Way back when, a twill sampler on four shafts was the second thing we did in weaving class. With the leap to join the second years we started with a twill sampler on eight shafts. It just so happened that I finished the colour and weave out of order, since I put it on my big loom (given it’s easier to use and gives me lots more width and heddles to play with).

Following standard sampler procedure, the warp was threaded in sections:

* straight – threading on shaft one, then shaft 2, 3, and on to 8 then repeat;

* pointed – changing directions, for example shaft 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 and lots more jiggling about. It can produce some attractive patterns but at the price of some long “floats” in the weft at the turning points (a potential weakness and the chance of getting snagged when using the cloth);

* herringbone – changing directions, but with a little jump each time, for example 1, 2, 3, 7, 6, 5, 4. This avoids the float problems.

* skip – no actual direction changes, but jumps, eg 4,5,6,7, 3,4,5,6

* transposed – swapping in pairs – 2,1, 4,3, 6,5, etc. I like this because it reminds me of bellringing (another interest of mine and I’m always on the lookout for ways to interpret bellringing methods in weaving).

Having set up the warp (all almond-coloured Bendigo Mills 2 ply classic wool), you have to figure which sequence of shafts to raise when weaving. Suddenly the world gets very big and scarey. …imagine a pause here, where I look at my notes and realise there is no way I’m going to explain this…

Say you decide to lift half the shafts each time you place one row of weft. You could lift:

shafts 1, 2, 3, 4

then 2, 3, 4, 5

then 3, 4, 5, 6

etc

Or you might decide to try a different combination, eg

shafts 1, 2, 3, 6

then 2, 3, 4, 7

then 3, 4, 5, 8

Or you might decide to only lift 3 shafts at a time, eg

shaft 1, 2, 4

then 2, 3, 5

then 3, 4, 6

Or… well, Liz’s handout informs me that there are 22 possible 8 shaft combinations of 8 shaft twill lifts.

The world of weaving possibilities keeps getting bigger. The central part of this photo is really four variants of one thing. All of them are weaving “on opposites” – that is, you weave a pick, say lifting 1, 2, 3, 4, then on the next pick you lift the opposite shafts – 5, 6, 7, 8.

The first bit I used wool for both wefts – one weft of red lifting 1, 2, 3, 6, then one of pink lifting 4, 5, 7, 8, then pink lifiting 2, 3, 4, 7, red lifting 1, 5, 6, 8. I tried to keep the beat similar to the rest of the sample.

Next I used very fine wefts of pink and cream. You can see the same “mountain” pattern at the right, but all squashed up because of the tiny weft.

After that I stayed with the thin wefts, but changed to a 1,2,3,4 lift. Then back to wool, this time beating harder to pack in the rows of weft.

Well, if you’ve got this far you are probably both brave and confused! At least the colour scheme this time is nice and simple – almond and red, with pink to divide up the sections. Just so you don’t think I’m turning sedate, here’s a glimpse of what’s on the loom now: