Crackle Workshop Notes and Drafts

While the guild was preparing looms for the workshop, we found that crackle comes in many flavors.  The draft shown above is traditional crackle on four shafts. The threading for each block is  Block A 1-2-3-2 Block B 2-3-4-3 Block C 3-4-1-4 Block D 4-1-2-1.  Thread each of the blocks as long as you like, then remember to add an incidental thread between blocks when you start threading the new one. The incidentals just keep the twill lines from being broken and the rule is to add an incidental on the same shaft that started the block  (The dark threads shown in the draft warp are the incidentals between blocks)

Traditional crackle uses a 2/2 twill tie up. Treadle a tabby, then a pattern treadle, then an alternate tabby then the same pattern treadle again.  To make your blocks longer, do more repeats of this process.  You can skip around treadling one block and then another in any sequence you like.

The workshop loom that Gayle had on her Baby Wolf loom was threaded with blocks A-B-C-D-C-B-A.  Each block was repeated five times and threadled 5 times.  The warp was 20/2 UKI cotton sett at 30epi.

crackle from Davison's Handweaver's Pattern Book
The draft above was taken from A Handweaver's Pattern Book (Davison) on page 195.  This was the warp on the Wolf Pup in the living room.  Suzanne put together this draft which shows the three treadlings in Davison's book.

Above  is the draft for the project on Suzanne's 8 shaft Baby Wolf.  Crackle Woven Lacy.  There is quite a back story about this particular project. The original draft was found in an old Complex Weaver's Newsletter Number 43 from Sept. 1993.  Ilse Sonner (originally from Czechoslovakia) had been working on an article for Complex Weaver's, but unfortunately passed away before the article was finished.  Eleanor Best picked up her work and put together several drafts and information about weaving crackle as lace from Ilse's notes .( If you are interested in this article and a whole lot more, you can order Complex Weavers Compilation 2 here.)

After Julie had finished winding the warp, Suzanne dressed the loom, threaded it and did the tie up.  But once she sat down to weave, she found she was weaving garbage.  The floats were long and nothing looked like the drawdown.  Several weaving heads were put together and the solution appeared to Jen on the computer.  The tabby must match the block being woven.  The tabby on the left side of the tie up worked with the odd numbered treadles, and the one on the far right worked with the even numbered treadles.  If you reverse this configuration, you get trash.    When the discussion about the reasons for this continued after the workshop, Jen wrote out this description which makes evident what is happening.

OOPS crackle                    lacy crackle
tabby     1 3 5 7                2 4 6 8
pattern    2 3 5 7                2 3 5 7
tabby     1 3 5 7                2 4 6 8
pattern    2 3 5 7                2 3 5 7
tabby     1 3 5 7                2 4 6 8
only one shaft alternated            three shafts alternated giving good cloth
giving $%^&* cloth

This draft and the cloth appearance were a real favorite of workshop weavers.  The technique can be translated to other crackle drafts and when I researched the crackle woven as lace topic, I did find more about it in Weave Classic Crackle and More (Wilson) on page 39.  She called it Crackle woven as Bronson Lace.

Jen brought her Wolf Pup to the workshop threaded and ready for this project from Mary Meigs Atwater Recipe Book Series VII No. 1. The complete project is a flower and leaves;  Jen adapted it to the drawdown on the left of the photo shown below.  (Note - the Atwater Recipe Book is expensive, but Mary Meigs Atwater's crackle information can be downloaded for free as a PDF.)

If you have the original information on this project, you will appreciate the complete treadling instructions Jen put together, complete with color coding.  One motif was woven at the workshop and it is a stunning example of just how much complexity you can achieve on a four shaft loom.

Please note that Jen's written instructions and graphics are her personal property and are copyright by her.  Please do not reproduce or copy to another site without her permission.

The last draft shown here is what I call freeform crackle.  Is it real crackle or just a point twill?  I can't give a definitive answer, but I'll give you the formula for designing and weaving your own draft.  For simplicity's sake, I start on shaft one in the threading.  I ascend  a minimum of two more shafts  (example 1-2-3) in the treadling, but going up more is fine too 1-2-3-4-5 etc.  Then, I come back down a minimum of two shafts (example 1-2-3-2-1 is a complete up and down sequence).  You will see that I keep the threading continuous and always follow the two up and down minimum rule.  Treadling follows the same rule.  Start on treadle one and go up two and then down two.  But don't stick with these little points if you don't want to.  Make them large  1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-1-2-1-8-7-6-5-4-5-6-7-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 etc.  If you use the tie up given in the draft, you will never get more than a three thread float.  No tabby needed.  This is totally freeform - design as you weave.  You can even do a demonstration with this warp and talk to people as you weave because you quickly get  in tune with walking up and down the treadles.

I found that the threading in this draft be treadled for a lacy appearance, or you could use tabbies and treadle in a block-like manner.

I suspect that this article may leave some scratching their heads, wondering what in the world is going on here.  A more articulate writer could probably make it a lot easier to understand.  So if you want more information, please do try to find  Weave Classic Crackle and More by Susan Wilson.  This book covers the four shaft versions and variations of traditional crackle very well.   Then, if you have a copy or can find one of Eight Shafts A Place to Begin, by Wanda Shelp and Carolyn Wostenberg, Chapter 9 on Understanding Crackle gives you good information on designing and weaving crackle with 8 shafts.

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