WeaveMaker User's Manual — Of Mills & Money
“Yes, We Can Weave Your Dobby Design…We’ll Do It as a Jacquard”
Only one of the following statements is true.

#1. Every design created within WeaveMaker is weaveable on a dobby loom, assuming the loom has the same number of har-nesses as the design.

#2. Every design created within WeaveMaker is equally easy to weave on a dobby loom.

The first statement is literally true. If you design a fabric in WeaveMaker, it will have a threading and peg plan, which means it can be placed onto a dobby loom (although you can design something with such extreme floats that it will fall apart). All the WeaveMaker schemes produce dobby-weavable fabric designs.

But the second statement is false, at least given the current state of automation of looms (more on that point later). Here in fact is how you can go about creating a fabric which fails the “easy to weave” criterion:

  • Set WeaveMaker to 32 harnesses.
  • Use a ZigZag threading, with no marquee (so there is no repeat).
  • Put 15 colors in the warp.
  • Use a color cornucopia scheme which doesn’t repeat. If you want to try this, just as an experiment, do the design in peg plan format with “Random Walk” as the peg plan scheme. The resulting designs, while wild, are perfectly dobby weaveable.

Indeed, Designer Software has a client who uses WeaveMaker to directly drive the dobby unit on a delightful Macomber 32-harness pneumatic-assist dobby loom. For each pick, the computer sends the harness lift data to the loom’s dobby unit, and compressed air then actually raises the harnesses. The weaver merely has to throw the shuttle and bring the beater forward. Only the weaver’s hands move; her feet are at rest.

So Where’s the Rub?
There are two rubs, actually. First, little (if any) commercial fabric is hand-woven on 32 harness looms! Many readers may be in the situation of never having seen such a loom, and few production studios can boast of owning one. Second, and more seriously, regardless of the number of harnesses involved, some designs are easier to thread and weave than others. And mills tend to charge more for things which take longer to weave or place added demands on their weavers.

Keeping it Dobby
There are some practical guide-lines to follow to ensure that a dobby design is indeed dobby-weaveable on a commercial scale.

The goal here is necessarily limited. It is beyond the scope of this manual to fully explore the intricacies of the relation-ship among designs, mills, prices, and commercial success as a designer. But in using WeaveMaker, the power of the schemes is such that designs which are beautiful on the screen but are hard to weave can easily crop up. So what follows are suggestions about how to approach the Weave-Maker schemes so as to avoid the problem of paying jacquard prices for designs which are weaveable on dobby looms.

Designing for the Loom
Most commercial dobby looms have some form of advanced automation applied to the shuttle and the dobby mechanism.

In many cases there is direct computer control. So the complexity of the peg plan is usually not a factor financially. If the shuttle can automatically pick up its thread, then the weft color selection is also fairly highly automated, so complex weft color arrangements are okay.

Hand warping and threading are commonplace, however. A complex color arrangement or threading slows down the process of getting the loom ready to weave, and increases the likelihood of mistakes creeping in.

Mills naturally wish to charge more for designs which slow them down or increase their liability for mistakes. From these observations come a few very general suggestions about harnessing WeaveMaker’s powerful structure and color schemes:

Simple Warp, Complex Weft
Keep the threading as simple as possible. Put the complexity into the peg plan.

One of the nice features of WeaveMaker is that you can work out a threading, lock it in place, and then use the cornucopia to explore many peg plans.

Have the Color Meet the Weave
Ensure that the warp color repeat and the threading repeat fit together. One should be an even multiple of the other.

Weft Blankets
Weave several different fabrics in succession on one threading. WeaveMaker’s tools make it easy to explore a wide variety of designs which can be built against a common warp. a given threading. Look for threadings which give a rich variety of designs.

In doing this, you can either give the warp a very simple color arrangement (like, all black, say), or discuss with your mill the possibility of tying a new warp onto the existing one (sometimes it is relatively easy to stop the loom, tie a new warp onto the existing warp, and thus change the warp color arrangement without actually re-threading the loom).

Warp Blankets
Useful effects can be achieved by inserting short stretches of com-plex threadings into a threading which has overall simplicity. To try this yourself, first set up a straight draw threading. Then draw a marquee around a part of that threading and click inside the marquee with the cornucopia tool. Notice how WeaveMaker confines the effect of the cornu-copia to the boundaries of the marquee.

By carefully using this feature of WeaveMaker, you can easily build warps which have substan-tial stretches of simple threading, interspersed with more challeng-ing arrangements.

Benign Simplification
WeaveMaker often will give you ideas which you can then im- prove upon. One way this hap-pens relates to complexity. Sup-pose, for example, you use a cornucopia and like the effect it creates, but the resulting design is too complex. Use the pencil tool and carefully click away at the complexity (try turning jaggy threadings, for example, into straighter draws). Often you can make a significant simplification of the threading without sacrific-ing the nifty visual feature that WeaveMaker originally showed you.

Automated Looms
Looms are getting increasingly automated. As they do, the power of WeaveMaker to create unconventional designs can be more readily harnessed. Today most looms are more highly automated in the weft than in the warp. But seek out mills which have robotic threaders. Some such threaders require a human to thread the first repeat, with the robot then doing the rest of the loom. If that is the case for you, then design fabrics which make strong use of warp repeats.

As looms in general become more automated, and as mills replace older equipment with such newer designs, you should be able to use more and more of WeaveMaker’s full powers in the warp. Meanwhile, always design with one eye firmly fixed on the realities of weaving in commercial mills.