Saturday, February 17, 2018

Twelve Shaft Tea Towels

This time of the year I always seem to want to weave something simple and satisfying.  Tea towels always fit the bill.  My Louet Spring has twelve shafts but finding patterns using twelve is always a hunt.

This pattern was exactly what I was looking for, a lovely twill on twelve, and the threading and treadling couldn't be simpler.  Treadling a straight twill allows me time to make sure my posture and technique are correct.
I pulled an eleven yard warp in navy blue cotton and sett it at 24 ends per inch.  I beat these towels fairly hard to get a balanced weave. 
My plan was to weave ten tea towels in deep jewel hues; so I wove the towels in emerald, turquoise, ruby, garnet, sapphire and amethyst. 
Since I was weaving these in a single colour I did a short hem detail.
A tangle of towels waiting to have the selvedges finished.
A new addition for me is an upgrade from a Janome mechanical sewing machine circa 2003 to a Singer Quantum 2017.....holy cow have things ever changed during that time!  This baby even threads the needle by itself.  I think my only job is to choose the project.  Although some things will never change; that is my mothers sewing box in the background.
It was very satisfying to see the pile of sixteen tea towels ready to be washed and hand hemmed.   Ten are mine and six are Ngaires'.  We often share tasks, I cut them apart and finish the selvedges, Ngaire presses them and pins up the hems and then I hem them.  I’m still happiest with hand finishing because I don’t like the squished line that the machine gives to the hem.  It was a really good day for me, not only playing with my new sewing machine, but a couple of loaves of bread too.  The sweet smell of a successful day.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


One of the great weaving questions is ‘How much yarn is left on that cone?’

I can’t answer that but what I can answer is, how much does that cone weight empty?  I started to keep a spreadsheet on how much the empty cones weight and the dimensions of the cone and I thought I'd share my data with you. 

I have found that Brassards from Plessisville, Quebec Canada uses the same tube for most of their 8 oz products – Average Weight is 0.40 oz.

2/8 Cotton Unmercerized

4/8 Cotton

2/16 Orlec

2/8 Orlec

1/16 Linen

2/9 Linen

2/8 Tencel

2/16 Bamboo

2/8 Bamboo

Webs in Easthampton MA, USA is another supplier that we use.  The 1 lb cones that they use are different sizes and shapes but I use this weight for a rough idea.

2/8 Tencel on 8 oz tubes is 0.25 oz

2/8 Tencel on 1 lb cones is 1.18 oz

2/20 Tencel on 1 lb cones

Sometimes weavers pick up cones and tubes from Guild Sales and you don’t know where they are from but maybe knowing the dimensions of the tube you can use these mystery cones as a reference.

Silk 2/6 weight is 0.90 oz

Mystery Blue Plastic Cone that contained 2 ply linen is 3.00 oz

I hope that this information helps you I know it helps me.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hemming the Huck Runners

I took my three gold Huck Lace Runners off the loom just after Christmas, and then they languished.  I just couldn’t find the time to get to them.
The runners were made from 3/10 mercerized cotton sett at 24 ends per inch.  I put on a 4 yard warp and wove three runners:
#1 77-1/2 inches on loom
#2 55-1/2 inches on loom
#3 45 inches on loom

Finally, I cut them apart, machine finished the ends with a few lines of zigzag stitching and waited for a clear day to wash them.  And waited, and waited, it felt like we had rain every day for weeks.  I need a clear day so that I can use racks to flat dry the runners and having them dry outside is preferable.  Living on an island on the ‘Raincoast’ means high humidity and I could not bear to add more damp to the house!

I finally gave in and set the racks up in the garage and laid out the runners, three gold ones for me and 2  rosy brick for Ngaire ~ a true plethora of runners.
Ngaire and I often share the work load on runners and tea towels, so she got out ‘McSteamy’ our steam press and gave them all a first run through.  This photo was taken in our old house and darned if I don't still miss the sunny, dry Okanagan Valley. After the quick press Ngaire pinned up the hems on all five runners.
We had a lovely sunny day a couple of days ago, so sitting by the fire in the bright sunshine, which shows the runner colour up beautifully, I hand hemmed the lot.  What a feeling of success.  As I was hemming I thought about this blog post and decided I would share the a few thoughts on hemming table linens.
If you are weaving a runner with a pattern you should leave some ‘plain’ weave for the hem.  In this case since the runners were Huck, I was able to use tabby weave for the hems, but if I was weaving a fancy twill runner I would weave the runner in 1-2-3-4 straight twill.

I think that hems should be generous looking and be in balance with the length of the runner, in this case I wove 5 inches of plain weave, 1-1/2 inches for the fold under, 1-1/2 inches for the reverse side of the runner and 1-1/2 inches for the border on the front of the runner before the pattern begins.  The final 1/2 inch is for shrinkage and cutting off the machine zig-zagging I did to hold the fabric while I washed it.
After I have chosen a sewing thread in a matching colour for the runner I pass it through a product called Thread Heaven that my friend Susan at Thrums gave me.  This is a thread conditioner and it prevents the thread from fraying, tangling and twisting upon itself when you are sewing.  A really great product that makes the whole job easier.

I never, never, never use spit to wet the sewing thread when I thread the needle.  If you are selling the finished product, your customer deserves to have it arrive without your DNA!  Use sharp scissors to give you a clean cut and big-eyed needles to help you find the eye if necessary.
I prefer not to use a knot in the sewing thread to anchor and begin the hemming.  Rather than a knot I start in an inconspicuous place on the hemline and do a few running anchor stitches and then carry on from that point; I finish in the same manner leaving an inch or so of thread tail within the hem.  Knots can squirm through the fabric over time and pop through.

I always sew the side portion of the seam closed, this ensures that any raw edges are well protected inside the hem and I use ‘invisible’ running stitches to sew the hem.

After all the hemming is done it only needs a good heavy steam press is the final finishing touch, this runner still needs the Huck Lace areas tamed, still quite a bit bubbling in the plain weave diamonds!
The final length of the runners are #1 - 66 inches, #2 - 56 inches and #3 - 36 1/2 inches.

The garden shot today is of Campanula carpatica 'Clips Deep Blue'  commonly called a Bellflower, just beginning to show leaves, hidden under last years flower stalks.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Crackle Echo of an Echo

Mum wove a scarf in August that I just loved; it was an Echo Crackle in orange with blue and green for the warp.  It unfortunately had some errors and now it is hers.  I loved how the colours interacted in the finished weave;  so I put on a warp with the same colours of blue and green.
In the warp photo the colours have pooled to make a stripy warp but in the threading the colours have been separated to blue, green, blue, green etc.  The threading is the same as Mum’s cayenne red scarf which she hasn’t blogged about yet!  The threading is an Echo weave so it is a parallel twill threading.

For my scarf the treadling is very different.  I used one of my original crackle treadling’s, from the lime green and navy crackle diamond runners.  It is amazing how different it looks now!  The pattern repeat is 6 inches long and gives two different large motifs almost stacked over each other.
The iridescence of this scarf is truly amazing.  The blue, green and orange mix together and make a violet colour which is so interesting and beguiling.
As always the drape and movement of Tencel is just stunning.  For Sale.
The garden shot today is of crocus's just popping up in the garden.  I marked each patch of bulbs with ceramic mushrooms so that I remembered where I put them.  Nothing worse than digging a hole to plant something and finding a bunch of bulbs already there.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year’s 2018 – What is on the Looms

Happy New Year!

Here are the projects that are on the looms.  First with Mum’s loom, she has a 12 yard warp of tea towels on the loom.  The warp is navy 2/8 cotton and she has just started the first tea towel in peacock blue.  The pattern is a lovely twelve shaft twill pattern.
On my loom is nothing.  I have just cut off two pretty red lace runners.  Now I am starting to plan my next project.  I have two cones of 2/16 blue mercerized cotton that I am hoping will become a lace runner.
Final Garden shot is of the hinoki cedars ( Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Gracillis") wearing their winter hats.  They need some help to stop the heavy coastal snow from bending and splitting the branches.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Hand Dyed Silk Goose Eye Blanket Scarf

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All

This project started by pulling out the hand dyed silk bin and rummaging around and a large skein of a thick nubbly singles dyed blue was found.  I was not sure how much yardage there was so I just pulled a warp and then planned a project around the number of ends that I had.
The scarf ended up being quite wide, the finish width is 12 inches, more of a blanket scarf or narrow shawl.  I wanted to play up the fact that it was wide by using a large scale pattern.  I used a simple goose eye twill and the weft is silver Tencel.
The pattern allows the variegation of the warp to really pop.
This scarf has a wonderful graphic punch to it.
The drape on this scarf/shawlette is just wonderful.  For Sale.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Polychrome Crackle Gone Wrong

Flushed with the success from Polychrome Crackle Echo I had a really cool idea.  Echo is an extended parallel threading, which is two different twill lines (or crackle) are interleaved together.  So it is kind of like two different scarves woven together, so what would happen if one of the threading lines was hand dyed splotches and the other a solid colour.  Well let’s find out!

I just happen to have a small bout of hand dyed warp, it is only 96 threads.  It is the sister to the warp that I used for this scarf.  The original plan was to use the two warps together but I couldn’t figure out a project that worked.  The warp is yellow Tencel with splashes of purple and turquoise.  The purple dye had broken around the edges into blues and one of the blues was very similar to Blueberry Tencel so I went with that colour as the secondary warp.
The hand dyed warp was already pulled so I had to pull the blueberry warp separately and layer them with two sets of lee sticks.  But Tencel is really nice to work with and I had no problems pulling on the warp.  The pattern is a simple 6 shaft crackle that I had used before and just loved.
Next came the weft auditions, on the computer I had used a pale green and the pattern really popped. So I tried a green grey, silver and a dark grey.  Not so good.
Second lot was yellow, bright blue, a darker green and a darker blue.  No options this time.
Maybe purple?  Nope.
I found that the blueberry warp killed a lot of the weft colours, it acted like a shadow.  So I decided to just go with the blueberry as the weft and hope that the painted warp would pop.  It didn’t work; it actually looks better in the picture then it did in real life.
Also you can see the edges are bulging.
I unwove the blueberry and go back to trying a new weft.  Maybe black or white would work, nope.
The new idea is to try different weft grists.  I try 2/10 in black and 2/16 bamboo in black and blue.  Nope, too thin.
Next I tried yellows again in straw, gold, taupe and a different gold.  Nope.
Next I tried greens again in pale green, teal and greyed green.
Nothing really worked but I had to make a decision because I was starting to make the warp fuzzy with the weaving and unweaving.  So I went with the greyed green because it worked when I used on the computer.
Nope.  And the edges were still terrible.  There was something wrong with the draft.
You can see the one thread that is the culprit.
The best option that I had was to change the treadling.  The threading was complicated and I hoped that I didn’t have to change it.  After some computer time I figured out a twill treadling that fixed that edges and I didn’t have to change the threading or the treadles.
I just went for black as the weft because it was the only thing that could possibly work and it did. The scarf reminds me of the art paper with a black topcoat that you scratch off to reveal the colours underneath.
The scarf looks good even though it is not what I had in mind.   For Sale.
Final Garden Shot is a creeping rosemary that is just starting to bloom and some sunshine that we haven't seen in weeks!