Friday, October 16, 2015

Inkle Pickup on a Speckled Background (AKA Baltic-style Pickup)

So far, one type of pickup stands out as my favorite way to create fancy patterns. It is most commonly know these days as "Baltic-Style" pickup.
I learned it back in the 1970's from Helene Bress' book,  Inkle Weaving.
She refers to it as "Basketweave Background". Evelyn Neher in her book, Inkle, calls it "Speckled"
the term which I have adopted and used over the years. It is also sometimes called, supplementary warp technique, European, Latvian, Scandinavian or Sami pickup. So many names, such a great technique!

 #1 Turquoise and red pattern/ brown and tan background/ pick and drop/ pattern in border/
 tan weft shows in brown background area.

At the bottom of the page, I'll give you a threading chart for setting up your loom to weave this technique and a helpful link to a tutorial on how to chart patterns and do the picking.

The term "pickup" could be a bit misleading, since often it is necessary to pick AND drop threads out of their normal sequence. These patterns look different on the front and back sides. Some photos here show both sides. Click on photos to enlarge them and see more details.

Here are some cool variations that you can use with this technique. Examples are given on this page for most of them:
  • Pick only OR pick and drop
  • Single color background/ single color pattern
  • Single color background/ multiple color pattern [See #3, #4, #12]
  • Multiple color background/ single color pattern [See #8, #10]
  • Multiple color background/ multiple color pattern [See #1]
  • For pick and drop patterns -same color weft (will not show) OR contrasting weft (will show as spots where the weft is dropped)  [See #1, #13 for contrasting weft]
  • Plain borders to help accentuate the pickup design OR other patterns in the border areas
  • Continuous pattern along the length of the band OR individual motifs with plain weave in between [See #7 for motifs with plain weave in between]
  • Several pattern motifs can be mixed, mingled or varied along the length of the band, change it up as you go [See #14 for alternating small and large diamond motifs]
  • Pattern area can be small OR the entire width of the band
  • Pattern area can be centered OR off to one side
  • Lettering/ words can be incorporated [See link at bottom of page]

#2 Red background/ Brown pattern/ pick and drop /pattern in border/ same color weft
The pattern at each end is different from that of the central portion of the band. 

#3  White background/ three colors in pattern/ pick only/ plain borders

#4 Tan background/ three colors in pattern/ pick only/ pattern in border

#5 Two color background/ one color pattern/ pick and drop/ same color weft/ plain borders.
 Brown zig-zag line is where pattern threads were dropped, gold zig-zag line is where
 pattern threads were picked. Background has contrasting color stripe up the center. 

#6 Black background/ red pattern/ pick and drop/ same color weft/ single stripe in border

#7 Maroon background/ pink pattern/ pick and drop/ patterned border/ same color weft/
area between motifs

#8 Two color background/ single color pattern/ pickup only/ simple stripe border

#9 Black background/ red pattern/ pickup only/ small pattern area with wide patterned border
#10 Two color background/ single color pattern/ pick and drop/ asymmetrical landscape pattern

#11 Yellow background/ red pattern/ pick and drop in asymmetrical pattern/ patterned border/ same color weft
 Unusual example as the red pattern threads were picked on one half of the band and dropped on the other.
Photo shows back and front. 

#12 Dark green background/ two color pattern/ pick and drop/ same color weft

#13 Single color background/ single color pattern/ pick and drop/ contrasting color weft/ border pattern
#14 Single color pattern/ two color background/ pick only/ plain borders/
This one has diamond motifs which alternate between small and large versions.

For this technique, there is always one pattern thread between two background threads.
Here is a simple warping draft for a single color background/ single color pattern/ plain borders.
If the pattern needs to be centered and symmetrical (typical for these types of patterns), there will be an odd number of pattern threads. For example in the draft below, there are 13 pattern threads, 7 in one row and 6 in the other. This is used in the very popular Celtic Knot pattern, for which you can find the pattern here, thanks to Tracy DeGarmo.

Lady Edyth Miller of the Compleatly Dressed Anachronist Blog has done a fine job of describing how to chart the pickup pattern, how to read the chart and how to execute the technique here:

For weaving lettering  See PDF tutorial from Anita Apinis-Herman HERE.

Two books I would recommend are; Sami Band Weaving by Susan J. Foulkes
And Norwegian Pick-Up Bandweaving by Heather Torgenrud


  1. Thank you so much for all your information and for sharing your work. I've only been inkle weaving for a couple of weeks and your blog has been very inspiring. I've never felt confident about choosing more than two colors to work with (I'm a knitter too), but your examples have helped me to better see how to combine colors. I've been intrigued by the Baltic-style pick-up, and plan to try that next.

    1. Glad to know this! Color is the most fun part for me and I get more daring as time goes by. Hope you have fun discovering what inkle weaving can do!

  2. These are absolutely gorgeos, I'm in love with the first one!!

  3. These are so beautiful! Can I ask what combination of yarns you are using? I've seen that you often use Sinfonia for guitar straps but are you using that in combination with a thicker or thinner yarn to get the pattern threads thicker? Thanks so much for all of the wonderful information you have shared on this blog. It has been a huge help for me starting out.

    1. Yvonne, Thanks! In some of these examples the pattern threads were a bit heavier than the background threads, but not in all. I can say for sure that #11 and #12 used only Sinfonia as both the background and pattern threads. It works!

  4. Finally I am beginning to comprehend and understand pick up weaving. Thank you so much for the warping diagram which has almost caused me to throw my loom out of the window in frustration. now I can finally hopefully make a strap for a mochilla bag I want to make.....Thank you so much yet again.

    1. Hi, Tracey. You are welcome! The way you worded your message, I think I helped, although I might have caused you to want to throw your loom out of the window. I hope that's not the case!

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