,

Thank you so much for what you wrote about "The Best Weave Structure…" in Weaving Today. Ever since I was a boy of 14 I have dreamt of weaving Snowballs with Pine Tree Border, which I found in The Shuttle-Craft Book of American Hand-Weaving" which I bought in 1948. And now, at 78 years of age my chance has come, and I've ordered an 8-shaft jack loom, which should reach me soon. In the meantime, I have made a warp according to your DVD. And now, looking at the coverlet corners in Weaving Today, I see my dream pattern in double weave. I had thought of weaving it in Summer and Winter. Could you help me decide which way to go?

Thank you for all your help so far,


Hi Richard!

I have so been there. That was my dream, too—the one that took me from loom to loom until I finally had the loom that could do it in doubleweave. The problem is that the snowball and pine tree design is a 5-block design. Summer and winter and doubleweave are both weaves that can produce it, but they don’t require the same number of shafts per block. An 8-shaft loom can give you six blocks of summer and winter. But five blocks of doubleweave require twenty shafts (four shafts per block). So, summer and winter is the way to go. 

Now, I usually tell my students that it is immoral to weave five blocks of summer and winter on eight shafts, because you only need seven and you’ll be leaving one shaft out. And since there are so many weavers around the world who don’t have enough shafts, you should use all you have or send…. 

But, I’m just kidding. You need the eBook 

A Comprehensive Guide to Designing and Weaving with Blocks along with the Shuttle-Craft Book of American Hand-Weaving to get you started. I wove my first snowballs and pine trees in summer and winter, too. Happy weaving, and please send us a picture of your project!


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