Recently in Dishtowels Category

Current Weaving

In my last post, I mentioned that I was seeking out unfinished projects and creating a list so that I could focus on getting some of my works in progress to be finished projects.  I think I've rounded up all the weaving projects, so I'm starting with those.

I've got three projects in my weaving queue:

  • The big purple blanket(s) project (top left): the fabric is woven, but the ends need woven in and the fabric needs to be washed, cut in half and seamed appropriately into two blankets
  • The "Piping Hot" pillow project (top right): the main fabric for the pillows is woven, but I still need to create the piping, find pillow forms of the right size and put the project together
  • Log Cabin Handtowels for my powder room (center, on loom): this is a straightforward project to weave as long as I can and then separate into towels of reasonable size to be used in my powder room. 
The hand towels will most likely be the first project completed - the weaving is easy and fast given that I'm using worsted weight cotton. 

I'm still torn about the big purple blankets.  After weaving this huge length of cloth, I love the look of it when it is all laid out.  Some of the pooling creates infinity-sign like motifs that I like that will be severed in half if I make two blankets.  That said, it's really too long to be of practical use at that width.   The real issue here with finishing is just that I am lazy and not excited about dealing with the ends.

The pillows have been lingering for a while now because after weaving the fabric I have to also weave the piping and then sew things up.  I don't mind the sewing, but I admit that I don't always like my sewing skills, so I've been procrastinating.

My goal is to get to the point where I've only got one weaving project at any given time.  I have multiple looms... but not enough space to really keep them both set up and active.  Since I've got that great yarn from Habu, and there was a neat double weave scarf project with embroidery thread in the most recent Handwoven that I want to tackle, I'm feeling motivated than in the past to wrap these up so that I can tackle one of those.

Rigid Heddle Waffle Weave

Yesterday I finished up a project that has been lingering on my rigid heddle loom for a while: a waffle weave towel worked in striped Sugar n' Cream (worsted weight cotton).  I've been interested in waffle weave and started this project to see the results in large gauge yarn.  In my weaving class, I'm starting another project, doing double weave waffle weave in 10/2 perle cotton -- fine yarn at the very other end of the spectrum.  What I thought would be most interesting about my rigid heddle project was seeing how the fabric changed from right after coming off of the loom to after it was finished (washed) under normal handling conditions. 

20090726_PreFinishedWaffle.jpg This is a close up of the pre-finished fabric.  There is visible texture and you can see how the threads move around and bend in areas near the warp and weft floats. 

20090726_FinishedWaffle.jpgThis is a close up of the fabric after finishing (which involved a regular trip through my washing machine and dryer).  The fabric is much more compact. It shrunk both width-wise and length-wise. Interestingly, the warp floats have spread apart, while the weft floats have gotten closer together and the overall texture is more indistinct.  The fabric feels think and thirsty.  After I finish up the ends, it will likely make a serviceable dish towel. 

You might remember that I used the same yarn in the warp as in the weft, hoping I would get interesting striping effects.  In this respect,I was mostly disappointed.  The warp stripes are hard to distinguish and the weft stripes are wide enough that you have to be looking for them to see them.  The overall effect is a pleasant mottled pastel fabric. 

This may be my last rigid heddle project for a while -- not because I don't enjoy it, but because my class project is large enough and challenging enough that I need to focus my weaving brain energy on it  for a while.  I also have couple of big knitting projects that need attention.  Now that Lotus is done, I've promised myself that I will get back to Z's Zebra Striper sweater so that she has it for the fall.

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Waffle Warp

I like dressing my looms.  I know a lot of people find the warping part of weaving to be tedious and time consuming, but so far, I'm finding it to be something I enjoy.  Really, when you are a weaving newbie in the process of warping a loom, you have to devote your full focus to the process.  Hands and brain have to move together to keep track of how many ends and how the heddles need to be threaded and the reed needs to be sleyed.  It is a very nice way to push other issues aside.  To me, it feels meditative.

20080602_StripedCottonWarp.jpgMy rigid heddle loom does not require quite the focus that the 8 harness table loom I am using in my class takes to warp, but it still requires some attention.  Some time ago I bought some "self striping" cotton "Sugar 'n Cream" with the intention of using it as warp and weft in some project to see how the warp and weft stripes would interact.  If you want to have a striped warp but are feeling kind of lazy and don't need complete control over where the stripes go, this yarn is something you'll enjoy. 

20080602_WaffleWeaveCloth.jpgI'm all about waffle weave these days, so I was pretty excited when I found that I could do a 5/2 waffle weave usng my rigid heddle loom and just one pick up stick.  This pattern is very similar to the one that I am doing on my classroom loom.  One nice thing about working in thicker yarn is that it is easier to see the details of the weave structure without getting out a magnifying glass.

20080602_WaffleWeaveCloseUp.jpgIn the warp, given the end length I chose (which I did not measure out, other than to set my warping peg such that I got three-four ends per each color) I have 3 to four threads of each color.  In the weft, I am getting about 2 waffle intervals per color.  My warp is sett at 8 ends per inch. 

This is a very simple pattern to execute on a rigid heddle*.  The pickup stick is easy to set up and the pattern is done in 10 pick intervals, and the order of moving the heddle is easy to remember, so it's very easy to get a nice rhythm going.

I am not 100% sure what this project will end up being.  Depending on what happens to the fabric after I wash it, it could either end up as another dishtowel or perhaps some kind of runner somwhere  (it's a bit too wide and rustic for a scarf).  It could also probably be folded over on itself and become a pillow covering if I wanted it to.  One of the things I love about weaving is that you don't have to be absolutely sure what you want to do with a piece of cloth to enjoy making it!

* if you want more information on how to do this pattern, please refer to Betty Davenport's Textures and Patterns for the Rigid Heddle Loom which has a wealth of pattern and texture information for the rigid heddle loom.

Woven Spring Dishtowels

In spite of a weekend with weather that reminded me more of February than the end of March (can you say waking up to snow on Sunday morning?), it was a good weekend for taking a deep breath and letting my mind and hands wander.  There was knitting, weaving and baking and a bit of reading (often while knitting), so both mind and hands were happy with the weekend.

I've had these dishtowels finished for quite some time.  On "problem" I have with posting about weaving, is that because I am learning, I have all these things that I want to talk about.  Color, texture, technique, weave structures are all possible discussions for even a simple project.  Often, it's the pictures that I take (or forget to take) that end up shaping what I talk about.

These cotton towels all came from the warp I talked about a little while back.  My original plan was a set of 4 identical towels for my kitchen, but after weaving the first towel and getting a good handle on what it would take to deal with all the color changes, I decided that I would rather use the rest of the warp for experimentation and that my experimentation would get divided into towel shaped parts at the end.

20090323_CottonTowels.jpgThese are three of the towels before they went through the washing machine.  The one to the far left was my original design.  The one in the center was my bastardized "basketweave" attempt and the one on the right was an experiment in warp and weft faced "lace" patterns on my rigid heddle loom (achieved with the help of the pick up stick).

20090323_OriginalTowelPatte.jpgThis is a more up close and personal look at the first towel.  While I like the pattern a lot, after a while, I got tired of fiddling with 4 shuttles and hiding the ends with a thick cotton yarn.  My design did not work well for carrying the unused colors up the side.  So after one iteration of what I wanted to try I moved onto something else. (Yes, there are the same number of picks in the center square as in the ones to either side of it, somehow my beating got uneven).

20090323_ModifiedBasketWeav.jpgThis is the modified basketweave.  Since I couldn't lift two side by side warp threads at once, I did two warp shots into each shed (the fabric is rotated on it's side so that the warp is horizontal in the picture).   But after a bunch of inches of this, I got bored with it, too, and decided to pull out my pick up stick and play with woven "lace".


20090323_YellowLace.jpgHere you can see how different the fabric looks when I use either the white, blue or yellow yarn as the weft for an extended period of time.  In the white and blue examples. you can see that there are warp threads "floating" over a group of weft threads.  For the yellow example the opposite is true: the weft threads are floating over the warp threads.  Of course, these fabrics are not the same on both sides.  If you were to flip them over, the blue and white fabrics would have floating weft threads while the opposite side of the yellow area would have floating warp threads.  I really liked the look and texture of the white and blue "samples" so I extended them for longer regions.

20090323_PullingIn.jpgThis picture (taken before I cut the towels apart) illustrates another property of woven cloth: plain weave is "wider" than weave structures where you go over and under two or more threads (this has to do with how the threads can pull together, and I'll probably talk about it more some other time when I can show some better examples).  So if you're going to have a project like this one, you want to make sure that you maintain a similar number of warp threads that you go over and under during the course of one unit in your project, otherwise the edges will get wonky -- not unlike matching knit ribbing to stockinette. 

Just like the original project changed, even the final location of the results changed.  I didn't really know how much this cotton would shrink (yes, sampling would have good for this) and it ended up shrinking more than I anticipated (measuring before and after would have been a good idea, too...) so the final towels were smaller than I expected.  So rather than dishtowels, I'm going to use them as hand towels for my powder room.  Their different sizes won't be so obvious used that way, and I'll get to enjoy the woven texture more, too.

Spring Dishtowel Cotton Warp

It's time for another weaving project, don't you think? 

There's a long story about the process of getting this warp onto my loom, but I'll sum it up by telling you that I put this warp on twice and that I always learn a lot by making mistakes.  And I'll definitely never make the mistake of not putting a layer of something between rotations of warp threads.

20090312_CottonWarpBehind.jpgWeaving is an opportunity for all sorts of "McGuyvering" -- to separate the warp threads on the warp beam, I bought 12 foot of clear vinyl floor runner from the Home Depot and trimmed about 2 inches from the edge so that it spanned the entire width of my loom.  An unanticipated benefit is that I can take the unwound part and pull it over the top of the loom so that it has a cover.  

But, enough with the strange little details.  What am I actually warping my loom for.


I would almost never consider knitting up dishtowels (not because I have any issue with the idea of knitting dishtowels or wash cloths, but because it takes a long time and I like to use my knitting time in other ways), but weaving is another story entirely.   I purchased some Sugar and Cream in what I thought were springy colors and designed a warp that I thought would be fun to work with from the perspective of playing with plaids.  And then I got to warping.  The towels are destined to be 14 inches wide and roughly 28 inches long, but I think the lengths are going to end up somewhat variable, because while I started out thinking I was going to make 4 towels that were exactly the same, I ended up deciding (after making the first one), that life is too short and that I wanted to play more with my loom, so I'm using them all as an opportunity to sample color and weave effects.

20090312_CottonWarpClose.jpg Of course, every project is an opportunity to play with my camera.

One thing I learned in my weaving class that I thought I would share is this tip: start your weaving after you've rolled your warp knots past the front beam and have all the warp threads lying flat on that front beam.  This will start everything off levelly and help you identify tension problems..

20090312_CottonWarpReadyToR.jpgAll ready to go!  That header is a little wonky, but all headers are for is to spread out the warp threads evenly and to give you a level place to start from.  Full steam ahead for dishtowels!


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