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Subdued Glitz

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Why not try a fresh, new approach to traditional Overshot, Crackle, and Twill patterns?  Use “Subdued Glitz” to give your handwoven fabrics a hint of sparkle. Subdued Glitz is a term I coined to describe the subtle yet sparkly effect of incorporating a thin metallic thread as the tabby weft in various weave structures.

Among my favorite childhood memories are the winters we spent skating on the frozen pond in our back yard.  My father was an electrician.  One year, he installed flood lights in our back yard so we could continue to skate after dark.  I will never forget the way the flood lights glistened across the freshly-fallen snow.  The effect was breath-taking; like a sea of tiny diamonds...subtle…yet gorgeous in its simplicity.

Years later, a friend introduced me to weaving.  Eventually, I began trying to capture and incorporate my childhood memories into woven fabrics.  The effect of “lights glistening across the freshly-fallen snow” was one of those memories.  It is what led me to experiment with novelty yarns and threads. 

Even though the twill patterns I was working with did not require them, I added shots of tabby (aka plain weave) between each pattern pick.  The tabby pick, however, had to be very thin so that it would not appreciably change the overall height of the design. The tabby pick had to be soft so that it would not feel scratchy when woven into scarves. In addition, it had to be pliable so that it would not affect the “drape” of the fabric by making it too stiff.  Last but not least, the tabby pick had to yield the effect of lights glistening across freshly-fallen snow.

sparkle yarnsMy first attempts at replicating the vision in my mind’s eye, failed. Some yarns were too thick.  Others were too stiff.  Mylar threads were too wide and had a sharp edge that was both scratchy and abrasive to adjacent yarns. But then I found a yarn that works!  It is the opalescent “Glitter Thread” from Nomis Yarn Company of Stoughton, MA.  It provided a hint of sparkle, but was not gaudy, garish, or over-powering.  It became what I now refer to as “Subdued Glitz”. 

Weave structures for Overshot and Crackle require the use of a tabby shot between each pattern pick.  Would Subdued Glitz work as well in these structures?  The answer is yes!  In fact, using metallic yarns for the tabby shot in these weave structures yielded results that surprised me.  The fabric was casual enough for every day use...yet could also be used for projects requiring elegance and sophistication.  A hint of sparkle gave the cloth life and made the design “pop”.

It wasn’t long before I was experimenting with other colors of Nomis’ “Glitter Thread”.  There are several colors from which to choose; red, blue, turquoise, gold, green, black, silver, purple, pink, and plum. The combinations that appealed to me the most were where the color of the Glitter Thread either matched the warp or was in the same color family.

Note: I found that when weaving wide cloth, an end-feed shuttle helped control the Nomis thread.


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Project details

Inspiration for the colors in the luncheon cloth came from my flower garden: blue hydrangeas. Turquoise-colored glitter thread captures the effect of dew drops glistening in the morning sun.



Four-shaft loom, with six treadles
Two shuttles


Weave Structure



This draft is from Pattern Techniques for Handweavers by Doramay Keasbey. The draft appears on page 150. (Used with permission.)

You can find Pattern Techniques for Handweavers at your local weaving store or purchase it directly from the author: Doramay Keasbey, 3428 Hampton Way, Eugene Oregon 97401.

Note: in the following drawdown, the tabby (aka plain-weave) shots are not shown. After every pattern shot, you would weave a glitter thread on treadle 1 or treadle 2, alternately. In other words, you will have two shuttles going, one to weave the pattern threads in 5/2 cotton, the other weaving the plain-weave ground cloth with the glitter thread.

Download the weave draft in WIF format  weavedraft



Warp and Weft Yarns

Silk City's 5/2 cotton for the warp and pattern weft.

There are 667 active warp ends, plus two floating selvedges, for a total of 669 threads.

The tabby weft was turquoise glitter thread from Nomis Yarn Company of Stoughton, MA.

(Note: Other brands of thin metallic threads I have tested and can recommend are: Ramonex, Lurex, and "Glitter" from Superior Threads.)



16 ends per inch, sleyed 2 per dent in an 8-dent reed.



Width in the reed was 41.5 inches. The finished measurements are approximately 38" x 38".



To allow for hemming, begin with ten shots of plain weave, inserting a nylon cord in the last shed. Next, weave twenty shots of plain weave, again inserting a nylon cord in the last shed. Weave the design for the luncheon cloth. Reverse the process with the plain weave and nylon cords at the end. Leave the nylon cords in the fabric until the wet-finishing and ironing are complete. When you are ready to hem the fabric, remove the nylon cords. The tiny gap created by the cord allows the fabric to fold easily and gives you a straight line to press the hem. A double-fold hem keeps the raw edges hidden inside the hem.


Kathryn Jantz-KoprivnikKate has been weaving since 1995 but has recently begun in-depth studies. She plans to submit for HGA’s Certificate of Excellence in Handweaving in 2010. Currently, she weaves for family, friends, and charity. Several of her blankets have been donated to relief efforts; Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Western Washington floods in 2007.