101) Silk, Spindles, Swag, and So, how do you make those little diagrams, anyway?

Today was the Christmas Special meeting at Rampton Spinners.  This one's a different beast from our usual meetings; there is a pot-luck lunch, and P&M Woolcraft come to visit.  We generally make it *very* worth their while.  I will admit to a certain restraint this year; I stuck to my budget and bought one book and two tools:


I'm quite excited about the flick-carder.  I've wanted one for ages, and I'm hoping it'll help a whole pile with some of the less processed fibre I have in my, umm, backlog.  The niddy-noddy is slated to become part of my spindling kit, which itself will live in my Rampton challenge bag; it's cute and tiny and my regular one just doesn't fit so well.

Last year, I got precious little spinning done at our Christmas meet, what with the shopping and the scoffing and the socialising, so this year I decided to take a spindle along rather than lug the wheel the whole long way.  I span a lot more than I anticipated:


This is part of my ongoing silk spindling project, which I think I photographed but did not really talk about back in July.  I have a long-standing habit of buying small packets of pretty silk whenever it takes my fancy; 10g here, 15g there.  A small habit, but they add up.  So I've been spindling my way through them at a leisurely pace, and they will all become warp for a luscious silk scarf.  The weft will be plain tussah silk, and may or may not be spindle-spun.  This is my spun silk so far:


It turned out to be a seriously spindlelicious meeting; Sarah aspindlerated several people (some already spinners, some not), and a couple of other people had brought spindles instead of wheels, too.  I'm certain I've never seen that many working spindles at one meeting before.

So, how do you make those krokbragd  pictures?
Ahh, yes, I've had a few people ask about these.  I didn't use any fancy weaving software to make them; I used PowerPoint  NB:  you don't even need PowerPoint to do this!!  You can do it in Word, too, or anything that allows you to draw rectangles and group them together.  Consider OpenOffice for a totally free alternative – it can even read and create Microsoft Office files!  If you don't know what I mean by grouping things in a drawing, you might want to check out the online help for your software.

So.  The fabric is reresented by a grid of rectangles.  Each row consists of three groups of rectangles.  A group represents a throw of the shuttle, and its rectangles indicate the places where the threads show for that throw:


This picture shows six groups spread out as if they haven't been beaten down to cover the warp.  The group at the top of the picture is selected:


The magic of grouping means that if you click on one of the rectangles in a group, it selects the whole group.  And if you change the colour of one of those rectangles, then the other rectangles in the group will also change colour:


So, by playing with the paint-pot/fill tool, you can colour in your grid any way you like, and it should be a 'weavable' krokbragd design.  Cool, huh??

Want to play with this? 
Drop me an email or a comment with your email address in, and I'll email you a copy of 'The Krokbragd Colouring Book'.  I would like to offer it simply for download, but I need to sort out hosting first!  I don't think you can offer downloads from TypePad accounts…


  • This is a PowerPoint presentation, but you can open it in OpenOffice.  I have no idea what the compatibility with Macs is like these days.
  • Be aware that PowerPoint files, like anything that allows macros, can include viruses/malicious content.  I run a virus checker.  So should you.
  • This is effectively an untested tool.  Sample, sample, sample!
  • This system doesn't account for the deflection of the
    yarn caused by being squished.  So these are theoretical patterns, and
    might not weave up to look exactly like they do on the screen (well,
  • Feel free to distribute this, play with it, give it to your friends, show it at your guild.  But please also leave the notice with my name and blog address in place, and if you show it to other people, credit would be nice!

100) Return of the Krokbragd

I haven't actually woven any more krokbragd since my earlier post, but I've been thinking about it a fair bit.  I wanted to explain how this weave actually works, and I've come up with a way of 'virtually' weaving krokbragd that allows me to play with the possible designs quickly, on my computer.  (*ahem* at work *ahem*).

Before I get started, I need to acknowledge Geodyne as the originator of all of this.  Whilst I was working on my Rampton Bag, she was working on her's.  In krokbragd.  Go see it!  And her krokbragd post, too.  When she mentioned it was a three-shaft weave, I knew I could play with it on the RH loom, and a minor obsession was born…

A Krokbragd Summary
I've actually found out relatively little about Krokbragd on the Internet, so here are the facts:

  • Krokbragd is a three-shaft, weft faced weave, and I believe it comes from Norway
  • The threading is a point twill (1-2-3-2), so repeats over 4 threads.
  • According to this website, it is always treadled in a simple sequence, so the order in which the sheds are lifted is 1&2 – 2&3 – 3&1.
  • Because of the way the weft packs down over the warp, it actually
    takes three weft shots before the eye sees a single, finished 'row' in
    the fabric.
  • The weft-faced nature of the fabric, plus the threading pattern, is incredibly well-suited for making patterns.

In krokbragd, three throws of the shuttle interact to produce a single 'row' of colour in the growing fabric.  Or, of course, one throw each of three different shuttles, which is where the fun begins.  Because three colours can be used in each row, and there are two different patterns that the colours can show up in, the design possibilities are immense.

A quick search for krokbragd on Google Images shows, straight away, how very different krokbragd fabrics can look.  It reminds me most of Fair Isle knitting, which uses only two colours per row, and yet can produce such a huge variety of design.  I'd love to include some of those images in my post, but of course – they aren't mine, so it would be rude.  The beauty!!  Please, go look!

The details
So.  I ended my previous krokbragd post with a picture which looked little-to-nothing like the weaving I'd shown at the start of the post:


This picture has different warp colours for each shaft (1-2-3-2), and always the same colour in the weft.  that's not how krokbragd works.  In krokbragd weaving, the warp is completely covered by the weft, and it's the weft that changes colour.  So, if we take the same image as above, then change it round so the warp is all black, and we are alternating colours in the weft:


Then look at the back of it, otherwise produced by raising two shafts and once instead of only one, so 'overs' become 'unders' and so on:


Then make the warp realllly skinny:


Now you can see how, if we beat harder, the weft will pack down on the warp, so that three successive weft picks smush into the gaps left by their predecessors.  Leaving:


Stripey!!  Notice how half the stripes are red.  The other half are split evenly between red and blue.  And you don't have to do anything very complicated to swap that pattern out for this one:


After a few repeats of yellow-blue-red, we throw in one lot of yellow-blue-blue, then switch to red-yellow-blue for a bit.  Then one lot of yellow-blue-blue, and back to the original.  See?

This next pattern shows up all over in krokbragd designs, can you see how it works?


What about this one?


Or this?


And you can get quite delicate with the designs, too:


Essentially, you have a design block four 'pixels' wide.  The colour sequence in the block will always be A-B-C-B, where any or all of the colours may be the same.  The same block will repeat across the whole row, but the colours can change as much as you like between rows.  You can swap weft colours as often as you like to build your design, but note that the 'A' elements will always stack up on each other,
as will the 'B' elements (of which there are twice as many) and the 'C'
elements.  Bearing in mind I've stuck to a total of three colours in my little 'samples' here, I can't even begin to imagine the variety possible with more.

I was going to talk about how I used Microsoft Word to mock up all these patterns, but…  it seems to me this entry is long enough as it is.  Later!

93) Kracking Krokbragd, Grommit!

So after extensive re-organisation of the studio, I spent a good chunk of yesterday figuring out how to weave Krokbragd on a rigid heddle loom, with two heddles:


My word, I think I've got it!!

Krokbragd is a weft-faced weave woven on three shafts.  Just like with the 2-1 twill I experimented with a while ago, a rigid heddle loom with two heddles on it has three shafts.  A 'regular' loom needs a harness for every shaft it uses; the rigid heddle gets an extra one for free, because the threads that pass through the holes in the heddle can be pushed down as well as pulled up, leaving the threads in the slots behind.  With two heddles, a thread can pass through slots alone (let's call this shaft 1), through the front hole and the back slot (shaft 2), or through the front slot and the back hole (shaft 3). 

Krokbragd is threaded on a four-thread repeat, over the three shafts, in a pattern that repeats 1-2-3-2.  That looks like this on our rigid heddle threading:


Use a 1-2-3 lifting pattern, and you get something like this:


  Which doesn't look an awful lot like the first picture, does it?  Well, my lovelies, that will have to wait for another day.