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The Pleasures of Hand-Woven Plaid

I’ve always loved plaid fabrics, anchors of my wardrobe since childhood—kilt skirts, winter coats, nightgowns, and flannel shirts.  Plaids are multicolored roadmaps of threads that travel together, split apart, intersect, and play the angles. When I saw Lion Brand’s pattern for a Woven Plaid Clutch, loomed on the DIY Weaver, I seized the opportunity. I’m a person who learns through doing, and I really wanted to understand plaid from the inside out.


Plaid happens when two or more colors intersect in the weaving.  Warping the loom in two colors, as required for the Woven Plaid Clutch, is as simple as warping it in one color.  For the clutch you set up the warp in stripes, and you weave across in swaths of the same two colors.

Because you’re using Wool-Ease® Tonal in the colors Lapis and Smoke, the woven effect is more complex than if you’d used solid color yarn.  Lapis modulates from royal to sky blue, and Smoke is a medium grey that moves to pearl.  The woven fabric you create with these dynamic colorways conveys depth in a way that isn’t possible with a monotone.  Especially in this pattern, the yarn’s coloration provides maximal interest.


We think of machine-woven plaid as precise.  Handwoven is delightfully different.  The colors of Wool-Ease® Tonal are blurry, so that the intersections of the blue and grey yarns yield a kind of fuzzy math.  The effect is slightly impressionistic.   (This is a soft plaid that would make a beautiful baby blanket or lap rug.  You’d have to loom a few sections, then sew them together.)

The clutch is essentially a rectangle that’s folded in thirds.  It took me a few hours to make, including one section I had to redo because of a mistake.  Fortunately, because I work with lengths of yarn that aren’t longer than 24 inches, all I had to do was remove the yarn where I had slipped a stitch, and reweave just that piece, using a darning needle.  It was super easy.

Unlike other needlework, where you have to attend to gauge and fit, the precise measurements of the clutch aren’t important.  Whether you weave tightly or loosely (or both, as I do) doesn’t matter in the end.  When released from the loom the fabric relaxes into its destined shape. (My clutch turned out to be 9.5” x 7.5”.) You then weave in the ends, using them to fill in any edge gaps as necessary.  Next, whipstitch the clutch together, according to the pattern diagram. Finish by attaching a button and crochet a chain to hold the flap closed.

I enjoyed surveying the contents of my button jar and selecting possible matches, based on color and size.


Ultimately I chose this bone-colored button, incised with black.

I think it makes a nice accent, and it reminds me of Venice, California, where it was purchased.  When I look at the completed clutch, I feel a sense of accomplishment, both because I wove this attractive purse, and because the weaving let me understand the essence of plaid.

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