Image of Brocade in inkle woven band.
Some people think that the brocade is difficult.
I find it much more straightforward than the pick-up techniques.
You can do a brocade on any background but you will get a
"cearer image" in a solid colored background. Use the same
color weft as warp. Your weft should be the same diameter
or smaller (I prefer a smaller weft in brocades) than your
warp. The design for this technique uses the same 3:1 (columns:rows)
graph paper as with the rest of the drafting techniques.
I draw my design in a width that represents the same number
of threads I'll use in the design, not the number of inches.
Then, using a light table (or a window), I'll trace the design
onto the graph paper. Then, I fill in the blanks of the graph
paper with the colors I want to use. Please realize that
just because I'm working on a band that is two inches wide,
using 16/2 cotton, it doesn't mean that I use a two-inch
wide section of graph paper. Two inches of 16/2 cotton is
about 90 heddles wide (that's 180 wraps with the warp). I
need my graph paper to be 90 columns wide. It would be near
impossible to draw my graph paper that small and still
be able to see the sections of the paper if made to scale.
So, It gets drawn many times the actual size of the threads.
Count threads, not inches, when designing.
You can realistically use any number of other colors in
your brocade as you wish. The more colors you use, the more
confusing it will become. Your pattern threads need to be
no larger than the diameter of the warp threads but you need
to at least double the threads. I've found that using a much
thinner thread and tripling or quadrupling it works great.
That way, when the threads float on the surface, they tend
to spread out so that background doesn't show throughas much
in the final product. I use old playing cards, cut into the
shape of a shuttle, and wind my brocade pattern threads on
these. That way they are small and tend to stay out of the
way of each other.
Once the loom has been warped, weave a few rows of straight
weave; about an inch worth of weaving is a good base. Then,
select the shuttle(s) that are holding the pattern thread(s)
that will appear in your first row of brocade weaving. Weave
those threads into your straight weave, hiding them in the
warp, just like the weft, for two rows. On the third row,
you can begin your brocade patterning. Open a shed and leave
your primary shuttle in the shed. Hold the top threads in
your left hand. Using your pattern as a guide, count how
many threads you will have to pass from your left hand to
your right hand before you get to the place where the pattern
starts. Transfer those threads. Now, count how many columns
of color #1 of your pattern thread you need. This number
is how many threads you must drop. You drop them because
when you pass the pattern color shuttle, the pattern threads
will float over these warp threads. Continue on across the
row for that color, dropping or passing warp threads. When
you get to the end of the warp threads, pass the pattern
thread shuttle through this new shed you have created and
set it aside. Re-open the original shed and repeat for the
next color(s). Finally, re-open the shed one last time and
pass your weft shuttle. Change sheds and beat down the threads.
Much of the literature that I have read recommends passing
the weft first, before the pattern threads. I prefer to pass
the weft last because sometimes it helps to hide the pattern
threads at the selvedge edge. When you have changed sheds,
just repeat this same
procedure for the next row(s) of your pattern. When you are
finished with a particular color of pattern thread, bind
it into the warp threads in the same manner in which you
started using it (passing it with the weft for two rows of
weaving). Then, cut it just shy of the edge and set aside
until you need it again. Whenever you need to introduce a
pattern color, be sure to pass it with the weft for two rows
of weaving prior to the place where it will be introduced
as a visible thread. This secures the threads. When finished
using a thread, either permanently or temporarily (which
means it will be quite a few rows before you need it again),
pass it with the weft for a couple of rows before cutting
off. There are some other techniques for passing brocade
threads but this is the easiest for beginners. By the method
described above, there will be no pattern threads on the
back of the inkle band.
If you will be sewing the brocaded band onto something else,
you can have threads floating around onthe back side because
they'll be hidden when you attach it to the "something else"
Note: In some patterns, your brocade floats may get quite
long. When this happens, it is common practice (modern and "period")
to anchor the floats with a single warp. For example, your
band is 50 heddles wide and you are using 4/2 cotton (result
would be about 2-1/2 inches wide). Your brocade pattern colors
are made up of tripled 8/2 cotton. In a particular row, your
brocade pattern color is to cover 20 consecutive warp threads.
When dropping those 20 warp threads, don't drop all of them.
Keep about two or three of them up, evenly spaced, on top
of the pattern thread by passing them from your left to your
right hand. That way, when your pattern thread floats on
the warp threads, they are not as likely to get snagged (after
you finish and actually use this band for something) because
they are anchored by a couple of warp threads.
Another option is to, after the band is complete, tack down
the floats with a single thread of the same brocade color.