Window Shopping for WIFs

After lurking for years, I decided to get a subscription and check out the WIFs on for real.

Susan E. Horton Oct 31, 2022 - 5 min read

Window Shopping  for WIFs  Primary Image

Using resources from my library to pick overshot patterns. Photo by Susan E. Horton

I'm new to Well, a new subscriber at least. I have been lurking on the site for years. Oftentimes designers will list a draft from the site as one of their project resources and I'll go to the site and look up the draft by the draft number. Without a subscription that allows me to look at the drawdown but not the tie-up, threading, and treadling.

Recently, I decided to go a bit deeper with a subscription and use the website to develop a project. I want to weave some towels for Christmas presents and what better way to find a draft than on a website that has more than 70,000 to look through?

I want to love Oelsner's book, but it can feel overwhelming to have to decipher the drafts each time. Photo by Susan E. Horton

I opened the Weaving Draft Archive and was surprised to see that A Handbook of Weaves by G.H. Oelsner was there. I don't know if you're familiar with that book, but it's full of drafts, more than 2,000. But, here's the problem: the drafts are more like drawdowns and you have to understand the book's method of communicating tie-up, threading, and treadling to make sense of them. This was great! I love a lot of the drawdowns in the book but everytime I want to use one, I have to reread the introduction that gives the "code." Using the filters I was able to quickly find WIFs that matched the book's drafts. So easy.

Next I decided to look at stripes. Striped fabrics seem so simple to design but I tend to spend hours moving colors around. In the Ralph E. Griswold Warp Faced Stripes collection there are 687 different stripe designs. It didn't take me long to find several designs that I liked.

As I "window shopped," an idea for my towels started to form. Why not combine 2 drafts from the site, an 8-shaft something from the Oelsner Book and one of the stripe designs? That would probably mean a single-shuttle weave which is always my preference especially when I'm working on a deadline and weaving multiples. I like the idea of my stripes not matching up with my weave structure so I don't have to look for a stripe design of a specific width.

I went back to Oelsner's archive of drafts and filtered on 8-shafts, 10 treadles and floats of less than 3. There were 202 drafts to pick from. I played around with some of them using the Draft Editor on the site and added one to a stripe pattern that I liked. I haven't settled on my design yet, but here is an example of what I came up with in less than an hour. It's a combination of drafts #55155 and #34466 (I love how the download tells me the draft number I used!) I'll need to add a repeat, maybe adjust colors (because I am always messing with colors), and add borders but I've got a good start!

Here is my combo draft. I plugged in a black weft for contrast.

I've still got a lot to learn but so far, I'm happy with my new shopping site,, so happy that I bookmarked it. Give it a try.

Weave well,


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