Thursday, December 7, 2017

Waffling Away – Sample #4

My exploration of waffle weave drafts continues. This time I chose to use more of the 14/2 machine knitting cotton in an eye-popping green and navy blue. The sett is 35 e.p.i.

The draft is my own modification of Strickler #388. Floats in my previous samples (#1 & #2) seemed too long for towels. Snagging on rings is my primary concern since I plan to weave hand towels. So I merely shortened the floats by shortening the “V” of the waffle cells in both threading and treadling, omitting shaft 8 and treadle 8 and adjusting accordingly.

Variegated ends that peak out from the center of each cell add interest. The changing colors work well on the reverse side making for a lively surface grid. Both sides are nice.

Top left: Unwashed and unfinished sample with sewing thread weft for hem
Top right: Navy blue sewing thread for hem weft, machine hemmed, machine washed and dried
Lower: Reverse side, machine washed and dried
This cloth is rather satisfying. As well as being great for hand towels, it would be fantastic for baby blankets. I am on the right path but there is one more idea to test.

Warp On/Weave Off,

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Weaving Waffles -OR- Never Look a Gift Yarn

Several goals combined to send me searching for a great Waffle Weave draft. The hand towels in my kitchen are showing wear from many years of hard use. My handwoven Cottolin towels are particularly worn which is no surprise since they are favorites. Christmas is coming and I always like to send handwoven kitchen towels as gifts. And there are yarns on my shelf.

Early attempts at Waffle Weave
Top: Cottolin sett at 24 e.p.i.
Bottom: Cottolin sett at 18 e.p.i.

Detail showing wavy Waffle Weave hems
Waffle weave with its superior insulation and absorbance has always attracted me. And it is a magical and beautiful structure. Years and years ago I wove this little piece (tan one above) of Waffle using Cottolin, sett at 24 e.p.i., for both warp and weft. Machine washed and dried, it shrunk a bunch and the hems went wobbly. Next I tried weaving the same structure with (white) Cottolin sett at 18 e.p.i. I hoped a less dense sett would improve the hems. The problem with that idea is the waffle structure suffered. So I shelved that goal. But I  have been meaning to get back around to waffle weave for the longest time. Now is as good an opportunity as any.

Over time yarns from various friends, studio sales, estate sales, and such have worked their way into my stash. One late weaving friend in particular was an ardent yarn hoarder. Sorry to write it but she did very little weaving and a whole lot of yarn collecting. Anyway, one way or the other my shelves hold yarns that I did not particularly seek. They arrived without plan or purpose.

Not meaning in any way to dwell on the morbid, I intend to use my yarns—to use my stash while I am able. If the good Lord wills it, there will be plenty of time to achieve this goal. Going forward I aim to use, as far as possible, yarns already in hand, even if they are garish colors, unknown fibers or difficult grist or ply.

Sample #1
Orphaned yarns somehow make their way to me
The larger sample here has not been washed
This portion of the sample shows variegated perle cotton ends
 centered in the plain weave sections.

Sample #1
Top left is the unwashed portion
I tried several different colors and yarns for weft

With a few cones of 16/2 cotton on hand but wanting to save those for the actual towels, I decided to combine gift yarn of a similar size (pink and orange 14/2-cotton machine knitting yarn) to weave samples. Love for variegated yarns has kept several skeins of what appears to be space-dyed linen singles in a very fine size on my shelf. The pink and orange are eye-popping. Aside from the color it is beautiful, soft yarn. If only those yarns could tell me their tales!

Attempting to weave waffle without wavy hems, I am trying drafts that combine waffle with plain weave. First I tried draft #388 from Carol Strickler’s "A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns". I like this draft because it combines a six-end waffle with three ends of plain weave in each threading repeat. Surely the addition of plain weave sections would help even out the hems.

Sample #1 sett of 24 e.p.i. was far too loose. For Sample #2 I tried 30 e.p.i., a big improvement but still not ideal. Later I re-sleyed to weave at 35 e.p.i. Also, using sewing thread as weft while treadling the waffle pattern for hems kept them nice and flat.

In the first few of these samples I tried to use a few widely spaced ends of the variegated among the cotton ends with disastrous result as it immediately began to break. (Predictable—what was I thinking?) The ones that survived eventually frayed away. Really, I ought to have expected problems. The second time around, I tried using my spinning wheel to ply the linen single with one ply of sewing thread. The thread held but the linen still broke and frayed. Back at the drawing board, I replaced the problem yarn with variegated perle cottons.

My friend Sue at The Willingham Weavery weaves lots of waffle weave so I asked her what she does about the hems. She told me she uses sewing thread for the hem weft. Another hint she gave was to weave in two "gathering" threads at each hem fold line. So far I haven't tried the second hint but it's good to know and may come in handy.

Sample #2 - Spaced dyed ends plied with sewing thread, alternating coral and pink in threading repeats, variegated ends are centered in the waffle cells
Top: Sett at 35 e.p.i., machine washed & dried
Middle: Sett at 30 e.p.i., machine washed & dried
Bottom right: Sett at 30 e.p.i., not washed, lower portion shows sewing thread weft for hems

Sample #3
Kerstin's draft from an IKEA towel
I gave up on using the linen singles.
This sample shows 10/2 variegated perle cotton instead.

Yarn skips in the 6-end waffles seem too long to be practical as kitchen towels. So now I am trying a draft from Kerstin's Extras blog. She analyzed an IKEA towel and came up with the draft. This structure is far more stable. The sewing thread hems worked well. But I didn’t like the way the waffle areas do not weave to square and I’m still not certain this is the way to go for my Christmas towels. The blue 10/2 perle cotton variegated ends are very pleasing in these samples. This draft will be worth coming back to another time.

Kerstin's draft makes a very stable structure sett at 36 e.p.i.
Here you see the sewing thread weft hems
 both before and after finishing

My pile of samples is growing. But I am learning lots and lots. Maybe all this pink and orange will be consumed and then with the 16/2 cotton I will begin again at square one. Waffle square, that is.

As for my goal of using Cottolin . . . I guess it will wait. And there are lots of other yarns on my shelves.

Warp On/Weave Off,

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Where Were We?

Summer this year was warm and dry. My husband and I have been busy outdoors with several yard projects so weaving has taken a back seat.

Next weekend is the Seattle Weavers’ Guild annual sale. I have been busy playing catch up. Maybe it wouldn't be such a rush if one of my table runners had not appeared on the publicity poster. In a bit of a panic I have been banging away at the loom to produce some more of that particular runner. Here is the poster. And here are the new runners. There are a total of six of the blue/purple ones and five of the green/turquoise ones.

Rep Weave table runners
8/4 carpet warp sett at 40 e.p.i.

As crazy as it may seem, these are woven using 8/4 cotton carpet warp sleyed four to a dent in a 10-dent reed for a sett of 40 e.p.i. Each warp end was threaded in it’s own heddle. I know I ask a lot of my GlimĂ„kra Standard loom, but the result makes me very happy.

In the odd moment, I’ve sampled a bit of 8-shaft waffle weave. So far the results have been a disappointment. But I am not discouraged, only need more time to play with it. Before then, there is the sale. I need to get busy and put together my inventory.

My little Rep Runner inventory with SWG Sale Poster

If you happen to be in the area next weekend please stop by for a dazzeling display of handwovens and purchase something truly unique and wonderful.

Warp On/Weave Off,

Blue detail
Green detail
Top sides
Reverse sides