Stashbuster kitchen towels

Well, it’s been a year and a half since I posted to this blog.  I’ve continued to weave, but other activities have taken up my computer time.  There’s no way I’ll catch up to everything I’ve done (though I’ll try to add them to the Galleries), so I’ll just start with one thing.

I found an interesting draft for a towel project in the Letters section of a Handwoven magazine.  No photo, just the draft and basic parameters.  As I was setting this up, I realized I’ve learned a lot of tips from different sources over my 5 years (!!) of weaving.  At the risk of TMI, I’ll share some of them here.

Context – I warp back to front, and the back lease stick goes through the loop of the cross.

One thing I figured out after weaving a while was to use an additional warping bar.  The one that came with the loom is lashed onto the back warp beam, and if I pulled the warping bar out of the lashing (not wanting to retie the lashing every time) I could never get it back in so the warp threads were evenly spaced.  Now I add an additional warping bar (dowel) in the loop behind the back lease stick, and then tie that to the original one.  Then I pull the lease sticks toward the front.  It’s so much easier!


The next thing is to use clamps to keep the warp from splaying out as it’s wound on.  The lease sticks ride on the support sticks.


My raddle is home-made – nails every 1/2 inch on a board, set on the support sticks at the front of the loom.


When the warp is wound on, I tie up the lease sticks to the back harness and hang the sections behind the heddles.  Then, the support sticks come out.


I prop up the harnesses on a yarn cone to help with threading – especially with 8 shafts!  I always count out groups of heddles before threading one or more repeats, as a double-check.


Then the support sticks go back up to rest the reed on while it’s sleyed.  I tie the bundles with the number of threads to use for each bout when tying on.


Even though I have a jack loom, a floating selvedge doesn’t automatically end up in the middle of the shed (I checked this out with the manufacturer) .  So, I thread these through paper clips hanging from a clamp on the castle.


I use shoelaces to hold up the front apron rod so it’s easy to tie on the bouts.


I began weaving, and all seemed to be going well, except the instructions for this draft said it should be 20 epi.  I’ve done plenty of 8/2 cotton in twill, very successfully setting it at 24 epi.  I wove about 12 inches and realized it was just too wide and loose for towels.  So, I cut out the weft to start over. (It took about an hour and a half to cut out – cutting very carefully between the warps, and then pulling out short sections of thread – and I’m glad I did.)


And here it is after starting over.  You may notice the temple – for thicker fabric I use alligator clips, which work well, but I found out about these knitting machine accessories which unfortunately I can’t remember the name of.  They hook into the cloth, but don’t seem as harsh as a regular temple, which I haven’t had success with.  I think the colors are more vibrant with closer set.


So, there’s my current project.  I’ll do 5 or 6 of the towels, depending on how the warp works out, all with different weft and treadling.  I’m looking forward to seeing how they turn out.

And, hopefully now that I’ve broken the ice again I’ll be posting more often!


Wool waffle weave shawl

Some time ago I ordered a bunch of 2/26 wool, not really knowing what I was getting, but it’s been interesting to work with.  I had made a twill shawl out of it (SH003 in green), which was nice, but so flat.  I wanted to see if I could add a little texture, so I tried a 4-shaft waffle weave, threading and weaving 3 threads burgundy, 3 threads light sage (which looks grey in this context).


I got quite a ways into the weaving before I realized I had started with the wrong color.  My intention had been to have the cells outlined in burgundy on one side, and sage on the other, but the outlines got mixed up.  I’m still such a learner…

It did full up a bit in the wet finishing, and has a good drape but is a little stiff.  I think there’s more for me to learn re: wet finishing as well.  Surprisingly, there is some color difference between the two sides, but it’s subtle. I’m pleased with it.




Double-width Blanket – oh my!

So, I’ve wanted to weave a blanket since before I got my floor loom.  For my first try, I used acrylic – Lion Heartland – for easy care, and I also liked the colors.  There was a lot of planning to figure out how to do the plaid so it was interesting but not too complicated.  I spaced out the threading over 4 shafts for minimal caught threads during the weaving.  Unfortunately, I didn’t record the threading, but I think it was 1-2 for the top layer and 6-8 for the bottom layer.  Something like that.


I added two warps of fishing line at the fold edge, each weighted with 2 pounds.


(I warped one regular thread between the two fishing line warps, which was a mistake, because that thread kept getting caught between the fishing line.  Lesson learned.)  DP Dan set up a mirror on a stand so I could check the shed for caught threads, which really helped.


Here’s my first color change!


The weaving went fairly quickly – a couple of weeks.  There was a little draw-in as I went along, but I figured it was not so much that it would matter, probably.  To keep the top and bottom of the free edge even over the breast beam, I just pulled the top layer so the stripe edges matched every time I advanced the warp.  I also snugged the weft in at both selvedges with a finger between the layers before beating.  These methods may not work with thinner or less forgiving yarn, and the bottom free selvedge was not great, but I just forged on!  It was so beautiful, I wove until I couldn’t get in one more stripe, knowing it might turn out a little long.

Taking it off the loom was an adventure.  A weaving friend had not yet seen double-width, and was there for the experience.  Magically (actually, thanks to the mirror), there were no caught threads between the layers!!!  And, the fold turned out well enough.

There was some dry finishing for the skipped threads,


and then I just washed it in the machine – cold water, regular dry (lots of lint!).  The wet finishing did soften the irregular bottom edge and the fold.  I let this one sit for a few months, thinking it was too long  and not the right ratio (96 x 44), and also too heavy for anyone to really want.  However, it is too beautiful to shorten, and someone may love its soft coziness.

And here it is!




Taking a Break!

Craaaccckkk!  In an exercise class on January 7, while doing a move I have done hundreds of times, I tripped over my own feet and went down, fracturing my wrist in the process.  Dang!!  It’s not a complex break, but being in a cast certainly hampers my weaving progress.

No doubt about it, my 4-shuttle overshot project has to wait, and it sits forlornly on the floor loom. (Never fear, I’ve taken the temple off.)


So I watched lots of weaving videos – Double-weave, Rugs, etc.  The most startling one was Laura Fry’s on wet finishing wool.  She washes the piece and then throws it repeatedly against a hard surface for 8-10 minutes.  I had to try it, so I took a recent scarf that I thought I had wet finished, starting the process over, and by golly if those little fibers didn’t mesh together and make the scarf all soft!  I feel like I’ve turned a corner in my cloth-making skill!

And also I could warp one-handed, so I had 3 pieces warped within a few days of this little incident, ready for the rigid heddle loom.  I got one on the loom but had to wait several days before I had enough strength in my fingers to tie (still pretty loosely) onto the front apron rod.  Here is the plain weave scarf barely started.  It took me 2 weeks to finish it, and another week before I could twist the fringe.  It’s not wet finished yet, but will go in the gallery when done (S0151).


But then I was on a roll.  The other 2 pieces I had warped were repurposed cotton, donated to me by a friend who had unravelled it from commercial sweaters.  The yarn is an interesting combination of very kinky (from being knitted) and almost no twist.  Also, there are breaks in the individual plies, which I ended up ignoring, since the two yarns were 4- and 6-ply, and one ply missing for a stretch was hardly noticeable.  The mallard (4-ply) started out to be a scarf, but ended up as a runner.   I wove half-basketweave which went very fast and I finished it in 2 days.  (I must be healing up!)

R0013a             R0013b              R0013c





On to the next!  Still working with repurposed cotton yarn, but this time in 6-ply periwinkle, I was ready for something more engaging than plain weave.  Usually, I’m not one for hand-manipulated weaves or embellishment, but I still had three weeks of being in a cast to go, so there was no rush.  I got out my Jane Patrick book and checked out Danish Medallions.  Since one shuttle is all I can manage, I used all the same weft yarn rather than an accent yarn as outline, but it’s still interesting and pretty quick to do.

S0152a             S0152b  (The color on the left is truer.)


I’m now halfway done with this scarf with 2 weeks to go before the cast is off.  Then physical therapy – all this fuss for something that took one second to happen.  This scarf (S0152) will go in the gallery when done.

I’m sure all this hand activity has been good for building the strength back up in my fingers, and it has certainly been good for my morale.  Onward!


Towels in Crackle Weave

Crackle weave has intrigued me since I first heard about it.  I just like the name – it implies action and fun.  So I was thrilled to find instructions (A Dozen Projects in 8/2 Cotton) for crackle weave towels.  Perfect for a holiday gift!!

I’m still such a newbie that I read the threading sequence wrong and the warp stripes didn’t match the warp pattern changes.  So, I moved each thread over one, and that worked out fine.  I suppose I should set up anything complicated in iWeaveit first, just to make sure.

There were several different treading sequences for these towels, and it was really fun to watch this weave up.  I intended to make 4 towels, but ran out of warp, so only got three.  I did the first two with the same treading sequence, but switched the pattern and tabby yarns for the second towel.

T0005a Towel 1 with teal pattern and grey tabby

T0005b Towel 2 with grey pattern and teal tabby

I was surprised how much difference the grey (uninteresting) pattern weft made.  #2 is my least favorite of the three.

For the third towel I used a different treading sequence:

T0005e Towel 3 with teal pattern and grey tabby

I really prefer to put fringe on the ends of my towels because my sewing skills don’t meet my weaving standards.  Initially, these sewn hems looked stretched out of shape, but they relaxed and look fine now.  I machine washed them in hot water and machine dried, and the shrinkage was more than 10% in both directions, but they became quite soft and textured.  They will be absorbent!  I like them!




Raw silk and hand-spun wool shawls

Oh my, it’s been a couple of months since I’ve added anything here.  I’ve been too busy weaving to write!

I think I’ll be a new weaver forever.  It’s so much fun to just try stuff and see what happens.  These shawls were from yarn picked up at give-aways at my weaving guild.

The first is raw silk.  (It seemed to have the right properties, and the latest label, pasted over two others, said Silk, so I’m going with it.) The yarn is pretty textured and a little sticky.  Since it’s light grey, I thought huck lace would work, and it did, though maybe the threads didn’t move around as much as they might with a less textured yarn.  Here it is on the loom:


Off the loom, it was a little stiff and I did a lot of reading on finishing silk.  Apparently, to get the gum out of raw silk you have to boil it, and that wasn’t an option with this large a piece.  I finally settled on steaming – holding the iron above the cloth on full steam – and amazingly, that softened it up, so it has a nice drape now.



The second shawl was from handspun yarn.  When I picked it up at the weaving guild meeting, I didn’t even realize it was all the same yarn in three colors.  Bonus!

At first, I warped another stripe of brown on each side, but I was afraid I would run out of weft, so I took that off, just leaving two threads of brown at each edge, which I’m glad I did.  The structure is 2/2 twill, with the cream and brown angled in different directions, mirror imaged in the center (I’m sure there’s a more technical term for this pattern, but I think “point” has to do with changing the treading sequence, which I didn’t do – so much still to learn).

Here it is on the loom:


There were some new experiences with this wool.  There was a lot of lanolin or spinning oil, especially on the cream yarn.  All the yarn was pretty twisty, but there was extra twist on the cream yarn, and since the last cream stripe was so close to the edge, the corners really curled up when it came off the loom.  I washed it in the tub with regular detergent, hot water, and agitation, and it fulled up a little.  I dried it hanging over the ironing board, and then ironed it.  The curled corners eventually straightened out with ironing.



The end result is that this shawl is a little like a horse blanket, but it drapes enough, and should be warm!!

Note: I put these and the shawl from my last post (2/26s wool) in a meeting room that is often chilly, and people use them often!!  Yeah!!

Adventure in 2/26s wool

Some time ago I bought several cones of 2/26s wool mill ends, not really realizing what a thin yarn it is.  With so much of it on hand, the only thing to go for was a shawl.  Originally, I thought to do a flattish waffle weave to give it some texture, and I started warping based on that idea, alternating 6 ends of each color (dark green and tan).  Somewhere in the middle of the warping process I tested the yarn for strength, and it broke very easily.  Oops – maybe not the best for waffle weave with its longer floats (although I later considered that this yarn is used in mills on commercial looms, so must have some durability).  I did a search and found that someone had used this yarn for 2/2 twill at 34 epi, and said it was very easy to work with.   I found a nice 2/2 twill structure (Dixon p. 216), and continued warping for that, alternating the colors one to one for a shadow weave.  This all took a while because there were a total of 796 ends.

Here’s how the warp looked with  the change of structure in the middle.


I was pretty sure I could still thread alternating the colors one to one, creating slightly crossed threads behind the heddles, and that turned out not to be a problem.  The biggest issue was that the wool yarn was a little sticky, so the weaving was slow, with a lot of warp strumming between picks.


Off the loom, there were some skipped threads to fix, but not too many.  The fringe is about 4 inches, and I just left it loose – it sticks to itself, but it adds some interest.  I hand washed in very hot water with medium agitation, and let sit until the water cooled.  Dried flat.  It softened up a bit, and the shrinkage was only about 4%.  Finished dimensions 76″ x 21.25″.  There didn’t seem to be significant fulling, but the cloth definitely holds together.



I’m very pleased with it.