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Possible Draft?

16 replies [Last post]
Joined: 06/08/2009

My friend Jimmy is a local historian.  He owns the old weaver house in Hurley New York and is part of a stone house walkthrough each year.  This year myself and a friend are demonstrating weaving and pottery in the yard during the walkthrough.  I think it will be lots of fun.......now to think of a project!  Well.......Jimmy told me that he has a weaving draft from one of the other weavers that used to be in town.  You can imagine my anticipation while waiting to get the scan.  Then I got this:

I'm trying to make sense of it.  I feel like I'm missing something.  The top of the page clearly says 'A draft for Blankets' then a description on which shuttle to throw first (I'm assuming it's probably an overshot?).  Perhaps I'm a little off here....I certainly don't know everything about weaving.  I have some notebooks from Sweedish weavers and there are similar drafts but I can decifer them.  Does this look familiar to anyone?  I would really love to weave this for the walkthrough:)  

Any help would greatly be appreciated! ;) 


Joined: 06/08/2009
I suggest it is a "shorthand"

I suggest it is a "shorthand" for a 2-block weave (any 2-block weave).

Here is a suggestion for a profile draft, using "tromp-as-writ" :

This can then be expanded into (for example) an 8-shaft turned twill:

Obviously, there is some tinkering to do, to make the repeat balance and so on, but it can be a starting point?

Why I interpret it in that way? Because... read more here.

Hope this helps...

Joined: 06/08/2009
I think that really helps

I think that really helps out!  Thank you so much:)  So this is almost a type of shorthand.....very interesting! Now to figure out the tie up that works best.  

Apparently there are some other drafts that I'll be able to see there.  Perhaps they will add a clue to the tie up.  

Is the graph system that we use today generic?  Have weaving drafts changed much since they've been documented?  

debmcclintock's picture
Joined: 06/08/2009
Here's a link to Syne

Here's a link to Syne Mitchell's interview with Marjie Thompson transcribed by Laura Fry

She touches on alot of the American weaving tradition and our understanding of it today.

There are other folks much more conversant in this style of notation but here's my best guess. The manuscript group from Complex Wesvers has quite a bit of documentation thanks to Marjie's and others research. I'm just not finding any illustrations on the web.

This weaver could have had 16 shafts. The line drawn straight across provided the division between 1-8 and 9-16. Some are above the line 9-16, some are below the line 1-8, some are a straight draw from

There are also those dots. Perhaps they signify a color change. Remember literacy was not widespread so symbols were used to record threadings.

Like Kerstin said, there could be a specified threading for each line stroke. Does the museum have any textiles in their collection thatight give you a clue. I'll try and give you some specific book titles that you can access via library or guild loan.

You are also located in a resource rich area in the way of guilds near Rhinebeck and Kingston.  I don't know if you have joined a guild yet but I bet some of the area guilds have historical books on hand that you can referece.

Bonnie Inouye's picture
Joined: 06/15/2009
Handweaving museum in Clayton, NY

Since you are in New York state, do you know the Handweaving Museum that is part of the Thousand Islands arts center?


It seems possible that they might have old manuscripts. I would not assume overshot, as this draft does not look like overshot and many, probably the majority, of the early American blankets were not overshot. Like Deb, my first impression was that it could be a twill tie-up for a multishaft loom, but then it seems that it would need to have 24 shafts which is unlikely for the time. I think Kerstin's profile draft looks good, and she is Swedish. Shannon, have you worked with profile drafts? A two-block profile can be woven as a 4-shaft cloth- summer and winter will work, or monk's belt, or lace- or a 6-shaft or 8-shaft or 10 (for blocks of satin). It could be used for rep or shadow weave as a profile. The profile is the design.Let us know if you need to see a complete 4-shaft draft using this profile.



Joined: 06/08/2009
Thanks so much for the

Thanks so much for the information!  I have a lot of research to do.  My friend has a four harness counterbalance loom.  A picture of the loom can be seen at http://www.halfmoontavern.com/ if you scroll towards the bottom of the page.  It's believed that the draft came from another family in the town....given the time I would assume that it would be a similar loom.  When I was given the tour of the house, I did notice a monks belt blanket and I caught my attention.  I'm beginning to think that this may be a draft for a monks belt, given this new information.  

I think I'm going to fiddle with the draft to see what I come up with....I feel like I'm on an adventure:)  I have worked with profile drafts so thank you so much.....I'm looking forward to putting this new clue to work!  ;) 


debmcclintock's picture
Joined: 06/08/2009
Thanks Bonnie for mentioning

Thanks Bonnie for mentioning the Clayton Handweaving Museum.  I poked out my note above on an iphone and just couldn't type anymore!  

Sunrise, one last thing for you, I posted a draft for you to look at that was converted from the shorthand to our contemporary draft.  It is here. Take a look and you'll get the drift.

Also books to look for that have US historical drafts (most which came from European immigrants/apprentices)  You'll probably have to search around for sources but they are all published fairly recently. See if the Clayton Handweaving Museum mentioned above by Bonnie carries these books.  I think they carry some.

John Whitehead, Yorkshire Weaver to Illinois Farmer, Barbara J. Brown

The Gartner Manuscript, Gene Elizabeth Valk

Rural Pennsylvania German Weaving, Tandy & Charles Hersch


debmcclintock's picture
Joined: 06/08/2009
oops, and another book, Old

oops, and another book, Old Loom Glossary compiled by Gene Elizabeth Valk, carried by Janet Meany here, you'll need to email specifically about this book

she defines one of the older terms Draught syn draft

"A draught is a paper of directions for a weaver to begin and perform his work....is understood the drawing through of the warp into the healds.""Scotland and N. Ireland draughts have threading and tie-up in spaces between lines; English on the lines." (Murphy 8-9)

Compare my draft with your draft and you'll see the difference, even how the lines are used tells you what area a draft (draught) might be sourced from in the historical documents!  Enjoy

Joined: 06/08/2009
One of the reasons I

One of the reasons I suggested a 2-block profile is precisely the lack of a tie-up. This probably comes from my Swe culture - I'd say that most Swe weavers would interpret it as a dräll profile. (If you want to describe a dräll like my expanded example, the profile threading, without tie-up and treadling, is he most economical in space/paper.)

The loom picture at halfmoontavern has only 2 shafts and 2 treadles mounted, but it has spaces for 2 more treadles. I think it would be problematic to add more than one level of horses, unless the (what to call it? roller?) is taken off. More treadles would have to be added, too. With one level of horses, you can get max 4 shafts.

Then there is the word "blanket". Is a blanket something "sturdy" or is it light and fluffy (like today)? - There is a Swedish weave called bottentäckeväv (untranslateable, sorry), 2 blocks on 4 shafts, that was used for bedcovers. It was mounted on sheepskin covers, to make the upper side looks nice. See a couple of pictures here. (Sorry I can't find any museum pictures, but I know that Jönköpings läns museum has examples in their colletions).

(This is for sinking shed).The draft is based on the one above - I interpreted each stroke as 4 threads. The pattern comes from shifting the colour order.

The long floats on the back were not a problem, as it was meant to be mounted on the sheepskins.

Is'nt weaving fantastic, the way one profile draft can yield so many different results?


Joined: 06/08/2009
Finally found a couple of

Finally found a couple of museum pics: http://textilarkivet.murberget.se/samlingar.aspx?id=2&v=1&sok=bottent%C3%A4ckev%C3%A4v

unfortunately, they have some problem with their search function - there may be more, but I only get error messages.

Joined: 06/08/2009
Oh my gosh!  You are all so

Oh my gosh!  You are all so wonderful for giving me all of this information!  :)  I'm thrilled!  

The loom in the picture is actually at the house!  I think Jimmy is planning on putting it back together at some point.  (clapping)  He informed me that the draft came from another family and we've been able to trace that to a town upstate....Schoharie? I think.  Very interesting stuff. 

I have to admit also that I've chopped the scan to just the draft.  I was getting confused with the now apparent shorthand and wanted to save the shuttle order and picking to pull everything together.  :)  I can't thank you enough for all of the information!

There is a blanket at the house that looks similar to the one in the museaum picture.  Actually......there are quite a few blankets and coverlets there! 

Our family is having a large garage sale this Saturday and normally I spin to pass the time.  I think this Saturday I'll be working on this draft!  

Again....I can't thank you all enough for your help!  :) 


Sally Orgren's picture
Joined: 06/08/2009
Ditto to Shannon's comment

Ditto to Shannon's comment above, as I have immensely enjoyed lurking on this thread!


Joined: 06/08/2009
Shannon, now I get even

Shannon, now I get even curiouser - can we see the rest of the scan? Is there  a tie-up?

Perhaps we can have a picture of one or two of the "similar to the museum picture", too? If it is not too much to ask, with a description of the structure? - I get somewhat carried away, as this bottentäckeväv technique is only known from two parts of Sweden, Västernorrland (northern part, the museum) and Jönköping (south-ish, there called something elses). Also, someone told me (I haven't seen the Jönköping one myself) that the J example(s) were used the other way up (floats on top).

Nassajah's picture
Joined: 08/24/2009

I always learn so mcuh from your posts!  I really love Swedish weaving and enjoy seeing these beautiful designs. 


Thank you for sharing with us.


Joined: 06/08/2009
I'm sorry for the delay in

I'm sorry for the delay in posting.  I'm going to have to post the full picture!  :)  I just want to see if I can figure out the shuttle order (and at this point I'm praying for 10 free minutes!:)  before posting the full thing.  I promised myself to try to not ask for help on the entire draft.....but truth be told....I just might need to post the full image.....:)  

I promise to fiddle with it a bit tomorrow and then post the full image.  When Jimmy told me about the draft I was over the top excited!!!  Then when I saw the page..........I sighed......I was hoping it would be something that was familiar....but....it's Greek to me....or perhaps Sweedish:)  I was hoping to unlock the mystery myself but at the same time....I'm thrilled with such a wonderful response to the posting!  Everyone has really gone out of their way!  Thank you! 

Joined: 06/08/2009
I've just had a few minutes

I've just had a few minutes to fiddle with the pattern!  It makes sense!  I just have another question.......how did you get this threading with just the dashes?  Is that a generic Sweedish block pattern?  

I find this so interesting!  :)  Thank you so much for all of the help.  I'm going to see if he has access to the other drafts too!  :) 

Joined: 06/08/2009
"this threading"?

Shannon, I suppose you mean the latest (detail) pattern I suggested?

Dashes -> profile: I just guessed it could be a 2-block pattern because it seems to be written on two "lines". A 2-block pattern can be woven in many (any?) technique, provided it (the technique) can give two different areas. (It could even be woven in what we Swedes call "English tabby" - basket weave variations. For an example look here, scroll down to the very bottom and it is at the right.)

Profile -> bottentäckeväv: as the loom had only 4s/4t, and I happened to know of this technique... I suggested it. And that's all...

Had the loom had 6s/6t (or more), I would have suggested a turned twill (any turned twill, from 1/2 against 2/1 up to ... 1/7 against 7/1).

Had there been a tie-up we would have known how many shafts were needed, so I would have suggested a draft with straight draw over half the # of shafts per "dash", adding the tie-up and started with tromp-as-writ, to see if that would have lookeed "nice".

For example: as I write here, we have the Uhler "doodles" that *can* be interpreted like this:

So let me (just for example) use Uhler's tie-up combined with your dashes, tromp-as-writ - it looks like this:

Had my Uhler guess come out like that, my *next* guess would be that it is something I really don't know, here - this looks like the wrong way to start. And then... well, I don't know.

Did I answer the question at all?  :-D

Edit: I just noticed I had a few ends/picks wrong in the lower draft - but I'm not going to correct those -