Tutorial – Supplementary Weft Patterning

SUPPLEMENTARY WEFT PATTERNS-the tutorial.

A motif inspired by a Central Asian design and woven with a supplementary weft

A design inspired by weavings of the Huni Kuin people of tropical Brazil

You may remember these designs from a previous post on supplementary weft patterning. Now I am happy to present the promised tutorial on supplementary weft patterning together with a tiny project idea-key fobs.

This technique definitely falls into the category of those which are within the reach of beginners. We weave a simple plain weave band and then ”paint” in some motifs with an additonal weft.

To weave bands decorated with patterns made with a supplementary weft, I start off with a warp prepared for plain warp faced weave. For this tutorial, I have used strong primary colors which show up well in photos. My yarn is 24 wpi mercerized crochet cotton. The blue base, seen below,  has a pale yellow stripe next to each edge. As I used my mini portable warping board, I have  just enough warp to make two key fobs. Instead of a shed rod I am using a simple shed loop and I have put the end loops on a needle to have a smooth rather than fringed start.

You can see more about the needle start in this previous post.

A warp prepared for plain weave. There are two sheds-the heddle shed and the shed loop shed.

Enough plain weave has been woven to be passed through the key ring, folded and sewn. Now I can begin the pattern.

We introduce the color of our choice as the supplementary weft with which to make our patterns. I am using doubled strands of embroidery floss which work really well with the 24wpi plain weave base. The supplementary weft always needs to be a lot thicker than the main weft. Embroidery floss is thick, lies flat and gives good coverage. Looking at the photos below, you will see the difference in width between the blue warp and weft threads and the yellow supplementary weft.  The blue weft will continue to form the structure of the plain weave while the yellow independently forms the motifs.

THE PATTERN CHART (All the pattern charts for these projects can be seen here)

Pattern chart for supplementary weft patterning

You may recognize this diamond chart from my double weave projects.

For supplementary weft patterning, we need to look at the chart in a slightly different way. In double weave the yellow spots would indicate the warps that need to be picked.

However, in this technique the yellow spots within the diamonds represent each warp that needs to be dropped in order to expose the supplementary weft.

Now let’s see this in action……..

WEAVING

Dropping the warps in the first row of pattern.

I have opened the heddle shed and placed my beater within and I am using a pointed stick to help select and drop my warps. Reading the pattern chart from right to left and starting at the bottom, I see that I need to keep the first six warps, then drop one, keep one, drop two, keep one, drop three and so on across the row.

Passing the supplementary weft through the shed from left to right. I am separating the warps to show the starting tail which is left hanging out under the weaving and which can be trimmed when the band is finished. You can see that I am laying in the supplementary weft only from one yellow edge stripe to the other rather than all the way across the band.

Passing the main weft from left to right under all the warps in the open heddle shed. This completes the first row. You could also pass the main weft FIRST and then drop the warps and pass the supplementary weft. In fact, that is probably a more logical way to do it. It doesn't matter which way you do it. Choose the way you prefer and then try to be consistent.

I have opened the shed loop shed , placed my beater within and beaten. Now I am dropping the warps in the shed loop shed according to the second row of the pattern chart again counting the warps from right to left-keep six, drop two, keep one, drop two and so on.

Again, the yellow supplementary weft is passing from the edge of one stripe to the other turning on the surface of the weave. I am laying in the weft loosely and pushing it into place with the pointed stick .

After passing the main weft from right to left under all the warps in the open shed loop shed, I open the heddle shed, place the beater within and beat, ready to do row three.

I am finishing the third row. You can see that the yellow weft turns on the surface of the weaving at the stripes. I don't like carrying the supplementary weft all the way to the edge as I don't like the bumpy edge that that creates. I would rather have the weft turning against the stripe and use that as a decorative feature.

One half of the motif is finished. I can continue with the same color or introduce another. The finish tail of the yellow weft will be left hanging out the back of the weaving. If you have packed your wefts in firmly, you will be able to safely snip the tail off when you finish the band.

On this Central Asian design that I made you can see that the turning wefts on the left form their own decorative ''stripe' on the plain weave.

The turns of the pattern wefts in this piece virtually disappear against a stripe of the same color.

Several colors can be used for the motifs within one piece.

I have put the pattern charts for these motifs as well as the Central Asian and Huni Kuin inspired designs on a separate page. You can design and print out your own blank diamond charts here.

If you are planning your own designs, as a general rule, it is best not to have weft floats that span more than four warps. This of course will depend on how fine a yarn you are using and the purpose of the piece you are weaving. You need to consider that long floats on a key fob or bag will easily catch on things whereas on a hatband, for example, they may not be a problem. You should also take in account the fact that floats over a single warp, for example the points of the triangles in my sample design here,  can barely be seen. Try to have your weft floating over a minimum of two warps.

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I finished the motif in another bright photogenic color and have turned the loom around to weave another key fob on the other end. You can see that the design does not show on the back of the band.

Below are some more key fobs that I have made in a variety of techniques and yarns ranging from 12 wpi mercerized cotton to doubled sewing thread. I weave a few now and then to add to the collection and have them handy as gifts for my friends here, or back in Australia or for other travelers I meet on the road in South America. Some are finished and some are yet to be braided and sewn.

Two can be made on one warp. First I weave one and then I move the shed loop to the other side of the heddles, turn the loom around, pass a needle through the end loops and start weaving from the other end. I cut between the two small weavings when I have finished and then braid the ends or leave them as fringe.


If you choose to do this in finer thread, say a number 10 crochet cotton (35 wpi), one and a half strands of embroidery floss works well. The example at left was done this way.


Responses

  1. I’m going to try this today….it looks so interesting. Thanks for all your tutorials. I have a question….I don’t know how you finish the braids on the fobs…..tie a knot??? It doesn’t look like there’s a knot in the end of each braid.
    Thanks for your help and keep posting these wonderful articles.
    Lynda

    • Hi Lynda,

      I think knots at the ends of braids on small items look cumbersome and so I paint the ends with diluted white glue and when the glue is drying I pinch the ends into points so they are not so blunt looking. The glue then prevents the braid from unravelling.


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