Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Doing Some Baltic Pickup and Looking at Charts (Part One)

Quarantine collection! Guitar straps in Baltic pickup woven between March 16 and April 8.
Patterns are from Foulkes, Dixon, Hergenhan, Bläse, and MacHale.
Please click on the photo to enlarge it! 

I was really looking forward to a series of workshops that I was scheduled to teach in California early this year and had fun preparing for them. Before the Corona Virus Pandemic hit and shut down our social interaction, I happily got to complete the first two workshops in San Diego and Exeter. We did Baltic-style pickup in both places. The charts for this technique were hard for me to wrap my head around in the beginning, so I though I'd share some things that helped me.

Here are two that I just finished. They are similar, but slightly different zig zag designs which use 9 pattern threads. These designs require picking only, no dropping.  Many Baltic pickup designs require that you pick AND drop some threads out of their normal sequence.
But, simpler designs like these are a nice way to ease into the technique. My next blog post will have pick and drop versions of Band A.

Band A                                           Band B

Once again, I am SO grateful to Jeff Bigot for making a tool for creating inkle weaving drafts.
It's FREE and I encourage you to play with it to create your own designs.
Here's the link to Version2 where I created the warping and pattern drafts below:

Here is the warping draft for Band A made using the Pattern Editor.
The warping draft shows you how to arrange your colors when warping the loom. 
The top row represents the heddled warps.
The bottom row represents the open (unheddled) warps.

The Pattern Editor is a great help to me in planning the warping of my loom, as I need to be sure that I have the right number of threads to get the 2" width I want. Once I know how many pattern and background threads I need in the central area, I can choose a plain weave pattern for the borders. In this case, I chose thick stripes in chocolate, rust, turquoise blue and royal blue. 
Looking at Band A  there are: 
75 threads altogether. 
46 border threads (23 on each side) 
20  tan background threads in the central pattern area. 
9  royal blue pattern threads: 4 in the heddled row and 5 in the open row. 
Because of this offset alignment of the pattern threads, diagonal designs are formed easily. 
Diamonds, chevrons and zig-zag patterns are some of the easiest to understand and weave. 
In traditional Baltic woven patterns, the motifs are often much more complex. 

Reading the Pattern Drafts Below
The pattern draft for weaving the design is quite a different type of chart than the warping draft. Baltic pattern drafts are typically shown as a grid, like graph paper. The border threads are not shown.  
In looking at the drafts below the blue squares represent the pattern threads. The white squares are just place holders, creating visual space. Don't mistake them for background threads; the background threads are not represented on the pattern chart at all. 
The columns on the chart are numbered 1-9 , starting at the left.  One column = one pattern thread.

The horizontal rows indicate your woven rows (picks). 
Row 1 has the odd numbered pattern threads: 1-3-5-7-9. 
Row 2 has the even numbered threads: 2-4-6-8. 

The lower portion of the two drafts looks like a checkerboard. This shows the position of the pattern threads as they naturally appear when woven in plain weave.  
To read the draft, you start at the bottom, this is the row closest to you as you start to weave. Then you work your way up the chart watching your design grow up from the bottom as you weave. 

                                         Band A                                                     Band B

Rows 1-7 on the chart for Band A show, simply, plain weave and it looks like the checkerboard. 
The variation from the checkerboard starts at row 8 and indicates where you have to manipulate threads to get your pickup design. Everywhere that you see a vertical stack of 3 colored squares, it illustrates where the pattern thread is floating across a row, out of it's normal sequence. Most picked threads will float across 3 rows. In the first row, they appear naturally on the surface of your weaving. In the second row, you have to reach down and pick them up, adding them to the top layer. In the third row, they are naturally on top again. Band A and B  have diagonal lines which turn at the edge to change direction. At the point where a line turns, it will be necessary to pick up a thread which has just been picked up, causing it to float across 5 rows instead of 3. 

Visualizing the pattern by looking at the areas where the checkerboard is altered is one way to weave the design. Can you follow the zig-zags visually and pick up the correct threads to mimic the charted design? This has been my habit, although it is not the only way. Nor, the most common way.

Most sources recommend reading the chart one row at a time. Start at the left. Is the colored square in column 1 blue or white? If blue, pattern thread #1 needs to be showing on top of your band. If the square is white, the pattern thread on that row should not be showing. In Band A, the need to pick up threads begins in row 8. Column 1 shows a blue square, so that one needs to be picked up. All of the rest of the threads in that row are following the regular checkerboard sequence, so no need to do anything here. Continue, row by row, checking for colored squares that don't follow the checkerboard pattern. Lift warp threads as necessary. 

The sequence, row by row, for Band A is this:

Please leave a comment to let me know what you found helpful in this post and what you think needs clarification. This will be the first in a short series. 

For more information, check out these resources: 

Marieke Kranenburg made a very helpful video showing the weaving process and how to use the block charts:

Susan Foulkes writes a very interesting blog here with many bandweaving tips:

Heather Torgenrud's website gives some really helpful design tips. Check out this page:

For two patterns from this blog that also use pick-only designs (with no dropping) :


  1. This is really helpful. Is there a chart for band B? Thank you.

    1. I'm glad you found it helpful. There is a chart shown for Band B, but I didn't write out the row by row description.

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  4. These are just beautiful! As always, your work is inspiring! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Where can I find the warping pattern for the leftmost band shown at the top? The one in grey and white that looks like an S and X?

    1. That one is from a Swedish pattern book by Anneliese Blase. I bought it from

  6. In the warping chart...the pattern part...are there TWO BACKGROUND threads (not shown...1 H and 1 O, in between each pattern thread shown. So that the tread count is much more than indicated. Or am I confusing with something else? I have been reading, watching so much on Baltic PU and just PU that I really am going in circles. Compounded by the fact that I am using a smaller inkle!

    1. Oh no! I see that the TAN is the background color, and that there ARE in fact TWO, in between the pattern BLUE color! Sorry! My bad!

  7. Mags, look at the two-row warping chart first. This shows every thread you will need, border, background and pattern. There are 9 blue pattern threads surrounded by tan background threads. If you need help understanding how to warp from this, there is an explanation here:
    The block pattern charts shown are something completely different! They do not show border threads OR background threads. Each of the 9 columns represents one of the blue pattern threads.
    Please also look at Part 2 of this article to see the full-view charts that I prefer to use.

  8. This explanation is one I can understand; your book "The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory" is not quite as clear! Thanks bunches!!

    1. I'm glad that you found this helpful! "The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory" was not written by me. It's author is Anne Dixon.