Posts tagged ‘dishtowels’

The towels came off the loom today, I got ten out of this warp and only just barely. That’s enough for the planned gifts plus some for us. I need something at work so I can stop drying my lunch dishes with paper ones. This was also a trial for some other projects with this same batch of discount yarn. I want to do some clothes plus a lightweight throw or small blanket in addition to more towels. It’s not quite what I want for the other projects but I think it’s close enough. I need to do something with the yarn I’ve got before I go out buying any more. (Speaking of, I haven’t looked at WEBS recently…)

I let The Boyfriend pull the fabric off the loom. As I got down to the end he was completely fascinated, to the point of burning his breakfast because he was watching the loom instead of the toaster oven.

The towels are coming along, very nicely since I finally got some end-feed shuttles and a new bobbin winder. No more snagging bobbins for me! As soon as I remember to not overfill the pirns, anyway. The first couple were a little much. When it works, it works very well as there are no moving parts. But you do have to wind the pirns carefully so they unwind neatly.

This warp is in twill stripes, so it’s one shuttle and almost no thought. My only concern is getting them the same length. I’m hemstitching the ends, a look I like very much for towels, but boy is it a pain. The hemstitching takes almost as much time as the weaving. But I don’t have any matching finer yarn to do a nice hem. I did the first towel in a diamond twill, to give it a try, but it doesn’t work very well with my stripe arrangement. I need something to keep in my desk at work, so it will be fine and with the same color weft you really have to pay attention to see that the design is a little odd. I am using contrasting color weft for the others and the stripes are much more obvious.

The loom is working well, although if I’m going to do anything wider on only four shafts I’m going to have to pull out the extra heddles or maybe even buy more. Yes, I could spread it out among the others but that makes threading more annoying and the tie-up more complicated. Most of what I want to do is still four shaft or at most some obvious variation thereof. (I’m thinking of a double-width twill blanket, which still would be only eight.)

I got the towels warped this weekend and they look pretty good. I’m pleased I had no warping errors. I’m not so pleased that I had some design issues that needed to be resolved, mostly the result of starting with a partial sketch and an idea rather than a proper draft. But I checked the number and arrangement of the blocks in the reed before I started threading and caught what might have been a real mess (extra repeat in the middle.)

The other problem was threading one of the selvedges backwards, which just happened to result in it matching up exactly with the edge of the pattern design. (The selvedges are threaded on two additional shafts, so it wasn’t obvious.) So instead of two ends together in my nice basketweave, it made three. Taking one out and making the pattern just slightly narrower was less distracting that three ends together, so I did that. What I didn’t want to do was take out and re-thread 12 ends after I had already tied on and woven my header. Twelve doesn’t sound like a lot out of well over 300, but it’s still a big pain that I would rather avoid. One of the nice things about working with finer yarns and closer setts is you can take an end out here and there and it’s usually not a big deal.

I was trying to fix the tension problem and managed to completely botch it, so I declared the towels done. It’s just cheap cotton and I considered it basically a large sample anyway. I like the general weight of the fabric but I don’t like how it curls between blocks. A little wrinkling is ok, I don’t think towels should have to be ironed just to stay flat.

I’ve already started planning the next set, in a different twill structure and not quite as dense a fabric. It’s a 2/2 twill rather than a 1/3, so both sides will have the same structure. That should solve the curl problem. With a slightly more open sett (first, because I think the yarn needs it and second because the 2/2 structure certainly does) I expect they will be much more what I’m after. I’m going to put on a nice long warp so I get enough.

The towels are progressing, I’m not sure if I’ll get two more out of this warp before I reach the end. It’s starting to have tension problems, like some ends are slack and I keep catching them with the shuttle. It’s not huge, but enough to be annoying. I’m not sure if it’s something about the yarn or some lousy technique on my part. I had another end break, although fortunately this time it was on the very edge and it happend between towels. So it won’t be a problem at all once I get everything finished. I’m not so thrilled with this 8/2 yarn. It’s ok, it’s not like I’m not going to use it for warp again, but it’s not as strong as I’d like. I’ve used much finer mill ends as warp and didn’t break a single end, so to have this stuff break is a pain.

Now sticking open when I release the treadles, that’s annoying. I’m still having problems with that, sometimes two harnesses are stuck up at once. It’s the lamms, the bar across the bottom the treadles are attached to, that is actually causing the problem. I may have to go at them with the file again. But I’ve solved the skating across the floor problem. The loom was slowly creeping backwards towards the wall, so I got some wood to put between the front and the baseboard. One of these days I’ll properly finish it rather than just wrapping it in a scrap of cloth, but it works.

I went to the local weavers guild meeting yesterday, I already know several members so that was nice. I got a lot of helpful suggestions for online resources for design ideas and weaving design software. I downloaded a demo of one, the only one I could find that ran on OS X. It’s hugely expensive so I can’t afford to buy a copy, but I’ll play with it for a while. I’m sure there’s a temporary way around the time limit for now. All I really need is something that will generate cloth diagrams but it does all this fancy stuff I’ll never use. I don’t have a computer-controlled loom and I don’t expect to have one for a long time. It will generate semi-random patterns from your design, but I quickly noticed that only some of them would actually weave stable fabric. Some had big blocks of no interlacement between warp and weft or huge floats, things that make for no fabric at all, not just poorly-made fabric. So it can do some interesting things and let you play with design ideas, but you still have to know what you are looking at.

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