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Designing Multi-weft Double Weave

Since writing this article, I've come up with an easier way to create weave drafts for multi-weft double weave designs. Multi-weft Double Weave Drafter is a web-based tool that automates some of the manual steps described below.

Multi-weft double weave provides more color options than traditional two-weft double weave. It's more flexible than the 3-Ply Tapestry double weave used by Anni Albers that introduces more color by using extra warp yarns. Putting extra colors in the weft rather than the warp means each block uses only four shafts and both the weft colors and number of weft colors can vary within a single weaving.

This article describes the process I use to design a free form multi-weft double weave similar to my multi-weft double weave samples S9909 and S9911. I'm fascinated by the look of interlaced graphics files as they gradually load into a web browser. Often the loading graphic looks more interesting than the final image. These samples were adapted from screen shots of loading interlaced graphics files. I used 6 non-repeating blocks of double weave and so had total freedom in placing color blends on the face of the fabric. The samples required between two and four wefts for each pick that shows on the face of the fabric. One of the extra wefts could weave into the back layer. That usually left one or two wefts that floated between the layers.

The samples were woven in rayon machine embroidery thread.With this slippery yarn, it was soon clear that wefts not weaving into the face layer need to weave into the back layer as much as possible to stabilize the areas where the wefts enter and leave the face of the cloth. Also, the warps need to change between the face and back layers frequently to avoid baggy areas.

The freedom in color placement and need to stabilize the cloth result in a drafting process that is a bit like solving a puzzle. First the yarn color combinations of each face area are worked out. Then it's time to solve the best way to work unused wefts into the back layer. Finally, these decisions need to be recorded in a draft and woven.

During the summer of 1999, the Philadelphia area experienced a bad drought. The lovely greens of summer turned brown as it lingered. In response, I started designing a large multi-weft double weave piece to call back our green foliage.From a photograph of trees, I abstracted a free form multi-weft double weave design with 12 shades of green. I've drafted a portion of the image to weave a sample testing my color choices. Figure 1 shows the sample image I'm working from.
Figure 1 Sample Image
In order to get more shades of green from a two color (light green and dark green) warp, it will have areas where the warps weave end and end (alternating dark and light). The end and end sections also provide another way the warps can interchange to stabilize the fabric. Figure 2 shows the areas of the face layer woven with the light warp (white), dark warp (black) or end and end (gray). This image was generated in PhotoShop by loading a different color table into the sample image.
Figure 2 Face Warp Areas
Rather than trying to work directly with 12 shades of green, I created another color table with a wider range of colors and loaded it into the sample image. The result is shown in Figure 3. Each color represents a particular face layer warp/weft combination in the sample image.
Figure 3 Colorized Image

The sample image has 66 rows. To make drafting easier, it's broken up in into sections containing no more than 15 rows. The columns in each section are compressed in width as much as possible shrinking them down to a square. The result is the 5 sections shown Figure 4 that then need to be translated into double weave. I'll show the how this was done for the top few rows of the piece (rows 61-66) that are represented by the short section on the right.

Figure 4 Compressed Colorized Version of the Image

First the face yarn combinations are recorded for each row and column of the section. The warp choice is indicated by D for dark, L for light or E for even. As most of the wefts are green, I used the manufacturer's code number to indicate each weft color except for black which is abbreviated BLK. Figure 5 shows the face yarn combinations for rows 61-66.

Figure 5 Warp/weft Face Combinations

Next, the weft colors for each row are assigned the order in which they will weave. It works best to keep the wefts in the same relative order from row to row. For this sample, black always weaves first when it appears in a row, followed by yarn 790, yarn 775 and yarn 777. Other colors only appear occasionally and weave last in a row.

Because different rows require different numbers of wefts, it's useful to keep track of which pick each row will end on. The sample face will show 8 picks per row. This means 2-weft rows will take 16 picks, 3-weft rows will take 24 picks and 4-weft rows will take 32 picks.

Weft Weave Order Assignments

row 1 2 3 4 end
66 BLK 790 775 711 168
65 BLK 790 775 751 136
64 BLK 790 775 --- 104
63 BLK 790 775 --- 80
62 BLK 790 775 777 56
61 790 775 777 --- 24

I've found it's easier to draft multi-weft double weave using weft colors that represent weave order rather than the actual weft colors that will be used in each row. Therefore, the next task is to fill in another face yarn combination grid using the weave order of each weft rather than its color number. Figure 6 translates the color numbers of Figure 5 into weave order numbers.

Figure 6
Weave Order Face Yarn Assignments

The last task before drafting is to plan which wefts will weave into the back layer in each area. It's optimal for each face weft to weave into the back layer whenever it's not weaving into the face. That is only possible when only two wefts are needed for a particular row. The best that can be generally achieved is for each weft to weave into the back layer immediately to the left or right of its face area. Occasionally, even that is not possible. An example of this occurs on row 63 in the third column from the left. In these cases, I weave an area of pick and pick on the back layer as indicated in Figure 7 below.

Figure 7
Weave Order Face and Back Yarn Assignments

In the draft, I use four weft colors to represent the weft weave orders and fill those in first. Taking time to double check that each section ends on the proper pick saves headaches later. Finally it's time to go back and assign weaves to each section. I saved a screenshot that shows the first portion of the draft for rows 61-66 of the multi-weft double weave sample.

A version of this article appears in the June 2000 newsletter of the Complex Weaver's Computer Aided Design Exchange study group.

Copyright © 2000-2015 Jane Eisenstein. All rights reserved.