weaving

The gray scarf is done! Here are some hastily taken photos in the waning light of my hotel room.

I was taking a small break after the napkin marathon to participate in the knitting Olympics. I spent the 17 days of the Olympic games working on a sweater. It was a simple top down raglan style with a lace pattern, based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s baby jacket from her Knitter’s Almanac.

And here it is:

I might go back and make the sleeves longer at some point. I haven’t decided.

Toward the end of the Olympics, I was contacted by a friend of my sister. She was wanting some hats and scarves made. One of her requests was for a scarf in either charcoal gray, or shades of black, navy and gray. I had quite a bit of Zephyr in black and white. I also had some tencel in Navy and gray. Then I realized I could use some un-knitted cashmere in charcoal gray as a weft to pull a multicolor warp together. I thank Bonnie for the idea of the cashmere. While I was off in Minneapolis last week, I did the unknitting. This weekend I pulled together all the various yarns.

The balls in front are the gloriously soft cashmere. I ended up with over 4 oz from one sweater!

I then wound my warp on Friday night while watching Manor House on DVD. It was supposed to be “girls night” out, but I had a terrible cold and didn’t want to pass it along to everyone. I’m feeling much better now, thankfully.

Saturday I was quite busy helping Robin with wedding preparations,but I did manage to get the reed sleyed:

And this morning I threaded the heddles and wound the warp on. Despite the various fibers it wound on quite nicely as I listened to Frankenstein on Craftlit. I’m working my way through all the old episodes now, and gosh, they’re a lot of fun.

Then I wound my first lovely cashmere bobbin and got to weaving! Here’s the first six inches:

And here’s a closeup shot:

The straight twill structure lets some of the weft color shine through, but the overall effect is definitely of gray. You can’t imagine how soft this is too! I’m accustomed to weaving things that feel a bit rough until they’re wet finished, but this cashmere is extremely soft already.

I have enough warp on here for two scarves–one for my sister’s friend and one for ? I think everyone I know will want it as soon as they touch it.

At the request of my friend Erika, I’ve been making a set of 8 napkins. Her request was for some every-day napkins that would wash easily and of a color that would disguise any potential curry stains. I had some dark red 8/2 cotton that was just the right color. She picked out some patterns that appealed to her, and I did a sample with 6 versions so she could feel the fabric and pick out what she wanted.

We settled on Davison’s Shadow Twill draft, tromp as writ. Note that the sample of Treadling 1 in her book does a really interesting diagonal netting pattern with a lot of draw in. I think it would be very interesting to alternate in stripes with a plain weave pattern for a seersucker effect.

Anyway, the weaving part of my napkin endeavor had to wait until this weekend because last weekend I was in a 2-day workshop on Tablet Weaving with John Mullarkey. Wow, was that eye opening. I had a vague idea of how cards could be used, but I hadn’t ever gotten around to trying it. We did threaded-in color patterns, and double-faced weave, and egyptian diagonals. I have many plans for projects with those techniques. My step-mom has requested a keychain with her name on it already :) The kittehs may need custom made collars. The ideas are endless. I will take pictures of some of my samples one of these days. The light is terrible today, as you will see from the napkins.

And back to the napkins. I used some spools of 100% cotton Gutermann thread for the hems. Wow, did it work out well! The hems aren’t bulky at all, and the color was a great match. My only complaint is the price of the thread. I’ll have to watch for sales at Joanns and Hancocks when I’m in need of thread. I put the thread spools directly on my shuttle in the place of a bobbin, so I saved a ton of time by not having to wind bobbins with sewing thread. Yay for that!

I cut the napkins off this morning while Brent was at church:

Then while they were in the wash, Brent and I went to lunch. After lunch I put on a Craftlit Podcast (an old one as I am working my way through the archives), and I did the pressing and hemming. My iron was on super-steam settings so I had to put the napkins over the railing to dry a bit after I finished the pressing.

Look at that amazingly similar row of napkins. I’m quite impressed with my ability to make 8 things alike. I’ve never done that before :) I usually end up switching something part way through, but since these were for a friend, I pushed onward and measured carefully and they came out wonderfully.

On another topic, I got the distressing news that blogger will no longer support publishing via FTP as of the end of March. That means I won’t be able to use them anymore. Brent has installed wordpress for me so I can play around with it and hopefully get that going.

I’m also participating in this year’s knitting olympics with a sweater project for myself–the February Lady Sweater available on ravelry. Fun! I should go take a shower and get to knitting.

Happy Valentines Day!

The Teal/Turquoise towels are off to their new owner. Well, 4 of them are. I’m left with two that I’ve listed on Etsy:

And after a terrible struggle with a very weak warp yarn, I finished weaving a bunch of crackle towels. I ended up using nearly a can of hairspray to try to keep the warp threads from breaking. I also used a paper clip temple to help minimize draw in. It all worked quite well and after a disastrous first towel, I ended up with just a few broken ends here and there.

I’ve just washed them and they’re waiting for pressing and ironing right now, but here’s a preview:

I’ve been complaining about the lack of sun, and you’ll note that picture was taken with a flash. Of course today, we get sun but I’ve had too much work to be able to take a break for pressing and hemming, so no pictures yet. Boo!

That does remind me, though, that I should go use the sun to take a picture of the socks I just finished knitting :)

I hate hemming. I generally hem my kitchen towels on the sewing maching and they come out OK, though the edges never seem quite perfectly right. I have a set of 6 linen napkins in a barleycorn pattern. They’ve been off the loom for months now, with the edges zig-zagged by machine, waiting for a hem. I’m planning on putting them in the sale, so I needed to hem them.
I started hemming the first on the other night in front of the TV. I have never tried to make a very nice hem before, so this has been a learning experience. I believe that if I can (in the future) weave to produce nice hems, it will make my life so much easier. Here are the steps that I’m taking right now, along with the recommendations for changes in the future to make it easier.
1. Press the hem. I fold up twice to my desired hem line so I’ll have a neatly encased raw edge. I’m going to re-press this later, so perfection isn’t required, but some amount of pressing is because linen is so floppy and wiry I’d never get it hemmed without this step. I had to eyeball my press lines based on the space between the raw edge and the pattern start (I had done 2.5″ of plain weave for the hems). In the future, it would be best to lay in a single strand of contrasting color sewing thread along with the pick of linen at each fold line, and at the line where I want the hem to be, immediately before starting the pattern. I can easily pull out the sewing thread out, and my weave structure is maintained since I added the sewing thread in the same shed as one of the weft threads.
2. Add a sewing thread to the line where I want the hem to be. If I had done this during the weaving process it would have been a heckuva lot faster and easier, but I didn’t. I’m just using a needle and thread to go alongside a pick of the weft clear across the napkin.
3. Baste the hem. I tried pinning on the first one and pins end up everywhere, poking me, the cats, my husband, everyone. If you’re better at keeping track of your pins, that might work fine for you. I was just a whole lot more comfortable and confident in the hemming process with a quick basting of the edge.
4. Very carefully hem by catching a weft thread along the hem line (use the sewing thread to find the spot) and along the folded edge. Now if, in step 1, I had put sewing threads on my fold lines, this would be even easier to keep the hem perfectly even, but that was a bit fussy for me at this point, so I just eyeball it. It’s working very nicely. I’m doing every single thread for the hem because I like how it looks, but I think every other or even every 3rd thread might work. In the photos here I’m using a nice big blue contrasting yarn, but in my actual hems, I used the weft yarn (a 40/1 linen).

Match up weft to weft thread as you work across.
Pull the stitches until just snug
5. I also use an overcast stitch to sew up the side edges in the hem space, but I forgot to take a picture of that.
6. Pull out the sewing thread from the basting and the guide lines, and you have a very handsome, nearly invisible seam!
The guild sale is coming up and I’m furiously finishing things so I can be ready. I have a whole post coming soon on my revelations about hand hemming. In the meantime, here’s a peek at some rayon scarves on my little structo. I had a lot of fun doing these on the little loom, but it is definitely slower than using the big loom.
Here’s a somewhat unorthodox method of warping a rigid heddle loom. I warp my “big” loom using front to back, most of the time. I usually do a back-to-front warping of the RH loom based on the instructions from Betty Davenport’s book, but for this case, that wasn’t going to work.
I had pre-wound my warp chain without tying the threads together at the top end, so I had to cut the loop there. Now, I knew that was just fine if I were going to warp front to back, so I figured, hey, why not try it on the RH loom? It worked like a charm.
I’m working with Knitpicks Palette sett at 12 epi. This yarn is extremely stretchy but washes up to a lovely soft, thick fabric.
First off, I start off by placing my cross in my hand, just as I would for normal front to back warping.


Then I clamp my rigid heddle to the table to stabilize it and start the threading. I’m threading it for plain weave, so one thread in a slot, the next in a hole, etc. I use a threading hook that came for my loom for this step, though a small crochet hook can be equally effective. Oh, also, I measure from the center before starting to ensure my warp will be centered on the loom.
After I get all the threading done, it looks like this:
At this point, I need to tie all my ends in little bundles. I like to do 1″ bundles so in this case I grab 12 threads and tie them off:

Then I end up with a lovely set of bundles all the way across the warp, alongside a delicious glass of sparkling red wine from Mumm. I can’t remember the exact label, but it was great!

Now it’s time to start getting this thing on the loom. First off, I put the reed on the loom in its neutral position (no open shed).

Then I take each bundle and give it a little tug against the read to create a shed. I use this shed to make an opening to slide the warp bundle onto the back apron rod.

Here you can see all the little bundles threaded onto the dowel to attach them to the back beam.



I then give the warp a little tug from the front side to straighten and smooth everything out, and it’s ready for beaming.
The reed provides some tension as you’re winding on, but I also give the warp a good tug here and there to make sure it’s going on firmly. I also use paper between the layers of warp, but you could use sticks or cardboard for that purpose.
When you get it all wound on, you’re left with the ends at the front of the loom. These really are mostly the same length. Somehow i my picture it looks like they’re quite different, but they should be roughly the same if everything went well. If they’re vastly different, there may be a few causes. I’m not going to go into that troubleshooting right now though.<
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Starting in the center, I tie the warp onto the front dowel (apron bar). As I do with front to back warping, I crank the tension one notch tighter for every two bundles I tie on. This helps keep the center from slackening as you work to the outside.


Once all the bundles are tied, I check the tension and adjust as necessary. This is the last step before you get to start weaving!

I use some strips of cotton fabric to weave a header, but you can use waste yarn or pretty much whatever you want to spread the warp. Then I’m all set to go! Here’s my finished product:

This weekend I took a class through the Saint Louis Weavers’ Guild with Bonnie Tarses. The topic was Color Horoscope weaving. Bonnie has come up with an amazing method of translating a horoscope chart into a color weaving draft.

She started working with us weeks before the workshop by asking us our birth date and time so she could do our charts and drafts. I didn’t have my birth time, so mine’s based just on date. She sent us the drafts and some helpful instructions for selecting yarn and winding our warps.

I knew I was going to be using my Kromski Harp Rigid Heddle loom, so I was looking for some fairly heavy weight yarn. I also needed something that I could get 12 colors of the color wheel in. I decided that Knitpicks Palette was a good option. I put together my color wheel and ordered the yarn.

Then I wound the warp verrry carefully and very slowly, pretty much one thread at a time!

I wound three chains as I needed to weave the shawl in three panels.

I documented my process for dressing the loom since people might be interested, but that’s coming in a separate post.

Here’s the second warp on the loom with the first off the loom next to it. I ended up loving the look of a burnt orange weft with the colorful warp.

And here’s the rest of the workshop working at their looms:

I finished the weaving on Tuesday afternoon, then did the joining of the panels Tuesday night, and today I twisted the fringe and wet finished it.

And here’s the finished shawl, serving as a kitty tent. I’ll have to get a good outdoor picture and some closeups when Brent’s back in town to be my photographer (and when it’s light outside!)

I’ve been weaving along on the Afghans for Afghans shawls. I’m nearly out of green yarn for the weft, and I’m not sure I’m going to have sufficient length for 2 shawls, let alone 3. I may have to substitute another color. I have some brown I think that might work OK.

I’m working with approximately 20/2 wool in the warp. This is the finest warp yarn I’ve used. For the first 10 inches or so I had a broken warp yarn every few minutes. It was very trying on my patience!

I did some research online and saw someone mentioning that for fine yarn, they beat with an open shed. But more interestingly, they would beat twice–once on the current open shed and once on the next.

It took me a while to get the rhythm of beat-change shed-beat-throw, but after I got it, wow what a difference. From that point on, I only had 2 broken warp threads! It also really evened out my beat, I think.

Yay for new things learned.

I haven’t quit knitting, just blogging. I’m going to make an attempt to start this up again, but with a fairly good dose of weaving content. I took a weaving class last summer and have been doing quite a lot of it lately.

I recently finished my first waffle-weave project. These towels were from a kit I got from Halcyon Yarns. The kit was to make 3 towels, but I had enough warp for an additional square dishcloth.

I’ve only hemmed the dishcloth so far. Even though I used sewing thread for the weft on the hems, the flare is quite pronounced compared to the draw-in of the waffles. I’m going to have to mess with the hem on the others a bit to get it to look nice.

These towels are for us. They should go nicely with the green kitchen walls!


During the WEBS anniversary sale, I picked up a few cones of 6/2 unmercerized cotton. I used almost an entire cone of the “oatmeal” color for some huck lace towels for my cousin’s wedding (Coming up this Saturday!). I’ll post another picture of the completed towels. I’m going to be cross stitching a monogram on some of them in white embroidery floss.

I got the lace pattern out of an Interweave Press compilation of huck lace articles from Handwoven magazine. I’m really impressed with the book. It gets into detail about the structure and how to create your own patterns. It also has instructions for a form of huck that can be done with pickup sticks on the rigid heddle loom. I’m planning to try that out with panels for an afghan one day.

And finally, the next project on the loom. I’m making some shawls for Afghans for Afghans. Syne at weavecast sent me a pre-wound warp (major time saver!) in these crazy colors. I’ve gotten started on sleying the reed but a diversion to go hear some jazz at the Missouri Botanical Gardens last night has put the brakes on that project for a bit. I might get some more done today, since I got some Alias dvds from Netflix in the mail yesterday.

I’m planning on doing the shawl in an undulating twill pattern from the Davison book. That’ll be my first try at undulating twill and at an EPI of 30. Previously I’ve only done as high as 25.