The weaving technique I want to explain this month is called “Summer and Winter”.
I stumbled upon it while searching for possibilities to weave bold, graphic blocks of all kind – my obsession. If you read for example my post about Halvdräll you know how much I’m in love with block designs and always exploring new discoveries in this direction.
I experimented quite a bit with this technique for weeks, but I remember my first trials were all but easy. I found everywhere only little bits of information and had to look in several books and blogs. My first experiments were quite unsatisfying and, to be honest, complete failures.
Therefore I thought it might be a good idea to summarise my findings here in order to make your exploration more joyful from the very beginning.
Start with me “Summer and Winter” weaving right away.
The name “Summer and Winter” seems to come from the fact that classically one side of the cloth is predominantly dark while the other side is mostly light. I’ve read that in winter for example coverlets were used dark side up and then flipped over for summer to use the lighter side.
Basically, “Summer and Winter” is a block weave. This means you can create designs by building up blocks of pattern against a plain weave background cloth.
The great, great thing about “Summer and Winter”, that let stand out this technique against other blockweaves? It makes economic use of the number of shafts available, which maximizes the number of blocks you can weave.
The maximum number of pattern blocks available for your design is two less than the number of shafts available. For example, on an eight-shaft loom, you can weave up to six pattern blocks!! This is quite a lot. Twill and Double Weave for example allow only 2 blocks on 8 shafts, Huck lace 3 blocks. Therefore with 6 blocks, we’re really on the interesting side.
But there are even more fabulous things about “Summer and Winter”!
The second great particularity about “Summer and Winter” is the tie-down structure: two shafts (1+2) are set aside, with all the others used to create the pattern. The ends carried on these first two shafts ensure that the pattern floats are never longer than over three warp ends. They tie the pattern threads down and are often referred to as ‘tie-down shafts”.
This tie-down structure permits blocks to be as long as you like without any structural consequences. You can repeat these blocks furthermore as many times as desired, in any order in the threading and treadling you want and weave them alone or in any combination you like. I think this really gives a freedom of design that is incredible.
And now: let’s really go to the bone!
You’ll need two different yarn thicknesses (as for overshot), one for the warp and the tabby and one for the pattern.
Warp: fine, smooth warp
Weft: 2 wefts necessary:
a. tabby weft: same thickness as warp (can be the same yarn, but not obliged)
b. pattern weft: at least twice the diameter of the warp/tabby weft and softer yarn
Choose the pattern weft as thick that he allows the pattern to form solid blocks over a balanced plain-weave ground. I always have to experiment here a bit. If the pattern weft yarn is too thin, the blocks will be blurred.
– Blockweave = background fabric (tabby) + overlayered with thicker pattern blocks
– 2 yarns diameters = fine warp + tabby weft – thicker pattern weft
– At least 4 shafts
-Tie up: Skeleton tie-up
-Treadling: One pick tabby – one pick pattern
-Sett: plain weave
–Tabby: 1.2 – against all other pattern shafts
2 Sett/ Density
Use a set suitable for plain weave. Floating selvedges are recommended.
Block A = 1-3-2-3Block B = 1-4-2-4Block C = 1-5-2-5Block D = 1-6-2-6Block E = 1-7-2-7Block F = 1-8-2-8
Attention: The treading units always follow this same sequence 1, X, 2, X and do not reverse when the block direction reverses.
The way you assemble these pattern blocks will create your design.
Often the pattern draft is not written out with all shafts, but it’s shortened in something called a “profile draft”.
In a profile draft, design blocks are represented by a single square. This abstracts the design, it’s shorter to write out and permits furthermore to translate several different weave structures into a possible block design.
Below the profile draft of the threading scheme above:
Though “Summer and Winter” stand out for his economic use of shafts, you can’t really say the same for his treadles consommtion.
Each block needs in fact two treadles: one lifts shaft 1 plus all of the block pattern shafts, and the other lifts shaft 2 plus the same pattern shafts.
This means for 2 blocks you need 4 treadles + 2 treadles for the tabby = 6 treadles.
For 6 blocks you would need 14 treadles!! Impossible for most of us.
The usual solution to avoid this “treadle inflation” is to use a skeleton tie-up.
A skeleton tie-up can mean two things:
- You can tie up each pattern shaft to its own treadle. On a 4 shaft loom no problem, but on an 8 shaft loom, this means you will need perhaps to push down 5 treadles at the same time…
- Another way: You can separate the tie-downs treadles from the pattern treadles
Below an example. The original tie-up for this 8 shaft pattern would need 12 treadles. By separating the tie-down shafts from the pattern shafts you can do it with 8 treadles! You need only to treadle the desired pattern shafts plus the appropriate tie-down shaft at once.
Basically the treadling follows the rule =
One pattern pick – one tabby pick
But to create a block you need in fact always at least 8 picks, see the scheme below:
8-pick sequence of four pattern shots each followed by a tabby shoot, with tabbies used alternately.
Pick 1: Pattern: Tie-down + Patternshaft
Pick 2: Tabby: shafts 1,2
Pick 3: Pattern: Tie-down + Patternshaft
Pick 4: Tabby: shafts 3,4,…
Pick 5: Pattern: Tie-down + Patternshaft
Pick 6: Tabby: shafts 1,2
Pick 7: Pattern: Tie-down shaft + Patternshaft
Pick 8: Tabby: 3,4,….
1.Tabby – 2. Tie-down shaft + 3. pattern shaft ( 2+3= pattern)
A three-component process and especially the fact that the pattern block is always composed of a tie-down shaft + a pattern shaft was the most difficult part in “Summer and Winter” for me to understand.
Now a short explication of these three components:
1.Tabby: The sheds for the tabby are 1,2 versus all the pattern shafts.
- In a four-shaft design that would be 1,2 versus 3,4 for example.
- In an eight shaft design 1,2 versus 3,4,5,6,7,8.
To weave the pattern pick, you need first to decide about the way you want to use the tie-down shafts. There are 4 different ways:
- Singles/Alternating/Bricks: 1, 2, 1, 2
- Pairs “X”: 2, 1, 1, 2
- Pairs “O”: 1, 2, 2, 1
- Dukagang/Columns: 1, 1, 1, 1 or 2, 2, 2, 2
These 4 different uses of the tie-down shafts don’t change the overall block design itself but influence the “appearance” of this design quite a lot.
I show below the same block with the same pattern shafts but treadled with different tie-down shafts:
Singles/Alternating/Bricks: lifts the tie-down alternately 1, 2, 1, 2.
Blocks are more squared off, the texture is that of small bricks:
Pairs treadlings “O”: lifts the tie-down in 1,2,2,1 sequence
Edges of the blocks have a rounded shape like the letter ‘O’:
Pairs treadlings “X”: lifts the tie-down in 2, 1, 1, 2 sequence
Edges of the blocks have the shape of the letter ‘X’:
Dukagang treadling: lifts always the same tie-down shaft, either 1, 1, 1, 1 or 2, 2, 2, 2,
This causes vertical lines or columns in the pattern areas:
3. Pattern shaft:
After you’ve chosen which “style” you want to weave your “Summer and Winter” and accordingly decided in which way to use your tie-down shafts 1 and 2, you now need to add one or several pattern shafts (3-8) to your tie-down in order to weave the pattern itself. Which shafts to use depends naturally on your block design himself.
A little hint here: on a raising 4 shaft loom when you raise the shaft 3 + tie-down you’ll weave the block B (see above), when you raise the shaft 4+ tie-down you’ll weave the block A.
On an 8 shaft loom, you can naturally raise every pattern shaft separately but you can also combine these pattern shafts among each other. This increase, even more, the number of possible blocks.
But -still not enough – you can also raise no pattern shaft at all but only use the tie-down shaft, or raise all pattern shafts together with the tie-down. These two ways of treadling are called to weave “all blocks” or to weave “no blocks”. We often forget about these two, try them out and see what happens! I think you now really have enough input to explore and play around, “Summer and Winter” is really great for this.
To change the pattern in “Summer and Winter” you only need to repeat the units in threading and treadling more or fewer times or arrange them in different ways. It’s quite easy to play around and possibilities are nearly endless.
But there are also two more ways to extend furthermore this list around “Summer and Winter” I explored recently:
- Polychrome “Summer and Winter”
1.“Polychrome Summer and Winter”:
In this variant, more than one colour is used to weave the pattern areas.
One colour is used for one block, another colour is used for another block and then only the tabby is thrown.
The shuttle sequence becomes – pattern A thread, pattern B thread, tabby – making the treadling sequence twelve picks to complete the block.
The effect is to make certain motifs stand out even more by using different colours. This technique requires either a wider set or finer pattern wefts than normal to keep a balanced design.
You can even add a third pattern colour, then the pattern C weft is woven after pattern B each time bringing the total number of picks to complete a block to sixteen.
I show you below one of my trials I love a lot. I worked with three colours here:
Another “derivate” of “Summer and Winter” is Taqueté. It’s a weft-faced weave based on the same threading as “Summer and Winter” but without using a tabby weft. It uses at least two pattern wefts that have the same thickness: one for the design and one for the background.
The background pattern weft is woven instead of a tabby. Since the tabby weft is no longer present to hold the fabric together, the design and background wefts must alternate, which means that the treadling is very different from a “Summer and Winter” treadling.
The great thing about Taqueté is that you don’t have the typical halftones of classical “Summer and Winter” weave, but in contrary, you can really produce neat, bold blocks.
But, on the other side of the coin, as a weft-faced technique, it produces much thicker and stiffer fabric than traditional “Summer and Winter”. Perfect for rugs, perhaps furniture fabrics, but certainly not for a shawl or clothing….nothing is perfect!
As a rug weaver, I will surely explore this technique in the near future much more and write a separate blog post about it. But I want to show you already below some of my experimentations so you can see the potential of this weave structure:
At end of this rather technical blog post, I hope you can now say: “Summer and Winter ” weaving right away! I’m coming!
Otherwise don’t hesitate to leave a comment or ask a question below or on my Instagram account. I’m always so happy to speak about weaving and helping out. I want to make your “Summer and Winter” explorations the most enjoyable possible!