Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tea time

When a project changed my mind

Six tea towels, three 12-harness patterns
I vowed I'd never knit socks or weave towels. I knit socks now so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I confronted my other 'never.' 

The project this year for the South Jersey Guild weaver's study group is....you guessed it. Tea towels.  

I admit to being somewhat disappointed, but wanted to support the initiative. I wasn't exactly unenthusiastic, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money on yarn, either. I looked for the best value--and found one pound cones of 8/2 unmercerized cotton offered by The Lunatic Fringe. (I was unaware of the company until seeing their participation in the upcoming MidAtlantic Fiber Association's 2017 conference this summer in Millersville, Pa.) I ordered three cones.

Towel #1. 12-harness pattern, Ryall pg.364, no.4


I now admit it. I enjoyed the entire process--from planning through to the finished towels. The colors--peach, molasses and stone--weren't my first colorway choice, but they work just fine together. And I am reminded: They were 'good value.'

Towels #2 and 3. 12-harness, Ryall, pg.363, no.3.
Upper: stone weft; lower, peach weft
As this would be the first project on my new-to-me 12-harness Ahren's & Violette Loom, I wanted to put all the harnesses in action. Planning for six towels, I warped a six yard length in  alternating colors of peach and molasses and dressed the loom with a straight-12 threading sleyed at 24 ends per inch. I had 400 threads (including two threads for floating selvedges each side) and a 16 inch width in the reed.  

Using a sampler in my personal library that I'd woven based on a series of tie-ups from Pierre Ryall's Weaving Techniques for the Multiple-Harness Loom as a starting point, I began to play with peg patterns (tie-ups) and color on the loom. (Ryall is a classic resource for owners of multi-shaft looms.)

Patterns that work--or don't

Towels #4, 5, 6. 12-harness, Ryall. pg. 363, no.4
Upper: peach weft. Middle: stone weft.
Lower: peach, 
stone and molasses check
As I began to weave the first towel, it was very clear very quickly that the pattern that worked well with different colors on my sampler got lost in the two-color warp. So I  wove it as an evenly-balanced check in the same colors as the warp. It will dry a dish just fine but the pattern is definitely 'meh.'

Much more effective are the two twill variations. Towels two and three were a simple straight twill (Ryall, pg.363, no.3). Four, five and six were based on an advancing twill with wefts in warp or a third color. (Ryall, pg.363, no.4)

The effects of varied weft colors is a reminder how much different colors change the look and feel of the fabric. 

After weaving six towels, I wanted to see how far I could weave to the back bar, so I kept weaving. I cut off the warp with only 12 inches of loom waste on the back end and now have a tray cloth, too!

I was particularly pleased with the towels after washing and drying them. They don't really need to be ironed!

After weaving the six towels, I have about one and a half pounds of cotton left. I think I'll make a warp and....weave some more tea towels.

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