Here are some resources that may prove handy for those just beginning to design their own handwoven fabric:
- Bonnie Inouye’s book “Exploring Multishaft Design”. This book is AWESOME (and so is Bonnie!). The examples shown are for sixteen shafts, but I worked through it originally on an 8-shaft loom and found it really, really helpful. It is a series of exercises, so don’t expect to just read through it – you need to do the exercises to get the full benefit. I was lucky enough to have Bonnie walk me through it as part of an online study group – but think it’s invaluable to the beginning designer.
- Sharon Alderman’s book “Mastering Weave Structures” provides a good introduction to the fundamental weave structures and variations thereof, with lots of pictures and drafts. Great info!
- Doramay Keasbey’s books are fantastic. “Pattern Techniques for Handweavers” is an encyclopedic book about weave structures and designing weave structures. it’s my go-to book when I want to learn more about the theory of a particular structure, with practical tips on design. “Designing with Blocks” covers drafting and profile drafts.
- Madelyn van der Hoogt’s “The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers” is pretty dense – I found it a bit confusing as a beginner – but also really good.
- Peggy Osterkamp’s three-book series “Winding a Warp and Using a Paddle”, “Warping Your Loom and Tying on New Warps”, and “Weaving and Drafting Your Own Cloth” are invaluable for their technical wisdom. The first two books cover warping back to front in lots of detail, with great diagrams, and with lots of tips that will be handy even if you don’t warp BTF. It also has the best set of sett tables I’ve ever seen, and an explanation of how to calculate setts. The last book covers weaving with great tips as well. Peggy also has a new book, “Weaving for Beginners”, which is also chock-full of useful tips.
- Laura Fry’s “Magic in the Water” covers wet-finishing and is totally awesome. It’s available either as a fairly pricey book-with-samples or as a much more inexpensive CD from Laura: http://www.laurafry.com .
- Laura Fry also teaches weaving ergonomics workshops that are well worth attending. I was lucky enough to study privately with Laura for four days at her house (she does take private students), which helped my weaving technique/ergonomics immensely.
Fabric design (not related to weave structures):
- Sharon Alderman’s “A Handweaver’s Notebook” has photos of all her Handwoven swatch collections plus explanations of why she chose the yarns, setts, colors, etc. It’s out of print but if you can lay your hands on a copy, it’s great.
- Janet Phillips’ “Designing Woven Fabrics” walks you through a sampler blanket that shows some of the many variations available on four shafts, then walks through a large number of samples/projects that she did, explaining design ideas, fiber choices, color choices, etc. for each one.
Weaving software and how to use it:
- If you are interested in structure, do consider getting weaving software. WeaveDesign is free and will get you started. Other software available includes Fiberworks PCW (what I use and reputedly the most popular weaving software), Weavepoint, PixeLoom, WeaveIt, Wif’n'Proof (available for iPad, iPhone, Android, and – I think – PC). These will make drafting much easier.
- If you are into imagery and have lots of shafts on a dobby loom, consider Alice Schlein’s “The Liftplan Connection” and/or Marg Coe’s “Fit 2 Be Tied”. Both describe ways to design using Photoshop, weaving software, and a dobby loom to create interesting patterns.
- If you are interested in design, I seriously recommend joining Complex Weavers, and then joining some of the study groups. They’re a great way to meet and get help from like-minded weavers.
- Don’t be afraid to use the various weaving groups to help you troubleshoot! Aside from WeaveTech, there’s also the Weaving yahoo group, Weavolution, the Warped Weavers group on Ravelry (though they focus more on beginning weavers), and Interweave’s Weaving Today. They’ve been an invaluable source for me when I’ve run into problems.
- Your local guilds!
- Older issues of Handwoven have lots of great info, but the queen of weaving magazines (now sadly defunct) is Weaver’s. It is long out of print, but back issues are well worth the money, and the book series Best of Weaver’s (edited by Madelyn van der Hoogt; search for them on Amazon) contains many articles from Weaver’s, compiled into themed books like “Summer and Winter Plus”, “Huck Lace”, etc. Well worth buying and reading!
The last thing I’d suggest is finding yourself a mentor if at all possible, to help you through your questions and trouble spots. I was lucky enough to get help from quite a few more experienced weavers, and would have had a hard time learning to design strictly on my own. Ask around. Many expert weavers are super generous with their knowledge. See if some of them offer private tutoring – it’s well worth the money.