Let’s say you want to design a weaving pattern but don’t know how to go about it. First let’s decide what kind of pattern you want to design—a textured pattern or a figure (e.g. heart, diamond…).

TEXTURE PATTERNS

For me, this type of pattern often comes about by asking, “What if…?” or “Can I achieve a certain effect?” But my earliest patterns came about by just experimenting on the loom: “Instead of going Under, Over, Under, Over, what happens if I skip groups of stitches?” Thus a pattern is born. By the way, it’s important to keep notes.

The first pattern I designed was “Horizontal Xs.” I got lucky because this one turned out great! I kept re-discovering it too. In my notes it shows up at least five separate times, always with a different name.

Horizontal Xs in a variety of yarn and warping configurations

The biggest challenge with texture patterns is centering the pattern between rows 1 and 16. After beginning with R1: P, frequently there is no way to avoid having row 2 begin the pattern and row 14 end the pattern. This leaves both rows 15 and 16 plain—an off-center pattern. (This is also often a problem with figure patterns such as diamonds and hearts.)

Texture patterns are my favorites to explore because they’re less fussy than figure patterns.

FIGURE PATTERNS

These are by far more difficult and potentially frustrating to design. You might work for ages drawing a design only to find when it’s woven it looks like nothing. My classic case is Kokopelli. Kokopelli is whimsical and charming; I thought he’d make a very original weaving pattern. You might need Luna Lovegood’s spectrespecs (magic glasses) to see him even in my chart, but the woven squares especially don’t show him to advantage. (This was designed before the advent of the 6″ loom, so I still have hope; just haven’t gotten around to redesigning him.)

Kokopelli—at his NOT most photogenic

When I want to make a figure, I first draw it on a paper copy of the design chart (sometimes this step isn’t necessary). Then I begin filling in the U3s and O3s necessary to capture the image. I usually use the computer for this step now, but occasionally I have to resort to using paper (Number 8 was particularly challenging and required paper before I could arrive at the final design).

This evening I designed a steaming cup design. I had this blog post in mind, so I saved every iteration of the pattern from its inception to its final form.

Here are some tips (these apply to both textural and figurative designs):

  • Eliminate details; keep it simple; leave as much “white space” as possible. The busier your design, the less it will look like anything.
  • To achieve the effect of a straight vertical line place a U3 (or O3) in one row, skip the next row, then add a U3 (or O3) directly above the first one. For example, see the mug patterns above or the egg pattern below.
  • When drawing the pattern, it might be helpful to mark U3s as vertical lines instead of horizontal lines. They show up as vertical lines when woven, but the red line on the chart tells you when to go Under 3.

    Here’s an example of one that got [thrown] away. The vertical lines show roughly what the final outcome will be. I had just begun to add the red U3 lines.

  • Don’t place the same stitch—e.g. U3—right above itself in successive rows unless you want that effect. (Two U3s placed one directly above another will make a long vertical line. You can see an example of this in the Maple Leaf‘s stem and Hourglass‘s stream of sand. Contrast these with the “corrected” versions of the patterns—see individual posts.)

    Mug 5a with mistake. Here I accidentally placed a U3 right above another U3. That would have given me a straight vertical line which isn’t what I wanted for my steam curls.

  • U3s and O3s don’t always mix well. Unless you want a warp displacement effect, it’s best to keep them separated from each other in successive rows (Horizontal Xs is a good example of keeping them separated).
  • Often you’ll have to accept a kind of compromise between what you’re thinking and what the loom can reproduce. I often have to give myself a couple of days away from designs that gave me a lot of trouble (most recently the Easter Egg).

Please feel free to ask specific questions and make comments. I’d be happy to go into more detail. For now, this is all I can think of.

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