Weaving a Plaid (Not a Tartan)
This post originally appeared on one of my other sites Jens Dabbles in July 2013:
Having finished my first weaving project (a patchwork TV blanket using a cardboard loom), weaving a twill was the next step. My love of Scotland comes from many places, but mostly my grandfather’s heritage and a love of Diana Gabaldon’s books.
I spent a bit of time researching twills and tartans on the web, but my greatest discovery was that while a tartan is a plaid, a plaid is not necessarily a tartan. Well that’s clear, isn’t it! According to ‘The Sett and Weaving of Tartans’ by Mary E. Black a tartan is a registered pattern, specific to a clan or sept and strictly woven in a 2-2 twill, whereas a plaid may be woven in a plain or twill weave in any design desired.
I had picked out a group of yarns at the craft shop that I liked without a specific project in mind, but once the notion of tartans popped into my mind there was no going back. I came across an on-line tartan designing program on the ScotWeb Tartan Mill website and had a play with the colours I had – here was the result:
I noted down the number of threads in each colour and set about rigging up my new picture frame loom with the weft design. There were MANY false starts – five in total I think. My first mistake was not having enough wefts – it wasn’t dense enough and the twill pattern didn’t show clearly. I tried a 1-1 simple weave, a 2-1 twill and the final 2-2 twill. I doubled the warps and then finally quadrupled the warps. So in the end I had 200 odd warp threads on my 50-nail loom. It was laborious! Hand threading (with my long upholstery needle) two-up-two-down took forever! (Actually, I just looked at the date stamps on the photos and it only took two weeks!) Anyway, here is the process and the result.