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  • Sara Nordling

Elements of Design: Texture

Corduroy weave in blue and fuchsia.

When you think of texture, what comes to mind? The great novelty yarn you bought because you couldn’t live without it and now, don’t know what to do with it? Yes, it is that yarn, and much more!

Texture can certainly be fuzzy, lumpy, or varied. It can also be smooth or even slick. It can be shiny or dull. It can be thick or thin. Texture can be the yarn itself or an effect created by a weave structure. It can also be visual texture like that created by shadow weave.

Plain weave with wool and cotton stripes, differential shrinkage

Wool stripes alternate with fine cotton stripes in both the warp and the weft. Plain weave.

After washing the texture become more pronounced.

Examples of weave structures that create actual textures:

Corded weaves



Waffle weave

Differential shrinkage with various weaves

Collapse weave


Double weave with surface elements or pleats created

Pleated weaves

Spaced warps and/or wefts



Deflected double weave

Eyelash weave

Pocket weave

M’s and O’s

Plain weave wool background with supplementary warp in eyelash yarn.

Different tones of wool in a plain weave background complement

the eyelash yarn used as a supplementary warp.

Weaves where textured or novelty yarn works well:

Honeycomb (as the outlines)

Supplementary warps or wefts

M’s and O’s

Any weave that allows the yarn enough play on the surface to be seen and not hidden by the warp or weft.

There are weave structures when combined with highly textured yarns that may not leave you with the effect you want. Either obscuring the weave structure or the textured yarn, or both! An example that springs to mind is shadow weave that creates a visual texture on its own but when used with a something like flake cotton or mohair would lose its full effect. On the other hand, to highlight an eyelash or ladder yarn you would probably not use it in plain weave as frequent interlacements and limited float length would obscure the yarn. Here you would want to use a structure where the novelty yarn would spend more time on the surface with a longer float as in M’s and O’s or used as a supplementary warp or weft.

Double weave with surface pleating and horse hair accents

Double weave pleats with horse hair accents. Crepe weave in both the pleats and the base cloth.

Do you have favorite yarns you love to use or do you love combining all sorts? Have you bought a lovely textured yarn but don’t know quite what to do with it? Now is the time to think about showing it off. Also, look around you for textures. Add images of them to the book of images you started on color. Think of what weave structures or yarns might recreate these textures. Make a list of possible textures to try.

Monofilament woven with added wire and mylar accents.

This is a section of 28 yards of woven monofilament with wire, mylar disks, and mylar yarns added. When hung in a room it becomes a path to walk around and experience the different textures, layers and effects.

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