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FREE Tutorial for Creating Stunning Shaded Twills

I’ll come right out and say it: I absolutely love a shaded twill. It is a very simple way to add depth and interest to the simplest threading, and you can build upon the basics to weave all sorts of creative designs.

shaded twill 8 shafts

The four-shaft twills

When you weave a twill on four shafts, you have three basic options as shown in the liftplans below.

three kinds of twill

Raising one shaft at a time gives you a weft-faced twill, two shafts at a time gives you a balanced twill and three shafts at a time gives you a warp-faced twill.

A shaded twill is achieved by weaving these three twills in a cycle so that you move from weft-faced through balanced to warp-faced and back again. The weft and warp are gradually interchanged, as shown in the drawdown.

shaded twill on four shafts

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Variations

With solid colors in warp and weft, the effect on four shafts is of bands of color appearing and disappearing. You can play around with this effect by introducing stripes of shaded color in the warp.

shaded twill on striped warp

In this example, the weft is the same color as the outermost stripes of the warp. The lighter colors in the center of the warp are highlighted by the additional emphasis in the warp-faced areas. By varying the number of repeats of each twill in the sequence, you can make the bands longer or shorter.

Another feature of this piece is that the threading is not a straight draw but a herringbone. You can use any twill threading with this approach. There is no need to stick to a straight liftplan either, as long as you maintain the cycle: warp-faced > balanced > weft-faced > balanced > warp-faced.

On eight shafts

Fun as they are on four, shaded twills really come into their own on eight shafts when you can weave two distinct blocks.

If you are twill weaving on a table loom, then you are free to mix and match, so that you can weave, for example, 1/3 in one block with any of 1/3, 2/2 or 3/1 in the other.

shaded twill blocks on 8 shafts

You will be more limited on a floor loom with treadles, as you need to decide on the combinations you want before you start. With 12 treadles, you can weave the drafts below, which have the two blocks shading in opposite directions.

shaded twill 12 treadles

Blocks threaded and treadled for a continuous twill diagonal.

shaded twill 12 treadles

Blocks threaded and treadled for a clean cut between blocks.

This structure can look “blocky” in solid colors, but if you make your warp of mixed yarns and vary the width and length of your blocks — as in the example below and at the top of this article — then the edges of the blocks are softened and the overall effect is very dynamic.

shaded twills on 8 shafts

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11 Comments

Jacquelyn Darragh

I would love to have the weaving draft for the 4-draft scarf/shawl above with the coral, gold and silver. It appears that the weft is all coral, but I can’t see from the photo how you chose the colors for the warp. This is absolutely gorgeous and I’d be happy to pay for the draft.

Reply
Jacquelyn Darragh

The tie-up is also missing in the draft for the Coral Scarf. Please provide!

Reply
Cally

Hi Jacquelyn

I am glad you like the piece! I didn’t have a tie up for it because I wove it on a table loom, so I used the lift plan for four shafts which is shown above, though I made the stripes of random widths as I went along. You can tie up a floor loom for a shaded twill, but you need 12 shafts to catch all the 12 lifts shown in the diagram right at the top.

The colours for the warp are coral, gold and white, and they are wound in very simple stripes, 16 ends to a stripe. The outermost stripe is all coral, the next alternates gold and coral, then all gold, then alternating white and gold. There is one all-white stripe in the middle, and then the order reverses. Really easy to do!

I hope that helps,

Cally

The threading is a herringbone twill: from the right I’ve threaded 4-3-2-1-3-4-1-2 and that is repeated all the way across.

Reply
Jacquelyn Darragh

I do have a floor loom with 8 shafts, but these directions are excellent and are all I need. Thank you for your generosity, and I love your blog posts on Craftsy. I just found you on a Pinterest search, and I look forward to following your blog on your website and reading everything you’ve put on Craftsy. FABULOUS!! thanks!

Reply
Cally

Oops – I’ve just realised I goofed in my reply above. I meant 12 treadles not shafts! With 4 shafts you need 12 treadles, unless you use a universal tie-up. Must engage my brai more fully before I press ‘enter’ 🙂

Reply
Nanette

I want to try this, it’s lovely! I have a floor loom with only 8 treadles and 8 shafts. How do I tie up to achieve the 3 lift plans?

Reply
Cally

I’ve just had a quick test run, and found that if you use Tim’s Treadle Reducer (at https://www.cs.earlham.edu/~timm/treadle/) then you can get a tie-up that works for 8 shafts and 8 treadles.

Cally

Reply
Nanette

Calmly,
I tried Tim’s all to no avail. It only works to reduce 12 treadles to 8 with 4 shafts. Can you verify that will work?

Thanks,
Nanette

Reply
Cally

I’ve checked it and it definitely works for the 8 shaft tie-up with a clean cut, which is my favourite! I haven’t tried the other 8-shaft tie-up. If you are using the four shaft threading then your best bet would be a universal tie-up.

Cally

Reply
ellen

is this for a counterbalance or jack loom?

Reply
Cally

It’s not specific to any loom, Ellen. I wove my pieces on a table loom and on a countermarche loom, but the main thing is to note the number of treadles needed: 12 if you want to tie up every twill separately, but on a four shaft loom a universal tie-up on four treadles will do the trick.

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