Flax field

Flax field

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Heavy Weight Kitchen Towels

A few years ago, a friend bought some heavy kitchen towels that were handwoven.  I realized that they were woven with 8/4 carpet warp.  This is a yarn we had a lot of in the LYS.  I decided to try weaving and using heavy towels to see if I liked using them.  I wove some towels for my sisters and myself to try, and I liked the heavy weight.  I still like finer threads for towels, but these are fun to make and use.

I wrote about some pink towels I wove for a friend a couple of years ago.  Now I have woven another set of towels.  These were warped to test out a loom I had just cleaned up and repaired at the studio and to test an AVL warping wheel.  

Here's my second "wheel" warping 
My weaving study group came to the PCH weaving studio to show me how to use the "Wheel".  One of them has one and has been working with it.  This wheel had been put together backwards and we really needed to work on it to get things going.  We wound a six yard warp (three times around the wheel) to put on the Hammett Loom that I had just finished cleaning and setting up.  (An interesting side note, I thought we were putting on 6 yards, but 3 times around a 3 yard wheel gives a nine yard warp!!)  The picture is from my second warping on the second Hammett Loom.  But now the wheel is working great, amazing how much better it works when the parts are on right and the washers and nuts are in the correct order.

My towel warp was a nice striped piece...I had over dyed some yellow 8/4 to get a gold color and added some white and blue from my stash.  
Some towels woven one color and some woven plaid
The weaving was fun, but as usual, I just started the hems with plain weave, and it probably would have been better to use basket weave.  Basket weave washes up better so the hems lay even.  

The test on the loom went well.  I found that the screw holding the brake pawl on the ratchet, indeed, needed replacement...it gave out about yard 5.  I had figured that I would need to drill a hole and replace it with a bolt, but I had hoped that it would hold until the warp was done.  I removed the pawl, drilled the back upright and put a new bolt to hold the pawl.  The loom worked great and no problem with the brake holding.  Of course, using a ratchet brake is not as easy as a tension brake, but you get used to how to "finesse" the tap on the brake release pedal.

I knew the rug class was coming too fast (they needed this loom) and the plaid pattern was taking too long to weave with all the unplying and tucking in the ends with each color change, so I did the fast thing....I wove and  just let the ends hang out to finish later.  It worked, I got the towels off the loom and students were able to warp the loom for rug samples. (For the rug class I cleaned, oiled and repaired six looms...luckily, I had the help of a couple a great students.  Now I only have one more loom to repair the brake and get it weaving.)

But that left me with lots of ends to finish once it was off the loom.
Here are the ends I needed to weave in
I have started to unply the yarn/thread and tuck only part of the ply back into the weaving.  I found this method in an old weaving article by Bertha Frey.  To do it I un-ply the weft back into the web.  I leave one ply there and use the other two plys to finish the pick and wrap around the end warp, then tuck one ply in about 1/2 inch and the other ply in about 1 inch.  Hard to explain but a great way to make the color change disappear.   With the towel off the loom, it took a little longer but still gave the same great look.
Here the gold and white are unplyed
In the picture you can see that one of the three plys is unraveled back into the woven web.  I then need to needle weave the two plys back into the web, catching the outside warp end.
Here the white is needle woven past the first ply
It takes a little more time to do this method, but I like the result better and I am willing to take the time for a piece that I will be looking at.
Here the ends are needle woven back in and trimmed
Here is the finished edge...the color changes are almost invisible.  I love the way this looks and it makes me happy every time I use the towel.

After the ends were woven back in and any errors were corrected I washed the towels a couple of times.
Fabric washed and unwashed
You can see how magical wet finishing is on fabric.  The fabric goes from warp and weft threads to fabric; the spaces close, the warps and wefts find their proper places and the fabric feel softer.  Now I can turn under the hems and stitch them up.  I am currently in a hand finishing mood, so I will hand stitch them.  But machine stitching is fine and I will do that when I am in a machine finishing mood.

My current project on Hammett II
Here is my test for the second Hammett loom.  This one was another warping wheel demonstration, but only 4 yards long.  The Pendelton "worms" and warp were purchased years ago.  I thought I purchased enough of the tan yarn for the full warp, but I must have used some of it over the past 20 years.  It's hard to see, but if you look under the beater, you can see about an inch of space left between the finished rugs on the cloth beam and the beater.  At this point, I was worried that I would not be able to finish the rugs (two of them), but I managed to squeeze  the last few inches on the rug to use all of the "worms" or selvedges that I had purchased.  The only problem now is the color...not quite the colors that I have in my house now...oh, well. 

I will probably leave the rug on the loom until something else needs to go on.  The loom looks so much better warped and weaving that bare.

1 comment:

  1. Wet finishing is rather magical, isn't it? I like how you wove in the ends. Thanks for mentioning how you did that and for the photos.