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Dec 14

Exploring Rosepath on 8 Shafts

I love patterns in weaving and I especially am captivated by rosepath, a member of the twill family of weave structures. Like only weavers can understand, I get a kick out of threading up a loom and exploring patterns by changing the tie-up and treadling for many different variations. This may all seem obvious, but I find that weavers often forget that many patterns can be woven on the same threading by just changing the tie-up and treadling.

Rosepath is a point twill broken by a thread at the turning point. It is a favorite of mine because it can be so incredibly versatile—so thread up your loom with a long warp and play, play, play. Note: rosepath can be woven on 4 shafts as well, but the advantage to threading rosepath on eight shafts, is that you have so many more possibilities. If you just have four shafts, check out Marguerite Porter Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book. It is now out of print, so if it’s not already in your weaving library, look on-line for a used book with the original (green) cover.

Here is a comparison of regular point twill and a rosepath threading:

Point Twill Threading

Rosepath Threading

It is the thread on shaft 1 between the ascending and descending threads, that’s the charm of rosepath.

You can find patterns in books and use them as is or you can also use them as a jumping off place for variations by messing around with the pattern on a drafting program. This is a great way to check out ideas before weaving them—saves time and expands your ideas. For example, what happens if you lift 1456 instead of 1568? You can quickly find out by plugging that into a drafting program as well as many other variations. Here in the office we use Fiberworks (which we hear will soon have an update).

For this project we used the many delightful patterns designed by Sally Nielsen beginning on page 30 in A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns by Carol Strickler (see our story below about this remarkable book).

The impetus for this project was warping our new Wolf Pup 8.10 for the Vav Conference in Sweden which Barry and I attended last summer in Vaxjo, Sweden. I wanted something fresh that had a Scandinavian look. These rosepath patterns were just the ticket. For the warp we used 10/2 pearl cotton in dark purple and 8/2 cotton in grape for weft. The pattern weft is Finullgarn from Limmo Design in earthy shades. We sett the warp at 18 epi and used floating selvedges. (A floating selvedge is a thread at either selvedge that is not threaded in a heddle. It floats between the threads that are raised and the ones that are stationary or lowered. It is used when you are weaving a pattern where your edge thread is not caught every row. When entering the shed, place the shuttle over the floating selvedge, when exiting the shed, go under the floating selvedge. After a while it becomes automatic.)

Rosepath can be woven with or without a tabby weft. (Tabby is alternating plain weave rows between pattern rows.) The times you want to use tabby are when you are weaving a supplementary pattern that might have longer floats or repeating rows. The tabby background keeps the fabric stable. The pattern weft floats on top of the background and provides all of the excitement. (If you are having trouble visualizing this, think of overshot or summer and winter.)

When you look up Sally Nielsen’s drafts, you’ll find that sometimes patterns will take more treadles than will be available on your loom. What to do? One possibility is to alter the pattern somewhat in a drafting program to fit the available treadles. The other is to use a great free tool, Tim’s Treadle Reducer: You just type in your tie-up and treadling and it’ll convert it to your available treadles. That’s what expert weaver Betty Paepke (our Schacht shipping clerk) did to weave the patterns shown here.

We used two shuttles, one for the tabby and the other for the pattern weft. We wound separate bobbins for each of the pattern colors, as well as the blue and orange plain weave stripes between each of the pattern rows. We beat the pattern to square for a balanced weave.

Here we’ve used different pattern motifs, but you could just repeat a single motif for an allover design. These rosepath designs would also make wonderful borders on runners or napkins. You’ll find many other uses as well. Happy weaving!

The story of A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns by Carol Strickler

In 1988, when I was working as an editor at Interweave Press, I had an idea that there really should be a pattern book for eight shafts, similar to Marguerite Porter Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book.

Perhaps, I thought, we could do like Ms. Davison did, elicit the help of our weaver friends to weave the samples for the book. We tested the waters by publishing a call for samples in Handwoven magazine. The response was overwhelming with a total 266 weavers submitting swatches!

The job for curating the collection fell to Carol Strickler, who at the time was my technical editor for Handwoven. Carol was a perfect choice. Unlike me she could weave a draft in her head. As my technical editor she was invaluable—able to immediately spot an error in a draft just by studying it.

Carol in turn called upon her friend Ardis Dobrovolny to help her sort and review the samples on an almost daily basis. And finally, many local weavers wove samples to fill the missing holes in the swatches that had been submitted.


Countless hours were spent in creating the drafts for the book using a very primitive program—all done by Yezhen Li (Yezhen, a master weaver in China, contacted us at Interweave inquiring about an internship with us—little did she know what she was getting into—all the way from China to check and make drafts for the book), not to mention all of the production staff, photography, and handling of hundreds of samples.

If all of this wasn’t remarkable enough, the behind-the-scene heroics that made this book happen was a miracle of sorts. For, almost immediately after having accepted the job to help create the book, Carol learned that she had ovarian cancer. She battled the disease throughout the entire process, only succumbing shortly after the book was published.

This is not as depressing as it seems. A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns was the pinnacle publication for a weaver who dreamed in weave structures and loved to figure stuff out. Carol’s passion to make the book a reality gave her hope and purpose at a time that was most difficult indeed.

I have written about this before, but the aid and love Carol received from her fellow Handweaver’s Guild of Boulder members made me deeply appreciate them myself. I would never have known how goodhearted and generous this group of weavers was had it not been for this project. To me, it was the truest meaning of community and in no small way contributed to the completion of this gigantic project. So, every time I use the A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns I’m reminded of Carol and the scores of the friends of Handwoven who made an idea a reality.