WEAVING PROJECT #61 Atwater’s Basket Weave Baby Blanket in Red Merino – Natalie Roberts
August – December, 2012
Purpose: To make a baby blanket in a more complicated weave than I have done before, adding the 9th
and 10th treadles and harnesses to my big loom which has never been exercised with them before. In
recent years my projects have all been twill rag mats and rugs, and I need to learn how to tie up, thread,
and treadle something wider, more difficult, and more rewarding. I also wanted to give something to
my grandson, Dylan, who is now three. I was willing to take a leap by purchasing the soft wool.
Equipment: 10 harness Berga Savonia countermarch, set up with 8 harnesses and 10 treadles. The reed
is of Scandinavian origin and is labeled “50 120”. It is 47.2 inches wide measured by the dents, or 48”
measured to the outer edges. I thought it was 12 dents per inch, but it is actually 12.73 epi, as I learned
in this project. The boat shuttle and warping board are by Schacht Spindle.
Design: After reading several Handwoven articles1, I searched the internet and discovered Jean
Scorgie’s Weaver’s Craft: Baby Blankets, Issue 27. I chose a design from this booklet -- “Atwater’s Basket
Weave Baby Blanket”, p. 8 – 9.2 The design has a beautiful lace pattern that, when lifted up so light
shines through, reminds me of something from a Spanish palace. The design uses 10 treadles, 8 for the
pattern and 2 for tabby headers, which was what I lacked in my previous projects. It also asked for 4 ply
Merino wool, “Baby Ull” from Dale of Norway that was available. The pattern is woven loosely.
Previously, I purposely shrunk and brushed a loosely woven wool blanket and saw it change from a hard
finish to thick, soft, fuzzy piece. I wanted to try that again. In all other ways, I decided to try to stick
closely to Jean’s design, just increasing the size as much as possible on my large loom.
Weaver’s Craft is available from Jean Scorgie at Plain Tabby Press, 4945 Hogan Dr., Ft. Collins, CO 80525-
3709, USA or by emailing Jean@WeaversCraft.com. Jean kindly helped me with suggestions for solving
problems tying up my loom and explained how I could add a tabby edge to the selvedges, which I
decided not to attempt.
Calculating the Yarn Needed: I estimated the finished blanket would be 40” by 60”. In her instructions,
Jean says a project that is 30” by 36” takes 9 balls of Baby Ull. Since I was increasing the size so much, I
needed to recompute the amount of yarn needed. To do this I used the “Sample Project Worksheet”
that Madelyn van der Hoogt included in the additional materials for her video Weaving Well³. Her file
was printed out and filled out by hand. I did not retype it in Word for this record, but summarize it here.
I calculated the warp length for a finished piece of 60” to be 108” or 3 yards. That includes take up,
shrinkage, and loom waste. A finished 40” wide piece would need to be woven about 47” wide. That
would allow for draw in and shrinkage. At 12 warp ends per inch, I would need 564 warps, each 108”
long, or 1692 yards for warp yardage. At 12 weft picks per inch, each 47 inches wide and advancing for
70.5 inches down the length, I would need 1160 weft yardage. This allows for some weft take up. The
warp and weft yardage for one blanket totals 2852 yards. The yarn supplier, Webs at Yarn.com, says
each ball of Dale of Norway Baby Ull has 180 yards. I would need to order about 16 balls for one
blanket. I decided to make two. There was going to be a second grandchild!
I revised the final calculations a little. There would be 31 pattern repeats of 18 threads, for a total of
558 warps, with 2 extra floating selvedges, for a total of 560 warps. I ordered 16 balls of Dale of Norway
Baby Ull Merlot red, and 16 balls of blue from Webs at Yarn.com at a total cost of $205.05 with shipping
and handling. I tried not to be superstitious about the upcoming Presidential election.
Tie up: After ordering the yarn, I read two articles about how to tie up a countermarch loom. Previously
I had used a 1983 article by Joanne Tallarovic, “Countermarche: Pure and Simple” 4 , given to me by a
friend in Tangled Webs. It had worked well, but lately I wondered if I could increase the size of the shed.
So I read Madelyn van der Hoogt’s instructions in “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know about Tying
Up a Countermarch Loom”5 and tried them out. The shed increased so much that some of the warps
were forced to slide against other harnesses, and I thought they might fray and break. When I tried to
adjust it, I got it so bollixed up that I decided to start completely over again with Tallarovic’s method.
Then I began to understand what was happening with the whole system and ended up creating a hybrid,
midway between the two systems. A lot could be written about the differences between the two
systems, but I am not qualified. Suffice it to say that I could not resist endless adjustment and lost track
of what I did. It took so many weeks on my part time schedule that I became exhausted and just
decided to take a chance that what I had was good enough.
Tie Up to Treadle Shaft
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
X O X O X O O O X X 1
O X O X O X O O X X 2
X O X O X O X X O O 3
O X O X O X X X O O 4
O X X X O O X O X O 5
X O X X O O O X O X 6
O X O O X X X O X O 7
X O O O X X O X O X 8
I wound a test warp out of extra wool yarn from years past to make a short, narrow sample. The shed
was okay and the pattern looked like it was supposed to. When I washed and dried the yarn in the dryer
the lace turned into a thick piece that would make a warm blanket. It shrunk about 18%, a little more
than it was supposed to.
Winding the Warp, Sleying the Reed and Threading the Heddles: I wound 560 warps after watching
Madelyn van der Hoogt’s second video, Warping Your Loom 6 and Tom Knisely’s The Loom Owner’s
Companion.7 Madelyn’s video was especially helpful and gave me the confidence to go forward with
that expensive yarn across the wide width. However, I should have reviewed it another time just before
starting because I made a mistake. My warping board has an extra peg at the top, and I was confused
about where to make the cross. I started one peg to the right of where I should have and, without
realizing it, lost several inches of length. The actual length of the red blanket turned out to be 56”
before finishing the ends, rather than 60” as planned. And I had almost 2 balls of yarn left over.
I used Madelyn’s method of putting the reed on a table, holding the warp in your left hand, and picking
threads through it with the brass sleying hook. It worked well. An interesting error I made was to
computed how many dents the reed has and rather than actually counting them. When I got close to
finishing I discovered there were several more empty dents than I had predicted. The reed has 601
dents! To center the piece, I had to move several warps from one end of the reed to the other.
Fortunately they didn’t get too tangled and the stretchy warp turned out all right.
I took Madelyn’s advice not to worry about the warps sliding or tangling as long as the all-important
chokes were secured tightly to the breast beam. I tied 4 big hanks tightly to the breast beam and
warped from front to back. I kept the lease sticks in for a while and transferred them from the front to
the back of the reed using a huge shed sword that has been on my shelf for years. I was able to slide the
choke ties and pull the warps towards the back beam far enough to allow 20 inches between the reed
and the back warp bar – the length needed to thread and tie on.
Because of the complicated basket weave pattern, there were too many heddles on some shafts and not
enough on others. I needed to compute how many there should be on each shaft, remove the extras,
and add others where needed. Shaft 1 needs 62. Shaft 2 needs 124. Shaft 3 needs 62. Shaft 4 needs 31.
Shaft 5 needs 62. Shaft 6 needs 124. Shaft 7 needs 62. Shaft 8 needs 31.
On some harnesses I needed to move heddles from the left to the right of the middle harness cords
after I had started threading. I figured out how that I could do that by untying the cords from the lower
lams temporarily, moving the heddles across, and then retying them.
When winding the threaded warp from the front to the back beam I used Madelyn’s method of pulling
four hanks tightly, one after the other across the width, even putting my foot on the loom to get the
appropriate tension. It worked and I did not break a single thread or create an uneven warp. That saved
me a lot of time and the headache of getting my husband to help through that long process. The only
thing I needed someone else to do was to help me transfer the sleyed reed from the desk to the beater.
Threading Loom front Tie up to treadles
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
1 1 x o x o x o o o x x 1
2 2 2 2 o x o x o x o o x x 2
3 3 x o x o x o x x o o 3
4 o x o x o x x x o o 4
5 5 o x x x o o x o x o 5
6 6 6 6 x o x x o o o x o x 6
7 7 o x o o x x x o x o 7
8 x o o o x x o x o x 8
(Repeat 31 times)18 thread pattern
1 Floating Selvedge 1 Floating Selvedge
In this notation, an “x” indicates a threaded heddle eye, where the warps are lifted and the weft goes
under and does not show. An “o” on the tie up means the rope is tied to the lower lam which raises the
harness so the warp goes over and the weft thread goes under. I sat inside the loom looking from back
to front and threaded from right to left. I found a template of graph paper on the web and used it to
make a threading guide that I printed out and taped onto a piece of cardboard. As I threaded, I marked
off the heddles threaded.
Treadling: The first and last 18 rows are plain weave, using Treadles 9 and 10. The next 31 pattern
repeats were tracked by marking a guide made using more of the online graph paper. Read the guide
from the bottom up, as if you are sitting in front of the loom and walking forward towards the back at
the top. I checked for threading errors and found two. Thanks to Madelyn’s video I was able to make an
extra string heddle in the middle of the warp to correct them.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Weaving: In order to be consistent in weaving 12 picks per inch, the yarn is pressed carefully into the
shed, not beaten too hard. To keep myself under control, I made a template out of a 3 by 5 index card
marked with horizontal lines every six rows. I checked it every 18 rows, every time I threw a shot with
treadle 8. The idea is to be consistent and keep the plain weave centers square.
There are long skips along the selvedges which Jean said not to worry about. But I reinforced them by
threading the extra weft tails ends down the sides and around the skips. I don’t think I’ll do it that way
next time. The edges look somewhat unsatisfactory, but my grandson won’t care.
Finishing: The ends were hemstitched, cut closely, and then folded over in thirds, bringing the fold to
the first row of plain weave. I didn’t hemstitch the final fold like Jean said should be done because it
seemed very thick. However, I wish I had and will on the next blanket. Also, I will not pull the
hemstitching so tightly. I didn’t know how to hemstitch and searched around for clear pictures and
directions. The best I found was Peggy Osterkamp’s which can be found on the following site:
I machine washed the finished blanket on gentle in cold water and dried it flat for half a day. It didn’t
change much. When it was almost dry I threw it in the dryer for 5 minutes. This was not according to
the care instructions, but I knew that eventually it would happen at my grandson’s house, and I wanted
to see what would happen to it. Afterwards, some of the loose ends needed to be threaded into the
web. It shrunk by about 12%. Here is how the blanket size changed as the finishing was done.
Process Stage Length Width
Sleyed in reed (560 warps) 44”
Taken off the loom 56” 42 ½’
After finishing the ends 51” 41 ½”
After washing and drying for 5 minutes 45” 37”
When setting up your loom: It is standard to have 10 treadles and only 8 harnesses. The two extra
treadles are only used for the plain weave sections at the beginning and the end.
When winding the warp: Develop a guide thread of the proper length and use all the pegs at the top
of the warping board.
When sleying the reed: Count the dents and work out from the center to find the correct starting
place. Don’t just multiply. My 47 ½ inch reed has 601 dents.
When weaving: Reaching across a wide width slows down the weaving quite a bit. It takes practice
to get the shuttle all the way across and catch it.
When weaving: You don’t need a temple if you bubble the warp consistently.
Be consistent in how you treat the weft ends. Next time overlap them in the middle of the weaving
and see how that looks.
When finishing the ends: Hemstitch with a looser thread.
When finishing: Best not to put it in the dryer.
In general, become more familiar with the resources you have on hand. Information and things are
there that you have forgotten about.
1 Bradley, Louise, “Baby Blanket”, in Handwoven Volume VII, No. 1, Jan-Feb, 1985, pp. 43 (picture)
and I-6 (instructions), Interweave Press, Loveland, CO. Beautiful, large, blue, plain weave, blanket
with overshot weft motif arranged to create a large oval design in center, and bold embroidered
edges, all in plum accent.
Liles, Suzie, “’Sweet honey in a waffle’” baby blanket”, in Handwoven, Volume XXXIII, Issue 160, May
June 2012, pp. 40-41, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO. 8 Harness, no tabby. Cotton. 24 epi.
Brysch, Cat, “Pastel Baby Blankets”, in Handwoven Volume V, No. 3, Summer, 1984, pp. 50-51
(picture) and I-6 (picture 50-51), Interweave Press, Loveland, CO. Orlon Acrylic
Flynn, Terry Newhouse, “Colored shadow-weave blocks for baby blankets”, in Handwoven, Volume
XXXIII, Issue 158, Jan Feb 2012, pp. 58--59, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO. Combed cotton.
Papa Jim, “Sweet Baby Dreams”, Yarn Barn of Kansas, Ad for a kit in Handwoven, Volume XXXIII,
Issue 159, Mar April 2012, pp. 35, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO. Has Dream Baby DK.
Liles, Suzie, “Twill diaper – for diapers!”, in Handwoven, Volume XXXIII, Issue 160, May June 2012,
pp. 66--67, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO. Sustainable cotton, 10/2 unmercerized, organic, natural,
8 shaft, no tabby. 24 epi.
2 Scorgie, Jean, “Atwater’s Basket Weave Baby Blanket,” in Weaver’s Craft: Baby Blankets, Issue 27,
pp. 8—9. Plain Tabby Press, 4945 Hogan Drive, Fort Collins CO 80525-3709.
3 Van der Hoogt, Madelyn, “Sample Project Worksheet”, in Weaving Well, EP2840 Interweave Press,
Loveland, CO, 2011 http://www.interweavestore.com/Weaving/DVDs-Videos/Weaving-Well-
4 Tallarovic, Joanne, “Countermarche: Pure and Simple” in The Weaver’s Journal VII:3, Issue 31, pp. 85
– 87. http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/periodicals/wj_31.pdf
5 Van der Hoogt, Madelyn, “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Tying Up a Countermarch
Loom”, in Weaver’s Craft, Issue 26, 4 pp.
6 Van der Hoogt, Madelyn, Warping Your Loom, Item #10WV08, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO.
7 Knisely, Tom, The Loom Owner’s Companion, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO.
Figure 1: Atwater’s Basket Weave Baby Blanket in Red Merino by Natalie Roberts
Figure 2: Atwater’s Basket Weave Blanket Showing Pattern Through the Web