Category: Resources

Four O’Clock Pattern, Time to Start Over

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After spotting this delightful 1932 article on creating a four-harness design using a two-harness loom, I knew I had to give it a try, and, naturally, I chose the most intricate pattern in the article, Four O'Clock (page 13). The only problem was, I didn't know how to warp it, or what to use to warp it. I didn't know how to sley the pattern. I wasn't at all certain how to read the treadling pattern, or what a treadling pattern was.

So, of course, I closed my eyes and jumped right on in, chosing a black cotton warp of size 10 cotton (Aunt Lydia's). The article used a cotton rug warp, which I think is thicker, but when you're going back to 1932, who knows? I warped about 8" wide on the Kessenich two harness table loom, carefully following the pattern. Instead of a plain weave sleying, where you do a front heddle, a back heddle, a front, a back, etc., this pattern was kind of nutty. You sley about seven front heddles in a row, followed by a bunch of back heddles, and then some front, some back… it eventually repeats only with the back ones swapped to the front and vice versa. It looked mighty odd when I finished, but I was still game. I tied on and started weaving with some scrap acrylic.

It was at that point that I realized I truly didn't understand what it meant to read a draft. It states something like Treadle 1 l., Treadle 2 d., repeat 4 times. So, I wove thinking it meant use the light color once, the dark color twice, and this is what happened:

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Interesting, but not quite right. I unwove, took another look at the instructions, and had a flash of insight. Treadle 1 meant the front harness. Treadle 2 meant the back harness. So, in fact, it reads that the l (l=light color) goes through when the front harness is up. The dark color follows when the back harness is up. After my little realization, the pattern started coming through, albeit in an exaggerated manner:

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I need to unweave once again and start over with a smaller gauge of yarn. The point I stopped was only the middle of the first set of "squares," and it should be much more compact. I'll be back with some type of result, good or bad. If it's good, I hope to be able to come up with a way to do this with a rigid heddle loom.

More Two Harness Resources

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Spending time in the archives of the handweaving world is an awful lot of fun if you're a bookish person like me or even if you realize you don't always have to remake the wheel. Here's the proof:

  • My favorite find of the week: Weaving Four-Harness Patterns on a Two-Harness Loom, by Agnes K. Nielsen. Take a look at the "Four O'Clock" pattern on page 13 and be stunned. Woven with two harnesses!
  • Something Different In Two Harness Weaving, by Emmy Sommer, offers a challenge with joining in new colors, but the results look worth all the trouble.
  • The Rigid Heddle newsletter always has some great ideas, but the Leno Lace examples with the plain weave borders are really neat. I truly love the Mexican Lace variation, however. I haven't seen it before.
  • And here's a modern article from WeaveZine, Honeycomb Spot Bronson on Two Shafts by Sigrid Piroch, meant to be used to create Bronson Lace with two shafts and an additional warp thread, but I imagine this would be a way to do other types of patterns, too, such as a "Jeans Twill." Scroll down to the bottom to see how the sheds open. I'm still wrapping my brain around this one.

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Two Harness Patterns


Last week, I was thinking that maybe, just maybe I'd get bored with a two-harness loom. I mean, using a rigid heddle + another heddle makes a three or four harness loom, which means patterns like twill are possible.

But with the Kessenich two-harness table loom, I'm kinda stuck with two harness. I had thought that meant plain weave, aka tabby.

So, I challenged myself to find some patterns and so I wandered over to, clicked on the Draft Archives, clicked on search, and then asked for all the drafts with a minimum of two harnesses and a maximum of two harnesses. Guess how many results I had? 772.

Even if many of these are simply repeats of log cabin or stripes, I bet you anything I can find enough to keep myself busy with only two harnesses!