Weavers' Pages - Betty Lou Whaley

The structure of my 24 shaft draft is turned Bronson Lace. The pattern is somewhat asymetrical and was inspired by a quilt motif and the colors will produce iridescence. Patterns woven in traditional Bronson Lace have weft floats in the motifs surrounded by a plain- weave "background", but in this draft the floats go in two directions, ie. the back of one motif is identical with the front of another. A few years ago, when I led a Mendocino Coast Handweaver's Guild study group in Bronson Lace, I looked long and hard at this versatile structure and discovered that by manipulating the tie-ups I could produce warp floats in all the plain-weave background areas. Not having seen anything like it, I called it "damask-style" lace because it was often highly reflective, especially in fine linen - but also in merino/silk zephyr yarn. (For a while I thought I had invented something new but then I read the description of "turned spot weave" in the encyclopedia of HAND-WEAVING by my first weaving teacher, Stanley Zielinski.)

Later, when I led another study group in irridescent Bronson Lace, I thought more about this structure and realized that I could include plain- weave areas along with the areas of warp or weft floats. This draft was made during that time. Bronson Lace woven in these colors was nicely iridescent in a quiet way. Handwoven published my article EXPLORING BRONSON LACE IN THE May/June 1998 issue, pp. 75-79. Slowly I've worked out ways to draft other textures and decided that damask-style isn't a good name. I decided to call it all turned Bronson Lace. Last fall I gave a program for the Diablo Weavers Guild in Walnut Creek, CA which was called: Bronson Lace: Turned, Stretched and Iridescent. While preparing for this program, I searched through about 150 of my lace drafts, looking for different textures that I had produced in various drafts. My conclusion: it is possible to produce 12 distinct textures in Bronson Lace and more than this may be possible! Many resemble those textures commonly woven in Huck.

This image illustrate 5 of these textures (22 shafts). I'd be interested to hear (in Weavetech) if anyone has ideas on possible nomenclature for these textures.

Betty Lou Whaley (c) 1999


My draft titled "Strailc" is posted for personal use only - not for commercial use and it is not to be shared with other people. If you weave it, please send me a sample of the fabric: Betty Lou Whaley, 14101 Hilma Circle, Mendocino, CA 95460.

Download .wif file

The book that inspired this draft is: The SPECK BOOK An 18th Century Weaving Manuscript by Johann Ludwig Speck, Volumes One and Two, Transcribed & Drafted for The Modern Hand Weaver by Rebecca Emily Heil, Ginkgo Press, Freeland, WA 1994. It's available from: Rebecca Heil, 5250 Honeymoon Bay Road, Freeland, WA 98249-9712. The original manuscript is owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Rebecca's transcription is beautifully printed, a handsewn labor of love. It has surprised me that no reviews or discussions on it have appeared in print. Some of the drafts have confounded me but it is a lovely puzzle book for those interested in pattern drafting.

My damassť draft combines half-tone twill with basket weave. In this twill structure each block is written on 4 shafts (A=1,2,3,4; B=3,4,5,6; C=5,6,7,8; D=7,8,1,2) This blurs the edges of the motifs and forms half-tones just like overshot. After much head-scratching, I worked out this method of drafting it because I just couldn't understand how to use Madelyn's system to construct drafts for 24 shafts. (See her article "'Colonial' Double Weave" in Weaver's, Issue 12, 1991 and my article "HALFTONE TWILL; Four Blocks on Eight Shafts" in HANDWOVEN, Sept/Oct 1993, pp. 66-68.) Combining half-tone twill with basket weave is my idea - a result of looking at the Speck drafts and trying to figure out how he might have woven them. I have woven samples and found this damassť structure to be sound. I wove it in 10/2 & 8/2 cotton, 30 epi with various closely beaten wefts of the same grist in wool, silk, rayon. The fabric would be fine for a medium-weight jacket and it has interesting iridescence that is confined to the blocks, rather chameleon- like in blue-greens and gold. It was not more iridescent than plain half-tone twill - it was less iridescent.

Since half-tone twill can also be woven as double plain-weave it should also be possible to weave this draft as double plain-weave and basket weave, by changing the tie-up and colors. Will someone accept the challenge and make such a draft and post it?