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Weaving Software on the Cheap

Readers of WeaveZine share some common denominators: we use computers and are interested in weaving. As the economy struggles, what better time to explore frugal ways to indulge both of these interests?

The intent of this article is not to review program features in detail, but to present a variety of intriguing weaving-related programs that are either free or available for a nominal fee.

Note: I use a Macintosh computer. Because WeaveDesign, RugDesign, and LaceWeave are written for Microsoft Windows, I ran them in Windows XP on a MAC Pro using VMWare Fusions. Wif2Tiff runs on either Windows or Macintosh.



When computers and weaving are mentioned in the same sentence, my mind first turns to weave-design software. That is, software which generates a drawdown from basic information about the weave structure: threading, tie up, and treadling.

The shareware program WeaveDesign, by Bengt Nelson, supports both a native format (WDV) and WIF files. It is available for download from the Pikes Peak Weavers Guild.

WeaveDesign has all the features of a basic weave-design program with some extra bonuses. For example, it allows you to create designs in two modes: Single Harness (for shaft looms with a standard tie up and treadling) or Double Harness (for shaft drawlooms and single drawlooms).

The weaver can choose whether the display shows the weave draft as a liftplan or as a tie up with treadling. You can also specify whether to generate the draft for a rising or sinking shed.

WeaveDesign Screenshot

Note: In WeaveDesign, the drawdown is displayed European style, with the threading on the bottom of the screen, the tie up to the right, and the treadling above the tie up:

WeaveDesign is shareware. You can download and explore it for free. If you find yourself using it regularly, a donation to Pikes Peak Weavers Guild is appropriate.



A version of the Rug Design program by David Raup has been available from Subu Designs (Su Butler's website) as freeware since 2001. (It's the first download at the top of the page.)

The latest program offers three types of patterning: Diamond, Shwoosh, and ZigZag. To generate a design you enter the dimensions of the rug, picks per inch, colors used, and the percentage of each color to the whole.

Rug Design Examples

The two rugs illustrated above use the same four colors with the default proportions of 25%, 35%, 25%, and 15%. It's easy to adjust the designs to a different number of colors—say three or five—just remember to update the percentages afterwards so they still total 100.

The design images alone make this program worth looking at, but RugDesign's "Fabric" feature is nothing short of computer magic! It calculates, in inches, the fabric required for each color, and the dimensions for each of the three possible designs.

Rag rugs have never been so appealing!



LaceWeave has been around since 1997. The author is, again, David Raup. LaceWeave is free "leanware" with "very few bells and whistles" and David has no plans for further development so please don't ask. Just be grateful and say thank you and do as he suggests, which is to prod the "real weaving programers" to incorporate its features! That hasn't happened thus far and LaceWeave remains the the only program I am aware of that is able to display deflected threads.

Fortunately, WeavePoint has continued to make it available to us. It works with WeavePoint files or with WIF files and is available for download from the WeavePoint website (click on "LaceWeave" which appears in small type in the middle and bottom of the main screen).

This eight-shaft huck drawdown is created from a WIF and shows exactly what LaceWeave provides—a visualization of how threads will deflect in the woven cloth.

Huck Lace Drawdown

Note: When you run LaceWeave for the first time, you may encounter a problem with a missing file: VBRUN300.DLL. LaceWeave requires this file, but doesn't include it in the download. The file, a common run-time library used by many types of applications, may already be installed on your hard drive. If not, you'll receive an error message. There is information about how to obtain and install VBRUN300.DLL in ReadLace.txt, which is included in the LaceWeave download.



Finally a program runs on both Macintosh OS X and Microsoft Windows!

Jane Eisenstein creates "donation-ware" software—available free--but, if you find the software usefu,l "a donation is a great way of saying thanks." Wif2Tiff translates a WIF draft and creates a TIFF image of the drawdown.

I'm sure it has other uses, but I (and others) have found Wif2Tiff invaluable as a way to create a set of browseable thumbnail images for the many WIF files I've created. (I know I'm not the only one who coins names for WIF files that make sense when I save the design and are meaningless later...sometimes not very much later.)

If you use Wif2Tiff to generate images from your WIF files, save them with the same filename (except for the .TIFF file extension), and then store those images in the same folder as their corresponding WIF files.  Most operating systems will generate thumbnail images of WIF files, effectively giving you a visual way to browse your WIF files.

Jane also has some other interesting software at her site.

Editor's Note: An update on the Wif2Tiff site.  The site had been hacked (Javascript inserted in the Web page) but has been rebuilt from scratch and is now clean.  Big thanks to Jane for responding so quickly on this issue.


In Closing...

We should all be grateful to the programers for creating this software, and to the site owners for making the software accessible.

Enjoy the programs above and send your thanks. Where a shareware fee is suggested, please—if you use the program and can afford it—send an appropriate amount.


[Editor's Note: For more information about WIF files and links to other weaving software options, see the article What's WIF Got to do With It?]



Marg CoeMarg Coe is the creative powerhouse behind the Coe Produced website, where she offers wonderful information for weavers, including the Mother of all Spreadsheets: A Workbook of Weaving-Related Spreadsheets, as well as several CD-books authored by Paul O'Connor. She also teaches on a variety of subjects: weaving, dyeing, and computers-for-weavers.