Stash weaving is a little different from the “usual” weaving projects because with stash weaving, you’re often weaving with odd bits of leftover yarn rather than full cones that you’ve purchased especially for that project. As a result, you’ve often got small amounts of many different yarns – colors, thicknesses, fibers – in the same piece. This means some drafts work better than others.

This blog post talks about one consideration when choosing drafts for stash projects: pattern complexity.

(Want more? Check out my class Stash Weaving Success, co-taught with Janet Dawson!)

Simple vs. complex patterning

In general, drafts with simple, clean lines fare better in stash projects than drafts whose beauty comes from complexity and precision, such as this fancy twill:

Fancy twill star draft

Multiple yarn sizes/colors can scramble a complex draft

Because using lots of different colors/sizes of yarns in a complex, fussy draft is apt to scramble the design, complex drafts are generally unsuitable for stash projects made up of multiple yarns. Here’s the same fancy twill design with yarns of many different sizes and colors mixed together in the warp:

Fancy twill draft with different colors and thicknesses of yarns

If the weft yarns were of different sizes and colors, of course, the chaos would be even worse.

Arranging different yarns in stripes can help, but may still look odd

If you arrange the yarns in stripes coinciding with the pattern, this may work better. However, if the pattern is expected to beat square, it may look odd nonetheless:

Complex draft with stripes of different color and thickness yarns

Differences in shrinkage may become a factor as well. If your yarns shrink at different rates, that will distort your woven pattern, and a complex draft may not show clearly.

Avoid complex color patterning if you want to see the draft pattern

Using a lot of colors in a complex color pattern (for example, if you are using a random arrangement of many different colors) will tend to obscure the pattern in your draft. In fact, it may completely obliterate a complex and fussy pattern. Here’s the fancy twill draft again, but with complex color patterning in both warp and weft. You can’t see the pattern at all!

Fancy twill pattern completely obscured by warp and weft patterning

There are ways to minimize this effect (great hints in this blog post!), but keep in mind that drafts with simple patterning will generally fare better in stash projects than drafts with complicated patterns. Complex motifs or weave structures, when combined with different colors and different size yarns, have the potential to create chaos.

Simple draft patterns generally work better with stash projects

Examples of drafts with simple patterning include plain weave, twills, twill blocks, and any other design that has large chunky areas of color and very regular (i.e. not irregular or complicated) patterning. The pattern may look boring as a black-and-white draft, but throw in the complexity of the color patterning and the piece will likely look plenty interesting when woven.

This twill block pattern looks boring in black and white…

Twill blocks draft

…but not when woven up in stripes of color!

striped fabric woven in twill blocks

That’s one aspect of choosing drafts for stash weaving. Other aspects you’ll want to consider are how drafts mix colors, how drafts interact with the textures of yarns in your piece, and how they interact with yarn sizes – among others.

This blog post is an excerpt from our course Stash Weaving Success, where Janet Dawson and I teach how to design, warp, and weave with a mishmash of stash yarns.

Janet covers the physical challenges of designing/weaving with mystery yarns, and yarns that may stretch/shrink differently during warping, weaving, and wet-finishing. I help you conquer the challenges of designing with a chaos of odds-n-ends colors that you may or may not like.

Together we help you create beautiful, well-made stash projects you can be proud of, and get that stash out of your closet and onto your loom! Learn more about Stash Weaving Success.

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