Looking for Variety? Blended Drafts Might be the Answer.

In these uncertain times, I’ve decided it’s best to keep weaving. I want to weave 13 towels for the summer, and to avoid boredom, I’m going to try a blended draft, but of 3 rather than 2 drafts.

Susan E. Horton Mar 31, 2020 - 4 min read

Looking for Variety? Blended Drafts Might be the Answer. Primary Image

Diane Pigg’s Hoosier Huck Towels (in the May/June 2020 issue) are a beautiful blend of Bertha Gray Hayes’s “Hoosier Tallyho” and huck lace. Photo by Matt Graves.

A while back, I registered for Handweavers Guild of America 2020 Convergence and Complex Weavers Seminars. I’m very excited to visit with friends, talk weaving, and see some great exhibits, but I’m also excited to travel to Knoxville, Tennessee. I’ve never been to Tennessee, and I’m hoping to get a chance to see some of the state while I’m there.

As part of my Convergence registration, I signed up for the towel exchange that will take place on July 27. To participate in the exchange, you must bring 5 hemmed towels measuring 18" x 25". Last time I made the rookie mistake of weaving 5 towels, forgetting that I would want one of my own, so that means I need to make 6. This summer we have 2 weddings to go to and know 3 other couples who are getting married, so that makes 11. My sister told me over the holidays that she loves handwoven towels, and I have 2 sisters, so that makes 13. Whoa! I know in the present situation with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that the future is a bit uncertain, but I’ve decided to proceed as if I am going not only to the conferences but also the weddings.

I thought about putting on two warps and weaving two different sets of towels, but then I got a better idea, based on an article and project that will be in the May/June 2020 issue of Handwoven. For her towels project, Diane Pigg blended an overshot draft with a huck lace draft to weave some beautiful towels. In “The Draft,” Madelyn van der Hoogt wrote about how to blend drafts. A blended draft is a seamless mixture of two drafts into one threading, tie-up, and treadling. Most often you see blends of two 4-shaft drafts into 6- to 8-shaft drafts. My idea is to blend three drafts, two overshot drafts with Spot Bronson or huck lace. That new blended draft should allow me to weave a wide variety of different towels using my 24-shaft loom.

I’ll weave 3 “4-shaft” versions:
- Overshot 1
- Overshot 2
- Lace
blended overshot and bronson seh

A long time ago, I wove this blended draft sample of Spot Bronson and “Parachute” by Bertha Gray Hayes, using 10/2 cotton. Photo by Susan E. Horton.

Then I’ll weave 3 “8-shaft” versions:
- Overshot 1 with lace
- Overshot 2 with lace
- Overshot 1 and 2

Finally, I’ll weave 1 “X-shaft” version:
- Overshot 1 and 2 with lace

After I weave those 7 towels, I’ll decide which ones I want to revisit for the remaining 6. I want to use 10/2 unmercerized cotton, so I ordered two cones of white, bleached and natural, from Lunatic Fringe on Sunday. I ordered both because I like to randomly mix colors that are closely related in my warps for more depth. I wind them together and then thread without paying attention to which color I’m threading.

While I wait for the delivery, I’ll start looking for drafts that “work,” as in drafts that have the same number of threads per repeat. That’s step one.

I’ll let you know soon how the blending works out.

Weave well,