Category Archives: cottolin

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.

Linen/Cotton Towel & Drawloom Heddles


The first towel off this current warp is finished. I had hemstitched this one, washed it in warm water (in a front-loading washer), dried it on Normal, then checked dimensions. Off the loom, prior to finishing, the towel measured 30″ in length by 16″ in width. After finishing, the measurements were 22.75″ by 14.5″ losing 7.25″ (24%) by 1.25″ (8%). I was especially amazed by the shrinkage in length as I didn’t recall previously woven towels or runners woven with cottolin losing that many inches. (These measurements do not include fringe.)

I also noticed there seemed to be some tracking which I was not expecting. I’ve not had tracking occur occur before with cottolin but this weft is a single linen/cotton slub/flake type yarn. After sorting out the tangled fringe, the towel was spritzed with water, ironed with steam, then ironed again without steam. When fairly dry, I rotary cut the fringe leaving it 1.25″ in length.

I am quite pleased with this first towel and looking forward to weaving up more, varying the wefts and textures.


In addition to weaving and working on socks, I have been making long-eye heddles (using seine twine) for my single unit drawloom. Though I had started slow, I suddenly became determined to finish them so over the past few evenings, I have been cutting and tieing heddles. Last night I had 350 left to go, cut but needing to be tied, so I decided at midnight I would finish them all before going to bed. At 5 AM this morning I tied the 1,000th long-eye heddle. They are ready to put on the ground shafts, and I can go back to making more pattern heddles.

Now it is back to weaving and sock-cranking for awhile, along with some spinning but, there are two more tubes of seine twine on the way. About three years ago, I bought a 20 shaft opphampta attachment to add to my countermarche loom. There were no heddles included for either ground or pattern shafts, so after a reasonable break, I have two more sets of heddles to make.

Yes, I could use Texsolv heddles, but the cost of purchasing two thousand long-eye heddles would be around $340 plus shipping. That plus two more sets of heddles for another loom is an expense I could not make. Options needed to be considered and choices made based on funds available and other business needs and priorities. Also, the single unit drawloom already has 1,000 of the old-style string heddles on it and I just could not see replacing them as they work fine. So for the cost of a board, nails, and one tube of seine twine ($22), plus my time, I now have the 1,000 heddles I needed. I will do the same for the opphampta attachment. I have the gratification of not only saving funds on one item which will allow me to take care of a future need, but I enjoyed making the heddles. They were portable and I took them with me to work on when I had to wait, as well as working on them late in the evenings. One set done, two to go.

Learning to Use a Temple

I’m weaving away today, a simple plain weave towel, using a linen/cotton slub thread purchased awhile back from WEBS. It is a bit finer than the cottolin warp and I wasn’t totally pleased with the selvedges so decided to try a temple/stretcher. I’ve never used one before, and so far I am pleased, there is improvement with the selvedges along with keeping a consistent width.

Late last night I was making long-eye heddles again, now up to 75 of them. Not long before I was going to put this project away for the night, I discovered a way to make each one a little bit quicker.

I sit with the heddle jig standing upright in my lap, working my way from bottom up to the top. I found that with this longish thread, after the first section is on the heddle jig, if I cross the threads near the cut ends, to make the square knots, instead of further down each half length, I can work faster. I’ll be back at it tonight and am looking forward to making quicker progress.

New Beginnings for 2009


The New Year seemed a good time to begin the new warp, a 10 shaft twill with stripes of bleached and unbleached 22/2 cottolin, sett at 24 epi, 2 epi in a 12 dent reed. This afternoon I tried out a singles slub linen, first with one strand, then with two, both as plain weave and twill. Ideas for borders are going through my head as I weave. In a bit, I’ll begin weaving the first towel or runner on this 15 yard warp.


Also this afternoon, my son Noah made a heddle jig for me, cutting and sanding a board and setting in the nails for the long-eye heddles I need to make for the drawloom. There is a heddle on the jig, though the seine twine is difficult to see here.

This sock pic was taken this summer, on a sunny day, on the lakeside porch. I enjoy taking photos of my weaving, and socks. I photograph my work outdoors in summer, to get as close to the true colors in the yarns as possible. Taking pics indoors in this log home, where the logs absorb all light, is a challenge anytime of year, and something I continue to work on.

This is a wonderful time of year for setting goals for the coming year, re-prioritizing, listing what needs to be done, and later the feeling of accomplishment of checking things off as they are completed. This is also a good time to consider marketing, looking at the big picture of the year ahead, making choices for venues, and remembering not to over-commit. And as always, continue to take care, ensuring fine finished work.

Cottolin Warp

A new 15 yard cottolin warp went on the countermarche loom tonight, to be woven into towels and and a table runner or two. I had decided to use up some old cottolin I had on hand and decided to use unbleached and bleached.

While making the warp, the three tubes of Borgs unbleached had numerous knots, and as I do not like knots going into a warp and onto the loom, there was a lot of stopping, backing up the warping mill to go back to the “front” end of my warp, and starting again, more than a little frustrating. The bleached I had on hand was Berga, and in those three tubes, I only found three or four knots, and the cottolin was much smoother and nicer.

I have plenty of the bleached cottolin, also two or three shades of blue, but may have to quickly order a few tubes of the unbleached. I also have some two or three cones of a white cotton slub yarn I can use in some towels, too.

Later tomorrow, after working outside on windows during the last of our nice fall weather (we’ve already had three inches of snow), I’ll start threading the heddles.

Two sock orders are ready to be mailed tomorrow, as well. It is good to be getting things done.