Colonial Doubleweave

July has been a very busy time, what with all the watering (it’s been hot and dry), squishing of bugs, and weeding, not to mention flax harvesting. However, I recently did a tiny bit of weaving for my double-weave study group with the Pioneer Valley Weavers Guild, led by the elegant and brilliant Barbara Elkins.

Doubleweave is a versatile technique that lets you weave two layers of cloth at the same time. The layers can be joined at the right or left edges, joined at both edges, they can be totally separate, or they can exchange periodically (i.e., the bottom layer comes to the top and the top layer goes to the bottom). Our samples used four shafts, which is the minimum number you need.

The whole process has been full of visual surprises, beginning with winding the warp. For our samples, we wound a warp with two alternating colors. I chose black and white for maximum contrast. On the left, below, is the cross with my counting thread. You can see the separation of the white and black layers. On the right is the warp as I was beaming on. The alternating black and white ends get sorted into their respective layers when they go through the lease sticks. In the section of the warp that hasn’t yet been beamed on there is a cool transition between where they alternate and where they become separated. I warp back to front, so this un-separated section is in the front of the loom.

doubleweave warpdoubleweave cross







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Woad Has Enemies

Every year I have problems with cabbage white caterpillars eating holes in my woad. Some years are worse than others. The caterpillars are hard to spot and pick off because they are the exact same color as the leaves, or more precisely, the veins. The butterflies are very pretty, of course, because they are butterflies. I have not been able to get a good photo of a cabbage white butterfly (same problem as my earlier bee post), but click on the link above to see some great ones (12/22/2023 Edited to add, the original link stopped working. The new link to UMass Extension is informative but doesn’t have a lot of images.). And the butterflies don’t do any harm, per se. It’s the caterpillars, or cabbage worms, that are the problem.

Here’s a photo of a particularly small and innocuous-looking one sitting on my woad:

tiny cabbage white caterpillar Continue reading “Woad Has Enemies”

Woad is Glorious

My woad beds are looking fantastic! I am very pleased about this. For the past couple summers, the woad plants at Amethyst Brook have been small and feeble compared to the woad I grew up at the dye- and fiber-plant garden at Bramble Hill Farm. This year the garden at Bramble Hill has been sadly neglected (well, I’ve been distracted by multiple flax plots), so the community garden is my sole source of woad. Consequently, I made an extra effort to add plenty of composted manure before planting this year. And ta-da, success. Here is one bed before I weeded it the other day:

woad bed Continue reading “Woad is Glorious”

Mystery Cordage Plant Identified

Simone and I concur that our mystery cordage plant is Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata. What a name! The milkweeds are named after the Greek god of healing and medicine, Asclepius. According to The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers (Eastern Region) this is “undoubtedly because some species have long been used to treat a variety of ailments.” The Latin species name incarnata means “flesh-colored,” according to the Audubon Guide. Incarnata doesn’t make it into the “epithets” list in The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common and Botanical, unfortunately. To me the name implies that this is the god Asclepius incarnate (made physical, made flesh, the body of the god), which is spectacular. Continue reading “Mystery Cordage Plant Identified”