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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Evolution of Lace Weaves by Frances Schultz

Please note that this document is supplied by our Guild member Frances Schultz and is copyright to her. This document should not be used without Frances Schultz's permission. Thank you for sharing this Frances.


Basket Weave
There are interesting connections to be found between the various lace weaves. One can look at a progression of complexity developing through the different structures. Lace weaves are weave structures which open up from plain weave, i.e. the structures produce some kind of openings in the web. They progress in the following order.

1. Basket weave is the simplest. It is created by having groups of warp floats alternating with groups of weft floats. A weft float is stopped by the immediately following warp float. This is the only way that the floats in either direction are stopped. Note that there are several adjacent warp threads and weft threads with nothing separating them. Note that there is a limit to how many threads you can repeat on a shaft. Moving to the next shaft changes from weft to warp floats and stabilizes the fabric.

Canvas Weave
2. Canvas weave is a simple extension of a 4 thread basket weave. It is the basic structure of aida cloth for needle-point embroidery. There are two key features of the structure - it still has opposing warp floats and weft floats, but is it is made more stable by the addition of plain weave on each side of the floats. Also, because plain weave doesn’t beat in as closely, there are obvious ‘needle’ holes at the intersection pounts. There are pairs of adjacent warp threads and weft threads with nothing separating them, but unlike basket weave, the plain weave threads on each side confine them. Plain weave threading can be added on each side, or between blocks (if you wanted) by using shafts 1 and 4. Again, you can not repeat the threading unit without alternating with the second block unit.

3. Huck lace is an extension of canvas weave. Separate the pairs of adjacent warp or weft pairs and insert a plain weave weft and a plain weave warp. This creates even more stability in the weave structure. This is illustrated with a five thread huck, but a seven or nine thread huck just has more plain weave warp and weft inserts. Also look at the tie-ups. They both use the same tie-up to weave lace. Notice that now a threading unit has five threads in it while canvas weave only has four. Also notice that the treadling is identical in a repeat except for an added plain weave shot in the middle. Plain weave areas can be threaded on shafts 1 and 4. They can separate units ( then you’d get a spot) or surround areas of lace. The second draw down shows huck spots with plain weave in the alternate block. Again, you cannot repeat the threading unit more than once. The second block unit adds a stop to the float length. The plain weave area is exactly the same size as the lace block. Also characteristic of huck is that the plain weave areas spread out into the lace areas creating circles of plain weave when washed.

  1. Alternating Units of Lace
    Warp and Weft Float Lace
    Swedish lace is based on the huck base threading, but by adding one more thread in the warp (and weft), floats can now be tied down so that repeats of the same block are possible. Notice that the only change was in the insertion of an opposite tabby shot that allowed the treadling of a lace block to be repeated. Notice again that the plain weave area is the same size as the block, and that the floats of one block are cut off by the first warp thread in the new block. Also note that the extra tabby shot is only used to repeat the weaving of a block, but not used when moving to the next block treadling. The second sample shows that instead of alternating units of lace as in huck lace, now blocks of warp and weft float lace can be woven together. This is however the only way all lace can be woven in Swedish lace. Because of the plain weave threads between repeats in a block, these visually stay straight , and form window panes, while the floats move together and open up spaces or panes.

5.  Bronson lace is a true unit weave lace, but is still based on the huck idea. This time, a single unit is ALWAYS six threads. In huck and in Swedish lace, the first lace unit uses shaft 1 as the base (threading 12121) and the second uses shaft 4 (threading 43434). Swedish lace is able to be repeated because the base of one lace unit is used as a tie-down for the other so that a lace unit can be repeated, i.e. 12121 4 or 43434 1. That extra warp thread that acts as a tie down, stopping the weft float, is key. Bronson lace is developed to use this idea with a few changes. The first change is that ALL Bronson lace blocks use the same shaft for the base, and the same shaft for the tie-down. Shaft 1 is traditionally the base for all blocks, and shaft 2 is the tie-down shaft. Block A would be threaded 13131 2, and can be repeated as many times as wished. Block B would be 14141 2. Again repeatable. Key strucure feature is again the window pane between repeats in a block. The result? Bronson looks identical to Swedish lace except for two things. At the change from one block to the next, instead of the tie-down of one block being the first thread of the second block, there is a complete tabby warp that ties down the floats of one block and ties down the start of the next block, as well as a tabby weft shot that does the same. The other difference is that all-over lace in Bronson is all weft faced because the blocks can be combined by only lifting shaft 2 which is the tie-down shaft.

6.  Spot Bronson looks similar to a huck spot, but unlike a huck spot, which consists of 5 warp threads, spot Bronson only has 4 warp threads. Because it always has plain weave beside it , it looks complete, but is actually sharing with the next block. The other difference is that the same shaft is used for the base of all blocks, i.e. shaft 1. Because of this, there are 3 shafts available for blocks., hence 3 blocks are possible on only 4 shafts. Threadings are 1212, 1313, 1414. Like Bronson lace, spot Bronson has half of the warp threads on shaft 1.

While they are all related, each structure has its own characteristics that can be used to your advantage to get different or similar effects. One obvious thing to notice is that certainly the Bronson weaves are much easier on a jack loom than on a counter-balance. On the other hand, Swedish lace gives much the same effect and works on a counter-balance. By looking at the tie-ups, you can see that several of these structures can be combined for more complex effects in one piece of weaving.

Copyright Frances Schultz

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