I've finished another set of sample weavings for my pile weaving techniques series. This post is about two ways of making the Ghiordes Knot – a sideways version and a continuous version over a gauge. First I'll talk about the sideways Ghiordes knot which is also called Lark's Head or Cow Hitch. It wraps around one warp string instead of two like the regular and upside-down Ghiordes Knot. I like this one, it feels easy to do for me, at least when the ends point to the right. I sometimes forgot a few times how to do it the other way, with the ends pointing to the left. You have to hold the yarn differently and it feels weird as a right handed person. It makes for a nice effect though, with the yarn turning and laying to the side.
I used a thin acrylic yarn for the base weaving. For the pile on the left side, I used a bright blue chunky acrylic yarn. The right side is a purple metallic looking yarn made of nylon, acrylic, and wool. The difference between the way the two yarns fall after making the knots is interesting – the metallic yarn is thin and lays more flat but also points more to the side. The thicker yarn sticks out further of course but also looks closer to a regular Ghiordes knot, meaning it looks more like it's laying straight down. You can still somewhat see it is curving to the left but the effect is not as clear as on the yarn on the right.
The second type I did is a continuous Ghiordes knot over a gauge. I had never used a gauge before; in fact, I didn't know what a gauge was. I figured it out based on the diagram – the loops are wrapped around the gauge to keep them a uniform length. This version is done with one long piece of yarn. You can cut the loops afterward, or you can keep them in loops.
My first thoughts about this style of knot was that it felt strange and, while I understood what to do from looking at the diagram, I felt it was difficult to get the needle around the gauge without getting it tangled in the yarn from the previously-made loops. I also was afraid afterward that it might come undone. I pulled on it from different parts of the yarn and it didn't come undone and felt fairly tight so it's likely I am just worrying for nothing.
I also noticed there were visible gaps in between the knots that the next base weaving line does not fill in. It looks fine later on but it might look even better if I did the knot pattern on the opposite warps on the next line to help fill in the empty areas.
I ended up really enjoying watching my video of me doing the continuous version. I know I worry too much about not doing things well enough, in all areas of my life including my crafting, but watching it makes me think maybe I have it down better than I thought I did. I will definitely use these techniques again in future weavings.
I made separate videos for these two types. You can watch the videos below:
I have been wanting to learn more about weaving, including history and techniques, so I ordered a few used books online and one of them is Jean Wilson's The Pile Weaves: Twenty-Six Techniques and How to Do Them which I bought online on Amazon. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to follow along with the book and learn each of the pile weaving techniques. I'm going to write about my experiences in this series here, as well as post videos of me doing the techniques on Youtube. First up is the Ghiordes Knot. I am doing them in one long but thin sampler – each technique will be separated by plain weaving in between using a thicker yarn than what I will use for the technique portion. I have so far managed to use about half of my vertical space for four sample portions so I expect to have about three and a half 'weavings' at the end of this project.
The Ghiordes Knot is also called Rya. That is what I see it called most often online among other weavers. Wilson says this is the most commonly used pile technique used in weaving and I think she's correct even today (the book was published in 1974). As I said, on social media, I see weavers mention rya and one other technique mentioned in this book (picked-up loops) but I have never seen any of the others talked about. I don't know if these others are used but not referred to online, if they are truly uncommonly used, or if I'm not following the weavers who use them. I will do some searching online for other weavers using these other techniques as I go through each one.
The diagrams for the Ghiordes Knot show five different ways to do this knot – the regular way, upside-down, continuously over a gauge, sideways, and a double loop version. I have used two of these before (regular and upside-down) but for the sake of consistency and for practice, I went ahead and used all the types in the sample.
So in my first sample I used regular Ghiordes on the left side in one yarn (a red/gray/black thin acrylic) and the upside-down version on the right side in a different yarn (a red yarn, probably acrylic, I don't have the information on this yarn anymore). The base weaving is a medium gray yarn (also is probably acrylic). After doing four rows this way (with a row of plain weave in between each pile row) I did the reverse with the yarns – I used the thin red/gray/black yarn on the right in the upside-down way and the all red yarn on the left in the right-side-up way. I did this because I could see that the upside-down appeared fuller, like it was sticking out more. But I wasn't sure if this was due to the size difference of the yarn or if it was due to the different way of making the knot.
Having switched the yarns, I feel the different appearance is because of the way of making the knot. The pile on the right is still sticking out further than the pile on the left, even though both sides have both types of yarn. I would think they would even out if it were because of the different yarns.
As for my feelings on this type of knotting, I don't really like doing the upside-down version. It feels wrong somehow, almost uncomfortable in the way I move my hands to do it. Maybe that's just because I learned the other way first. I also get confused about this way and have ever since I learned you can do it upside-down because I forget which way to pull the ends – up or down. For some reason, it just hasn't clicked for me but watching myself do it, the pattern is clear – my hand comes in underneath to pull the ends down through the loop for the regular version and my hands comes in from above to pull the ends up in the upside-down version. So, since the regular version hangs down and the upside-down version sticks up a bit, the rule is: Underneath and down hangs down and above and up sticks up. It makes sense now but I sometimes have trouble with right and left and other directional things in other everyday situations so I wouldn't be surprised if I still have trouble remembering the rule for this.
I feel this is a good start in my quest to learning more about weaving. I want to get a lot of practice in and learn as much as I can. I am also reading some books that are about weaving in a more general sense, though they also have information about techniques in them. But right now I am in the history section of one of them and am finding it very interesting. I will probably post my thoughts on that in a later post though.
Here is a video I made of me doing both these types of Ghiordes Knot and below that is a gallery with a few more photos of my sample weaving:
Christine, artist and maker