Category Archives: towels

Coordinating Towels

At last, a twill towel, now part of a nicely coordinated set. A the moment, I am tieing the warp back on to begin another towel, and debating between plain weave with a border, twill, or a white cotton slub weft. All will be woven shortly, and today I’m feeling like I want this warp finished so I can move on to another.

In researching information for the drawloom, I’ve been paging through back issues of VAV and am drawn over and over to drall towels so starting now to make notes of sett, cotton and linen sizes, and thinking about colors.

Progress has temporarily slowed on the drawloom. I have ordered two colors of 12/6 cotton for the drawcord warp, and have reached a problem with the reeds, primarily the difference in size, width, and thickness of the new reeds compared to older ones. In particular the reed for that hangs over the pattern heddles needs to be narrower in width, and the outer long edges need to be flatter to fit into the reed holders. I will be talking to two reed companies in just a bit to see if what I need can be made.

Meanwhile, I have been researching drawloom weaving projects, looking primarily at size of thread (cotton) and sett, and that must be ordered now, too.

I am also working on the CW Double Harness Study Group newsletter and updated mailing list. Life has provided quite a number of interruptions the past few days, so completing items on my Task List has been a challenge. Some are now done, some (research) are hard to photograph, and thankfully, things are moving along again.

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.

Socks-Anklets

Not long ago I had a special request from a gentleman, could I make anklets? After getting color preferences from him, a pair were made and are going out in the mail today. He asked if I could use wine or navy, so I used both and added black, making a flexible color combination.

Today I am working on the loom, and had hoped to post a photo of a towel in progress, but the long cottolin thread I was hemstitching with broke part-way across the width of the towel, so it’s back to the loom for a little unweaving and try again, or weave a plain weave hem to sew later.

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.