Bead leno detail

With seven wefts tried on my leno sample there was a clear and totally unexpected winner. Which will remain unseen until the Big P2P2 Reveal.

In the meantime I have a few detail shots of the bead leno setup.

In leno warp threads swap positions instead of running along neatly beside each other. Check my photo in this post from February to see a diagram. Back then I used “doups” to get the swapping. This time it’s “beads” – or pieces of a drinking straw in this instance. The first photo shows the setup between the heddles (at the top) and the reed. I used a straight threading for the warp – that is, starting from the right, a thread on shaft 1, the next on shaft 2, then shaft 3, then shaft 4, and repeat in sets of 4 threads, so looking at the loom from the front you have 4-3-2-1 – 4-3-2-1 – 4-3-2-1… Note that each set of 4 go together through a single dent of the reed – very important because otherwise the swapping wouldn’t work.

Here’s a closeup of a 4-3-2-1 group (click on the photo to see bigger). The threads on 4 (beige in this example) and 1 (light blue) are threaded through a piece of plastic straw underneath the threads on shafts 2 and 3 (both dark blue). Underneath – another very important detail. This is still with the shafts behind and the reed in front. (I just put a pickup stick under warps 2 and 3 to make it easier to see.)

While weaving leno the threads on shafts 2 and 3 just sit there – the world revolves around them.

The third photo shows what happens when shaft 1 is lifted. The light blue thread on shaft one goes up (yellow arrow). This pulls on the straw. The beige thread on shaft 4 is pulled over because it is threaded through the same piece of straw. The red arrow points to where 4-beige has been pulled across under the dark threads on shafts 2 and 3 and up. The photo is still between shafts and reed, but in front of the reed the order of threads is now

3 (down) – 2 (down) – 4 (up) – 1 (up)

I put through the weft in front of the reed and that order is captured. Thread 4 has swapped position.

Next (photo 4) I put down shaft 1 and lift shaft 4. The beige thread on shaft 4 goes up (yellow arrow). The light blue thread is pulled across, under the dark threads (red arrow), and up. In front of the reed we have

4 (up) – 1 (up) – 3 (down) – 2 (down)

A pick of weft captures that swap.

Repeat those two picks. The warp threads on shafts 1 and 4 appear first on the right of the group, then on the left, then the right, wobbling their way down the length of the cloth. You can see it a bit on the loom in the last post, but you don’t get the full wobbly goodness until off the loom and wet finished.

I think it’s amazing – magic! Easy to set up, not too tricky to weave. The shed is not as good as standard weaving – after all the warp being pulled across is pulling down on the straw, and also pulling up on the stationary threads as it goes underneath them. Plus in this particular example I am using textured yarn with blobs of cotton and I have to be gentle given the abrasion of all the warps rubbing as they are pulled around. So I am gently separating and spreading the shed with my pickup stick every single pick. This sounds slow, but the main work has already been done automatically by the bead setup and there are so few picks per inch that it’s wizzing along very happily.

Information sources:

  • notes from my weaving teacher, Liz Calnan.
  • “A new twist on Bead Leno” by Kathryn Wertenberger. Handwoven November/December 1989.

5 Responses to “Bead leno detail”


  1. 1 Meg in Nelson July 29, 2011 at 6:19 am

    This is amazing. I had seen some instructions on this method, but that didn’t make sense, whereas your post makes sense to me. I’d imagine the shed will be pretty narrow so I’d want to use one of my foot looms if I were to do this, but man, I CAN’T WAIT to see the finished product. I. CAN’T. WAIT!!!!!

    • 2 fibresofbeing July 29, 2011 at 8:52 am

      Thanks Meg. I’ve always found any instructions on bead leno very mysterious and confusing. I was so excited when I got it and I thought just a couple of photos would help others.
      Unfortunately, as instructed, you’ll have to wait to see (! very big smile!)
      Judy

  2. 3 Louisa August 4, 2011 at 1:17 am

    That is the best explanation with photos of this structure I’ve ever seen! Congrats. Now it finally makes sense to me. I’ve done hand-manipulated leno because I couldn’t figure out how to do it this way. Thanks so much!

    • 4 fibresofbeing August 4, 2011 at 9:15 am

      Thanks Louisa!
      I should add – you can’t get plain weave on this setup. However lifting 1, then 2 and 3, gives a kind of half basket.
      Looking at 2 groups of 4 threads you get
      pick 1: 3(down)-2(down)-4(up)-1(up)-3(down)-2(down)-4(up)-1(up)
      pick 2: 4(down)-3(up)-2(up)-1(down)-4(down)-3(up)-2(up)-1(down)


  1. 1 P2P2 reveal (late) « Fibres of Being Trackback on September 2, 2011 at 7:14 pm

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