Weaver-Manipulated Lace Weaves
You can create weaver-manipulated lace weaves with any loom able to weave plain weave. For this article, I used the Ashford Knitter's Loom, a rigid-heddle loom, to create the four most common weaver-manipulated lace weaves: Leno, Brooks bouquet, Danish medallion, and Spanish lace.
Weaver-manipulated lace weaves are a bit labor intensive, but even a small amount of lace can make a big difference. For example, you can use lace weaves as a border accent for items like household linens and garments. With a little imagination, a small amount goes a long way.
Leno lace (pronounced lee-no) is a lace weave where warp ends wrap around each other to produce a twisted-lace effect. Even a single row of leno lace can be a stunning accent in a fabric. The lace is made by twisting the warp ends around each other to the left, the right, or a combination.
- The twist in the warp ends is created by crossing warp ends and holding the cross in place using a flat pick-up stick or weaving sword. Pick up a group of warp ends, twist them around the adjoining set of warp ends, slide the pick-up stick through the warp ends to hold the twist.
- After you have created all of the twists, turn the pick-up stick on its edge to open up a shed.
- Insert the weft through this shed, remove the pick-up stick, and beat. The weft locks the twist in place.
The most common pattern in weaver-manipulated leno lace weave is two warp ends twisted around each other.
You can also twist larger groupings of warp ends together. The picture below illustrates twisting pairs of warp ends around each other.
The more warp ends twisted around each other, the heavier and more obvious the leno-lace effect becomes. Eventually, warp tension limits the number of warp ends you can physically twist around each other. Relaxing the tension on the warp makes it easier to twist the larger groups of ends around each other, but may also make it difficult to maintain an even beat in the cloth. If you wish to create leno with large warp groupings, you will need to experiment to find the right balance.
Brooks bouquet was popularized by weaving teacher Marguerite Brooks. It is an open-shed technique, which means Brooks bouquet lace is created in the weaving when the shed is open. The bouquet-like effect is achieved when the weft, while passing through the shed, comes out through the top of the warp and wraps around a small number of warp ends before re-entering the shed. By combining plain weave and Brooks bouquet, small elliptical shapes are created, surrounded by open areas. The more warp ends wrapped around by the weft, the more exaggerated the effect; however, if too many warp ends are wrapped around, the cloth may become distorted and it can become difficult to maintain even weft tension.
There are many ways to play around with bouquet weaves: you can weave a single bouquet in the middle of your cloth, an entire row across the width of the fabric, or create interesting effects by staggering the placement of the bouquets in the cloth.
Danish medallion lace weaves are typically created using two different wefts and a crochet hook. One weft weaves the inside of the medallion and a larger weft creates a heavy outline of the medallion. It’s not necessary to use wefts of different sizes, but it makes the medallions more obvious. It may seem a bit labor-intensive at first, but after making a few medallions, the process goes quickly. Danish medallions are a fun way to add visual impact to a fabric without a lot of special equipment. It’s also a fun way to incorporate a small amount of a novelty yarn into your cloth with maximum effect
To weave Danish medallions, complete the following steps:
- Weave plain weave until you reach the bottom of the first medallion.
- On the next plain weave weft pick, weave a pick of the heavy weft. This will create the bottom portion of the medallion.
- Weave plain weave with the finer weft for the desired height of the medallion. This will become the inside of the medallion.
- On the next plain weave pick, weave a pick of the heavy weft and leave the shed open.
- Using the crochet hook, pull the heavy weft in the shed from step 4 down behind the finer weft picks and bring it back up after it has passed under the heavy pick from step 2.
Pull this loop up and pass the shuttle through the loop.
This creates a loop of the heavy weft, with the heavy weft interlocking itself by coming up from the bottom.
- Pull the weft firmly to compress the outside of the medallion cell and to create an elliptical shape outlined by the heavy weft. This is the medallion.
- Enter the open shed with the shuttle with the heavy weft and continue across the width of the warp.
- Go back to step one and continue through each step.
Spanish lace, sometimes referred to as Mexican lace, is woven on alternating plain weave sheds, although the weft does not go completely across the width of the warp. Instead, the weft is inserted through a short portion of the warp on an open shed, the shed is then changed and the weft is taken back through the short portion of the warp, change the shed again and the weft passes back through the same short portion. This time, the weft not only weaves through the shed of the short portion, but continues weaving through the open shed becomes the first weft pick of the next short portion
To make the effect of Spanish lace appear stronger, use a heavy firm cord. Also, use a bit of tension at edge of the short portion when the heavy cord turns to weave back through the short portion. This will compress the warp ends at the edges and provide a bit of open space, which will draw more attention to the effect.
- Any loom capable of weaving plain weave. The samples for this article were woven on a rigid-heddle loom.
- Pickup stick or weaving sword
The warp yarn used in this article is a silk yarn (2,100 yds/lb) in a taupe color sett at 12 ½ ends per inch (epi). This yarn is also used as the plain-weave weft on all of the samples.
The heavy weft on the Danish medallion sample is a heavy purple and natural colored yarn (51% rayon, 35% silk, 14% polyester) at 1,400 yards/lb.
The heavy cord for the Spanish lace is a two-ply cord about 1/8” thick.
Plain weave, with weaver-controlled manipulations.
- Creager, C. Weaving: A Creative Approach for Beginners. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1974
- Davenport, B. “Unusual ways with Leno.” Handwoven, March/April, 1986.
- Dixon, A. The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory, Interweave Press, 2007.
- Lieber, B. “A Glossary of Lace Weaves.” Handwoven, May/June 1988.
- Tidball, H. Two-Harness Textiles: The Open-work Weaves. Shuttle Craft Guild, Monograph Twenty-One, 1967
Robyn Spady learned to weave nearly 40 years ago. She completed HGA's Certificate of Excellence (COE) in 2004 with the specialized study "Loom-controlled Stitched Double Cloth." Robyn is inspired by the many ways to weave double-faced fabrics as a way to create versatile fabrics. In addition to double-faced fabrics, she also explores uncommon weave structures and narrow warp weaves. You can learn more about her work and her teaching schedule on her website.