Category Archives: cottolin

Learning Curve Continues

Woven Shibori scarf, dyed June 8, 2013.

In early June two more scarves on an 8 shaft Monk’s Belt threading were woven, along with a sample of each treadling.  This past Saturday, the scarves and samples were indigo dyed in “watered down” indigo vats, attempting to achieve lighter shades. 

The scarf above came out light/medium shade; the matching sample (below) was dipped in the vat twice to get a bit darker shade.  After dyeing, the scarves and samples were rinsed as well as can be done with gathering threads still in, put in lingerie bags so any remaining water was spun out in the washer (no rinse), and hung to dry on a wood rack outside on the porch.  That evening, I sat down and started clipping and removing the gathering threads, anxious to see the results.

A closer look at the border of this scarf.

Detail of the border, tracking visible.

After the gathering threads were removed, they were rinsed again several times until the water ran clear, and again, water was spun out so they would dry a bit faster.  Normally I would start pressing them while still a bit damp, but they had dried overnight so the next morning they were misted both sides; the iron was set on cotton with highest steam setting.  It takes more than one pressing to get the wrinkles out of cottolin. 

While pressing the first time I noticed what appears to be tracking, something I was not expecting.  I’ve had tracking happen twice, once with Harrisville wool singles, another time on a towel with cottolin warp and cotton weft (which gave a couple short diagonal lines.  I’ve woven many cottolin towels, plain weave and twill, and never had tracking occur.  A third steam pressing this afternoon helped a bit, but the tracking seems to be here to stay, and actually, I like the textured look it is giving to the borders.  The tracking is not on the plain weave hems and plain blue areas, only the woven shibori borders.

Additional note:  I just looked at the first scarf and samples.  Tracking does not appear on the samples woven on the twill threading, but there is tracking on the first Monk’s Belt warp, on the dark indigo scarf and the samples, just not as visible because they were dyed darker shades of indigo.

Unfortunately, the photos, taken outdoors in good light but not direct sunlight, appear in the photos as medium and light blue, but the borders are actually medium blue on bleached (white) Swedish cottolin.  Setting up a place and learning how to better photograph my work is fast moving up on my priority list.

Sample for notebook, dipped in dye bath two times.

Back of the above sample.

Another woven shibori scarf, also dyed June 8th.

This scarf above was dyed in a more diluted indigo dyebath, coming out quite a light blue, and unevenly dyed, exactly the effect I was going for.  I had done a little marketing research, showing the scarf in the previous post and a few samples to two women I know.  They liked them all, and asked if I would have any lighter color scarves, to wear with stonewashed jeans in summer.  

These two scarves were my first attempts to get the lighter, “stonewashed denim” look  in woven shibori scarves.  These two scarves were shown to the same women yesterday, and they wanted to know when I would bring some in for them to choose from.  I think I’m on the right track!

Border area of this second scarf.

In the border photo above, you can see how the tracking seems to add great texture to those areas of the scarf.

Detail, to show the “tracking.”
Sample for notebook, dipped in dye bath twice.

Back of this sample.

Because of how the gathers happen on this Monk’s Belt threading, the bolder color and design side is really the “back” side of the fabric as it is being woven.  The “back” side of the scarves and samples have lighter indigo color and more delicate design, and are actually the “right” side of the woven fabric. 

All were hand-hemmed, and I chose to have the bolder, brighter indigo sides to be the right side of the fabric, but could just as easily have had the more delicate design side by the “right” side. 

Now, I am thinking of other ways of finishing hems.  Hand-hem, hemstitched, knotted, and others.  What I am trying to keep in mind is how the particular thread looks after repeated washings, even hand washing.  Cottolin, after repeated washing can get a little ratty looking on the ends of the threads, something I want to avoid.  So now, I must delve into my weaving/fiber library and find options that will stand up to wear and care.

There is now a finer warp on the loom, 16/2 Swedish cotton, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the next scarves turn out! 

And all this blue, I’m thinking I’d better warp up another loom with some color and different technique or structure for a little variety for all of us!

Adventuring Into Woven Shibori

My first woven shibori sample is woven and off the loom.

Woven shibori – twill sample #1.

As the loom was set up for 10 shaft twill from the last couple towel warps, I left it as it was, deciding to start my woven shibori samples with the same twill setup.  After 1.5″ of plain weave, I began with 4 rows of plain weave, Row #1 of twill, 4 rows of plain weave, Row #2 of twill, and so on, through row 10 of twill.

Then I changed to 8 rows of plain weave, Row #1 of twill, through all 10 rows; then changed again to 12 rows of plain weave, Row #1 of twill, through all 10 twill rows, ending with 1.5 inches of plain weave, then removed it from the loom.  I wanted to see the difference between the closely set twill rows and those set further apart when it is dyed.

Why take it off the loom?  Before weaving more samples, I needed to know if the sett was going to be too close and need to be changed, and if the seine twine I was using for the gathering thread, would actually allow the cottolin to gather.  

Beginning to pull the gathering threads.

I’m just beginning to pull the gathering threads, starting where the twill rows are closest together.  This is where I thought the seine twine might not work, but as far as I can tell, it is working.  Of course, the proof will be when it is finally put in a dyepot, whether I am able to pull and tie them tight enough to prevent dye from penetrating, but I’m not there yet. 

This evening, I’ll pull all the threads, and figure out how to knot them all.  I’m already thinking of the next warp, likely finer threads, which means a finer gathering thread, perhaps perle cotton.

I’ll be weaving another 3-4 twill samples, then re-thread/re-tie the loom for a huck weave, then again for Monk’s Belt.  Then a new warp, different size thread, probably a little finer, and more samples.  Then I will be warping the loom for some scarves.  First, though, samples, to gain a little experience both with the weaving, the gathering, and dyeing.

I have to tell you, this is SO COOL!  I fully expect to spend several years exploring woven shibori.

Catching Up, Part 2 (Weaving)

All-over twill towel, cottolin warp, linen/cotton flaky blend weft.

Yes, it’s true, I haven’t done much weaving of late.  And yes, that is that same stripe half-bleached/natural cottolin warp.  I’ve woven a few more towels on it, some shown here.  There were a few I forgot to photograph before they were sold in June, darn!  A friend asked for a plaid towel so I’ll be working on that later today and tomorrow, and hopefully there will be enough warp for one more plaid towel, I would like one for myself, it was my favorite.  Several of these towels were sold at Art in the Yard in June. 

I enjoyed coming up with variations on borders, and/or using different cotton or cotton/linen blend wefts.  I have three very large cones of a cotton/linen flaky blend from WEBS, so sometime in the future, I’ll need to weave a raft of these for myself, and likely a couple small tablecloths, too.

These are pics of a few towels from this 10 shaft twill warp.

Completed towel (from pic above).

These were Christmas gifts, towel on the left for my SIL Trina, towel on right for my sister Julie.

This time, a teal weft for the border pattern.

Two more border towels, cottolin warp and weft.

I’ve been weaving the same types of things for a long time, and really need a change in my weaving.  Because of needing to move back to southern WI, and total uncertainty when it will take place given the work I have to do on my home, and the economy, I am no longer participating in a nearby gallery.  Outside of the upcoming CranberryFest guild sale, I have no local/area places to sell my work. 

I am hungry to learn new things, learn some new skills, then put them together in my weaving.  This would seem to be the ideal time to move in a new direction, and so I finally am, both in my weaving, and my life.

More Towels ~ Variations on a Theme

These are the latest two twill towels off the loom. The blue border towel turned out very nicely, I feel, with a much wider border and smaller solid twill center. I was getting low on that particular tube of natural cottolin (same as warp) and needed to stretch it so it wouldn’t run out before the towel was done. Now I’ll simply switch to natural in another brand of cottolin.

The red border towel is the one I wrote about the other day when red dye bled into the adjoining white/natural. After two washes in hot water and Retayne, then one wash in hot water and Synthrapol, you would have to look very closely to find any red except where it IS supposed to be. Nevertheless, I will be adding the dye magnet sheets, recommended by four weavers, to my laundry room supplies.

There appears to be enough warp left for another one or two towels so it’s time to seriously start deciding on the stripe layout for the next warp and do the math. I’ll be at the warping mill before too long.

This is one of the latest pairs of sock machine (CSM) socks made, and also turned out nicely. The violet color is one I didn’t have before, and combined it with eggshell and moss for a nice “Springy” pair of socks.

Love Blue, but I’m Seeing Red Where I Shouldn’t!

Tonight I’m working on another twill towel, and have gone back to a Swedish Berga cottolin in another shade of blue and treadling it differently as I have for each towel, so though they are all coming off the same warp, each towel is one-of-a-kind.

As I wrote awhile back, this is a 10 shaft twill. This time treadling is 1-5, 10-6, varying the repeats so I can change sides I begin and end colors on.

The other day I was working on another twill towel, this time with Borgs red cottolin for the accent/border color. However, when I washed the towel, the red had run, in spots, into the white along the edge of the border. It looked okay when it came out of the washer, but when removed from the dryer, there were definite pink spots. This red was definitely not colorfast.

Tonight, the red border towel became an experiment. It went into the washer with Retayne and hot water. When the cycle was done, I looked and though there was still a bit of pink it did look better. After a second wash with Retayne, it again looked a bit better. With the third wash I added Synthrapol, again with hot water. Soon I will check it again and hopefully toss it into the dryer. I’ll let you know how it comes out.

As the labels on the Synthrapol and Retayne bottles suggest possible cancer issues, I had not wanted to use it on a towel that might be used in a kitchen. When it became an experiment to see if the towel could be saved, I set those concerns aside. This particular towel will not be sold because of what was used on it. The Borgs red cottolin? It’s in the trash. I do have some Berga red cottolin and will try that on the next towel and will report on that, too.

Experiences With a Temple (So Far)

Still weaving away here in the northwoods, now working on a cottolin twill plaid towel. I had never used a Glimakra temple until this warp and, at the moment, have mixed feelings about them. They do keep the warp threads out the same distance as threads in the reed. I am still experiencing draw-in when the temple is removed, but it is nice not to be so concerned with draw-in as when weaving without a temple.

On the last towel, I believe I had readjusted the width of the temple and had it pulling the fabric just a bit wider than the threads in the reed, so have put it back where I had originally set it for this width of warp.

The sharp points on these temples do leave holes in the weaving, though most disappear as weaving continues.

On one towel I found the far right selvedge thread torn through, and on the last towel, a weft thread was torn through (above).

A little earlier today I set up the homemade temple as found on The Woolgatherers website. With the weight I had on it, the weaving width was not being kept out quite as far as the warp threads in the reed, but I am using cottolin, not wool. Wool would stretch and give more than the cottolin, and that could be what is making a difference. I will be looking at the homemade temple again, but partway through a towel is probably not the time to change.

I know there is much more to be learned about using a temple, and who knows, may reach the day when I wonder how I ever wove without one. Another learning experience,…

The two colors for the drawcord warp have arrived, and I’ll be ordering the two reeds needed for the drawloom, having spoken with three or four sources. Meanwhile, additional long-eye heddles have been tied for the opphampta attachment, I am now up to 1,200, and soon will begin the pattern heddles.

Residents of the Northwoods continue to hope for spring, but we know there will likely be a few snowstorms ahead yet. Still, I am looking forward to setting my washtubs out on the lakeside porch and washing raw fleece, sitting out there and spinning, and having all the windows open while weaving. It will be so nice to hear birdsong again, watching for fawns, and keeping an eye out for the odd black bear. There is hope, I spotted two bald eagles sitting in a tree yesterday.

Twill Towel #1

After a couple days of making progress on drawloom setup, I’m back to weaving today, working on the first of three or four twill towels. Warp is unbleached cottolin at 24 epi, 2 threads per dent in a 12 dent reed, threaded as a straight draw on 10 shafts. I am using 10 shafts for the twill treadling, two shafts, on the right, are for the plain weave hem.

Today I am treadling 1 to 10 and back down to 1, then 10 to 1 to 10, and keep repeating, giving a zig-zag look. Because of frequent interruptions ~ woodburner needing more wood, dogs needing to go out, etc., I have a clipboard next to me so I can check off each repeat. I also have two pins at the right selvedge so I can see where each repeat begins/ends. I just keep moving the pin closest to me, and place the temple right over the pins. This towel will have a sewn hem; the weft is the linen/cotton slub thread, for both hem and body of towel.

I have noticed that despite a 3″ plain weave hem and a few inches of twill woven, there is no rippling on this towel as there was on my samples, where I had used cottolin for the hem. I’ll assume there is no rippling on the loom because the hem and body of the towel are woven with the same thread. It is the only difference between the current weaving and the samples that were made.

From Towel to Sample

Years ago, I wove a blue and white “plaid” twill towel, with 1/2″ or so of plain weave on each end, and hemstitched on the loom (above). I didn’t recall any issue between the plain weave hems and the twill body of the towel. Both warp and weft were Swedish cottolin.

I recently read somewhere about tabby and twill together causing twill to ripple. When I began the first twill towel on this striped unbleached/bleached cottolin warp, that is exactly what happened. Ripples, probably more noticeable because of using different wefts for hem and body of the towel, and using one of them doubled. I had begun with a cottolin plain weave hem (to turn up and sew later), then changed weft to the linen/cotton slub, using a shuttle that holds two bobbins. I thought a bit coarser, rustic look would give variety to this series of towels, but felt the double weft would not make a nice, sewn hem.

Not pleased with what was happening, I decided this morning the beginning of this first twill towel was now a sample (above), as I needed to discover what was going to work best for hem and twill. The cottolin hem was woven so I wove a couple inches of twill, then wove another hem using a single strand of the linen/cotton slub, woven in some string and removed it from the loom.

Since I still had the sample (above) from the very beginning of the warp, and both samples had ripples, both were tossed into the washer (regular cycle, warm water) and drier (normal cycle), removing them while still slightly damp. When they came out, the ripples were more pronounced. When pressed with an iron, the ripples pressed out. Selvedges were still a bit of an issue where plain weave and twill changed. Edges were rotary cut, and photos taken.

Tomorrow morning, I will begin again, using a single strand of the linen/cotton slub for both hem and twill, which should alleviate some of the problem. I expect if I weave 1/2″ or so hem and hemstitch on the loom, there would be little or no ripple effect. We’ll see, on this towel, or the next.

Simple, Functional Towels

I’ve been looking forward to seeing the first three towels, together, and finished, and was able to do that tonight. The towels on the left and right each had a different weft, and though they look very much alike, if you look closely there is a subtle difference.

In a few minutes, the warp will be lashed back onto the rod and the loom will be ready for me to begin weaving more towels tomorrow. Again, there will be different wefts used, some “solid,” some overall plaid, some with plaid borders, all in twill. After those, I plan to play around with with treadling and see what happens with the remaining warp.

I’ve been cranking socks again, sold a pair today, mailed a pair off to NY state, and have three or four more orders to take care of. Now, I’m looking for a balance in time between the weaving I want to do, and the socks needing to be cranked, and still allow some time for spinning and felting. I have a lot to accomplish before spring and warmer weather, when I will also need to work on the house.

The photo above is my home and weaving studio in the Northwoods of WI.

Simple Towels

Today was again spent at my loom weaving another towel, this time “plaid,” following the simple stripe pattern in the warp. I’m enjoying weaving each one up differently and looking forward to group photos of the towels to show the variety. Although they are plain weave or twill, a nice variety of looks can be achieved.

Six more tubes of natural/unbleached cottolin arrived today so those, along with the several tubes of bleached I already have, will keep me in weft for awhile yet. Also in the package were two more tubes of seine twine so I can go back to making heddles whenever I am ready.