3. The Zig Zag Weave

This weave, like many other willow weaving techniques, is based upon the French randing technique. But, in this case, instead of randing the weavers, we fold them against the uprights towards the opposite direction. It is a very simple technique in theory, but, in practice, it takes a fair amount of time and effort. Of course, the end result is so beautiful that it’s worth taking the time to do it. In order to accentuate the pattern, the weavers are usually doubled or tripled. In my opinion, the use of single weavers in this weave doesn’t look good at all, unless we’re talking about flat materials. As is the case with other techniques in this course, I would highly recommend having prior experience with French randing before attempting this technique.

Choosing weavers for the zig-zag weave

For this weave, the quality and preparation of the weavers are probably more important than in any other willow weaving technique. Once a weaver breaks in this weave, there is no good way to replace it. In addition to that, if the weavers are too thick for the uprights, it makes it very hard to keep them straight and in position. Choose the more pliable varieties that are less likely to break, and make sure that the weavers are significantly thinner than the uprights. Proper soaking and mellowing of the willow are also imperative for this weave, and even the thickness of the uprights can make a lot of difference here. As a general rule, brown willow is a better choice for this weave, as it’s less likely to break and doesn’t dry as quickly as buff willow.

Beginning the weave

The standard way to begin this weave is to insert the weavers as in French randing. It is a quick and simple beginning, but it has a downside. When starting like this, the first row of the weave doesn’t look like the rest of the weave. It’s not terrible looking, but if you’re looking for the neatest way to do things, then there is a much better beginning that I came up with, which is the one I demonstrate in the video. In this beginning, the weavers are tucked into the waling band below and then worked around the uprights. Insert the weavers at the right side of the uprights, and then work them from the inside towards the left and around the uprights going back to the right. After that, finish up the stroke as in regular French randing. It’s not imperative to begin from that side. It’s just more comfortable (unless you are left-handed, of course, in which case you’re better off inserting at the left side of the uprights).

There are two more ways that I can think of to begin this technique:

The first is to place the butt-ends facing the outside (if you don’t mind how it looks). The second option is to place the weavers behind one stake regularly, but then, instead of weaving them as in French randing, we work them towards the inside and around to the other direction. The problem here is that working around the uprights to the inside is very difficult, and once you’ve started in this way, you’ll have to continue it for the entire section.

Finishing the weave

There are many possible ways to finish off the zig-zag weave. The simplest one is to finish a row in whatever direction and trim the ends on the inside. Other approaches could be to weave one round, or perhaps more, of French randing at the end, to use Irish waling or Irish pairing and then trim on the outside, to use some French randing and then Irish waling, to drop one of the two weavers and proceed with the other for whatever finish. No wrong answers here.

Variations and color patterns

This weave allows for some very unique and unusual color patterns. You can create a single “column” of color that goes straight up, while the rest of the section is of a different color. You can use two colors alternatively to get alternating color columns. The possibilities here are many, so don’t be afraid to get creative. My own favorite color pattern for this weave is quite simple. It’s just using two different colors for each of the section’s pairs or triplets (as shown in my demonstration).

Aside from color variations, you can also try changing the weave itself, whether you do it mid-section for a single round only, or all the way from the start. You can try weaving in front of two stakes instead of just one. I’ve never tried it myself, and I doubt it will look good. You can also combine and incorporate this weave with other weaving techniques in whatever way you choose to do it.

Tips and things to remember

  • Whenever you’re weaving towards the right, you’re progressing towards the left. And whenever you are weaving towards the left, you progress towards the right.

  • If you’re using buff willow, remember to wet your weavers often while working.

  • When folding the weavers upon the stakes, remember to hold the stakes firmly in position.

  • The folding of the weavers may become easier if you press them and squish them against the stakes as you’re folding. Also, thicker uprights will make the folding easier for the weavers.

  • If your weavers still break while folding, try using an external body as an assistant, folding the weavers upon it instead. A thick bodkin, for example, placed alongside the relevant stake, is quite fitting for this job. A channeled bodkin, like the one I show on the tools video, is another good option.

As always, If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

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Thank you for watching.

Asaf Salim