Thursday, May 9, 2019

What, a Crepe?

When Seattle’s Nordic Heritage Museum packed up the old place and moved into their shiny new building they unloaded old, non-museum-quality stuff. You know how it is during a move. They offered several boxes of cut/torn rolled rags to my weaver’s guild. Two of the boxes found their way to me.

Toothbrush rug from narrower rag strips

Enter the toothbrush (rug). Well, I don’t actually use a toothbrush since the old style is virtually extinct although one at last has been found and properly carved into a point. But that is beside the point. The name has very little to do with the technique being the name of the old homemade tool used to make these rugs.

Toothbrush rug, detail

Normally toothbrush rug technique calls for rags strips 1½ to 2 inches wide. The rags I’d been given were only 1 to ¾ inches wide. But they were worth a try.

Here is the result: a finer rug than the usual. It looks good and works well in our Powder Room. If it holds up I will switch to narrower rag strips in future toothbrush projects.

A study group I attend is studying Crepe Weaves. Having very slim experience with this structure I began thinking it would be a quick study. Did I ever have a lot to learn. It isn’t!

First attempt at weaving crepe
Putting together a threading from one source and a tie-up from another that seemed like a winning combination. Choosing two similar shades of green 10/2 perle cotton I chose a sett of 30 e.p.i. and dressed my loom. The result produced the required overall pebbled crepe effect. But the cloth seemed heavy and did not satisfy me. It’s time to think again and head back to the drawing board.

May the learning continue.

Warp On/Weave Off,


(P.S. What a difference a comma makes!)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Thrum Cloth

Thrum Cloth
Knotted thrums of random color and grist on every third pick

Loads of carpet warp fills my collection of thrums but lots of finer yarns are in there, too. I’ve been concocting  ways to put those finer ones to use.

Here is a very simple weave structure. Small weft skips lay between every two plain weave picks. The design came about by way of serendipity. As I wove the plain weave structure I experimented with frequency of thrum placement. Were they best included every other pick, every third pick, etc.

In the end I decided on a three-pick repeat but found the uneven number of picks difficult to maintain. I rely a lot on rhythmic shuttle movements. Once I am in the groove my mind is free to wander. The two picks of shuttle one, one pick of shuttle two kept throwing me off so I decided to throw the third pick, the thrum pick, on treadle #3. My previous tie-up was still in place so I just used what was there. It happened to lift two adjacent shafts. The result made me happy and made shuttle movements more predictable.

The resulting Thrum Cloth yardage is visually interesting with a nice hand. I’ll be considering it’s final use; perhaps a sewing project is in order.

Thrum Cloth
Swatch of my original sampling appears at lower right.

Next is a group photo of my three Deflected Double Weave towels. This structure would be great for scarves, baby blankets and lap robes, too. So much to weave, so little time . . .

Three Kitchen Towels

Spring takes me outdoors more and more, keeping me from the loom. But a study group project is in hot competition for time. A deadline approaches so I am deep into the study of a structure of which I know very little: Crepe Weave. Wish me luck!

Warp On/Weave Off,


Friday, March 29, 2019

Spring Sunshine and Happy Colors

Great Colors Make Me Happy

Things that make me happy include grandchildren, sunshine, flowers and just the right color combinations.

My third foray into Strickler Draft #760 was a happy one. Color is one of my life-long delights. I am rather a practical person. Still, practicality does not exclude beauty.

I take particular joy in weaving everyday household textiles that are both useful and visually pleasing. This kitchen hand towel exemplifies my goal and makes me happy.

Kitchen Hand Towel, Stickler #760

Structure: Deflected Double Weave, #760 from "A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns from the Friends of Handwoven" edited by Carol Strickler

Yarns: 10/2 and 20/2 perle cottons in three solid colors and one variegated. Sett: 30 e.p.i.

Third color way of Stickler #760 on 8 Harnesses
Reverse Side, Third color way of Stickler #760

Spring has sprung. Yard work beckons and the fun continues.

Warp On/Weave Off,


Monday, March 11, 2019

Weaving and Wishing for Spring

Wishing for Spring Cotton Towel

This has been a tough winter with more snow, colder temperatures and more freezing nights than I can remember. Added to my Midwest Polar Vortex adventure, spring seems a very long time coming. Yet it is still early March. Guess it’s time for patience. In the meantime, I’ve planted several seed trays indoors. Anticipation grows.

While awaiting spring, indoor color adventures continue. Here is the second warp using the Strickler draft #760. The turquoise 10/2 unmercerized cotton had been on my shelf for some time. With 10/2 perle cotton in Porcelain Green, 20/2 UKI mercerized cotton in Banana and 20/2 cotton in a variegation called Spray I think this is a winning combination.

Wishing for Spring Cotton Towel, reverse side

I don’t usually complain about the weather and a few crocus have been blooming. Patience is a virtue, right? Still, I’m very happy that this winter will soon be over – at least according to the calendar.

Warp On/Weave Off,

Saturday, February 23, 2019

2018 Christmas Towels

Christmas was months ago already and I’m back-blogged again. In my defense, travel and an ill loved one are the reason. My dear one endured a final treatment over Dec.24-26. Over the past 11 months suffering has been profound but we saw completion as the ultimate Christmas gift. (Now for the long recovery.) Then I spent the better part of January in the USA Upper Midwest “enjoying” the Polar Vortex and welcoming a new addition to my family. As you can tell, family comes before my weaving. I expect the same is true for you, too.

You may recall my 2017 Christmas towels were waffle weave. Those towels are pretty, soft and super absorbent, a real treat to use. The waffle weave texture works especially well for towels.

When it came to considering structures for Christmas 2018 towels I sought textured weaves. One particular draft caught my eye. In my search and study I kept going back to it. It seemed an unlikely option but it drew my attention so I wove a sample using various odds and ends from my stash.

Two 2018 Christmas Towels, Front and Reverse sides
Left Towel: Strickler Draft #763
Right Towel: Strickler Draft #760

The draft is #760-763 from “A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns from the Friends of Handwoven” edited by Carol Strickler. The short description calls this “Silk Brocade” from a Virginia West workshop. I am no expert on weave structures. My idea of brocade is quite different. But I don't really know. This weave seems to be “Deflected Double Weave” - a term coined, I think, by Madelyn van der Hoogt. If you can tell me more, please comment.

These were my goals:
  • Weave Christmas towels in time for gift giving
  • Make towels unique from those of previous years
  • Weave thirsty towels with texture
  • Make use of yarns already on hand
  • Try a new structure

Detail, front side - Strickler Draft #760
 The two sides of these towels are very different. It's fun to look at both sides as I dry my hands. Both are nice so I hemmed one end of the towel as if that side was the front and the other end as if the reverse side was the front. That left me with the dilemma of choosing a side for my label. So some are labeled one one side and some are labeled on the other side.

The olive yarn is 10/2 cotton, the terra cotta and yellow yarns are 20/2 cotton. These were all already on my shelf.
Detail, reverse side - Strickler Draft #760

Detail, front side - Strickler Draft #763
Having sampled all four version of this draft, all of my towels except for one were woven using #760. Just for fun I had to try one towel using #763. In spite of some fairly long floats for a towel, this one is nice. In one corner I tried tucking a large sequin in between the plain weave layers. That was nice, not great for a towel but something I'd always wanted to try.
Detail, reverse side, Strickler Draft #763

Did these ever meet my goals! And they were fun to weave. It may have been slow fussy weaving, but the results speak for themselves. My family and friends love these. So do I.

Since I’ve been back at home I tied on to this warp two times more. Watch for photos of those additional color ways to follow soon.

Warp On/Weave Off,


Sunday, January 13, 2019

On the Ply

This is rather exciting. Using what I already have makes sense to me. Finding new ways to use what would have otherwise been binned is especially fun. Once the idea of plying my knotted thrums using the drop spindle method occurred to me, I was off and running.

Here I'm weaving a Rep Weave Placemat using knotted and plied thrums as thick weft
Knotted thrums add colored bumps poking up between warp ends. I worried about the effect those bumps would make in the finished weave but the added texture turned out to be a plus. The added interest serves to camouflage crumbs, a valuable trait in a placemat.

Rep Weave Placemat
8/4 Cotton Carpet Warp colors - Black and Tan
Knotted and plied thrums as thick weft

Rep Weave Placemat
8/4 Cotton Carpet Warp colors - Black and Tan
Knotted and plied thrums as thick weft, reverse side

Rep Weave Placemat
This one is still on the loom in the first photo.
This warp is a multi-ply marl that had been sitting on my shelf for years.

The third warp used Christmasy colors but will work at other times of year, too.

The reverse of the Christmasy colored Placemat

Here are the three color ways of my Rep Weave Placemats
with knotted and plied thrums as thick weft
We have enjoyed these placemats for several weeks now and all three color ways are pleasant. They wash well, too - always a plus.

Here's wishing 2019 is a year chock full of happy weaving adventures for you.

Warp On/Weave Off,


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Why Not Ply?

Having used I Cord thrums for several Rep Weave projects I finally admitted to myself that repetitive motion was taking a toll. As I wove the first place mats on this warp I thought and thought about how I could still use thrums while saving my hands.

Rep Weave Placemat using I Cord thrums for thick weft

The reverse side of the same Rep Weave placemat

I'd thought about plying knotted thrums but getting out my spinning wheel and actually doing it was another issue. Then the idea struck me of hand spinning several strands together with a drop spindle approach.

I filled eight bobbins with knotted thrums. Putting them all into a bin I took hold of the ends together as one and pulled the strands out in a single bundle. I kept pulling and pulling until the whole length was laid out on the floor. Then taking the eight ends together I began winding them on a ski shuttle. Every now and then I’d put a half hitch around the shuttle end, hold it up and spin it around in drop shuttle fashion to put a slight ply into the eight strands. Winding on at intervals, I filled the ski shuttle. It was fun and easy.

Here are my eight bobbins of
knotted 8/4 Cotton Carpet Warp Thrums.
The resulting plied yarn made for lovely thick weft in my placemats. Color changes were more muted than in the I Cord version. The ply twist made interesting effects. My hands were happier.

This new use for thrums is an exciting discovery. Now I’m thinking and thinking of other ways to use thrums. Creativity has been awakened.

Next time I'll share photos of my knotted and plied thrum placemats.

Warp On/Weave Off,


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Thrums Placemats

Happy New Year!

Since I missed wishing you a Merry Christmas, I just thought I'd better make my New Year greeting early.

I do hope everyone had a lovely Christmas celebration and that the happy glow is ongoing. We were (yet, again) dealing with things medical so our festivities were somewhat muted, but perhaps more meaningful. In any case: Happy New Year to you and yours.

Rep Weave Placemats
I Cord thrums as thick weft
Here is a quick snapshot of my Rep Weave Placemats using the knotted thrums described earlier. Since the thrum color changes are abrupt, I designed a simple overall block design in the warp. The mats are extra wide on purpose. They are sturdy yet pliable and very good insulators, altogether satisfying to use.

Watch for a few more photos of these soon. For now, duty calls elsewhere but I'll be back.

Happy New Year 2019!

Warp On/Weave Off,

Friday, November 30, 2018

Waste Not, Want Not

Since I tend to tie on to a warp twice for a total of three unique color ways, I’m left with back beam thrums of around one yard in length. It isn’t much more work to tie those long bits together into continuous threads.

These are a few spool knitters from my collection.
The little red one in front is the first one I bought as a child.
At first I used my little spool knitters with knotted thrums to create long tubes to use as thick weft in my Rep weaves. Those cords made very nice rugs, runners and placemats. But after a while the slowness of the knitting process grew tiresome and my hands grew tired, too.

Then I discovered I-Cord, a far quicker method of making the same knit tube. With short double-pointed needles I knit to the row end and without turning the work slide the stitches across the needle, pull the working yarn around behind and continue knitting. This is a huge improvement over spool knitting. It is lots quicker and isn't nearly as hard on my hands.

It's far easier to create cords from knotted Thrums with the I-Cord method.
These cords are knit from knotted 8/4 Cotton Carpet Warp Thrums.

Knitting yards and yards of multi-colored cord, I realized I was creating another version of variegated yarn. Have I mentioned my strong attraction to color? Ha!

My loved one is still very ill and we spend many long hours at various doctors’ offices and treatment centers. By the end of the year we should see a reprieve and hope for an improvement. Time will tell. In the meantime we are happy for every new dawn.

I am behind on photographing my work but promise to get around to it and to write again sooner rather than later.

Warp On/Weave Off,

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Remember Spool Knitting?

Sewing thread no longer comes on wooden spools and that’s too bad. Here you see my wooden spool collection. I treasure these, a remnant from my childhood.

My wooden spool collection, two with nails added for knitting

As a little girl I learned to knit using a spool. My dad pounded nails into the top for me. Then with bits and pieces of yarn, mostly of inexpensive acrylic, I spent many happy hours producing long, usually colorful knit tubing. (Variegated yarn was my favorite even back then.) It did not matter that I had no idea how to use these in any particular way. The making of them was what mattered to me.

Did you do the same? What did you do with the knitted cord?

Warp On/Weave Off,