Midwinter Night's Dream: How to Design 4-Color Echo
Four-color Echo seems to be at the top of every weavers "To Do" list these days -- chiefly because of the flowing lines and delightful iridescence. There are lots of drafts out there, certainly, and many gifted weavers creating patterns.
But how do they do it? And, more important, how can you do it on your own?
It's all through the magic of weaving software -- in my case, Fiberworks Silver for Mac. Here are some basic steps I've learned in preparing to teach a workshop for the New Hampshire Weavers Guild in April.
Choose your yarn in 4 colors for your warp. This is not as easy as it sounds! I recommend starting with 10/2 cotton (or something similar in grist). To keep it simple, start with two colors that are analogous (next to each other) on the color wheel or close to it -- in my case, that was orange and yellow. Then move across the color wheel and choose two more analogous (or close to it) colors -- in my case, purple and blue. You'll want four colors that give you a broad chromatic range.
Calculate your sett, width in reed, and number of warp ends. For Echo, choose a sett that is denser than twill but less dense than double weave. So for 10/2 cotton I chose a sett of 36 epi. My warp was 400 ends, giving me a weaving width of about 11 1/6" in the reed.
Now for the designing. Let's work on 8 shafts, which is what I did for my samples. As always with the curves of Echo, you start with a design line, using the Freehand tool on Fiberworks. Here is a sample design line. (I am showing you a different design from the one I wove for the samples, because I don't want to give away my drafts before the workshop.)
Create a parallel threading. On the Warp dropdown menu, click on "Parallel Repeat." Then click on "Extended Parallel," then enter the number 4 in the box that says "Shafts Shift By." Make sure all the other boxes are unchecked, and then click "Apply." You'll get something like this.
Each warp end in the original design line now has a parallel that is four shafts above it. (Sometimes the parallel appears to bounce around. The reason: For a warp end on shaft 8, the parallel thread that is 4 shafts "above" it is on shaft 1. Because we have only 8 shafts, we have to treat shaft 1 as the "9th" shaft, just as we would with a corkscrew twill.)
Create a 4-end parallel threading. Fiberworks has instructions on how to do this (which you'll find if you hover your cursor over the "Interleave" command in the drop-down menu under "Warp"). Essentially, it involves opening a second draft and cutting and pasting (really, interleaving) between two drafts. I found that a bit complicated, so I tried to do it another way. And it worked! How I did this: Starting with the parallel threading I created in the image above, I clicked once again on the "Parallel Repeat" option in the Warp dropdown menu. Like before, I clicked on "Extended Parallel" -- BUT this time I entered the number "2" in the box marked "Shafts Shift By." (And of course I made sure the other boxes were unchecked.)
Makes sense, doesn't it? For a 4-end parallel threading on 8 shafts, you'll want an interval of 2 between each warp end (interval of 2 x 4-end parallel = 8). So this is how our 4-end parallel threading looks.
Add your colors. For the PC version, you have to add your colors by hand. For the Mac version, you follow these steps: On the Warp dropdown menu, click on "Fill Warp Colors," then scroll all the way down in the box at the top right to select "ABCD." Four colors will appear in the boxes and, for our demonstration purposes, just click "Replace." (You can play with colors to your heart's content once you've read this tutorial.) Here's how our threading draft looks now.
But what does the full drawdown look like? That, dear reader, is for you to determine. From this point on, you can follow the instructions for Echo tieups and treadlings that I laid out in my blog post here (on February 17, 2018), giving you steps to begin designing your own extended parallel threading drafts. But just to give you an idea of how our demonstration drawdown might look, here's one version. (I'm using a blue weft -- and don't forget, if you're working with 10/2 cotton for your warp, you'll want to use a 20/2 cotton -- about half the grist -- for your weft. And also don't forget that your weft colors will have a big impact on the overall look of your fabric.)
It could use some tweaking for sure -- but not bad for starters. The design possibilities are endless! Thanks for reading.