When Anu Bhatia contacted me about some experiments she had done using a fan reed, I asked her to write about what she had learned and share some of her beautiful ondulé scarves for eye candy. ~Susan
I knew nothing about fan reeds or ondulé weaving until March 2022 when I watched Norma Smayda on a Handweavers Guild of America Textiles & Tea interview. Norma showed her beautiful weavings and talked about the book she had written about ondulé textiles. I had never done anything remotely close in my weaving, and I wanted to try.
Ondulé is a French word meaning “wavy” or “corrugated.” Weaving ondulé textiles requires a special reed called a fan reed that has fanned-out dents in place of the typical straight vertical dents. The number of fans in a reed varies according to the number of dents per inch and length of the reed. In the vertical center part of the reed, the dents are equally spaced, and when the warp is in the center, it is also evenly spaced. When you move the reed up or down, the warp ends move closer or farther apart depending on their position in the reed. The undulation of warp ends and subsequent sett changes result in textiles with wavy patterns. These are the basic mechanics of how a fan reed works to produce ondulé textiles.