How to Read a Weaving Draft

This Article is part of a series about Weaving Drafts

Last week I explained all the different terms that are used in weaving drafts.

Today I will show you how all the fancy words come together, so you can read and translate a standard weaving draft.

Disclaimer: A standard reading draft to me is translated for a jack-type loom where the shed is created by lifting the harnesses.

The Draft

A simple color and weave pattern. A red and grey hounds tooth.
A simple color and weave pattern. A red and grey houndstooth.

A color and weave pattern means that a pattern is created by the intersection of the stripes of different colors. And they are defined by the type of weave structure used to create it. This is a balanced twill with 6 thread stripes in both the warp and weft.

Think of a weaving draft like a graph. Each square in the threading intersects with the treadling. And the treadling is dictated by the tie-up.

Beginning from left to right:

Color in weave pattern with first thread marked.
For ease of direction I have made the draft black and white and the specific threads I am discussing will be marked in red.

The first warp thread is on harness number one. On the right side of the draft is the treadling sequence. The first treadle used in this pattern is treadle number four. Treadle four is connected to harnesses one and four. As the treadle is pressed down, harnesses one and four are lifted while harnesses two and three remain still.

So as you throw your shuttle through the warp, the shuttle will slide over the resting threads that are on harnesses two and three and will go under the threads lifted on harnesses one and four.

Looking at the very first thread in the draft above you will see that the warp thread is going over the first weft thread laid.

As you look across the draft you will see that any warp thread that is marked in the threading as being on harnesses two or three, the weft thread has passed over these threads.

Let us continue through the pattern to see how each section progresses.

Black and White v2

The second warp thread is on harness two. The second step of the treadling pattern is treadle number three. Treadle three is attached to harnesses three and four. So now harnesses one and two are at rest while harnesses three and four are raised up. So now the weft thread will pass over threads that are on harnesses one and two while going under harnesses three and four.

The pattern that develops from this progression is called a balanced 2/2 twill.

A 2/2 twill is a pattern where the weft thread will go over two consecutive warp threads and under two consecutive warp threads. And it will progress in a 45 degree angle across your cloth because each step of the twill moves over by one.

So as you weave:

  • The first weft thread will go over warp threads on harnesses 2 and 3
  • The next weft thread will go over warp threads on harnesses 1 and 2
  • The third thread will go over warp threads 1 and 4
  • And the final weft thread of the progression will go over warp threads 3 and 4.

It is balanced because the warp threads are also going over and under two consecutive weft threads.

So, as an exercise, find a weaving pattern that you are interested in doing. Follow the first weft thread across to see which harnesses are lowered, causing the warp threads to go under the weft. And see which harnesses are lifted, causing the warp threads to go over the weft. You will be able to tell which harnesses are being lifted by following the treadling up to the tie-up at the top of the draft.

  1. Lynn D
    HI Thank you for having these articles. I used to have a brain that would just weave whatever, could do drafting in my head, and do it. But in last 5 years, taking care of family and mother, let myself get overly stressed and is difficult. Found a book at the library by Margo Selby and now trying to figure her draft info. Am mostly looking to see if a draft of the weaving (looks like 21harnesses though) on forward page. Do am trying to graph page 83 Bowie and 84(Hendix). So while using the threading plan and looking at the pattern B, do you know if I follow straight top to bottom (so first harness#2 then next weft harness #1 or is it right to left or? Thank you for any hints. maybe I could write to the publisher or Margo herself. EnJoy (did see Saori last month online and it does look fun and alive, found a frame loom and playing with that is nice)
  2. linda goldenberg
    I have a question and don't know who to ask: weaving a blanket from draft in Handwoven, 1990; 60" wide; my loom is 36, so must warp only 30" and make twice as long. How do I thread only 1/2 the color sequence and make twice as long without warping it 2 times? Draft has a 6X repeat in middle. Do I cut this in 1/2? etc., etc.?? thanks to anyone who might be able to help. Linda
  3. Tia
    Thank you for this article. I am really new to weaving, and have wanted to try something more than tabby and none of the books I have been looking through explained how to read the dang drafts, very frustrating. Until now!