Monday, March 30, 2015


Yes... a weaving project to share with you! I finished the eight yard warp the day before we left to see our new grand daughter.  I cut it off and I must say that there is nothing as satisfying a a big fat roll of cloth sitting heavy in your lap as you enjoy the results of your labours!

Our time away was great but physically demanding for me with a deteriorated knee. I'm afraid it was bit much and so on returning home I went to take a step from the driveway to the path to the house and I felt something go in the knee and a jolt of pain.   So rest, ice packs and anti inflammatories have been the order of the day. X-rays showed no damage to bone so they suspect a meniscus tear.  So while it settles I worked on finishing the towels....

But lets back up a bit to the start....

I found the pattern in the Design Collection 16 on Kitchen Towels and its shown there as a bread cloth. There was something about it that really appealed to me. It must have been all the Vav magazines I have been scanning lately, especially one on stripes.  Scandinavian linens have such simple clean lines, bold colours and simplicity in their weave structure. Its uncomplicated.   So I entered the draft into my weaving program and modified it to suit my needs and searched for yarn in the stash. 

I have an interesting dilemma with my 8/2 cotton stash. I have one cone of this and a part cone of that.  Maybe two full cones of this colour but nothing to really go with it. A lot of yarn still but not really working together either in quantity or colour.   I had a lot of snowy white and natural beige. I felt that white would be too stark a contrast and so went with the natural.  My next choice was royal blue as I have a Denby dish set that compliments that shade.  The third colour was a khaki / green/ beige to be a soft intermediary between the two.

I used a 20 epi sett as that's good for both plain weave and the Swedish lace and made my warp twenty five and a half inches wide in the ten dent reed. Each towel was woven to a length of thirty four inches in total, so I had to work out various measurements of borders, striped cross section and the lace area in the centre. Its kept me busy keeping track!

I found that the draw in was quite pronounced right from the start and so quickly added a temple to the warp and I had to beat *very* firmly.   The cream plain weave actions went quickly with a nice fast pace and the cross stripes slowed me down to a crawl.   A nice balance!

After planned towel number seven I found I was looking at the back of the warp and not much of my planned twelve inches for samples and in fact not much of my twenty inches of loom waste either!  I had allowed for three extra inches for every one yard woven for take -up but it was much more than that in reality. I managed to eek out a small sample (with the only treadling error in the whole project no less!)

I serged the raw edges and washed in my washing machine.  Once out of the dryer I continued to serge them apart into seven separate towels and then steam pressed them.  I was double checking them for errors and such and to my surprise I found two of them had some strange stains on them.  See below: (it was hard to photograph but much darker and larger in reality!)

I had no clue as to what it was or where it had come from!  I never take drinks near my loom when I'm working. The dog (unlike cats) has not the slightest bit interested in the loom and I have no small children with sticky fingers here (yet). My Maytag washing machine has a stainless steel drum and my dryer is clean inside.   Bruce instinctively said "it wasn't me!"   :)

I kept them separate from the other five towels and thought if I couldn't get the stains out, then we would have two new towels for our kitchen instead of one.

I pressed and pined the hems with a neat double fold over  and did a running blind stitch to hem them. It gave me something to do while I rested on the couch, leg elevated and with a gel pack on my knee!

So here are the beauty shots.... and I must say I love them!  The plain weave turned out nicely and is a 50/50 balanced weave. The plaid sections are (mostly) squared, well, close enough for me!  The lace section in the middle is more of a nubbly texture which would make for great absorbency. Its also a nice contrast if used as a table centre or tray cloth. The lace doesn't pull and make little holes as in huck lace, being only four threads.

The lightness of lifting four shafts was easier on my knee.  It brought home to me that the simplicity of a four shaft project has all its own complexities to balance: even beat to maintain, selvedges that show up even more, uneven warp tension is less forgiving etc.....  so you still have to 'weave well'.

What's next?  I have decided to go with another four shaft project next to take it easy on the knee as it settles down but still keep it exercised.  My eight shaft project was bumped to next time if all goes well.

weavers knot
As a closing 'gift'... here's a simplified diagram of how to make a weavers knot. I found this on a Pintrest board and no identifying source to quote.   It looks much like a bowline I struggled to learn back in my sailboat days in the 1980's.  We used to say: The rabbit come up from the hole in the ground, goes around the tree and goes back down the hole.... but its exactly where it goes down that counts! In the wrong spot, the knot will fail and you can't undo it..... and in the right spot, it holds tight and can be undone.   Much like Life huh?

Oh.... The stains came out by the trace of them left and no fading of the three colours.


Laura Fry said...

Try hydrogen peroxide to remove the stains.

Sorry to hear about your knee. That's no fun at all. :(


Theresa said...

Being someone who always gravitates to 4 shafts, I can totally agree on loving these towels. Beautifully done! Good luck with the knee.

Susan Harvey said...

Thanks Laura..... happily they came out with a dash of Resolve (2 part stain remover) You have to watch that stuff carefully and not leave too long or it will bleach the fabric (as hydrogen peroxide can do too)

The stain in one area lay over the coloured threads and as luck would have it, no fading at all and the mystery stain is gone!

Glad to see you are weaving once more!

Holly said...

Hi Susan, I love that pattern. I wove them in a lot of different colors. Try Xmas red, green and white and red white and blue. I think I just tied on and kept going. I wove a few towels with no border...texture all the way through. I was worried about the take up. I just went and looked at my stash...I did them in a brown with orange and green stripes...and made small fingertip towels....I guess I really did like that draft! The texture weave does seem to take up a lot!

Cindie said...

I haven't woven that draft (yet) but have looked at it often. A friend wove me a bread cloth in it and I love it.

barbara said...

Hi Susan - your tea towels are beautiful. I love the design of these, so timeless and elegant. Yes, I do think a tea towel can be elegant. Sorry to hear about your knee, and I am pleased to hear you are still giving it some exercise, but also giving it the rest it needs. Just keep on doing what you are doing, until you can get that knee fixed. Wonderful news that the stains came out .... where ever they came from. Weaverly yours ........

Susan Harvey said...

From Linda Carta via Ravelry:

I do so love to see your work, Susan. How you can take a simple tea towel and take it to the next level is always a source of awe and utter joy. You may be moving a bit slower, but you’re certainly not missing any steps. I tip my hat….again…to you.

Elizabeth said...

Clean and classic! That's not a color combination that I would have thought of using, but it really works well. Good luck with your knee.

charlotte said...

The towels are so lovely, I like the simplicity and clear colors (and of course, I'm Scandinavian). Hope your knee wil get better soon!

Anonymous said...

Susan, I hope your knee feels much better now. Love the new towels, simple and beautiful.

Acorn to Oak said...

Sorry to hear about your knee. I hope it feels better soon. Those towels are great! :-)

Peg Cherre said...

I'm curious -- when do you use knots in your weaving? I've made it a point to never have knots, and since I am always impressed by your work, I'm intrigued to know where you use them.

Totally agree with all comments on your towels :-) & your knee. :-(

Susan Harvey said...

Well, you have me there Peg! I used bow ties on warp bundles and have texsolv with slots for tie up's.

I did try to tie onto an old threading and change warps to a new colour and the 'over hand' tied knot to secure the new to the old failed me. I thought they only had to survive to be pulled through the heddles and reed but I had that theory all wrong.

It all ended up in a garbage can!

So learning the proper weavers knot was a test for me and I sometimes use it to link sections of cord etc .... BUT.... I have yet to try it again for tying onto an old warp again. Its usually faster for me to just reload from scratch ... or that's what I'm telling myself!

:) Susan