Just another WordPress.com weblog

Archive for March, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things: #11 – Block Drafts from Heinrich Leisy’s Pattern Book

There are a few critical milestones that a weaver may cross that makes an enormous difference.  Understanding blocks is one of them. Once a weaver understands the fundamentals of blocks, a whole new world opens up.

Blocks can form the fundamental components of a design.  By understanding the blocks for a weave structure, this information may be used for the following:

  • Aid in the design, set-up, and weaving of fabric
  • Maximize the number of shafts on a loom
  • Reinterpret a draft to be accommodated on fewer (or greater) shafts.  For example, a four-block damask pattern requires a minimum of 20 shafts to weave.  A close approximation may be woven on 16 shafts by reinterpreting the draft as a four-end twill.
  • Critical to fabric analysis, especially overshot and coverlets
  • Understanding the blocks of a weave structure is invaluable to understanding the weave structure and how to develop the tie-up, treadling sequence, and versatility of a single threading.

It does require a bit of time and effort to understand blocks . . . but, I like to think of it as an adventure akin to Robert Langdon, the protagonist in Dan Brown’s novels Angels & Demons, The DaVinci Code, and The Lost Symbol. figuring out the next clue to unraveling a mystery . . . but, without the annoyance of lift-threatening peril and villains.

Can I summarize blocks in a blog post?  Um . . . I doubt it.  However, one of my favorite things may be the impetus for many in understanding  blocks – The 236-page PDF Block Drafts from Heinrich Leisy’s Pattern Book.  In this resource, made available by Ute Bargmann, are over 200 profile drafts (A profile draft is a weaving design made up of  blocks and creates a silhouette of the pattern.)  The majority of the profile drafts are made from 3- and 4-block designs . . . but, there are some that have more.  Below are some examples from this resource.

A block is a shorthand technique for drafting.  Each block represents a group of threads in either the warp, weft, or both.  A block may be denoted in a variety of ways, but most often is represented by a solid square or a letter.  The number of blocks in a draft does not denote how many shafts or threads required to weave the pattern.  Four blocks of overshot may be woven on four shafts; however, four blocks of satin will require a minimum of 20 shafts.

The 236-page PDF Block Drafts from Heinrich Leisy’s Pattern Book may be used to jump start a design for a project and can be downloaded at the following link http://handweaving.net/DAItemDetail.aspx?ItemID=2321.  When I stumbled upon this resource, I printed it out double-sided and spiral bound it . . . and flipping through it ever since has been inspiring.

If the topic of blocks is still a mystery, the November/December 2011 issue of Handwoven was dedicated to blocks.

Also, Madelyn van der Hoogt’ book, The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers, is excellent for understand blocks . . . in addition to many of other things.

In 1993, Doramay Keasbey published Designing with Blocks . . . and just last year, the book was republished with a new cover design.  I purchased my copy at the Eugene Textile Center http://www.eugenetextilecenter.com/. . . although, you may be able to find it at your local store.


For those with an interest in learning more about blocks and have access to past issues of Handwoven, check out the following articles:

  • Alderman, Sharon. “Profile Drafting: Getting the Big Picture.” Handwoven, Nov/Dec 1987, pp. 44–45, IS: 6–7.
  • Keasbey,. “Rotating Blocks for Dynamic Design.” Handwoven, May/June 2000: pp. 32–35.
  • LaLena, Constance. “Blocks in Production.” Handwoven,  Nov/Dec 1987, pp. 22, 24.
  • Neilson, R. “Eight for Eight: Block Design with Warp Rep.” Handwoven, May/June 2000, pp. 52–57.
  • Patrick, J. “Megablocks.” Handwoven, Jan/Feb 1983, pp. 56–59.
  • Patrick, J. “Two on Two: Two-Block Log Handwoven, May/June 2000, pp.40–42.
  • Scorgie, J.. “Breaking the Block.” Handwoven, Nov/Dec 1994, p. 53.
  • Strickler, C. “The Block.” Handwoven, Nov/Dec 1987, pp. 41, 76.
  • Strickler, C. “Four Blocks on Eight Shafts.” Handwoven, May/June 1992, pp. 58–60, 90; errata ND92: p. 79.
  • Tardy, V. “Cutting a Draft to Fit Your Loom.” Handwoven, May/June 1996, pp. 72–74, 92–93.
  • van der Hoogt, M.“Understanding Blocks.” Handwoven, May/June 2000: pp. 24–27; errata Sept/Oct 2000, p. 15.
  • Wertenberger, K. “More Harnesses Make the Difference.” Handwoven, May/June 1981, pp. 40–41.
  • Wertenberger, K. “Weaver’s Challenge: Block Weaves on Four Shafts.” Handwoven, Jan/Feb 1984, pp. 27.
  • West, V. “Taking Charge of Your Design.” Handwoven, Nov/Dec 1987, pp. 46–47,
  • Woodbury, D. “Playing with Blocks.” Handwoven, May/June 2000, pg. 80–83.

Or, if access to past issues of Handwoven is limited, there are some articles on blocks and profile drafts available on-line at Handweaving.net  http://handweaving.net/DAHome.aspx

  • Griswold. R.  Block Substitution, Part 1: Basic Concepts, July 2002
  • Griswold. R.  Block Substitution, Part 2: Initial Patterns.Substitution Blocks. and Color, December 2002
  • Griswold. R.  Crackle Weave, Part 1: Designing with Blocks and Motifs, April 2004
  • Johnson, N.S.  Designing Three Block Patterns, June 1938
  • Johnson, N.S.  Designing Two Block Patterns, July 1939
  • Johnson, N.S.  Designing Four Block Patterns Based on “Twills and Squares”, July 1942
  • Johnson, N.S.  Designing Four Harness Threading for Two Block Patterns, August 1938.
  • Johnson, N.S.  A Variety of Threading Drafts from a Two Block Pattern, June 1940
  • “Variations of Four-Block Patterns”, Master Weaver, December 1951

I hope you find a resource here that gives you a reason to have a block party!  Enjoy!

These are a few of my favorite things: #10 – Weaving Tips, Techniques, and More!

10 down, 40 to go . . . 

There is a saying Necessity is the motherhood of invention and it has been around for at least 600 years when William Horman, the headmaster of Winchester and Eton, included the Latin form Mater artium necessitas in Vulgaria, a book of aphorisms for the boys of the schools to learn by heart, which he published in 1519.

This saying is never more true than in weaving.  Weavers face a challenge and often come up with creative and innovative ways to solve it . . . like a student that weighted loose warp ends with car keys during a workshop (and fortunately, remembered to return to retrieve them before we locked the doors at the end of the day) . . . and many pass along advice based on their experience, like Don’t cut your fabric at night (Yes, Kathy . . . I ignored your advice one night and now understand why you advise others of this.)

Here are a few resources that share tips and techniques that may help a weaver when faced with a challenge:

Fixing a broken warp end at Knittinghelp.com – As a young weaver, I was taught to repair a broken warp end by taking an additional length of yarn and tie a knot near the break, weight it off the back of the loom, and continue weaving . . . then, after the fabric was woven and cut from the loom, I was then to pull out the repaired warp end and reweave a new end in.  No disrespect to anyone, but that was not great advice!  Over the years, I’ve heard and seen a number of different methods to repair a broken warp end . . . but, my all-time favorite method is a Russian Join.  This is a great way to connect two yarns together that is about as invisible as as it gets . . . not only have I used it for repairing a broken warp end, I’ve also used it for connecting two wefts together of that oh-so-special yarn that is too valuable (or modest in quantity) and I need to eek out every precious inch of it.  Fortunately, there’s a great website (knittinghelp.com)  that has a video of this technique (there are other wonderful tips and techniques on this website).   Click on the link and scroll down about half way and look for the title Joining a New Color Yarn . . . one of the techniques below this title is the Russian Join.  http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/knitting-tips

Weaving Today’s Tips & Tricks – Handwoven magazine’s website Weaving Today is a wealth of information, including one area that provides some tips and tricks, including A Weaver’s Guide to Yarn and making a repair heddle.  http://www.weavingtoday.com/media/g/tips-tricks/default.aspx

Peggy Osterkamp’s 100 Great Weaving Tips – If you’ve been around weaving for more than a a year or two, you are probably familiar with Peggy Osterkamp’s books.  What you may be unaware of are the multitude of weaving tips available on her website.  Click on the link and you may just find that little tidbit that will make your next project easier.   http://peggyosterkamp.com/100-great-weaving-tips/.  Thank you, Peggy!

Ruth Stowe’s Collection of Weaving Resources – This website is one of the first internet-based weaving-related resources I encountered years ago.  It’s full of information, including an area for tips.  There are some real beauties here . . . such as techniques to help wind a sticky warp and an organic way to moth-proof your fabric.  http://www.weavingworld.ca/tips.htm

There are some books and videos that contain incredibly insightful and helpful information.  Below are a few that I have found brilliant . . . Unfortunately, I believe a couple are out-of-print, but used copies may be found by a simple search of the internet.


  • Erickson, Johanna. Rag Weaving Gimmicks and Tricks.Watertown,MA: (1999).
  • Gilmurray, Susan.  Weaving Tricks. New York:  Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1981.  (ISBN  –  0-442-26132-2)
  • Griswold, Alice.  Weaving Solutions:  Shortcuts, Tips and Ideas for the Handweaver. Milan,MI: A & G Publications, 2000.  (ISBN—0-9700223-0-1)
  • The Weavers Guild, Boston, MA.  Weavers’ Wisdom:  250 Aids to Happier Weaving.  Monograph Two, 1980.


  • Guy, Sallie.  Tips, Tricks & Problem Solvers for the Handweaver.  Victorian Video Productions.  1989.  (ISBN  –  0-9-36225-22-X) – very helpful for weavers that have looms with plain beams)
  • Guy, Sallie.  Warping and Loom Preparation.  Victorian Video Productions.  1997.  (ISBN  –  0-936225-47-5)

I have believed for a very long time that every weaver, no matter how long they’ve been weaving,  is sitting on a gem of a tip or technique.  I hope there are some within these resources that you find helpful . . . and help you recognize the value in some of the things you may be doing.

These are a few of my favorite things: #9 – Sewing-related Resources

I learned to sew as a kid.  Plus, my sewing skills and knowledge evolved when I was required to take home economics from Mrs. Phillips in 7th and 8th grade.  I still love to sew and find myself learning new things on a regular basis . . . just this past weekend, I had the honor to teach at SewExpo, the largest sewing-related conference in the USA . . . and yes, I had the opportunity to learn too!

The ninth installment of my favorite things shares some on-line resources that may be a good starting point for learning to sew or share a tidbit or two that may help improve the results of a particular project.

Sew Daily – There are a number of free eBooks at the Sew Daily website.  Below are four that I really enjoy http://www.sewdaily.com/media/g/stitch/tags/free+ebook/default.aspx

  • Sewing Basics – This ebook is a glossary of terms and techniques that cover some of the fundamentals that can be a good beginning on getting started with sewing.  Below is an image that gives a little taste of what is covered in this ebook. http://www.sewdaily.com/media/p/101.aspx

  • Sewing for Beginners – This ebook is a nice complement (and overlap) to the above glossary.  It begins by covering the selection of thread.  It also includes a handful projects.  I really love the fabric gift tag project and think it would be a great way to use of small pieces of my favorite fabrics.  http://www.sewdaily.com/media/p/3544.aspx

  • Top 10 Sewing Techniques – This ebook is helpful because it introduces some really important sewing-related techniques and information on notions.  Some of the techniques include choosing the right needle, choosing the right thread, and adjusting thread tension . .. three of the most important things to know to achieve great results when sewing.  http://www.sewdaily.com/Sewing-Techniques/

  • Sewing Fabric and Tricky Materials – Fabrics seem to have a mind of their own, especially when time is limited.  This ebook is focused on sewing silk and knits, but it introduces seaming techniques (French, flat feel, Hong Kong, and triple stitched) that may be just what is needed when sewing other tricky fabrics, like handwoven fabrics.  http://www.sewdaily.com/media/p/3306.aspx

There are more terrific resources for sewing beyond what is found on the Sew Daily website.  Here are just two of them

Sewing for Beginners – This ebook is 57 pages of information and projects.  I’m really inspired by the fabric embellished shirt (pg 42) as a way of using my leftover fabric, yarns, and thread to punch up a modest garment in my closet.  http://www.favecrafts.com/Sewing/Sewing-for-Beginners-eBook#

Sew News – This ebook is a little different from the others because it introduces four specific topics . . . but, they’re very important topics and can make a huge difference.  http://www.sewnews.com/how-to-sew.html

  • Fixing sewing accidents, such as repairing a tear or ironing mishaps
  • Learning how to sew the perfect seam
  • Customizing the fit of a garment with darts and pleats
  • Creating bound buttonholes for easy-to-wear garments

If you’re interested in sewing, I hope you find some of these resources helpful.  Enjoy!

Tag Cloud