Twill weave

Last week I finally finished a weave that I have been working on since Christmas – weaving twill on a rigid heddle loom does take time. Today I present my newly cut down twill weave.

If you are a patron (or want to become one) you can see more of my twill weave and the cutting of the warp in my January and March 2023 video postcards.

Two medalists in the 2020 Swedish fleece championships are the foundation in this weaving project. Both the shepherdesses have received numerous medals in the championships over the years.

A seduction warp

The fleece I used for the warp yarn is a Swedish leicester/finull/Gotland mixbreed. It got the Wool guru’s seduction medal with the motivation from the founder of the prize, Alan Waller:

”I am seduced as if a fantasy drawing had become reality. A wool type of its own – that a fleece with such fine and soft fibers can exist in this enormous length! This kind of wool simply doesn’t exist […]. My spindle watches it with its single eye, wondering, longing, dreaming – what may become of this?” [my translation]

The staples are indeed long – 18 centimeters – and the fibers unusually soft for such a length. The shine is remarkable and I couldn’t really stay away from the sweet locks when I got them in my hands.

I combed the locks, which was quite a task considering their length, and spun worsted into a singles warp yarn. Look at those bird’s nests, aiming for the sky like newly piped cream buns.

Nypon/Rose hip

The other fleece was a Swedish finull lamb’s fleece that won a silver medal in the finull category. The lamb is named Nypon, which means Rose hip. A sweet shine and playful crimp, the softest of soft fibers.

Finull was the first fleece I ever spun, so the sweet and crimpy staples feel like home to me. I teased the wool with a combing station, carded rolags and spun with an English longdraw into a woolen singles weft yarn.

In the dye pot

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am not a good dyer. Yet it doesn’t stop me from dyeing. I like warm colours, so usually I start by mixing equal parts blue, red and yellow to create a brown base. After that I add the colour I want. For the past few years I have had a teal period and I still do. I added a mix of three parts blue and one part yellow to the brown base and ended up with a colour I liked. I then dyed one warp bath with almost full colour saturation and one weft bath with a lot less, ending up with two shades of the same colour. Eventhough I had aimed for a slightly bluer shade and a higher contrast I still like the result.

I had chained my skeins together to keep them in order in the dye bath, but forgot to loosen up the knots, so there are some spots with almost undyed yarn. This annoyed me of course, but looking at the finished weave I do like the perfectly imperfect colour variegation.


While almost almost all of my weaving projects with my handspun yarn has had singles weft yarn I have never woven with a singles warp, let alone a singles handspun warp yarn. With the very long fibers in the fleece I chose for the project I figured I might as well challenge myself to weave my very first singles warp. I knew it was a risk, but since I was going to weave a twill fabric I figured the setup would lead to less friction on the warp ends than a tabbe weave.

Warping my twill weave. You can see how the warp yarn still has energy.

To prepare the yarns, especially the warp, for a life in a weave I wound them rather tightly around pebbles. I learned this from a video with Andean spinning and weaving. This method helps removing some of the energy in the singles. While it did help some, there was still enough energy left to get me into some trouble. When I dressed my loom the warp ends wound themselves around each other which gave me work to do every time I advanced the warp. I had to manually detangle every warp thread to be able to make the advance.

Twill weave

A rigid heddle loom can, in its original execution, only weave tabby. I have an addition that makes it possible to weave with a second heddle. With this I can weave things like double weave and two separate layers that are folded in one or two ends. With the two heddles, a heddle stick and an extra warp stick I can create the four shafts I need for a 3/1 twill. I have done this a couple of times before.

The homemade four shafts: Two rigid heddles, one warp stick and one heddle stick (screenshot from patron video).

While it does take time I love the method and, what’s more important, I understand it. A regular loom is way too complicated for me with all its possibilities. I do the other way around and start with a very simple loom and add on when I feel I have the skill to and/or deserve it. The fact that it is even possible to make a four shaft weave in a simple loom is just lovely!

Two sides

Now, back to the yarns I spun – one shiny and strong, the other soft and warm. With a 3/1 twill I can weave a fabric with one side that is warp dominated and the other weft dominated. This means that the warp dominated side is shiny, strong and weather resistant, just like the tips of a double coated fleece protecting the sheep against the rain. The weft dominated side in turn, is soft and warm similarly to how the undercoat protects the sheep against cold. I created a fabric that is for me what the fleeces once were to the sheep.

Since I dyed the weft and warp yarns in different shades, the weft facing side is slightly lighter than the warp facing side.

A finished fabric

After nearly hyper ventilating I managed to cut down the warp. And I really loved the result. The fabric has just the drape I was looking for and I love the difference in the warp and weft faced sides. There were lots of broken warp threads along the way, which I had anticipated. As always, my mistakes create a map of what I have learned, a map that is especially clear in a weaving project.

Every inch of the yarn has been used. Just a couple of meters were left of the warp yarn after warping. I used those to rescue and join broken warp threads during the weaving. I used all the weft yarn down to the last centimeter. All that is left are the thrums. And I will find good use for them too.

The twill weave got even softer after washing, especially on the weft facing side, of course. A garment is finished and I will tell you all about it in an upcoming blog post.

Happy spinning!

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17 Replies to “Twill weave”

  1. This is so so inspiring! Whenever I read a blog article of yours, it seems to me I read about a variation of an idea I am also pondering, plus I feel nudged to finally put this idea into action. Thank you so much for all you do, Josefin!

      1. Now I am thinking through how to do the 3/1 twill on my rigid heddle. I’ve never done this before, I am a little bit terrified 😬. May need to do a training piece…

  2. Brava, Josefin !!!!!!

    …..and your color work was spot-on for anyone loving a delicious indigo-denim look – exquisite job all ‘round !

  3. This is a real inspiration Josefin. I love that you’ve used 100% hand spun and hand dyed yarn, and that you’ve combined a worsted and a woollen yarn so effectively.
    Thank you!

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