Flax field

Flax field

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How I Finish My Towels

I have not been getting much weaving done...January doldrums, classes starting, etc, but I did get one set of towels done.
Three and a half Towels
These towels were an interesting process, too many errors that could have been avoided.  I started with a few tubes of 10/2 unmercerized cotton.  Since I only had a finite amount of the yarn, I designed the repeat based on the yardage that I had.  Red was 1050 yards, white was 4200 yards and black was 3150 yards.  I divided the amounts down until I got the number for the pattern repeat,  5 of the red, 21 of the white and 15 of the black.  I played around with some plaid designs and looked at tartan books, I finally came up with 14 black, 8 white, 2 red, 4 white, 2 red and 8 white.  (Pretty close to the figured amounts above:  4 red, 20 white and 14 black!)

Since I could only wind a four yard warp with the amounts, I had hoped for four towels, and since there were so much color changes, I wound 8 yards, but only wound half of the color changes.  I then folded the warp in half and put both ends on the warp beam rod.  

First error, about half way though the warping I realized that I had left out 4 whites and 2 reds in two of the stripes...they only had one red stripe in them.  So I measured out the additional threads and added them to the warp beam rod...I missed two stripes so, since I folded it in half, I had to repair four stripes. 

The warp wound on quite well.  Due to the folded warp, I ended up with a cross to pull all the threads through, but they were strong and did not tangle up too much.  Threading went well,  I was using a four shaft twill, but I threaded on eight shafts because I had an eight shaft loom empty!  I decided to try Marge Coe's idea for basket weave on the selvedges...we will see how it wears.  

Second error, I had calculated the number of heddles needed at an early stage of the designing and I had added more to the stripes so as I got to the end of the threading I ran out of heddles...I hate to move heddles on a half threaded loom!

Third error, because of all the adding and messing around with the threads, they were very uneven at the front when I started to tie on to the front apron rod.  Hoping for the best, I lashed the knots on so I could get as much length as possible.

The towels wove great.  Changing colors for the plaid slowed me down a lot, but I love the look of the plaid!

Since I had four towels, supposedly, I decided to do two with the plaid and two with a solid color weft.  The white towel was so fast to weave and at the last minute I decided to make the fourth towel black weft.  

Fourth error, yes I ran out of warp and only got a square for the black towel instead of the 30 inches that I wanted.  It seems that I cut the warp length too close, there was enough yarn left over that I could have added another half yard or more to the length...oh well, sometimes it goes like that.

I will often miss a knot when I am weaving, sometimes I take it apart to repair it sometimes I mark it so I can repair it when they come off the loom.
It's not that hard to weave in a correction to repair the knot.  I have a few tools that help me. When we were clearing out my Dad's tools, I found some great over glasses magnifiers...I grabbed them before my sisters had a chance.  So with those great magnifiers and a tapestry needle, I can fix some of my errors.
With these on, I can see where I want the thread to go.

Between my towels, I weave the hem turn-under with sewing thread to eliminate the bulk.  
You can see the two shots of red that are my cut line and the fine white thread that I weave the hem turn-under.  I then sew the edges to get ready to cut them apart.
My machine has a serpentine stitch, if you don't have one, don't zig-zag, just use two rows of straight stitch, it holds better.  I cut the towels apart between the two colored threads and then wash them.

I try to wash them harder than they will be washed in real life.  So, hot water and regular agitation and throw them in the dryer.  Then I tell everyone I give them to that they should wash the towels in a delicate cycle, with warm water and then dry them flat...

I didn't add a hanging loop to these, although I did weave one on the inkle loom.  But they finished up nice.  I think they will wear well also, I sett them at 30 ends per inch and they feel sturdy.
The black "towel" will turn into a square mat to go on the table under a vase.  Since I am giving these towels to my son for his new house...I guess I had better buy a vase and some flowers, too.  

I started teaching a Rigid Heddle weaving class, and the shop is using Cricket Looms.  What a great little tool.   I have a Rigid Heddle loom and have woven on it off and on for years, but I had not woven on this new loom.  This is the scarf that I designed to test the loom.

 I threaded 2 strands of Rowan Pure Wool in brown and one strand of Mountain Colors Teton in gold.  I love the Mountain Colors yarns, yes they are pricey, but only one skein gave me this great scarf.
The scarf finished up soft and wonderful to have around your neck.  It makes me want to get more yarn and make another!

I plan to make some more Rigid Heddle projects, both for examples in the class and to try the new things that are coming out for them...have you seen the great direct warping method, it's great.


  1. What a great start to your new year, towels and a lovely new scarf. You are making me want to locate some of the Mountain colors yarn it is really pretty.

  2. Your towels turned out great! Thanks for the tip on weaving the hems with sewing thread. That's a great idea and I want to make sure to write it down in my weaving notebook. That's a lovely scarf that looks colorful and soft to wear.