Read and Create Weaving Drafts
Don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of complex weaving drafts! Here’s a step by step of how to get started.
Being self taught, when I first started weaving I had no idea what “drafts” even were, let alone how to read or create them. Once you understand the parts of a draft though they can be a ton of fun to sketch out and play with. In this article I’ll give you the basic form of a draft, the vocab you need and how to start making your own patterns with just some grid paper and markers.
The Bones of your Weaving Draft
Let’s start with the four main parts of your draft/weaving.
- Warp threading
- Treadle Tie-Up
- Weft Pick
Each of these sections correspond to a quadrant of your draft. Check out the photo to the right and you’ll see the Warp threading is indicated on the top rows, the Treadle Tie-Up is the top right box, the Weft picks are indicated on the right hand columns, and the fabric is the largest area where everything will intersect.
The 4 rows of Warp section correspond to each of your 4 harnesses. You can add more here if you have more harnesses, but today I’ll be showing you with just these 4. Each box in this section is one heddle. The 6 columns in the Tie-up and Weft pick sections corresponds to the 6 treadles (or peddles) you have. Again, you may have more or less on your loom and can adjust as needed. Your Tie up is telling you which Harnesses are attached to which treadles- which is what you will lift for each pick – so the tie-up really pulls both things together.
If you are just getting started I suggest trying a few out with just a pencil and black marker so you can see the relationship between the quadrants more easily. We are going to start with a simple Birdseye. Let’s fill it in together. First, we are going to mark our warp threading. Starting on the right hand side, closest to the treadle tie up, and on the bottom row add a “1”. Then on the square diagonally left add a “2”, repeat with “3” and “4”. After 4 we will move back down diagonally and count back down “3”, “2”, and “1”. You will never have more than one number (or thread) vertically in the same column of this section because a thread will never go through 2 heddles. Your draft should now look like the one below.
Treadling and Weft Picks
Next, we will enter in our Tie-up pattern. The most common one, and the one we will use here starts left to right with 1 and 2 in the first column, 2 and 3 in the second column, 3 and 4 in the third column, and 1 and 4 in the fourth column. These are your pattern ties. You can also add your plain (or tabby) weave ties which would be 1 and 3 in the fifth column and 2 and 4 in the sixth column. I tend to split my plain weave so they are my far left and right peddles and my pattern is in the middle, but you can feel it out and tie up however feels best to you! See image below for Tie – Ups!
Now on to the Weft picks. These are located on the right side of the draft in the columns below the tie – up. Unlike the warp threading this can be fluid throughout the weaving process, but for now we will stick to our birdseye pick order so you can see how we plot our graph afterwards.
Starting at the top left of these columns mimic the sequence we did for the warp. Start with a “1” or dot in the first square, then moving diagonally right put a “2”, 3 and 4, then start moving back to the left “3”, “2”, and 1. We are ignoring the last two columns right now because we aren’t using plain weave. Your draft should now look like the photo to the right.
Filling in the Weaving Draft Pattern
Now for the fun part! Well, if you are like me and loved those days of plotting graphs in school it’s fun.
Start by looking at the first weft pick and see which harnesses will be lifted – in this case 1 and 2. On that first row of your fabric area color in all the squares that fall under a 1 or 2 in your warp threading. Do the same for the second pick, which is 2 and 3…
I tend to start this with a pencil so I don’t make mistakes. You can also use a ruler to make sure you are filling in the right row.
Keep working until you’ve completed at least your first repeat, or as much as will give you the sense of your pattern. It should start looking something like the image to the left.
That’s pretty much it! In this example your warp color is Black and your weft color is white, but it will look almost identical if you had those switched.
Now that you’ve made your own pattern you can experiment with adding colors and more complex patterns. Learning how to make and read these patterns is a critical first step to weaving, but as you progress you may want to use something like a weaving software. Using these can sometimes be a lot quicker and give you more range of color. You can check out my post about using WeaveIt to create drafts like the ones below here.
On the left here I’ve created the same Birdseye pattern in the WeaveIt app on my phone so you can see it more completed. I can also easily get creative with the colors!
Check out some colorways below – all using the same exact weaving draft!