Tools Day: Swedish Weaving Draft

Cooks have recipes, builders have blueprints, and handweavers have weaving drafts. There are a few different formats, but all drafts carry the same essential information. There is the tie-up box, the threading pattern, and the treadling sequence. Finally, there’s the drawdown, a graphic representation of how all the threads intersect.

The two formats I see most often are the typical American draft (e.g., Handwoven), and the Swedish draft (e.g., VÄV Magasinet). Many American drafts assume jack looms; whereas, Swedish drafts usually assume counterbalance or countermarch looms. However, any loom can weave from any draft.

As Madelyn van der Hoogt says in The Complete Book of Drafting, “Any tie-up can be used for any type of loom. Discover from the tie-up which shafts must be up and which down for each shed, and do to the loom whatever is required to get them there.”

All the draft formats have this in common: The tie-up box is the starting point. The threading pattern and treadling sequence begin at that point, and go out from there.

The Swedish draft makes perfect sense (remember, of course, I weave on Swedish countermarch looms). I picture the draft as if it is lying flat in front of me.

Becky Ashenden says in the forward to Weave Structures the Swedish Way, “With this orientation of tie-up, treadling, and threading, the draft has a direct relationship to the weaving of the fabric. The tie-up’s location in the lower right-hand corner of the draft allows all other information to match as closely as possible the physical aspects of the loom.”

Here is a comparison of the Swedish and American draft formats:

Swedish Draft

Reading a Swedish draft.

Swedish draft, with a weft drawdown.

  • Weft drawdown (filled-in squares show lowered warp threads, weft passing over)
  • Tie-up is in lower right corner, and uses black squares to designate shafts that sink / white squares for shafts that rise
  • Threading is below the drawdown
  • Shafts are numbered from back of the loom to front, with the first shaft the furthest from the weaver seated at the loom
  • Treadling sequence is on the right, and reads from bottom to top
  • Treadles are numbered from right to left
  • For a “sinking shed” loom (countermarch or counterbalance loom), use the black squares to tie up sinking shafts
  • For a “rising shed loom” (jack loom), use the white squares to tie up rising shafts

American Draft

Reading weaving drafts.

American draft, with a warp drawdown.

  • Warp drawdown (filled-in squares show raised warp threads, weft passing under)
  • Tie-up is in upper right corner, and uses numerals to designate shafts that rise / white squares for shafts that sink
  • Threading is above the drawdown
  • Shafts are numbered from front of loom to the back, with the first shaft the closest to the weaver seated at the loom
  • Treadling sequence is on the right, and reads from top to bottom
  • Treadles are numbered from left to right
  • For a “sinking shed” loom (countermarch or counterbalance loom), use the white squares to tie up sinking shafts
  • For a “rising shed loom” (jack loom), use the squares with numerals to tie up rising shafts

Similarities between Swedish and American Drafts

  • Threading reads right to left
  • Squares in the tie-up box represent treadle cords that attach treadles to corresponding shafts
Weaving draft in place for weaving mug rugs.

Draft is hanging at the corner of the loom. The fabric logically grows in the same direction as the sequence of weft picks as seen on the treadling draft.

Resources
Getzmann, Ulla, and Becky Ashenden. Weave Structures the Swedish Way. Shelburne, MA: Väv Stuga Press, 2006.
Hoogt, Madelyn Van der. The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers. Coupeville, WA: Shuttle-Craft Books, 1993.

May you flourish at your loom.

All the best,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for this comparison of the two ways to write drafts, this will make translation much easier.

    One question. You say, “For a “rising shed loom” (jack loom), use the white squares (or numerals) to tie up rising shafts”. Do you mean this to apply to the American way of writing the draft?

    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Julia, Thank you for asking this question. I need to edit what I wrote and make a correction.

      The American way of writing the draft usually has numerals for the rising shafts. For a jack loom, use the squares with numerals to tie up rising shafts. The white squares, in this case, are used to tie up sinking shafts.

      Thanks for helping me clarify!

      Karen

  • Thanks Karen, a good blog to explain the differences quite clearly. I prefer the swedish way (and yes I have a a Glimåkra floor loom, but it just makes sense to me. Sometimes I get them mixed up but I think it’s good to know both methods. It’s a bit like preferring to beam the warp from the front or the back – you just tend to find what works for you. Thank you again.
    Blessings,
    Alison

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, I get them mixed up, too. I am so accustomed to the Swedish format that I have to go back and review my notes if I want to “translate” an American draft.

      Karen

  • Hi Karen,
    Thanks for the comparison post. It will be good to refer new weaver’s to it, so they know there is more than one way for patterns to be written.

    Here is a bit of additional information for American weaver’s used to jack loom drafts. Many own the book, A Handweaver’s Pattern Book by Marguerite Davison. It was published back when counterbalance looms were the norm. Her drafts are written in the American way, with threading and tie-up at the top. Her tie-up is written for a sinking shed, so marked boxes go down. If someone owns a jack loom, in order to see the pattern while weaving, they should tie up the blank squares instead of the x’s. I think other older drafts, such as Atwater, Bertha Hayes, and others also tie up for counterbalanced looms.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, I’m glad you mentioned this! It’s important for a weaver to understand the format of a draft and how to interpret it.

      My first project on a floor loom was from Davison’s book. My instructor carefully pointed out the author’s note that tells that the drafts are written for counterbalance looms.

      Thank you so much for adding this important information for weavers used to drafts written for jack looms.

      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Karen, I’m new to all of this, and I’m not able to perceive what you are referring to as black and white squares. Are those the empty squares? So you would tie up all of those, vs one black thread?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, Empty or white? It’s a matter of perception. Yes, in a draft written for sinking shed looms, such as a Swedish draft, you would tie up the empty squares if you are using a jack loom. I don’t think of the squares as “empty,” because for my countermarch loom, I tie up the black squares to the shafts that sink, and I tie up those “white” squares to the shafts that rise.

      I hope that makes sense.
      Karen

  • Randi says:

    Thank you for this post. I’m a new weaver and have a counterbalance loom. I’ve ordered the book you mentioned.

    I also really enjoy your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Randi, You are welcome! I wanted this kind of information when I was starting out, so I’m hoping it is useful for others. The Getzmann/Ashenden book does a great job of explaining the whole drafting concept and procedure. So does the Van der Hoogt book, for that matter. You can’t have too many weaving books! 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Thank you for writing this post. I’m sure it will be very helpful to many of those seeking to expand our repertoire.

    A friend recently sent me some drafts written in the Swedish manner and, while I figured out most of it, I misinterpreted how the shafts are numbered in relation to the weaver. I’ll have to go back to my Fiberworks entry and edit it or I’ll mess up my weaving.

    I have two looms, one a computer controlled dobby that uses a programme in the American style. My other loom is a four shaft counterbalance that I brought home from Europe, so I’m somewhat used to reversing the tie-up when I weave with it. My first project ended up upside down on the loom!

    • Karen says:

      Sandy, You are going to become an expert on reading different formats of weaving drafts! Bravo! I’m guessing that just about every weaver has accidentally woven a fabric upside down. I know I have.

      The thing about reversing the order of the shafts and the treadles is that it usually doesn’t really matter all that much. As long as you are consistent, most things will come out just fine, even if they are upside down.

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

  • Sue Seymour says:

    I have learned – the hard way – to read the Intro material in any new book I purchase so as to learn which way the author is writing drafts, treadling, and tie-up. It seems there is always a new wrinkle. Even though I have a Swedish countermarche loom, I prefer the American way of drafting, which is what I learned way back when there were only three weaving books available, Mary Black, Mary Atwater, and the Davison book.

    • Karen says:

      Sue, Yes, read the intro material. It’s not unusual for you to prefer the American way of drafting. I’m sure it’s second nature for you. And those three books should still be in every weaver’s library.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Leveling String

Thirty-five years ago, I took a beginner rigid heddle loom class. Our teacher taught us to use strips of toilet paper (or fat scrap yarn) as weft at the beginning of the weaving to space the warp. After several inches of weaving, the warp ends would fall into alignment. Unless fringe is planned, that beginning warp goes to waste, not to mention the unsightly aspect of the throwaway weft. Here comes the leveling string to the rescue! This piece of 12/6 cotton seine twine is just what we need to get off to a good start with every project we put on the loom. The leveling string levels out the warp ends, and delivers a nice, flat weaving surface. It is superb to be able to weave fabric right from the very beginning of the warp!

The use of a leveling string is also described in my three favorite books that detail how to warp a loom:

  • The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell
  • Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall
  • Dress Your Loom the Vävstuga Way: A Benchside Photo Guide, by Becky Ashenden

Tools:

  • Front tie-on bar with a hole at each end (Joanne Hall writes, “If there are no holes in your bar, replace the cord with a thin stick.” I have not tried this, but I trust anything Joanne says!)
  • 12/6 cotton seine twine, the length of front tie-on bar, plus about 20 inches (I like to have plenty of string to tie the knots on the ends)

Steps:

1. Tie on warp in small bundles, about 1″ each, with half of the bundle’s ends going over, and half going under, the front tie-on bar (as seen in Step 3 pictures). Tie the ends together with a bow knot or other tie-on knot. (TIP – If you do not tie the knots too tight, it is easier to get even tension across the warp, and it is easier to tighten the leveling string in Step 4.)

2. Tie one end of the leveling string to one end of the front tie-on bar, using a slip knot with half bow.

Tying the leveling string. Tutorial pics.

Tying the leveling string. Step-by-step.

Leveling string - tying it on.

Tying on the leveling string. How to.

How to tie the leveling string.

3. Thread the leveling string over and under the tie-on bundles, going over the raised ends and under the lowered ends.

Threading the leveling string through the warp. Tutorial pics.

Leveling string going through the warp.

Tying the second end of the leveling string.

4. Tighten the leveling string while tapping it in with the beater.

Tightening the leveling string.

5. Tie the end of the leveling string to the end of the front tie-on bar, using a slip knot with half bow, as before.

How to tie the second end of the leveling string.

How to tie the leveling string.

Finishing the knot for the leveling string.

Why I use a leveling string.

6. Weave to your heart’s content.

Why the leveling string is so helpful!

When you get to the end of the warp, and are ready for cutting off, simply tug the loose end of the string at one end of the bar to release the slip knot, and pull the leveling string out of the warp.

May you weave as soon as possible.

Happy Valentine’s Day,
Karen

5 Comments

  • Ettenna says:

    Will this work if I lash my yarn on? Does one have to tie the threads to the bar?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ettenna, The only way I tie on is tying on to the tie-on bar. I don’t know if this works if you lash on. It’s worth a try! If you try it, please report back and let us know how it goes for you.

      Great question!
      Karen

  • Cindie` says:

    Hmm, sounds like we had the same beginning weaving teacher (minus the rigid heddle loom) My teacher of 31 years ago was incredible except for her way of spreading out the warp. It didn’t take me terribly long once weaving on my own to realize what a waste of warp using the toilet paper or rags were. I generally weave a few rows without beating, then beat, and repeat – the warp is spread out within an inch or less of weaving…….I use leftover yarn on bobbins around the same size as what I’ll be weaving with. I’ve seen your technique but never tried it – I’m definitely going to try it out on the next warp. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindie, It wasn’t long for me, either, before I ditched the toilet paper routine. Ha ha, I guess that was a common “technique” for a while. Everything else for my teacher, too, was wonderful.

      I’d love to hear back what you think of this method after you try it. How does it compare to what you are used to?

      Happy Weaving!
      Karen

  • Julia says:

    This looks great. I’m guessing you have made sure your tension is even and all of your knots are secure before putting in the leveling string. Is this correct? Do you use a particular knot when tying the warp bundles to the front bar? Surgeons knot or something?

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Tools Day: Mirror Mirror

When the front side of the fabric is on the underside, it helps to have a mirror. This is one of those times. A transparency can be woven with the weft turns on the front or on the back. I’m weaving this transparency with the weft turns on the front. The underside, therefore, has the crisper lines, and will (probably) be the right side of the finished transparency.

Weaving cotton chenille inlay on linen for a simple transparency.

Weaving from the back, the inlay weft turns look like scallops along the edge of the pattern area. The pattern on the underneath side of the cloth has smoother edges.

You can think of other weaves, as well, that have a different appearance on the back than on the front. That’s when a little mirror comes in handy. You can use a larger hand mirror, of course; but these are two little mirrors that I keep in the cart by my loom.

Mirrors at hand beside the loom.

Top drawer in the cart beside the loom holds small tools that are used during weaving.

  • A little wooden mirror with mother-of-pearl inlay that I picked up on one of my international travels.
Small hand mirror is used to view the underside.

Small hand mirror is used for a quick glimpse of the underside pattern.

  • A lighted extended little mirror that I picked up on one of my wanderings at Home Depot while my husband was shopping for tools. A Husky Round Lighted Inspection Mirror, “…for inspection of hidden, unlit areas in applications ranging from industrial maintenance and automotive repair to general homeowner DIY applications.” They forgot to add, “…and for handweaver inspections of the reverse side of the cloth.”
Lighted mirror extends to inspect underneath the cloth.

Lighted mirror extends to inspect the underneath side of the woven cloth. The telescoping handle makes it possible to view underneath a wide warp.

May you find tools that serve you well.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Julia says:

    I recently heard this song being sung and I thought of you right away. You are a beautiful reflection of the Divine.

    Take my life, and let it be
    Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
    Take my moments and my days,
    Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
    Take my hands, and let them move
    At the impulse of Thy love.

    Take my feet, and let them be
    Swift and beautiful for Thee.
    Take my voice, and let me sing
    Always, only, for my King.
    Take my lips, and let them be
    Filled with messages from Thee.

    Take my every thought, to use
    In the way that Thou shalt choose.
    Take my love; O Lord, I pour
    At Thy feet its treasure store.
    I am Thine, and I will be
    Ever, only, all for Thee.

    • Karen says:

      Sweet Julia,
      I learned that song as a child, and it remains deeply meaningful to me! It does describe a life that reflects Christ, and that is certainly the type of mirror I want to be.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Karen

  • Barbara says:

    I love the way that your willing to try new weave structures. I’ve never done a transparency,but it’s on my bucket list. Will have to have my husband pickup one of those mirrors at his next Home Depot forray.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, Weaving this transparency is so enjoyable. It’s almost like weaving tapestry, but easier. Now I’m eager to do one that’s more advanced, with lots of butterflies! 🙂
      It’s not the first time I’ve found weaving tools at Home Depot or Lowe’s… The lights on the mirror really help since there’s less natural light under there.

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

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Tools Day: Reading Swedish

Through my exploration of Swedish weaving techniques, I have acquired several Swedish weaving books. Fortunately, I also found a Swedish-English weaving glossary with pages and pages of translated words. Looking up a word at a time, I slowly made my way through small portions of the books. And then I discovered Google Translate, an app for my iPhone!

A few of my favorite Swedish weaving books.

Ever-expanding library of Swedish weaving books.

Google Translate allows me to type Swedish words or phrases, or try to speak them, and it gives me an English translation in return. The app also allows me to hold the phone’s camera over printed words, and the translation shows on the phone’s screen.

Using Google Translate to read Swedish weaving books.

Multiple ways to enter text for translation. Translations give a general idea of the subject matter, even though some of the wording may be unclear.

I’m the first to admit that Google is unfamiliar with standard weaving terms, and the results can be humorous. “Varp” might be translated as “Puppy,” “Inslag” as “Element,” and “Sked” as “Spoon.” But “Warp,” “Weft,” and “Reed” are easy to understand because of their placement in the instructions. Shouldn’t Google brush up on vocabulary for handweavers? Overall, the Google Translate app is a useful tool for understanding the basics of a Swedish draft and instructions.

Using Google Translate to read Swedish weaving books.

Book titles in Swedish, as seen through the iPhone camera in the Google Translate app.

Using Google Translate to read Swedish weaving books.

Through the app, the Swedish words are seen as translated into English.

Now, all I need are a few more Swedish weaving books!

May you overcome a language barrier.

Vävglädje (Happy Weaving),
Karen

11 Comments

  • Pia says:

    Well, even though I speak Swedish, today I learned the word åkläde, which is a blanket made from two pieces sewn together in layers. 🙂

    That’s a very clever app!

  • Betsy says:

    Back in the dark ages I wanted to go to a college that taught Swedish (assuming that a language was required). My grandparents were Swedish and spoke it in the home. Unfortunately the only college that did and also offered my major was in California. I lived in CT and there was no way my parents were going to let me go that far.

    Wonder if that school also taught weaving? 🙂

    Google Translate is awesome. I didn’t know there was an app!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, It’s not hard to imagine that you were interested in learning Swedish at that age, since you had grandparents who spoke Swedish.
      I could have taken weaving classes at my university, but I was in the music world at the time, and hadn’t yet been exposed to the world of weaving. Oh, the what ifs…

      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Have you seen the book lists on some of the Scandinavian Weaving groups? Sara Von Treskow kindly put up an exhaustive list of the books in her personal library and a very nice Swedish weaver, whose name escapes me this early in the morning, did another very good one. They’re worth finding and make great shopping lists.

  • Kat says:

    I don’t know about the app, but on the google translate website you can help by contributing better translations. A lot of it relies on context so if you (and other weavers here) update the weaving words in weaving contexts it will learn!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kat, I didn’t know that about Google Translate. I can’t find anything on the app that lets you contribute better translations, but that’s great that the website takes that kind of input. We could really get a good Swedish-English weaving glossary at our fingertips!

      Karen

  • Marjorie says:

    You have quite a fan club on Facebook! Several people have recommended your blog to me, as I recently purchased a Glimakra Ideal, but haven’t warped it yet because I find it so overwhelming. But I am eager to get started!

    As for Swedish, there is a super neat language learning site called Duolingo that you can learn basic Swedish on, if you’d like to extend your understanding of your books. Google Translate is decent, but as you’ve found, it’s also limited.

    I am learning a great deal from your blog, so thank you for your generosity to new weavers.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Majorie, I wasn’t aware of a fan club. Haha. That’s cool. It gives me joy to hear that I am helping other people, especially new weavers!

      I know it can feel overwhelming to warp the Ideal the first time, but if you have the steps to follow, you’ll do just fine. It’s pretty exciting once you get going.

      I checked the Duolingo site. It looks great. Thanks for the tip!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Measured Weaving

How far will you travel? How will you know when you have arrived? Do you wish you could know when you are halfway there? Applied to weaving, I like to have the answers to these questions before I begin the “journey.” A pre-measured tape gives me consistency, especially important for multiple pieces in a set. The tape also acts as my “trip odometer.” I can see how far I’ve gone, and exactly how much is left to weave. It satisfies my insatiable need to know how close I am to the end. Are you like that, too?

How to Make and Use a Pre-Measured Tape

Supplies

  • Roll of 3/4″ or wider twill tape (or any cloth tape or ribbon that does not stretch, and that pins easily)
  • Tape measure with inches and/or centimeters
  • Fine tip permanent marker
  • Flat head pins
  1. Use the permanent marker to place markings on the twill tape, as measured with the tape measure. Mark the start line 1/2″ from the end of the twill tape, so that the tape can be pinned in front of the mark.
  2. After drawing a line for the starting point and ending point, draw a line at the midway point, labeled MID.
  3. Include dotted lines for hem measurements, if applicable. Write the hem measurement on the twill tape; i.,e., 3/4″ or 2 cm.
  4. Write the weaving length measurement on the twill tape. Include calculation for takeup, if desired; i.,e., 25″ + 3″.
  5. Write the project or item description on the twill tape, if desired, for ease of repeat use; i.e., handtowel.
  6. Add other lines or marks, as needed, for borders, placement of weft colors, or other design elements.
  7. 1/2″ after the final marking, cut pre-measured twill tape from the roll of tape.

With the warp under tension, pin the pre-measured twill tape near the right or left selvedge with two flat-head pins. Match the start line of the tape with the beginning of the weaving.
Before each advancement of the warp, move the pin closest to the breast beam to a point near the fell line. In this way, have the pins leapfrog each other, moving only one pin each time. Always keep the warp under tension when moving the pins.

Red cutting lines between black and white towels.

Beginning hem, after red cutting lines between towels.

Ending hem is followed by two red picks that will become the cutting line between towels.

Ending hem is followed by two red picks that will become the cutting line between towels.

When the "MID" point hits right where it should!

When the “MID” point hits right where it should! Mid point marking helps to confirm that the halvdräll pattern is centered and balanced in its length.

Pre-measured twill tape marks weft color placement on linen scarves.

Weft color placement is marked on the twill tape for these linen lace scarves.

Tricks with pre-measured tape for weaving.

Five centimeters, marked at the end of the twill tape, is a handy reference for spacing the weft pattern floats in these plattväv towels.

Alpaca scarf in an interesting 8-shaft twill.

I love seeing the “MID” point on a long piece, such as this 8-shaft twill alpaca scarf.

Pre-measured twill tape helps set the pace for the weaving project.

Breaking up the length into quarters helps to set a pace for the weaving project. This baby wrap was on a time crunch, so it was helpful to know when I was getting close to the end.

May you accurately measure your ways.

Truly yours,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Cate Kauffman says:

    Love this idea for repeatable, standard sized projects like towels and scarves. Labeling it towels (4) or some such, makes so much sense. Thanks!

  • Angela says:

    Excellent, thanks for sharing.

  • Karen says:

    Your comments are so useful. I use a tape, but don’t mark it as you do and I don’t leapfrog pins. Such good ideas……I think a trip out to the fabric store is in order! Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I’m glad you find this useful! I look for sales. When the roles of ribbon are 50% off at Hobby Lobby, I buy several rolls of twill tape!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nanette says:

    Many thanks for all the detail. I will save all this for a warp that I’ve really planned out…wish that described MORE of mine! Nanette

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    Thanks for the details on how you use the tape. I used it on my handtowels. (I’m going to Vavstuga in June!) I am interesetd that you measure under tension. I measure when the warp is loose. Do you add length to your project because it is under tension?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, I hope you enjoy your Vavstuga experience as much as I did! You will learn a treasure trove of new things.

      Measuring under tension may be the most consistent way of measuring, and is considered the standard way to measure. For Handwoven magazine, for instance, their projects give the “Woven length (measured under tension on the loom).” I do add a % amount to the length to account for take-up and shrinkage.

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • Jane Smith says:

    A very interesting post on measuring your weaving, and one that has the merit of being well photographed and detailed. I shall definitely print this out and keep it in my weaving file.

    Thank you!

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