Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lots of Hemming

I've finished both sets of towels that I talked about in the last post.  I wound up with a stack of seven towels to hem and enough extra fabric to make two potholders.  By Sunday (yesterday), all the hemming was done and the potholders were made.  I'm happy with the results!

Gypsea's Towels (and Potholders)
First up are the towels for the sailboat.  We've neglected poor Gypsea for the last couple of years.  We haven't been up much at all, and I know she's suffering from lack of care.  We'll start back at New Year's.  We like to spend New Year's Eve on the boat and have plans to do so again this year.  At least I'll have a small pressie for a neglected sailboat!

Ripsmatta Towels
And the ripsmatta towels are finished.  The project plans called for three towels from the warp.  By the time I'd finished the third one, I had quite a bit of warp left.  I wasn't sure if I had enough for a fourth towels, so I made a smallish hem at the beginning.  It was nerve-wracking, but indeed, I had enough warp for the fourth towel!
Squeaking Out a Fourth Towel
As you can see, I was pretty much out of room to work, but I did it and that's what counts!

I like ripsmatta so much that I decided to warp a second set of towels onto the loom.  I've wanted to make these Southwestern Mission-inspired towels for some time.  They're in one of the 2002 editions of Handwoven magazine.  I ordered the thread for them at the same time I ordered the thread to finish up the last of Cassie's towels.  After Gypsea's towels came off the loom, I got the Mission towels on.  Here's the beginning of the first towel on the loom.

Mission Towels on the Loom
These almost look better if you look at them upside down.  Anyway, I'm very pleased with how they're turning out. Now that I understand how they work, I think I'll play with the treadling pattern and see what happens!

This is just a short post.  But I also want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Towels for a Sailboat

The last set of waffle weave towels are off the loom, waiting to be finished.  I did, indeed, run out of the teal weft thread, and ordered more.  Just after I warped the ripsmatta towels onto the Glimakra, I realized that I had the same teal thread in the kit I wanted to weave for the boat's towels.  I had plenty to use for the boat towels and still finish my daughter's towels.  So I did.  I had enough warp left on her towels to weave fabric for matching potholders.  Now, of course, it's a search to find the heat resistant fabric for the backing, but I think I've found a source.

Old time weavers would save warping time by tying a new warp to the end of the old warp and pull the new threads through the heddles and reed.  This only works, of course, if you're doing the same weave.  Since the new towels are exactly the same structure as the old ones, the pull-through technique was at least viable.  The modern version of this technique is how many people thread their sergers.  Tie new threads to the end of the old threads and pull them through!  Well, tying four or five threads isn't that big a deal.  Tying well over 400 is a bit more daunting.  But I persevered and I think it did save some time.  Anyway, I have a very nice warp.

Gypsea's Towel #1 - Lavender weft
Here's the first towel in-progress.  I finished this one today and started the second towel, which uses the darker blue in the middle of the stripe.  I'm liking how it's turning out.  The third towel technically uses the white as the weft, but I'm not sure I'm going to like it.  I'm considering using the teal of the warp.  I have a full cone of it, so there's plenty of yarn there.  We'll see!

In the meantime, this is a fun structure to weave.  It goes quickly, and with my new end-feed shuttle, quite smoothly as well.  Gypsea will have herself some handwoven towels soon!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Weaving Something New

Ripsmatta Towels
Sometimes things just don't always go the way you want.  I've had Custom Woven Interiors, a weaving book by Kelly Marshall, for several months.  All the projects in it are in a structure, ripsmatta or rep weave, that I've never tried before.  All the projects except this one are for some kind of interior design fabrics; rugs, upholstery fabric, what have you.  I've never done any of the above.  But the thing that really grabbed me about this book was the use of color.  I fell for these towels because of the colors and subtle patterning created by the color play.  I thought these towels would be a good place to begin this exploration.

I ordered the thread for the towels at the beginning of September.  However, I really wanted to get the Dog off the Loom (see last post) before starting anything else.  And then I really wanted to get my daughter's towels done before starting anything else.  Sadly, I ran out of the teal weft thread I was using for the last of the three towels.  I've ordered more, but it'll be later this week before the thread arrives... and there may be dye lot color problems.  Yikes!  So I decided it was time.  Get these towels on the loom!

My first challenge was simply understanding how the drafts in the book worked.  I made it harder on myself by overthinking it, but I really think that some experience with ripsmatta would be helpful before tackling this book.  I tried several times to make it work in my weaving software.  Finally, it made sense to me and I got it into the software.  However, there was still this niggly feeling that I'd done something wrong.  I figured, though, that I'd never learn until I got the warp on the loom and started weaving.

Last week saw me setting up two more shafts on the loom and getting them into the new countermarche system.  I wound the warp on Friday evening and finished it off Saturday.  I had some problems coming up with a way to wind the warp.  The colors change with every thread and most times there are four colors alternating.  I really wasn't willing to wind four threads at a time.  I ended up by winding one layer of warp in one bout and then a second bout of the second layer.  It worked quite well on the board, but not so well at the loom.  It tangled more than I've had a warp tangle in a while, but it wasn't bad.

Saturday was a marathon session at the loom.  I got the warp sleyed, threaded and beamed onto the loom.  I have to admit, it looked good.  There are few things that make me smile like a nice warp on the loom!
Nice warp on the loom
I got the weft thread wound onto bobbins for two shuttles.  I sat at the loom.  Okay, weaving the hem for the towels wasn't all that big a deal, but when the pattern weaving started I just wasn't sure.  For one thing, warp threads started breaking.  First one, then four more, then two after that.  Seven broken threads inside a foot of weaving??  Scary!  I sometimes missed locking the warp threads at the selvedges and had warp floats.  Sigh.  I wasn't sure how hard to beat and no matter how hard I beat, I could always see some weft threads.

After broken thread number seven, I gave up and went to bed.  Today, I'm more at peace with it.  I think that at this density, the weft threads aren't hidden.  The weaving is what it is.  And, quite frankly, I think it's really pretty!  I'm looking forward to trying more projects from this book.

Although I'll probably choose different colors!