Weaving Blog

How Double Weave Works

As if the ability to weave cloth weren’t exciting enough, what about weaving two layers of cloth at the same time? Weaving double cloth is a challenge that brings out the adventurous spirit in many weavers: once you try it, there is no end to the “what ifs: you can explore. In this post, I will focus on examining how the double cloth weave structure works, using the example of a four-shaft double weave. padded four-shaft double weave

What is double cloth weave?

The fundamental principle of the double cloth weave is very simple. To weave a layer of plain weave cloth, you need two shafts threaded alternately. So to weave two layers, you need 2 x 2 = 4 shafts. I find that this is the easiest way to think about and plan a four-shaft double cloth weave: group the shafts into pairs and assign one pair to each layer of cloth.

Threading

My preferred threading therefore looks like this:

four shaft double weave threading

The important points to note are:

  • We alternate the threading, taking one end from each layer in turn.
  • Shafts 1 & 2 carry one layer, shafts 3 & 4 carry the other.

You can test the second point by lifting shafts 1 & 2: you should be able to separate the two layers completely.

Sett

The sett for double weave is very dense: twice the normal sett for plain weave with your yarn.

Tie-up

When planning a double weave tie-up, you need to think about what you want to achieve. You will be handling several different tasks:

  • Choosing which layer is on top and which is on the bottom
  • Weaving in the top layer
  • Weaving in the bottom layer

Let’s say we want to start with layer 1 (shafts 1 & 2) on top and layer 2 on the bottom. To weave plain weave on shafts 1 & 2, we need to lift shaft 1 for the first pick and shaft 2 for the second.

double weave tie-up part 1

Similarly, to weave plain weave on shafts 3 & 4 we need to lift shaft 3 for the first pick and shaft 4 for the second. However, this won’t give us double weave unless we take an extra step: we also need to lift the top layer out of the way. Every time we weave the layer on shafts 3 & 4, we also need to raise shafts 1 & 2 to keep those ends clear of the shuttle.

second part of double weave tie-up

We can use the same reasoning to derive a tie-up, which works for weaving layer 2 on top and layer 1 on the bottom. alternate double weave tie-up

Putting these together to make the complete tie-up it makes sense to keep the “weaving lifts” separate from the “out-of-the-way lifts: so that we can mix and match during the treadling. For a jack-type loom, the tie-up looks like this

: cally booker DW tie-up complete

If you are weaving on a countermarche loom, then you will need eight treadles, tied up like this: countermarche double weave tie-up

Each X shows where a shaft is tied in order to be raised, while each O shows where a shaft is tied in order to be lowered. The blanks indicate that those shafts are not tied to those treadles at all.

Treadling

As with the threading, we need to alternate the treadling, inserting one pick into each layer in turn. By progressing the two layers at the same rate, you ensure that the beater can always reach the fell on both layers

. double weave treadling

On a jack-type loom you will need to press two treadles whenever you are weaving the bottom layer: one foot presses the “weaving” treadle and the other the “out-of-the-way” treadle. On a countermarche loom, you will need to press two treadles for every pick – top and bottom layers – so that the shafts for the inactive layer are either raised (to weave the bottom layer) or lowered (to weave the top layer). countermarche double weave treadling

The theory sounds complicated, but once you are at the loom you will find that the freedom to mix and match the treadles in this way encourages you to try all kinds of patterns! For those of you weaving on table or dobby looms, the liftplan looks like this: double weave liftplan

Managing the shuttles

You can weave many kinds of double cloth with a single shuttle, but to explore all the possibilities of color and structure you are likely to want to use two. How you handle those shuttles makes an important difference to the finished cloth.

By keeping the two layers separate in the body of the cloth (i.e. always weaving the same layer on top), but joining them at the edges, you can weave a tube. This is a great way to weave a small bag, for example. To link the edges together, start with both shuttles at the same side of the loom and weave the top layer first. After you have woven the first pick, place the shuttle on the face of the cloth in front of you. After you have woven the second pick, place the second shuttle in front of the first one, i.e. further from your body. Then pick up the first shuttle again and so on.

If you are interchanging the two layers – weaving one on top and then switching over to weave the other on top – stitching the ends together allows you to introduce padding into the pockets you create. The switching of the layers closes the pocket and secures the padding.

Keeping the ends open at one side but closed on the other makes a series of tubular pockets, which could become a caddy for knitting needles or crochet hooks, for instance.

double weave pockets

To keep the ends open, weave as above but place the second shuttle behind the first one, i.e. nearer to your body. To keep one end open and one closed you need to place the shuttle behind its partner at one side of the loom and in front at the other. Be sure to check every now and then that you have the openings where you want them, as it is easy to slip up! I find it easiest to keep track of where I am if I always weave the top layer first, whichever one it is. It is a good idea to experiment in order to discover what effects you get from different sequencing and placing of the shuttles – nothing will fix it in your mind so well as actually trying it.

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There are many variations of double weave, even on four shafts. Which ones have you tried? Which are your favorites?

14 Comments

Elma L. DeVinney

I need to know the tie up for a double weave with pockets for a 8 harness loom.

Reply
@tobytottle

This is so handy! Thank you so much! I’ve been putting off doubleweave for years, this has really helped to get my head around it!

Reply
Cally

I’m glad you found it helpful. I hope you’ll soon have some double weave on the loom!

Reply
Ricardo

Thank you for explaining it so clearly!

I have a question I hope you guys can help me, what are the main benefits of double weaving?
Does it have any practical benefits like added longevity or strength,

Thank you 🙂

Ricardo

Reply
Cally

Hi Ricardo

For me the main reason for weaving double is the design potential. It introduces patterning and structural possibilities that you do not get with single cloth. The fact that you typically get a thicker cloth can also be useful for some applications, such as for blankets or table mats or for making coats/jackets.

Cally

Reply
Alison Damjanovska

Thanks so much Cally, after spending that last few hours trawling the Internet for an answer to my query I find your blog and, of course, the answer. I was just having trouble with the tie-up for double weave on my countermarch. Always great advice, clear explanations and great instructional images. Really enjoying your blog as well. Many thanks.

Reply
Melissa Van Duzer

I am looking to try double weave on a rigid heddle. do you have any suggestions on that?
Melissa

Reply
Cally Booker

You will need a second heddle, if you don’t already have one. But it is not something I have ever tried myself, so I can’t say much more than that! Ashford have some useful instructions on their website, which I am sure you could apply whatever make of loom you have. I’m sorry I can’t be more help.
Cally

Reply
Shruti

How would the tie up be for a counterbalance loom?

Reply
Cally

Hi Shruti

I’m afraid I haven’t tried double weave on a counterbalance loom, so I don’t know whether you need to adapt the basic tie-up or not. If you can find a counterbalance expert to advise then that would probably be the best solution. Otherwise, I suggest you try it as I suggest for a jack-type loom and adjust if that doesn’t work for you.

Cally

Reply
Crystal Bennett

I’m not sure I’m “getting it”. I want weave a double wide fabric, where once whole side is completely open, one whole side completely closed as the fold line, resulting in a fabric double the width of the loom capacity. My loom is a small LeClerc Dorothy, and I I’d like to get the most out of her. Any clarification you can give is greatly appreciated.

Reply
Cally

Hi Crystal

Although the terminology is similar, and sometimes the same threading is used, weaving ‘double wide’ is actually a separate and distinct technique from weaving ‘double cloth’ – and it is the latter that I am talking about in this post. I can’t quickly sum up double width weaving in a comment, but I am sure there are some good resources out there!

Cally

Reply
Crystal Bennett

Thanks Cally 🙂

Reply

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