Colorful Shadow-Weave Napkins

When most of us think of shadow weave, we probably imagine cloth with just two colors, the light color and its darker “shadow.” Jan Barbieri's Colorful Shadow-Weave Napkins turn that idea on its head.

Christina Garton Oct 26, 2021 - 3 min read

Colorful Shadow-Weave Napkins Primary Image

Jan Barbieri’s Colorful Shadow-Weave Napkins take traditional shadow weave and turn it on its head. Photo credit: George Boe

When most of us think of shadow weave, we probably imagine cloth with just two colors, the light color and its darker “shadow.” Well, after seeing Jan Barbieri’s truly spectacular Colorful Shadow-Weave Napkins in the September/October 2018 issue of Handwoven, I now see shadow weave in a new light. Jan uses seven colors to weave shadow-weave cloth that is truly beautiful and unlike any I’ve seen before. Here’s what Jan has to say about her design process:

Shadow-Weave Napkins

Jan Barbieri’s Shadow-Weave Napkins.

Designer Jan Barbieri’s Statement

Shadow weave creates a color-and-weave effect that lends itself to playing with color. With a basket of colorful leftover bobbin threads for inspiration, I selected the pattern Shadow and Weave #294 from Carol Strickler’s A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns. Using weaving software, I explored a variety of effects based on the original threading; I tried darker threads as outlines and switched the dark/light color sequence to light/dark.

Based on that exploration, I chose seven colors for warp and weft. I altered the treadling to simplify the overall design and selected Copen Blue for both warp and weft to further unify the cloth. To make the orange stand out a bit, I doubled the orange 10/2 pearl cotton in both warp and weft.

Whether you weave these napkins as written or adapt the draft to weave up a truly spectacular scarf or shawl, I hope you love them as much as I do and feel inspired to approach shadow weave in new ways.


Happy Weaving,


Project at a Glance

PROJECT TYPE: 8-shaft.

STRUCTURE: Shadow weave.

EQUIPMENT: 8-shaft loom, 17" weaving width; 10-dent reed; 2 shuttles; 5 bobbins.

YARNS: 8/2 unmercerized cotton (3,360 yd/lb; Halcyon); 10/2 pearl cotton (4,200 yd/lb; UKI); 22/2 cottolin (60% organic cotton/40% linen; 3,200 yd/lb; Bockens).

P.S. Whether you are new to shadow weave or are looking for a refresher, virtual and in-person courses are a great way to explore and learn. In Introduction to Shadow Weave, award-winning weaver and teacher Jannie Taylor introduces you to shadow weave and its dazzling patterns. She's ready to share her years of experience learning how to weave shadow weave and help you discover all its magical possibilities. Meet Jannie and hear about what she hopes you'll get from her course: