Changing Shape Shawl
Designed and woven by Laney Engle
While working on my BFA, I was incredibly lucky to learn from several renowned weavers. I took full-length classes with Erika Diamond, went to workshops with Susan Iverson, and sat in on a lecture and critique from Diedrick Brackens. I loved learning new techniques from these amazing artists, and since graduating, I’ve thought of new ways to incorporate some of their methods in my own practice.
Susan Iverson’s pulled warp technique inspired this shawl. She applies it regularly in her work, especially in her “Observations” and “Horizons” series of weavings. Susan uses pulled warp in tapestry, a weft-faced fabric; I hadn’t seen this technique used in a balanced weave before. I wanted to see what it would do.
A shawl seemed like the perfect project to explore my idea. Pulling the warp would shape the shawl into a V, so it would hug the shoulders. I could wear it with the V in back or in front, joining the ends together with a bangle or ribbon to easily adjust its drape. But I’d have to leave areas of the warp “blank,” or pulling the warp would just create lumpy bunchy fabric. In other words, the woven fabric needed some negative space that would disappear when I pulled the warp.
I also wanted slanted ends with warp fringe, and I wanted fringe all along one selvedge. More negative space would shape the shawl at each end. To fringe the entire length of the shawl, I’d need to cut my weft and knot it as I wove. Then I could trim it shorter on my shoulders and longer at the point of the V.
While this project may appear complicated at first glance, it breaks down into manageable steps:
Cut lengths of weft for bundles. You’ll weave with 5 ends per bundle, starting and finishing at the right selvedge to form the weft fringe.
- Weave trapezoids by weaving partway across the warp, all the way across the warp, and partway again. There are now triangles of unwoven warp—negative space—at each end and in the middle of the shawl.
- Pull the warp to close up the unwoven triangle in the middle. Trim all the fringe.
Watch the video at https://www.instagram.com/tv/CKExevsJHcW/?hl=en
Skill level: intermediate
Skills you'll learn: Forming fringe along a selvedge with cut (discontinuous) weft; forming shapes (trapezoids) by weaving partial-width sections; pulled warp
Weave structure: plain weave
Finished size: 90" long (including 4" warp fringe at each end) x 14" wide (including weft fringe at widest point)
Number of warp ends: 80
Warp length: 3.25 yd / 117" (includes loom waste and take-up)
Width in reed: 8"
What You'll Need
Loops & Threads Woolike (85% acrylic, 15% nylon; 678 yards/3.5 oz), fingering weight. Choose a warp yarn strong enough to withstand the pulling technique. Strong fibers (linen, cotton, or silk) or smooth or slippery yarns should work well. Wool yarns with tight twist or multiple plies, such as sock yarns, will work; “sticky” or lightly twisted wool yarns will be too delicate.
Warp: Ivory, 240 yds
Weft: Lavender, 315 yds; Navy, 315 yds; Rose, 160 yds—approximately 800 yds total
- 10" Cricket Loom or larger with 10-dent rigid heddle
- warping board or warping pegs (optional, for measuring weft bundles)
- water-soluble marker
- yardstick or long straight-edge for marking warp; you can also create a simple cardboard template (directions below)
- sharp scissors or rotary cutter and cutting mat
Preparing the Weft
Cut weft yarn into 28" lengths for the bundles that form the weft fringe. It's fastest to do this with a warping board or pegs: wind a lot of yarn to the correct length, remove the yarn, and cut the loops. I demonstrate with a warping board and with Cricket Loom clamps in the video tutorial.
You will weave the shawl with weft bundles—5 cut lengths of the same color—and work 2 picks with each bundle. The color order I used was:
4 bundles Lavender; 1 bundle Navy; 1 bundle Pink; 2 bundles Navy; 1 bundle Pink; 1 bundle Navy
Weave each weft bundle as follows: Gather 5 lengths of weft in the same color to work as 1 weft end.
Set the heddle in down position. Pull the weft bundle through the shed from right to left, stopping at the left selvedge when you're weaving the full width or at the marked warp when you're weaving partial width. Adjust the weft so its halfway point sits at this warp end. (There will be excess at the right selvedge to form the fringe; leave it hanging for now.) Beat if you want to, but it's not necessary.
Set the heddle in up position. Pull the weft bundle through the shed from left to right. Again, there will be excess at the right selvedge that will become fringe. Beat.
At the right selvedge, secure these picks with an overhand knot. (Don't worry if the fringe looks messy; you'll trim it later.)
Warping & Weaving
- Warp the loom with Ivory. You can wind the warp on a warping board or direct-warp your loom with a warping peg.
- Spread the warp with scrap yarn. Leave 6" unwoven for warp fringe.
Mark the warp for partial-width weaving. You'll weave the shawl's trapezoid shapes by not weaving across the full width of the warp, so a marking line will tell you where to stop. This first partial-width section increases from right to left at a 45-degree angle—see the schematic below. I drew a line on the warp with a water-soluble marker and a ruler. (You'll make 3 more diagonal lines further on and may find it simpler to create a template. To create a template, cut an 8" x 8" cardboard square in half on the diagonal: the cut line will be 45 degrees.)
Weave the increase section for 8", using weft bundles and following the color order. With each bundle, weave the first pick up to the line marked on the warp, then work left to right back to the right selvedge. The weft fringe will be very long at first, then get progressively shorter as you fill in the section.
When you cannot increase any further, because weft bundles have reached the left selvedge, weave across the full width for 23". Continue weaving with weft bundles, following the color order given above.
Mark the warp for the decrease section, this time with a 45-degree line slanting up from the left selvedge to the right.
- Weave the decrease section for 8", using weft bundles and following the color order as explained above. With each bundle, weave the first pick up to the line marked on the warp, then work left to right back to the right selvedge. The weft fringe will be very short at first, then get progressively longer as you fill in the section.
You've completed the first trapezoid shape. Weave a second trapezoid by repeating steps 4 through 7.
- Leave 6" of warp unwoven. Remove fabric from the loom.
Trim the weft fringe: Lay the fabric flat on a cutting mat or work surface. Arrange the weft fringe so you can cut it evenly.
At both ends of the trapezoids, measure and mark the fringe at 6". At the middle of each trapezoid, measure and mark the fringe at 2"—see the schematic above.
If you're using scissors, you may want to draw cutting lines between these marks using a water-soluble marker; then cut the fringe along these lines. If you're using a rotary cutter, set a straight-edge between a pair of marks and cut along this line; repeat for the full length of the shawl.
Pull the warp: At one end of the shawl, secure warp ends with overhand knots. Secure them in bundles—they can be 1/2" wide, or 1" wide, or the size can vary, as long as each bundle contains more than one thread.
Trim the warp fringe at this end to 4" long. Since the woven fabric slants, the fringe will automatically slant too.
Clamp this knotted end of the shawl to your work surface with your Cricket clamps.
Now you'll pull warp from the unknotted end of the shawl, one warp end at a time. Start at the right selvedge, at the point of the unwoven triangle. Pull the first end until the triangle sides meet.
Then move to the next warp end and repeat. Work across the width of the shawl in this manner, until the unwoven triangle has completely disappeared.
Once the two woven edges meet, stop pulling. Knot the warp ends at this end, just as you did earlier. Then trim the warp fringe to 4".
Soak the fabric in warm soapy water. Rinse and allow to air dry. If your yarn can handle steaming and pressing, press with a warm iron.
That's it. You've just finished a project that involved some advanced weaving techniques! Wear your beautiful shawl with pride! Take some selfies and post them! Tag us on Instagram with #SchachtSpindle and share it with us on Facebook!
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