I’m going to make a wide scarf with 8 ends of dark warp and 8 ends of light warp to weave stripes, checks, pinwheels, etc.  I have a supply of Jaggerspun 8/2 wool that I will weave at 12.5epi.

I love the colors of tweeds. Tweeds have complex colors, partially from using heather yarns and most of the Jaggerspun yarns I have are heathers.   I have studied the book, Scottish Estate Tweeds, and what I have learned from looking at the pictures of the cloth is that although the structure of the cloths are simple, plain weave or 2/2 twill, it is their use of color is very sophisticated.  There are check and plaids.  But even a simple check of 4 ends light and four ends dark can be made more complex by using one light color in the warp and another in the weft.


When I  look carefully at this simple 3 thread check, I see that the lighter color in the warp, tan, is replaced by yellow in the weft.   Likewise the navy in the warp is bright blue in the weft and so on.

So to emulate this style  I am looking for two light colors, with nearly the same value and two darks with similar values.  I want it to have a spring mood so not too dark all over.  The challenge here is to get enough contrast between the light and medium colors that you can see the light and dark stripes.

I picked out some colors from my stash and to see if there is enough contrast I wrap them around a stiff cardboard, trying to cover the cardboard completely so its color doesn’t influence my choice.

five colors wrapped

five colors wrapped

I started at the left and wrapped the colors dark, light , dark, light, dark.  At this point I decided to eliminate the light blue and look for a color to go with the yellow. I found the light beige and wrapped it then the other dark color so that I can see both dark colors adjacent to both lights.  This looks like it might work. But before I warp up the loom I want to check to see if the two lights combine and the two darks also combine in the woven cloth.

I have a 4″x6″ pin loom that I can use to test this out quickly.  The pin loom has a fixed sett, and that is fine because I feel confident about the sett I will use.  So I wrap 4 ends dark, 4 end light on the 1st layer, then change the light and dark for the 2nd layer, etc. to weave checks.  Checks have the light, dark and half -tone areas, in fact there will be two different half-tone areas and they need to have a very similar value to make the checks read well.


There are lots of knots at the edges because of many color changes.  Here under tension the cloth looks very open. There are 8 threads per inch in both directions.  The colors look like they are blending together to make mysterious complex colors.  The color theme is yellow and lavender, nice for spring.

Removing the cloth from the loom releases the tension but the cloth is still very open.  This yarn blooms nicely when washed so into the water.


Just off the loom

I washed it in luke warm water, by hand with Orvus paste.


gently washed cloth

The yarn has bloomed , the warp and weft have melded.  The cloth is delicate and supple, which I like.  I measured the washed cloth at 10epi.  Should I weave it this open for a light delicate supple cloth?  No, I think I stick to my original plan of 12.5 epi because I want to put in some 4 end floats  in some places and reducing the number of intersections in the cloth and it might just be too open for that.  If I were going to weave the whole scarf in plain weave I would not hesitate to weave it at 8epi for a lovely, light cloth.


Linton Tweeds

28 December 2013

Quechquemitl4.final detailI do love tweeds. My last hand woven piece started with some hand spun yarn that I made about 3 years ago.  I purchased a mixed color fiber, called sandstone, of tussah silk and wool fiber.  I didn’t think there was enough for both warp and weft so used some coconut silk (silk noil/wool) yarn from Henry’s Attic for the warp.  Colors were tricky,the hand spun yarn could look just dirty when mixed with the certain colors, white being one.  I dyed some of of the coconut silk pink and found a tiny boucle in my stash that had the right colors (off-white, light pink and baby blue).  The cloth worked out well, I think,  in winter pastel colors.

I wanted a Chanel type edging and that proved to be a little more of a challenge.  I ended up with a silver grey hand crocheted braid ( tube, would be a more accurate description)  and a dense boucle made from the left over hand spun yarn that was used as the weft and silk sewing thread.  

The current issue of Threads magazine has an article about Linton , a manufacture of tweeds. If that is not enough, you can go to their on line store to see more fabrics and yarns. The yarns are quite inspiring!  Spinners beware.

I love tweeds.

10 June 2011

What exactly is a tweed?

That is a hard question, not even the origin of the word is clear.  Tweed, the word, could have come from the Tweed River in the Border lands of Scotland or it could be a corruption of the Scots word for twill, tweel. Yet I’m sure that the word tweed conjured up an image in your mind.  My image is woolen, multicolored, a rather rustic fabric.

Hard to define yet I could find a tweed jacket or fabric.

Harris Tweed comes to mind. Harris Tweed  is a cloth that has been handwoven by the islanders on the Isles of Harris, Lewis, Uist and Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  The earliest references I find start around the 1830’s when it was a cloth for local consumption made from the wool of local sheep.  The wool was dyed with local plants and handspun and handwoven by the local crofters.  The industrial revolution has caused the process to evolve.  First the cloth was popularized. Around the turn of the last century Harris Tweed Authority was introduced to protect the cloth that was hand-spun, hand-woven and dyed by the crofters and cottars in the Outer Hebrides and in 1909 the trademark orb was introduced. Then industrial spinning was introduced, in the name of improving quality I’m sure. Then came  a mechanical loom, human powered and is still in use today. Now the Harris Authority defines their tweed cloth as being handwoven by the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in their homes, using pure virgin wool that has been dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides. This is how it is made today:

Even if you had a different idea of handwoven the cloth is still very unique for its dyeing in the fleece and blending of many colors in the cloth.

So what have we learned about these tweeds?

  1. tweeds and twills are intimately associated
  2. tweeds origins are in Scotland
  3. tweeds are woolen
  4. tweeds are made of many colors

The use of color is spectacular! At least one current tweed has 21 different colors in it to create a subtle intriguing cloth used for a man’s jacket.

My kind of color.