I had grand plans over the holiday break to weave some towels as gifts for family and friends. As often happens the best laid plans . . .
This is the first project I have put on the new/used loom I purchased in November. The photo above is the second towel in progress. I had some issues with the first one but wove it until the desired length anyway. It was supposed to be about 27 ppi (this is the number of weft threads per inch – it has to do with the density of the weave) but I think I was only getting about 15 ppi. I didn’t want to stop halfway through the towel so I just kept weaving. I have a thing about things being uniform and even.
Once the towel was finished I got out some tools and tightened up every nut, bolt and screw on the loom (something I should have done to begin with). I started the next towel and was relieved that the whole process was much, much better on a much more solid loom. In my excitement to use the new loom I forgot the most fundamental thing – make sure your loom is solid.
These are the first striped towels I’ve done and the colors are fantastic. The towels are a nice size too – 23″ x 36″. They are done in an M and W twill pattern. I had a difficult time getting into the swing of the treddling initially because it wasn’t making sense to me but I finally got into a rhythm and it went along fine. This is also a little different to weave because the weft threads are counted to make the design instead of measuring the piece as you weave. It’s very precise and as you know that is something I love.
Once this towel is finished I will weave the original towel again – it’s an advancing twill treddling pattern. I’m sure this one will look completely different than the first attempt. That will teach me not to lose sight of the most basic rules just to get a project going.
Wow, I have a confession to make. I wound this warp for the newest loom in what is rapidly becoming my fleet. I picked the loom up over the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s an upgrade, it has 6 treadles instead of 4 so I will be able to weave a little faster and not have to figure out all of my drafts for a direct tie up. There will be less thinking on my part. I have an overshot scarf on my other loom. I now have looms in two rooms of the house and one in pieces in the shed. It’s a little out of hand. The confession part . . . I really like it that way. I’m going to miss the older Harrisville when it goes. You see, I made sure the older one had a home before I bought the new one knowing full well that Bill would have a bit of a fit thinking every room in the house would have weaving equipment in it.
The warp I wound on Saturday and Sunday is for a set of M&W twill towels done in 10/2 mercerized cotton. These are going to be stunning. The best part is that in addition to the M&S pattern they can be woven in an advancing twill on the same threading and tie up – BONUS! I warped it for 5 towels with the idea that I could get them done in time for Christmas. Ha! That means that’s probably all I will be doing on the weekends between now and then.
Hmmmm, I may have to enlist the help of others for the decorating.
I finished my last towel in our twill round robin class. It seems appropriate that it’s the holiday design. This was a plain weave with twill trees. It’s quite cute. I thought I would be really bored with the plain weave but found the challenge to be keeping an even beat. I’m curious to see how it looks once it’s washed.
That’s the project for the long weekend – hem and wash most of the towels that I’ve woven over the past few months. I picked up another 6 of them at class last night, there are still a few more to come off of the looms.
This was a wonderful opportunity for all of the weavers in Pam’s class. It’s one thing to look at a draft and envision what your weaving might look like but to be able to weave something different every week has been wonderful. I photographed each project as I did it and now have a reference for 11 drafts and a vision for future projects.
Initially in class we talked about having 11 towels to give away for Christmas but as I looked (and felt) them last night I was thinking I wasn’t ready to let them go.
I was winding a warp for a scarf out of Alpaca on Sunday and took a few photographs of it as it progressed. I love the way this fiber feels – who doesn’t really? The color is a wonderful light green with flecks of yellow.
I wind my warps on a table made for me in front of large window facing east. The light is always beautiful and I can never resist recording a project from beginning to end. There is so much beauty in every step.
I moved the loom to another room for the Christmas projects. I have another loom I’m picking up this coming weekend and this one will find its way to its new home after the holidays. Hmmmm, is it possible that I could have two projects going on at the same time in the same room?!? Wow, talk about ADD. We will see what happens. I’m just thankful to be running my fingers through wool while there is snow and wind outdoors.
Last night I wove a Dornick Twill in 8/2 unmercerized cotton. This went very fast – 27 inches in less than two hours. It was mindless and beautiful. Mindless is quite often just what I need. The act of weaving itself being totally meditative for me (and the counting, oh how I love the counting). Yeah, OCD is me.
I finished this towel and moved onto my last one. I’ll post about that one next week because my phone died before I could take its picture.
Yardage is coming off of the looms each week now and I came home with three of my towels ready for finishing last night. I’m looking forward to seeing them washed. I see hemming in my future.
Isn’t it amazing what threading and treddling can do? How beautiful.
Last night’s weaving adventure was extended twill. The warp was 8/2 unmercerized cotton in a mint green. I chose to weave it with a dark green tencel and was really pleased with the result. I had been looking at these towels and different weavers choices in color and I have to say before I started weaving this I was not a fan. It is a really quick weave though and once I was into it I have to say that it’s one of my favorites so far. I probably say that every week about whatever I wove in class so take that for what it is. This one was a little different in the fact that the entire time I was weaving it I was thinking about different ways to change this up. I’m thinking of doing this with a striped warp and a dark weft, maybe towels but maybe a wool scarf. The possibilities are endless and having something that looks complicated be so easy helps to get those creative juices going.
We are coming to the end of our round robin and I am pretty sad about it. This has been a wonderful experience giving me (and I would say many others) the opportunity to weave out of our comfort zone. The results are beautiful. Only 2 more towels to do and then onto finishing. I had thought that these would make great Christmas presents but I’m not sure I will be ready to part with them by then. Maybe a they will go off for birthdays later.
One of the best aspects for me was photographing them as I went along. I now have the drafts along with the photograph of the finished product and in the long run that is all I really need.
This week I decided to tackle the False Satin Blocks in 10/2 mercerized cotton. I chose a buttery yellow for the weft. I sat down at this loom last week and simply could not do this. I was over thinking to the point where I just had to walk away. I didn’t understand what the selvages were doing, the sheds weren’t opening the way they were supposed to, ugh! (Of course if I had just waited and asked a question or two that might have helped). I spent the entire week fretting about this whole set up. 8 shafts intimidate me, I’m not sure why. I think it was just out of my comfort zone right then. I was looking for meditation last week, this week I was up for the challenge.
I sat down and wove this without a single issue this week. I think having my head in a different place made all of the difference. I wasn’t distracted.
Pam had to unweave a Navajo rug she was working on because there was a problem with how it was warped. She was trying to fix and then re-warp the frame. Her cat, Fred decided he would help her out.
Fred loves the studio. He is always there, waiting for a pat or cuddle (or food). He helped Pam read her measurements – we all know tempting any owner reading a paper of any kind is. I think he was just in tune to her frustration and was working on a little comic relief.
He did a very good job.
I arrived at weaving class 2 hours early on Tuesday with the idea that I would catch up – I was a towel behind in the Round Robin. I decided to start with this undulating twill pattern. I remembered being told it would weave up quickly. Sometimes it takes me quite a while to figure out what color to use for the warp but the person that wove the towel before me on this warp used the same color. I love the way it looks, it reminds me of vintage fabric. It took a little less than 2 hours to weave the 27″ for the towel and I wasn’t so fried from a complicated pattern that I moved on to another loom.
This is a Point Twill with Herringbone pattern. I have to say it was really fun to weave. The results are . . . interesting.
Both towels are made in 8/2 unmercerized cotton making a nice weight, absorbent towel – isn’t that all your really need? I am now caught up with 5 more towels to weave. I can’t wait to have them all off of the looms and start hemming (not).
Although it wasn’t totally planned I spent most of the weekend doing something related to weaving (in between cooking, cleaning and loads of laundry). I make the mundane more pleasurable by rewarding myself with loom time. I finished the blue and white and moved onto a green variegated version of the Maltese Cross and discovered something in the process. Being a newby to this craft I didn’t realize what a HUGE difference yarn would make in how the pattern looked. (Apparently I’m paying too much attention to other things while I’m throwing a shuttle). The last two throws I have woven in this pattern I used Bartlettyarn Maine Wool for the weft with a warp of Jaggerspun Maine Line 2/8 wool. I love the feel of the wool when it’s been fulled and finished, it’s a warm, heavy blanket but . . . the crosses in the pattern were more elongated than I had thought they would be. When I started weaving the green version of this I was using Noro Boku, a wool/silk blend. Both of these yarns are worsted weight but one is thicker than the other and the less hefty of the two brought the pattern into what I had expected. Yes, I continue to weave with the variegated yarn even though the judge didn’t like it at the Big E.
Sunday I spent a good part of my afternoon at the weaving studio helping Pam put together a new Harrisville 36″ 8 Shaft, 10 Treadle Loom. The latest addition arrived in two boxes and reminded me of something I might have picked up at IKEA.
Parts, parts, parts, tools, instructions.
Okay, I’ve built IKEA before – Harrisville should get some advice from them on their instructions.
Pam’s attaching the treadles.
You have to be fairly flexible to get this job done ( at least be able to get up off of the floor).
About 3 hours later here she is ready to go – well, with four shafts ready to go. After 3 hours we were fried, so opted to add the other four later.
Set in the new spot with the other looms.
This was a great experience. I now feel as if anything that happens to my loom I will be totally prepared to repair. The maple that the loom is made out of is quite beautiful. I also learned why Pam asked me for help – it is virtually impossible to put this together without an extra set of hands. I also think it was an extension of my weaving education.
Next up on my twill weaving tour is a Braided Twill. This was done in 10/2 unmercerized cotton on an 8-shaft loom. My first 8 shaft experience. The treddling is quite simple and progressive in a way that makes it easy to weave. The results are impressive I think.
Like many of the towels I have woven in this series the pattern isn’t that obvious as you are weaving it. You need to stand away from the loom or lean back while you are sitting so you can see it at an angle. This is where photography really comes into play. For some reason no matter what angle you photograph textiles you always see much more detail than if you are looking at the textile itself. I’m not sure if it’s the contrast or the fact that a photo is 2 dimensional. I know if I can’t see what’s going on I take a photo and get my ah ha moment. That’s the beauty of the instant gratification of digital.
This was difficult to weave evenly. You really can only weave in the center third of your warp otherwise you can see where your beat is uneven, it breaks up the pattern. Another problem for little perfectionist me. I finished up my 27″ in about three hours then toured the studio to see what I wanted to weave next week. This is so much fun.