Linen Tea Towels

Linen Tea Towels

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Weekend in Texas

My niece was getting married in Texas.  My Mom (Grandma) wanted to go, but couldn't travel alone.  I am no longer working, I have never been to Texas. I over booked July without noticing and I did not need to add another weekend out of town, but Mom wanted to see the wedding and I wanted Mom to see it.

I always thought of Texas as desert, hot and dry, but I was in the south of Texas and it is HOT and WET.  The temperature was about what we were at home (98 to 99 degrees) but the humidity was unbelievable.  I am used to humidity of 15-20 percent and we were in 85 percent.  I could hardly breath when I first got there.  And I am not used to feeling the air laying on my skin.  Luckily we found plenty of air conditioned rooms for Mom to relax in (and me too).

The bride looked beautiful.  Her dress was, as she put it "awesome."  Even better, I had helped fit the dress to her.  She needed the bodice shortened and I was glad I was able to do it.  We had done the dress changes a couple of months ago, before she left for Texas.  I was so happy to see how great she looked in the dress.
Here's the beautiful bride with Grandma
It was a wonderful thing to share this occasion with my sister, my niece and her family.  I also got to meet the groom's family and enjoy a great dinner and party afterword.

I'm sure the professional pictures will be much better.

The day after the wedding, we got to go to South Padre Island and play on the beach.  Mom and me got to put our feet in the Gulf of Mexico.  There was a nice breeze coming off the water, so we felt great, until we had to walk back to the parking and humid!
Mom, Daughter and Granddaughter at the beach.
All in all, we had a great time, but we also had an adventure coming home.  

My Mom carries a little Swiss army knife in her purse and she had not flown for several years, so did not realize the problems that would cause.  I managed to get it in the checked luggage on the way down, but on the way back she put it in her carry on instead of the checked in luggage.  She knew not to put it in her purse!  I did not catch it, but TSA did.  When they took it, Mom's face showed how upset she was and they suggested that we go back to check-in to see if we could put it in the suitcase.  (This is a small airport, and there was a chance.)

Alas, it was not to be.  Mom was upset and said we had better just turn it in.  We went through the check out again, I gave the knife to another TSA agent and he saw how upset Mom was...She had bought the knife in Switzerland some fifteen years ago, and it had her name engraved on it.  He suggested that we see if the airport office had a box or envelope that we could mail it home. (Like an idiot, I did not have the phone numbers for any family still in Texas that could pick up the knife.)  

We went to the office and asked about a box or envelope.  The gentleman there said to Mom, "You must be Barbara."  The story had already got around the airport! I said it is a small airport.  He sent the office manager to find something, he had a business envelope and I proceeded to tape the knife securely to the side of the envelope, and tape my address to the window in the envelope.  The he told me there was not post office and they did not have stamps...I remembered a couple that I had stashed in my wallet and put them on.  All we could do is hope for the best.

When we left the office, the TSA officer that had suggested we try to mail the knife, met us and said that he would take care of getting it in the mail.  Mom was so pleased that she wanted a picture with him.  We went through check out a third time and relaxed while we waited for our flight.
Mom with TSA.
Small airports are able to be a little more personal than the big ones that handle so many people and bags.  We were lucky to have the help that we did.

I do understand the worry of people with knives on airplanes...I'm glad that TSA is there to keep us safe.  But I also understand and agree with the man in the airport office.  As he said, "I can't see an 89 year old woman running down the airplane aisle with a inch and a half knife, yelling Take me to Switzerland or I'll do your nails." 

There is, of course, a good ending to this story.  Four days after I got home, the knife came in the mail.  The envelope was crumpled and slightly torn on the back...but the knife was safe and it is back in my Mom's purse!
Mom's knife came through the mail in one piece.

Gratuitous weaving picture

I had to add a picture of the 3 shaft bound weave I've been doing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


I spent May out of the country, and June trying to get my head back in place.  I have had a hard time coming back up to speed.  
May was wonderful in the South of France.  We took classes, ate great food, traveled around the area, welcomed our kids for a couple of weeks and relaxed.

I have had a hard time coming back to earth.  I still am not sleeping well...but last night was an improvement.  My classes have started and I am enjoying teaching.  I finally got to some weaving.

I was able to get some old know...when they used to make a really great smooth linen.  This was Bernat Linen Special, about equal to a singles 20 linen (20 lea). I needed to weave some samples for exchange, and decided I could use this yarn.  I got one tube each of several colors and wanted to make a mixed stripe warp and an over twisted weft.  I decided that I could weave the samples to test the collapse, then weave a collapse scarf.  I was really thinking about a summer scarf that is light and airy. 

It turns out that the yarn is all very similar in value.
I didn't think it would make the mixed warp look that I wanted.   

I had read a blog talking about using three colors in 60%-30%-10% of colors to make a good balance, so I decided to try that with natural, blue and yellow.  I still wanted a random stripe, so I wound 10% of the ends in yellow and put them through the reed in a random stripe.  I wound 30% of the blue and added that stripe sequence to the reed, then I wound 60% in natural to fill in the remaining dents.  I know that warping front to back is not a good idea with singles linen, but it is only a 5 yard warp and I figured I could wind it slowly and all would be well.

all yarns in the reed
I didn't have that much trouble winding it on, and I liked the random stripe I had designed. Because of the trouble with the selvedges I had on the last linen warp, I used 40/2 linen for the last two ends on each side for strength, this worked very well.  

For the over-twisted weft, I used a technique that I learned in a workshop with Theo Moorman.  She used to combine yarns to make a boucle like yarn for areas of her tapestries or to blend colors for her technique.  She showed us how she twisted the yarns together as she wound them on the bobbin.  I used a single ended hand winder to add twist to my weft as I wound it on the bobbin.  

You add twist like a spindle, or walking wheel, holding the yarn at a slight angle off the tip of the spindle.

After I added the twist, I used ten rotations of the handle for each 18 inches, then I put the yarn perpendicular to the bobbin and wound the yarn on.  This method, mostly, keeps the yarn taut so it doesn't back twist.  I wet the bobbins and let them rest overnight before weaving.

I wove up the lengths for the samples I wanted to send.  I decided to send a washed and an unwashed sample to show what happened with the yarn.  There was not as much collapse as I wanted, but the samples worked out well, and I got them in on time which really made me happy.
Before and after washing
For my scarf, I decided to twist the yarn a little more on the spinning wheel.  I still counted the twists that I added...I probably varied some, I did it watching Netflix.  (It was a lot like plying a yarn, nothing interesting, just treadle and let it go on the bobbin....boring)  The scarf wove up quickly, but every so often, the yarn would double back on itself and I would have to stop and untwist it to continue.  I had no problem with breaking and I kept the tension slightly loose so that I could get an even, very open beat.

The only problem, besides the back twist, was when I wound on the cloth beam.  I usually use a length of one sided corrugated cardboard to eliminate the bumps from the tie-on knots, but my cardboard was old and too soft to do the job.

I noticed after I wound the first wrap, I got an open space in my weaving.

I actually got three of them where three knots did not get smoothed over.  One on each end and one in the middle.  Since I was planning on the weft shifting in the wash...all I could do is replace the cardboard and hope for the best.

When I finished the weaving, I decided to twist the fringe to control it and trim it off to about two and a half inches.  After the first wash, the collapse was great, but the linen felt stiff.  I used a rolling pin to flatten and soften the linen a little.  I washed it a second time, then rolled it up wet and put it in the freezer.  I had read once that freezing and putting in boiling water softened the linen.  After a night in the freezer, I dropped it in boiling water, then hung it out to dry.  It softened up a bit more and I took some pictures.
After two washes and freezing.

On the close-up, you can see the crimp and the slight shift in the weft.  I think I will throw it in a wash a couple more times to continue to soften the linen.  I am pleased with the results and now need to get some towels on the loom.

View of Gordes I took on vacation

Friday, April 3, 2015

I Emptied a Loom

I am so excited...I emptied a loom. Not just any loom but one that has been hanging over my head like the "sword of Damocles".  I started some linen towels as gifts, and was very pleased with the window pane check of gold on the natural towels.  I planned lace centers on the check and also in the windows.  It started out so well.
Nice lace and color pattern planned.
I chose some singles #10 linen and there were a few problems at the first, I had fuzzy bits that developed at the lease sticks.
I really started watching the cross.
The warp was about seven yards long and on the second towel, I started breaking the edge threads.  Not the very edge but the second or third thread in.  I spent a lot of time adding temporary warps, then when they broke, and I added the original edge thread back.  I tested several methods to keep the edges better, and wetting the warp and weft seemed to be the best.  
Dry edge, fine thread for hem, and wet edge
As you can see the wet edge and wet weft made a much better edge and the warps were breaking less.

Other things got in the way and I stopped weaving on this loom.  I think I was tired of the mess and repairing the warps.  The loom reached a sad state of affairs and became a place to put stuff.
At least I did not put anything too heavy on the warp.

The warp had been wound on the beam with cardboard so long that the warp had "crimped".

Crimped warp at the back of the loom
This week I "cracked the whip" and got myself weaving.  The first day I managed to finish one towel, it was number seven.  The second day, the second towel turned out to be just a square mat...but it will look good on my table. 

I ended up with some tension problems, which was probably part of the reason that I quit weaving and had a hard time getting back to it.  Because the lace was only on a portion of the warp width, those areas loosened up slightly and I'm afraid that my last couple of pieces will have some uneven sections once they are washed and hemmed.  I only did plain weave on the last two pieces just so that I could get them done.  
I you can see I only had inches to spare.
Anyway the towels fresh off the loom look good.  I need to repair, hem and wash them now.

I actually emptied two looms this week.  I finished the warp on the PCH loom...and I have another seven towels to repair, hem and wash.
The picture is much bluer that they really look

I really am happy with this week's work.  I probably should be ashamed, I looked up in the notes and the linen warp went on in December of 2013!  But I will not let that dampen the thrill of having it off the loom...!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

All in a Day

I have been enjoying my days; reading, weaving, knitting and just enjoying the weather. 

I finally started working on some socks...It took three starts on the first one before I was happy with it and twice on the second one.  These are not anything special...I was just not getting it.  The first sock...first it was too big around my leg when I put it on, then the pattern was not working, so I let it "ripen" for some time and then finally started with a new pattern.  Actually it is a very old pattern from a book I got some twenty years ago.  I like the lace pattern and it works well with the flashy yarn. 
When I started the second sock, the stripe was only slightly off from the first sock.  I decided that the stripes should be the same on both socks or way off.  I decided on way off and restarted the second one.  The color is quite flashy, and even has glitz in it, but I think that they will be fun to wear.

I have not worked on the Swedish art weave, the family wanted to use the kitchen table and so everything was moved off.  I need to get it back on and get started again.  I think I only have enough warp for this third one, so I need to get it done.

 Today, I cleared off the Baby Wolf, so I will be able to get the linen towels done.  They are a priority for me to get done.  

The towels on the PCH loom have one more, I think, I had planned for six towels, but it looks like I will be getting a seventh.  I will probably make weave with the purple and gold again.  I found more purple in my stash, so I will be able to weave a third one in that color range.  I didn't like the orange/natural weft and I don't want to do a second one with that combination.  I guess I will see how the warp holds up.
With black weft

With purple and yellow gold weft

I finished one of the bags and got the lining in it.  I need to work on the others... I bought the supplies but need to put the time in.

This past weekend I did a warp demo at the Gem Fair.  I had a good time, I hope we get some more students at the Craft House.  I also bought some fun stuff for me...A framed of those beautiful blue ones, a carving of the infinity knot that I use as a logo and some  shawls to cut up for top.
The butterfly looks great on the cabinet
I got my ceramic Bottman bunny out for Easter.  It is a pot with lid and a sculpted bunny on the lid.  I had a break in the lid that I repaired a few years ago....I was so upset about the break that I didn't look at it for several years.  But now I can enjoy how beautiful it is.  She is about two inches high and the detail is wonderful.
Happy Easter

Sunday, March 22, 2015

May in March

I know that it is spring, but I remember my flowering pear tree looking like this in May.

All the spring flowers are out and looking wonderful.  I do love the look of this time of year.
Flowering Pear Tree



Peach Tree

I am worried that the peach tree will not have fruit it when it is blooming so early, but the tree is young (this is only the second year of fruit) so I don't mind if it is just a few.  It looks so beautiful.

I have been getting some weaving done also, but not so many pictures of that.  The second pillow top from the Swedish art weaving is off and the third is started.  I am starting with rolakan on the third and I think I have unwoven as much as I have woven.  But I want to get comfortable with this structure, it makes great vertical lines.  On the second piece, I used this technique and did diagonal lines...not such a good thing.  The lines can be just as good with a simpler technique.

I have also been cleaning out the studio.  Several layers of "I'll just put it here for now" have been put away and some of the class materials have been put away instead of just leaving them stacked up on the floor.  I am pleased to see some floor space!

And I have been filing projects away.  When I finish a project I file the project sheets and samples...or at least I used to.  Now too often, I have a sack of samples and notes.  Last night I got several typed up and filed.  I will not be doing this for every project, but the ones I might repeat or that I will use in a class need to have their information in a good place.  

I have also finished some UFO's and one I just "frogged".  If I am not enjoying it, why do it?  My husband was talking about our lives and said "I maybe have 20 years, I want to enjoy them and have fun."  I agree with him.  I am not at the spring of my life, and I need to enjoy my time, love my self and have fun.  My weaving is fun...and writing up and looking at what I have finished is fun. 

At the PCH studio, I decided to weave the towel warp that I put on.  Six towels in 10/2 pearl cotton in BRIGHT colors.  I bought a kit, and am running out of one color of yarn.  Yes, I should have followed the plan instead of making up my own design!!  The light was bad in the studio, but here is towel #3 on the cloth beam.

Colors are red and blue/green in the warp and yellow/orange and purple in the weft.  I don't know if I want these colors in my kitchen...but I'm sure I can find someone who will want them.

I got together with my sisters and we are finding ways to use up materials that we have around the house.  One of my contributions are the empty cones from weaving yarns.  We covered them for Christmas...mine were pretty simple.

But I really liked the ones we did for Easter.  I did one with eggs.

My sculptor sister made the little bird that is on the top of the tree, and I did buy the eggs for the tree, but we are buying too much new stuff!

And one with paper roses.

I was pleased with them and want to keep them up for a while, even if not everyone in the house liked them.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Our Strange Winter

The weather this year has been so strange.  I have enjoyed not driving on snowy roads, and shoveling the driveway.  But I have also missed snow covered trees,  ice cycles on the roof, and I am really worried about the lack of snow for our water needs next summer.
I got early daffodils also

We did get some snow this week, but the ground is so warm that it melted.  I hope it added some moisture to the ground and the bushes that we planted last year.  I have already been out watering them, since the snow didn't this year.

I finished a piece from the January Guild Workshop.  We had Joanne Hall teaching Swedish Art weaves.  The first piece looks pretty good and I want to weave two or three more to make into pillows.  The goal is to put them on a sofa/bed in the guest room.  We'll see how that goes.
Swedish tapestry and inlay patterns on a plain weave ground

You weave from the back, so this is what you see as you weave.

I used a mirror a lot when I was weaving to make sure I was putting the inlay in the correct place.  I only missed a couple of times!  The technique is not as slow as I thought it would be.  

For the Dukagang, I used a 1/3 lifting instead of the 1/2 that she showed in the workshop. The loom was threaded with a straight draw, so I was able to just use the shafts instead of doing pick-up to weave it.  That make the weaving much faster.  The Dukagang is the pattern that looks like columns.  I will use that technique with a different pattern in the other pillow fronts.

Since the warp is only about 10" wide.  I will add some fabric borders around the piece before I make the pillows.  I figured about 2" on each side would give me 14" pillows.  They should look great, and the loom is on the dining room table so it is an inducement for me to weave some each day!

I have been having fun with the rigid heddle looms.  I did some pick-up lace and I really like the scarf.
Scarf on the table

Scarf in front of the window
I found a skein of wool from a yarn rep's samples that I had been given years ago.  I like the white with the brown slub or tweed in it.  It reminds me of the winter snows and the shades of brown that we see in the trees (or at least what I remember of previous snowy winters)!  The pick-up made a Bronson lace and because it was pick-up and not shaft controlled, I was able to change the area of the lace and make the curving lines.  I was very pleased with this piece.  

Nice mat but not the square shape I had hoped for
The mat I made was not so great.  I didn't have much of the white cotton left and I made the warp too short.  Instead of the square mat for the center of the table I got a rectangular place-mat.  I will have to redo that piece when I get some more white 3/2 pearl cotton.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Have I been hiding from myself?

I have been thinking about writing here almost daily...but nothing has happened.  I have this feeling that I need to have the monumental happening to write about.  But in reality, I feel better when I just write about the things that happen.  

I have had a nice winter.  The weather right now is acting like spring, I hope that we get more water to make the summer easier. 
The crocus are early this year.
The year has started well...yes I did have one of those BIG birthdays, so that was a bit of a downer.  But my classes have been going well, and I attended a great workshop and had three days of fun with my weaving friends.

Swedish Art Weaves with Joanne Hall
You can just see my Dorothy table loom in the front of the picture.  I have just finished changing the levers to some on top of the castle.  I love the way she works now.  There is much less metal clanging and the levers are better to use.

The art weaves are fun to do, I had seen them in VAV and was pleased to learn how to do some of them.  I would like to make some pillow tops to go in the guest room...when I clean it up and make a guest room...!?

Teacher's Sample
I hope my piece looks half as good as the teacher's.  I have looked up some addition patterns to use on a couple of pillow fronts.

I will have to put a picture of mine...I have a one more pattern area to finish my first pillow top.

I was also able to finish an old of the old "100 Projects" projects.  The shoe laces were woven and I did some circular weaving for the ends and I purchased electrician tubes to heat set on the ends.
Plastic aglets after heat setting.
I like how they look in the shoes.  I did make them similar, but not identical.  I think I will like them. 
My new hiking boots and laces.