Twill houndstooth check on the rigid heddle loom

Shepherd’s Check, Pied de poule, houndstooth – this is a classic, which I now note is quite trendy this year, and I decided I would weave it exaclty in its classic form, namely alternating groups of 4 warp threads in two contrasting colours, and alternating groups of four picks in each colour. To better manage the carrying of weft along the sides, I started each colour on a different side, and followed Madelyn van der Hoogt advice of treating the inactive weft thread as a floating selvege: weave over it when entering the shed, and under it when exiting the shed.

Is is a simple weave, and pretty straightforward to thread and weave with three heddles, but I found it so effective! This is yardage which will eventually turn into a skirt.

The draft for the Rigid Heddle Loom is below, where as previously I ∧ stands for “raise” and ∨ stands for “lower” the corresponding reed, while in the threading “I” stands for “thread through hole in heddle I, and slots in heddles II and III”, “II” stands for “thread through hole in heddle II, and slots in heddles I and III”, “III” stands for “thread through hole in heddle III, and slots in heddles I and III”, and “S” stands for “thread through slots in all heddles”

So the threading is a straigth twill threading.

To actually thread the three rigid heddles, I used this diagram, where the long rectangles stand for slots, and the small squares represent a hole. The colours are to make it easier to follow the threading, but as in the draft above, I alternated groups of 4 threads each in the two colours.

With 204 ends, I had 51 repeats. In addition there are two floating selvedges, one at each side, separated from the rest of the threading by an empty slot.

The yarn I used is Titus, from Baa Ram Ewe. I had used it as weft in my previous tabby houndstooth project, and I thought that given the Wensleydale content it would also work well as warp – and it did! Almost three metres of warp, and not a single broken warp thread! It is beautiful, and at the sett I used (15 both as epi and ppi) it is a nice firm fabric which is however still soft. Hope not too soft for my ends!

For the actual weaving the repetitions are as follows: 
Each repetition is:

  1. I & II up
  2. II & III up
  3. I & II down
  4. II & III down

I was aiming at 30cm with of fabric, and ended up with 30cm width, art of living dangerously! I really have to improve on that draw in!

Yarn: 204 ends +2 floating selvedges, each 3m long; 278.4 m/304.5 yds for each colour
Sett: 15 epi, 15.5 ppi 
Width in reed: 34cm/13.38” 
Weft crimp percentage: 9.8% (3/30.5cm)  
Width off loom before wet finishing: 30.5cm/12″
Width off loom after wet finishing: 30cm/11.75″
Wet finishing take up (horizontal)
Length of woven fabric off loom before wet finishing:
277cm/109” (approx, fabric shifts around!) 
Length of woven fabric off loom after wet finishing:  269.5cm/106″
Wet finishing shrinkage (vertical):
Loom waste:

4 shaft lace/spot on the rigid heddle loom

I happened by chance on Kate Gagnon Osborn’s beautiful LeCorbusier Scarf, and it was love at first sight, I had to weave this!

I have since discovered Bronson Lace – the November/December issue of Handwoven Magazine has a feature on it by Madelyn Van Der Hoogt on Bronson Lace on 4 shafts.

Lace and spot weaves consist of weft and/or warp floats on a plain weave base. Lace produces holes in the fabric, while spot weave produces closed (as opposed to lace’s open) spots. To my untrained eye, Huck, Bronson and Swedish lace look all the same in terms of drawdown; what I think changes is the threading, that will assign the plain weave to one or more shaft, but this all gets lost when you are weaving on a RHL. A very interesting article by the Guild of Canadian Weavers is pretty illuminating on this issue.

The lace spots have weft floats which are 5 warp long. The way I understand it, the Le Corbusier scarf modifies this increasing the distance between two consecutive floats. It also uses different colours and yarn weight in warp and weft to great effect.

I wrote down the draft making sure I noted down properly which picks where in DK weight and which in laceweight.

So I really do not know how I managed to swap those warp yarns! The effect is quite different then – the floats in my version are thin, while in the original they are thick, but I have to say that I quite like how it turned out:

undefinedcundefinedThe original design is on the right, my version on the left-it happens to invert not just the thick/thin dessign, but also the colour contrast.

Still I find it quite nice – so I’ll have to weave at least one more version, possibly two: one with the same colour combination, but as for the original pattern, and another one in earth tones… and perhaps a fourth!

The threading did take me the best part of an evening, with the second evening used mostly to sort out crossed threads, but in fairness once the warp is up and tensions, most of the job is done!

The threading – all warp threads are in the same colour, here the colour code is to show the threading more clearly

Actual weaving goes as follows:

Tabby (in case you want a few picks at the beginning and the end for hemstitching):

  • II & III down
  • II & III up


  1. I up
  2. II & III up
  3. II & III down
  4. II up
  5. II & III down
  6. II up
  7. II & III down
  8. II & III up

However start and end with one 2-8 step sequence. I used the lace yarn in picks 1, 4 and 6, and the DK weight yarn in picks 2, 3, 7 and 8; the original patter instead calls for swapping these.

181 ends+2 floating selvedges, each 1.90m long; 342m/373 yds Meadow (heavy lace) for warp, 163 m/178 yds of Acadia (DK) and 90m/98yds Road To China lace (lace) for weft. 
15 epi, 15.5 ppi 
Width in reed: 
Width off loom before wet finishing: 
Width off loom after wet finishing:
Wet finishing take up (horizontal):

Length of woven fabric off loom before wet finishing:
Length of woven fabric off loom after wet finishing:
Wet finishing shrinkage (vertical):
Loom waste:

Bumberet galore on the Rigid Heddle Loom

I’ve had a bit of an argument with Bumberet on my Rigid Heddle Loom – not that it is their fault, it is just that it did take me a while to warp my first Bumberet scarf, and I managed to screw it up in some mysterious way: for some reason the warp threads where closer together on one side than on the other. 

I suspect this was due to one of the heddles not being properly aligned. I had to finish it quickly, and so against my better judgmenet I persevered. The recipient loved it, and possibly I am the only one to notice, but obviously it does bother me a great deal. 

Bumberet scarf – the back is lovely too! 12.5 epi and ppi, The Fibre Co Cumbria worsted for both warp and weft (Derwentwater and Windermere).

And so I knew I had to have another go. 

My first scarf was both simple and not-that-simple: simple in that I went with the “plain vanilla” Bumberet, which looks like a daisy chain in two colours, but also not-that-simple because warping requires groups of three thread warps, and direct warping odd numbers is a bit of a pain. 

Incidentally, my threading for this draft on three heddles is this:

Threading the Three heddles for “plain vanilla” Bumberet

In the meantime though I’ve taken some time to play around with Bumberet, and it is a really lovely structure, so I am sure I will be getting back to it again and again, at least as much as twill!

So, what does a Bumberet family look like?

I am pretty sure that weave structure means something much more detailed on a shaft loom – the way I understand it, it stands for a point twill threading which however differs in tie-up from twill. I have found very clear explanations here and in Madelyn van der Hoogt her article in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of Handwoven Magazine – if you are not a subscriber, a publicly available version is here. These two sources also explain other drafts in the same family, Bumberet family (namely Thickset, Velveret and Doucape) – Marcy Petrini’s draft is worth a thousand words!

Translated to a Rigid Heddle Loom, I see the Bumberet family as playing around with combinations of sheds that produce three-warp-thread-wide floats.

For a Rigid Heddle Loom with three heddles there is the additional complication that not all sheds are born equal, and I prefer to rethink the 4 shaft drafts so that I can avoid as much as possible having to raise or sink the first and last heddles together. So even sticking to “just” Bumberet I have found that you need three or four sheds.

I have found inspiration also here and here, and then play around a bit more – I put here a few drafts to show what is possible – these are easy to implement in my favourite setup. The four sheds that are used are as follows:

Translating a 4 shaft tie up to translate for a RHL with three heddles

So first of all the easiest draft: one colour for weft, and one colour for warp!

This I find very very pretty! If you want to make your life only a bit more complicated, then you can use two colours (or more) for the warp, but in blocks of six, rather than 3, to avoid the odd number problem:

And playing around with the lift plan, I found out thathe blocks of six can also be used to produce a “Bumberet Houndstooth”

Bumberet almost-pinwheel!

Having said that, odd repeats can be avoided also by using the warp thread doubled – if so, very nice patterns can be obtained, which are also colourful:

If doubling the warp thread, than even “going solo” won’t be too much of a problem, and again can generate very pretty patterns, which again you can find elsewhere, but here I have arranged them so that the lifting/sinking is convenient with three rigid heddles

Now the blocks are separated – and it did not take me long to see that they can also be alternated with stripes, as here:

Which one to choose? Ah, decisions, decisions…

Four shaft twill on the Rigid Heddle Loom

I cannot remember exactly when is that I decided to try weaving, but I got attracted it progressively more in my quest for hand made skirts – I am not too fond of how knitted skirts look (though there are exceptions), and while I adore knitted dresses, for standalone skirts I wanted something else. True, I could start sewing (which I’ll have to anyway if I want to sew my own cloth), but the temptation to create fabric in the exact same way you like it, with the exact same yarn you love, was to great to resist. And so I took advantage of a very good deal that Ashford has around Christmas time to get myself a “kit”, with a 40cm/16″ Ashford SampleIt loom, which cames together with addititonal heddles, pick up sticks, shuttles, wapr sticks, threading hook, yarn, a canvas carrying bag, Rowena Hart’s “Ashford book of rigid heddle weaving” and even beeswax to treat the parts before assembly.

I knew that, as in everything, once you get to know the details I might end up wanting something else, but you have to start somewhere.

I was travelling a lot, and so while away from my brand new loom, I did a lot of reading, and came across two eyeopeners: The Xenakis Technique for the Construction of Four-Harness Textiles on a Rigid-Heddle, by David Xenakis, which is available for free; and the excellent Weaving With Three Rigid Heddles, by Reverend David B. Mckinney, which is incredibly good value for money. These invaluable resources show you how to replicate drafts for four shaft looms on your humble rigid heddle loom, provided you have three heddles available – and since I had found on this blog and this blog that even the small SampleIt could accommodate three heddles, I quickly became the proud owner of sets of three heddles in all dent sizes that Ashford produces (7.5, 10, 12.5, 15), ‘cos you never know with what yarn inspiration will take you!

With three heddles you can in principle produce all the sheds that you can produce on a four shaft loom (though admittedly some are easier to obtain than others), and so it wast that my weaving project number two was a herringbone scarf (in case you are curious, project number one was a three colour houndstooth scarf).

Herringbone is based on a 2/2 twill structure: each weft thread passes over and under two warp threads, and each pick is offset as compared to the other one. This creates diagonal lines; by changing the order of the threading in the warp, you change the direction of the diagonal lines. The herringbone pattern, or broken twill, is obtained by combining these two directions, here is a draft with four shafts (created with the excellent Pixeloom software)

in the treadling/tie-up (box in the top right corner) each dot means indicates lifting the corresponding harness. Created with Pixeloom

How about a rigid heddle loom? For that I just drew my own draft, where I borrow notational convention from Reverend McKinney and use ∧ to indicate raising the corresponding heddle, and ∨ to indicate lowering that heddle .

In the threading (the horizontal box),“I” means “thread through hole in heddle I, and slots in heddles II and III”, “II” means “thread through hole in heddle II, and slots in heddles I and III”, “III” means “thread through hole in heddle III, and slots in heddles I and III”, and “S” means “thread through slots in all heddles”

Drawing is fun, but then you have to thread the warp. I started from the back heddle (Heddle III), which I threaded as I would normally for direct warping. Then once the warp was packed on the back beam, I started slaying it all. For that purpose the following may be helpful (though do bear in mind that I put it down after finishing the project) – the idea is that in the first heddle, that is the one closest to the front beam, you want to have as many threads as hole and slots for the width of the project: so while you will by necessity have some slots with two threads, then the next slot must be empty, otherwise you risk spreading your warp on a wider surface, and no longer having the epi that your project requires.

So each half of a herringbone consists of 10 warp threads. I used a beautiful yarn, The Fibre Co Cumbria Fingering, in Barrow (154g/461.9 meters) and St. Bees Beach, The Fibre Co. Cumbria Fingering.

Each twill column is 10 ends wide, 2 columns for each herringbone, total of 9 herringbone patterns, so my warp had 180 ends + 2 floating selvedges, each warp thread being 2.5 metres long.

For the floating selvedges (about which I learned from jeen on Ravelry, here), remember to enter OVER the floating selvedge and exit UNDER the (opposite) floating selvedge on the opposite side – or the other way around, but do so consistently at each pick.

For the actual weaving, I began and ended with four picks in pattern in Barrow (dark brown), while all other picks were in St Bees Beach (light brown).

The herringbone pattern is obtained by repeating the following four steps (one pick for each):

  1. heddles I & II up
  2. heddles II & III up
  3. heddles I & II down
  4. heddles II & III down

To finish, I twisted and knotted the fringe, then wet finished. I couldn’t be more pleased with the result, and the delighted smile of the recipient was priceless!

Yarn: 180 ends+2 floating selvedges; 462m/505yds warp, 300m/328yds weft (one broken warp thread) 
Sett: 15 epi, 17 ppi (I was aiming for 15ppi) 
Width in loom: 30cm/12” 
Width off loom before wet finishing: 28cm/11” 
Wet finishing take up (horizontal):
Width off loom after wet finishing: 27.5cm/10.8” 
Length of fabric off loom before wet finishing (excluding fringe): 178cm/70” 
Length of fabric off loom after wet finishing: 169.5cm/66.7” 
Wet finishing shrinkage (vertical):
Twisted fringe: 3+3 ends per twisted, knotted fringe (apart from first and last braid, 4+3), 10cm/4in lenght before twisting, 8cm/3.14” after twisting

Alternating skeins in the round invisibly

If RS is in stocking stitch:

  1. start with both yarns held at the front
  2. bring working yarn to the back and start working in st st
  3. at Beginning of Round (BoR), first bring yarn from old skein (the one you just worked with) to the front, then bring yarn from new skein to the back (no interlocking between yarns)

If RS is reverse st st, then you do the opposite:

  1. start with both yarns held at the back
  2. bring working yarn to the front and start working in purl st
  3. at BoR, first bring yarn from old skein to the back, then bring yarn from new skein to the front

Below is the video I learned from (the demonstration of this technique starts at minute 1:55):

Horizontal buttonholes

Buttonholes on my Cambridge Cardigan, using Anna Zilboorg’s “perfect buttonhole” technique.

I am going to mention two techniques to add tidy horizontal buttonholes to a button band, one by Anna Zilboorg and one by Sue Neatby.

These two techniques produce really neat buttonholes. They are for buttonholes in the same direction of the knitted fabric, so work well for e.g. a double stocking stitch button band that is folded over.

Both techniques are based on grafting, and in both the buttonhole opening is obtained by knitting the width of the buttonhole with waste yarn, which is then removed to reveal the opening.

Anna Zilboorg’s technique “melts” the buttonholes into the fabric, so that you can hardly see them. To the contrary, Lucy Neatby’s technique makes quite a statement of them, since buttonholes are framed by yarn, and if in contrasting colour this can be quite decorative. I guess which one is best depends on the project (and your preferences).

Screenshot from Lucy Neatby’s video – pattern is the Fiesta Vest

I have used Anna Zilboorg’s buttonholes, so I will dwell on those a bit more. For Lucy Neatby’s technique however I have a video further below.

In broad terms, Anna Zilboorg’s “perfect buttonhole” technique consists in knitting the stitches where the buttonhole will be with waste yarn, slipping them back and knitting them over, then picking up stitches above and below and knit them with the facing on the WS of the button band. This is for horizontal buttonholes, assuming that you are working them on a button band. The button band will be worked for twice its width, then folded over, so that half of the right side will become the facing on the wrong side.

It goes as follows:

  • Setup. Work as many rows as you need for half of the height of the button band (e.g. if the button band is 10 rows wide, work 5 rows). For each buttonhole:
    1. work up to where you want your buttonhole to be (e.g. work 10 Sts before each buttonhole);
    2. work the width of the buttonhole (one, two, three or how many stitches you need) with waste yarn
    3. slip the stitches worked with the waste yarn back onto the left needle and work them with your main yarn.

Repeat the setup for each buttonhole. Next work twice as many rows as those worked before the buttonholes (e.g. if you had worked 5, now work ten) + one (this is for the folding). Next:

  • Creating buttonholes.
    1. work up to where the button hole will be (e.g. work 10 stitches);
    2. work the width of the buttonhole (one, two, three or how many stitches you need) with waste yarn
    3. slip the stitches worked with the waste yarn back onto the left needle and work them with your main yarn.

The above cannot substitute for the twenty minutes video with the creator of this technique, which I bought from Interweave here (a preview is here).

Neatby’s magic buttonhole was first introduce into her Finesse your knitting 1 DVD – there is also a pdf explaining the technique here and an 11 minute video here:

Lucy Neatby’s magic buttonhole

I will try this in my next buttoned project, I am eying a summer top which may just be perfect for it!

Vertically stranded colour work

I chanced upon this method while preparing to knit Linda Marveng’s Cambridge Cardigan – it is a beautiful oversize cardigan with a plaid motif. The pattern recommends crocheting the vertical strands – as a pretty poor executor of duplicate stitch, however, I knew this wouldn’t work that well for me. True, the duplicate stitch would add a texture that stranded work, whereas horizontal or vertical, does not have, but still I thought this would be a small price to pay considering the alternative (by which read “botched job”).

So I bought Lorilee Beltmann’s DVD and I think it is worth every penny – beside working very well for this kind of pattern, it opens up loads of possibilities to add interesting colour work to any pattern.

Swatch for my version of Linda Marveng’s Cambridge Cardigan, with the variant of using vertical stranding instead of duplicate stitch.

Below is a summary of how it works, taken from Lorilee Beltmann’s website

Need: a foot of yarn for each inch of vertical colourwork

Contrary to standard stranded work, you keep main colour in the left, and contrast colour in the right hand (or anyhow MC to the left of CC).Vertical stacks start at minute 20:15 of DVD.

For column stitches, you knit them in the back loop.

For stitches moving to the right, you knit through the back loop.

For stitches moving to the left, you knit normally.

To go to Lorilee’s recap click here.

I find the result very neat – the advantage is also that the vertical strands trap long floats at the back, should you have any:

Standard stranded colour work and vertically stranded colourwork, the Wrong Side