This Time in Color

Thick and thin in color. The appeal for me is that something so simple can look so complex. How can plain weave do this? By having thick and thin threads that alternate in a certain way. Add color, and the options multiply!

Thick and thin on the loom, using double bobbin shuttle.
Double bobbin shuttle carries the thick weft. 30/2 cotton for the thin weft adds texture and complexity to the plain weave.

For the thin thread, I use 30/2 cotton. This very thin thread has a big impact on the fabric design. Strategically placed in the warp, it helps define the two blocks. Repeating the thin thread in a weft sequence is what produces a block change while weaving. The thin threads are integral to the design, yet they will barely be noticed after the fabric is wet-finished.

It is fascinating how much impact little things have. Character is revealed in the very little things. It’s the special touch you add, the extra time you give, the kind thoughts you think. It’s how you are at home, doing ordinary things for your family. It’s who you are, what you are thinking, and what you are doing. …when no one is noticing. These are the little things that tell who we are at the core. Faithful in little; faithful in much.

May all your little threads fall into place.

With you,

24 thoughts on “This Time in Color

  1. Your piece is beautiful! Thank you for your commitment to this blog and it’s readers. We learn so much from you on so many levels. God bless you!

    1. Hi Suzie,
      I’m glad you love the colors. It’s always a bit of a surprise to see how the colors mix as they are woven together.


    1. Hi Debbie, Yes, 30/2 is very fine! You don’t have to go that tiny, this works with 16/2 as well. I like the look of it with 30/2. The thick thread is doubled 8/2 cotton. 22/2 cottolin, doubled, works just as well.

      I’m glad you enjoy these colors!


    1. Hi Peg, Thanks for the compliment!

      It is threaded as a straight draw, but the second block is formed by reversing the thick/thin order. I’m going to keep my draft under wraps for now, but The Best of Weaver’s Thick’n Thin, edited by Madelyn van der Hoogt, is a great resource as a starting point. The book has a draft for weaving towels similar to this on just two shafts!

      Happy Weaving,

  2. I love the blue green combination! Someone once told me that blue and green are God’s colours. I can’t confirm this with Him personally, but I can see the grass, the trees and all the greenery, then there’s the immense sky and all the lakes, rivers and oceans, so there’s at least a possibility that there could be some truth in that saying!

  3. Karen,

    Your towels are amazingly beautiful. Even more incredible that the black and white ones you made not long ago. I have two questions I’m hoping you can answer:

    1. Is there a reason you use 8/2 cotton doubled rather than 8/4 cotton, which would eliminate the need for a double bobbin shuttle, etc.?
    2. Your color choices are amazing! Do you use only one thin color in the warp and weft or are you varying the color of the thin yarn to match the thick? I can’t quite tell from the photo.

    Love your thoughtful and well written blog. I’m just a hobby weaver (just weave things for myself and as gifts) but your website is so inspirational.

    BTW, have you ever thought about using your same thick and thin technique to weave a soft cotton baby blanket?

    Thanks again for sharing your expertise!!

    1. Hi Beachweaver,
      Great questions!
      1. The Swedish yarns that I use come in 8/2 and not in 8/4. I don’t know for a fact because I haven’t tried to compare it, but I believe that 2 threads side-by-side will produce a more supple cloth. Without a double bobbin shuttle, you can throw the shuttle across and back, catching the selvedge thread at the turn. I did this the first time I wove thick and thin a few years ago. I definitely prefer the double bobbin shuttle – for time’s sake, and for avoiding excessive wear on selvedge threads. Some weavers would use a floating selvedge to do this. I’m not one of them. I have heard that you can put two short bobbins in a large shuttle, with a bead in between, to use as a double bobbin shuttle, but I haven’t tried that.
      2. I have only one color of the thin yarn (green) that I use in both warp and weft. I purposely chose a dark color that would blend with the other colors. I was hoping that a dark color would help to outline the blocks, which I think it did. The thin thread is 30/2 cotton. The only place I could find it in colors is, with their Borgs cotton.

      Have I thought of thick and thin for a baby blanket? Have I ever! My daughter is expecting her first baby this summer, so, yes, I have thinking about how sweet this would be for a baby blanket. I have a colorful sample piece from the end of the warp that I’m going to use to make something for the baby.

      Thanks for stepping in to ask questions. Let me know if you have any more!

      1. Karen,

        Thanks for the prompt and really interesting responses. I’m going to think about this question of 8/2 x 2 versus 8/4. Clearly the two 8/2 threads can lie next to each other which would be different from 8/4. I may have to so some sampling one of these days.

        I can’t wait to see what you come up with in the baby blanket department. Go Grandma!

        Thanks again!!

  4. I recently started following your blog and love your thick and thin towels. I am a RH weaver and have woven a few towels but needed some inspiration on my next set. Your zebra towels hit the mark for me. On my RH I think I will interpret them as log cabin threading with 2-10 dent heddles using 8/2 unmercerized cotton for both warp and weft. My question to you is if you think I should also double every other thread for the thick and thin effect. Any other suggestions for adapting to the towels to a RH? The only other thin yarn I own is a 10/2 perle cotton.

    1. Laurice, This is a perfect project for the rigid heddle loom because it can be woven on two shafts.
      You will get the most out of this weave if you have a good contrast between thick and thin threads. Yes, you could double every other thread for the thick/thin effect. If you have enough 10/2 perle cotton, I would use that for the thin threads, and I would double the 8/2 cotton for the thick. I think you will get stunning results with that combination.

      The thick/thin pattern variations are produced by reversing the order of thick and thin. Where thick or thin are placed consecutively, the pattern reverses. i.e., thick-thin-thick-thin-thick-thin//thin-thick-thin-thick-thin-thick//thick-thin-thick-thin-thick-thin, etc. This is true for the warp threading and for the weft order in weaving.

      Please keep me posted. I would love to hear how this works out for you on the rigid heddle loom! Sounds like fun!

      Happy Weaving,

      1. My challenge is on thanks to your encouragement. One thing I’d also like to verify is that in your zebra towels your thin yarn was only in white. In trying to look at your threading it appears that in the black stripe the doubled yarn was in black and the white was the single. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

        1. Laurice, you are correct. In the zebra towels the thin thread is white, exclusively. The thick thread is doubled black or doubled white.

          I’m over here cheering you on. Go for it!


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