This is the second time we will tackle twill. In a previous weave-along, we explored how to pick-up any twill in front of the heddle to create borders. In this version, the School Patrons voted to weave the Tweed and Twill Pillow Cover from Handwoven Home. This oversized pillow was designed for serious lounging. The fabric is a 1/3 twill woven with two heddles in a hearty wool to create a classic tweed fabric for a pillow cover. I’ll offer some adaptations for using a single heddle, which is best used to weave a narrower version of the project. It is highly adaptable in width, length, and sett. The finishing on this fabric highlights two of my personal loves about the woven form—decorative seams and showy fringe. A bonus with this finishing approach is the majority of your selvedges are going to be encased in decorative stitching, so you don’t have to worry that much about making them tidy. The wrapped fringe makes the finish smoother than knotting.
Here is the who, what, when, and where info to date:
This weave-along is designed for an advanced beginner. I assume that you have already woven a few projects, can warp your loom without assistance, have a basic understanding of weaving terminology, and are ready for a challenge.
Tweed and Twill Pillow Cover from Handwoven Home. You will need the book to refer to the full pattern. Available in softcover or as a Kindle edition (affiliate link). (The education portion of the weave-along is totally free, but my publisher would frown on me if I posted the pattern.)
As written, you need a rigid-heddle loom with at least a 23” weaving width, two 5-dent rigid-heddle reeds, 2 stick shuttles, a pick-up stick at least 25’’ long, preferably over 1” wide. Optional: 25” rod or stick. Single heddle option will use a single 5-dent rigid-heddle, 2 heddle rods, 2 shuttles, and a pick-up stick. The single heddle version is recommended for narrower widths.
Note: This pattern is adaptable to your available weaving width and heddle options. I’ll have tips during registration week about yarn selection, heddle size, and project adaptations. I personally find the 5-dent heddles very versatile, and they provide a beginner-friendly way to get started using two heddles because you can really see the interlacement and the fabric works up quickly. We used the same set-up for the Hudson Bay Inspired Throw Weave-Along if you have a big throw on your project list.
The original pattern uses Fancy Tiger Crafts Heirloom Romney, a breed-specific wool from a shop and producer I greatly respect. Since I wrote Handwoven Home, I’ve re-discovered a yarn that I’ve long had my eye on using in a project. I’m working with Gist Yarn & Fiber and Mountain Meadow Wool to create yarn bundles for this class. If you are interested in being notified when we have the details, click here. Mountain Meadow Wool makes this yarn in small batches, so we are offering the bundles for pre-sale and the mill will ready the orders in advance of the weave-along registration. There is a limited supply so if you are interested you will want to order once it is available. Patrons will receive a small discount of the large bundle; check out this post for details.
Let me me tell you a little bit about this yarn and how I’ve come to love it. This yarn is made from a Suffolk wool, a down breed that has low luster, good crimp, and doesn’t felt easily. It is often sold into the wool pool and ends up in a lot of the generic “wool” yarns you purchace. The strength, bounce, and character of the wool is carried through into this yarn. It will give you that classic tweedy look, but also provide you a soft hand. Despite its short staple length, the yarn is spun worsted creating a smooth, strong yarn, yet slightly textured yarn that will hold up well to two heddles in a dense warp.
As mentioned previously, many ranchers don’t harvest the wool for breed-specific use, but rather sell it in into the wool pool if they sell it at all. Lisa Keeler and her business partner, Erasmo Garcia, however create a beautiful Suffolk fleece that Mountain Meadow Wool mill turns into gorgeous yarn and hand dyes as a semi-solid. You may find the occasional bit of veggie matter in the yarn. It survived skirting, scouring, picking, carding, spinning, and dyeing, so it is both very clean and a sign that the yarn isn’t over processed, stripping it of some of its life. To read more about this yarn and a short interview with the ranchers, check out this Gist Journal entry. (Five years ago, I worked with Mountain Meadow to create a few videos highlighting their story and the ranches they serve. You can see the video of their general story here and you might recognize the voice of the narrator;)
If you are interested in exploring breed specific wools between now and when the weave-along starts, I highly recommend Deborah Robson’s Know Your Wool. It is a free class available from Bluprint, formerly known as Crafty. I was Deborah’s producer for this class and I’ll always remember her calling my attention to Suffolk. It has been called nature’s superwash because it is really stable and doesn’t felt easily. Some Suffolk can go through the washing machine with little wear and tear. I machine washed a sample on the gentle cycle in cold and it changed very little.
If you are participating in Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em a number of the breeds would weave up well in this project.
Large pillow as written is 21.5 x 21.5 inch pillow with an 8” flap, you will need 520 yds (475 m) in green for warp and 285 yds (261 m) in yellow for weft of a 2-ply bulky-weight or heavy worsted wool, 800 yds (732 m)/lb.
For those who only have 15-inch looms, you could weave a small 12 x 12 inch version using approximately 230 yds warp and 90 yds weft.
In general, weaving with two heddles creates a bit more loom waste than a single heddle. The pattern allows for 24” of loom waste, some of which is used for the fringe. If this is your first time working with two heddles, you may want to add additional warp length to give your self a bit of cushion. Also the Suffolk yarn I’m recommending has more bounce than the Romney yarn used in the pattern. You will want to add about 10% more to the warp length to account for a 5% increase in take up. The yarn bundle takes this length into account. I’ll go over this in more detail during registration week.
Along with learning the basics of warping and weaving with 2 heddles, we will talk about what makes a tweed a tweed, a twill a twill, and a little bit about weave structures and what you get when you jump to two heddles. Also covered is a nifty visible seam and some fancy fringe work.
Additional Resources: Twice as Nice: Weaving With Two Heddles on a Rigid-Heddle Loom
January 29: Registration link available, welcome information, tips on selecting yarns and modifying the pattern.
February 5: Warp
February 12: Weave
February 19: Finishing
February 26: Show and Share!
I host the weave-alongs for free at the Yarnworker School of Weaving, a community-funded, virtual classroom for rigid-heddle weavers. For more information about the Yarnworker Weave-Alongs and School, check out this FAQ.
A big shout out to all the Patrons who keep these weave-alongs going.