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Give it a Twist: Doup Leno

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For the past eight months I have been experimenting with bead and doup leno.

In these weave structures, you add an element (either a bead or a doup, a string loop) to the loom's shafts which enables you to twist two or more warp threads around each other while weaving.

For the past eight months I have been experimenting with bead and doup leno.

In these weave structures, you add an element (either a bead or a doup, a string loop) to the loom's shafts which enables you to twist two or more warp threads around each other while weaving.

This twist makes it possible to weave open fabrics that are stable.

Other benefits are that you can use relatively fewer warp ends than a traditionally interlaced textile and, in some cases, create a stretchable fabric.

Although bead leno is easier to set up, I prefer the shed in doup leno. On some looms, the shed in bead leno is workable, but it’s never that big. Below is a photo of a doup-leno shed on my loom, weaving a cloth 45 inches wide.

You also have more possibilities with doup leno than with bead-leno. For example, in bead-leno you can’t weave a proper plain weave; with doup leno you can.

Warping the loom with doup leno is a bit more laborious, but once you have set it up the weaving is quicker than with bead leno.


Twist Patterns

In leno two or more threads are twisted around each other. There are many ways to set up this twist. Below are some variations.


Making the Doups

In order to weave doup leno, you must first make the doups, which are a set of yarn loops. These loops hook around warp threads and twist them during weaving.

The doups should be made of a strong durable material. I use a smooth polyester yarn one millimeter wide.

Measure the length of the doups as shown. The doup thread should be long enough to wrap around a shaft and just fit through the eye of a nearby heddle.

Do not make your doups too long, or you will not get the best possible shed.

Once you have figured out the necessary length, you will need to tie a doup for every warp thread you intend to deflect.

A jig makes it easier to quickly tie a set of doups that are all a consistent length. The easiest jig is made by simply pounding two nails into a block of wood.

Doup Tying Jig

Note: Use finishing nails or other nails with small heads so you can easily slip the doups off once tied.


Attaching the Doups

For each type of twist in your cloth, you’ll dedicate two shafts on your loom for managing the doups. One shaft holds the doups and the other the empty heddles through which the doups are threaded.

Doup on the Loom


Here is what the doups look like on a threaded loom.

Notice that the doup barely clears the heddle to reach around the warp yarn.

Having doups of the proper and consistent length is important for getting a clean shed.



Project Details

A very simple and elegant shawl can be woven in doup leno on four shafts.

Note: The horizontal color changes in this scarf are done using the "clasped weft" technique in which the weft enters the shed from one direction, wraps around a second weft from a source on the other side of the loom, and then pulls the second weft into the shed. The weaver can hand-manipulate the location of the weft join to create tapestry-like effects.



  • Four-shaft loom
  • Doups
  • 10-dent reed


Three strands of 16/2 cotton held together as one thread. For one scarf, wind a warp of 300 threads, three yards long.



Note: For leno, you should use threads that are not too slippery, otherwise the leno will lose its structure.


The weft is also three strands of 16/2 cotton. Because of the clasped-weft technique (see fabric detail above), the weft is doubled in each shed, for a total of six ends of 16/2 cotton in each weft shot.


Using a 10-dent reed, sley four threads together in one dent. Then leave the next two dents empty. In the reed, it should look like this: 4-0-0-4-0-0, etc.

This gives you a sett of approximately thirteen ends per inch.

Note: I used 4-dent per cm reed, which is equivalent to a 10-dent per inch reed.



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Your warp should be about 23 inches wide in the reed. After finishing, the shawl is ten inches wide.

Weave Structure

Four-shaft doup leno.



The following diagram shows how to thread the heddles and the doups. The green squares indicate where the doups are tied onto shaft two.

The warp threads are threaded onto shafts three and four. Shaft one holds the empty heddles that the doups are threaded through. The doups are tied onto shaft two.



In doup leno, I call the warp threads on shaft four the "sleeping threads." They don’t move.

When you lift shafts one and two, the warp threads on shaft three twist under the sleeping threads of shaft four as shown in the picture below.

After that, you lift shafts two and three and the warp threads on shaft three resume their normal position.

Note: While weaving, always lift shaft two, the doup-shaft. If you don’t, your warp threads will break.

Because leno cloth has a lot of draw-in, you need a temple to keep the cloth spread during weaving. I use two paperclips and a piece of elastic band attached to the loom.


Further Exploration on Twelve Shafts

If you have a loom with more than four shafts, you can weave more complicated patterns and expand your possibilities.


I love to weave different structures on the same warp. This is possible when you play around with different twists.

Below are some possible variations.twists
The drawdown below is an example of how you can use extra shafts to combine different weave structures with doup leno, in this case, a four-shaft twill. This threading can weave the four-shaft shawl project above, but will also make it possible for you to play and experiment.12-shaft draft

aIn the draft above, if you don’t lift shafts one and three, you can weave a cloth without any twists and simply weave plain weave or twill. With enough shafts, it’s possible to make a combination of leno and tabby or any other structure.

To the right and below is an example of a shawl woven with this weave draft.



Weaving the blue-and-lavender shawl, I used two different directions of twist and thus needed four shafts (instead of two) to manage the doups.

In this picture you can see the doups and heddles on my loom.







Happy experimenting!


Irma SpaargarenI am a weaver from The Netherlands. In 1985, I started weaving and since then it has been one of my greatest passions. I love exploring new weave structures. I also surf the internet to see what other weavers are up to. Since I finished my job as a schoolteacher two years ago, I spend a lot of my time at the loom.

For more information about leno, feel free to contact me.