Check on Stripes
I’ve had these yarns for probably twenty years. I must have woven up all the pretty colors, and somehow all I have left are cottons and linens in the basic primary colors – perfect for dish towels. I like to use stripes and checks to bring a unified look to odds and ends of yarn, and I also wanted to try a threading I hadn’t done before.
In looking through my “Someday” notebooks, I found this sample from a 1994 newsletter, from Contemporary Handweavers of Texas. (They are still going strong, but I couldn’t find a newsletter archive online.) Deborah Tedder wrote a long and lovely article about the structure’s source and possibilities, and four other members helped her weave samples to send to everyone.
This sample has such beautiful drape and sheen – I couldn’t believe something so beautiful could be made from plain old unmercerized cotton! I also liked the possibilities of color interaction. And since there are two wefts, pattern and plain weave, I thought it would help me use up yarn more quickly.
I didn’t have enough unmercerized cotton, so I used mercerized 10/2 for the warp, in stripes of cream and black, to give a variety of looks with the different colors of wefts.
Once I had the warp on the loom, I tried out different wefts. I soon realized that I was not getting the lovely close wefts of the CHT sample, where the pattern yarn floated over groups of four warps and completely covered them. I hoped that machine washing afterward would cause the yarns to shrink and bloom, and emphasize the contrast between blocks.
I also realized that weaving with two shuttles was slowing me down quite a bit, so I tried using just one weft for both the pattern and tabby shots, and I liked that variation too.
I have always had trouble sticking to a weaving plan for more than a few inches – on this project, I made myself stick to one type of weft yarn per towel (although in blocks of three different colors) for three towels. On the remaining yardage, I just played with all kinds of combinations – cottolin, 5/2 mercerized cotton, sewing thread – whatever looked interesting, even though I knew it would give me all kinds of take-up problems and uneven selvages. I put on the radio, and every time the song changed, I changed a color, a texture, or the pattern block, for a random effect.
After machine washing and drying, I don’t really like the cotton flake I used in two towels – it looks like it has snagged and pilled. But it will be absorbent and that’s what I like about handwoven dish towels – they seem so much more absorbent than anything I can buy at the store.
My favorite weft turned out to be 10/2 mercerized cotton – it doesn’t look as smooth as the CHT sample with unmercerized cotton, but it does have a crisp look. They all feel really good – more flexible and drape-y than many of my handwovens.
When I was planning this project, I thought I would use up all this yarn! I don’t know what has happened to my estimation skills, because I barely made a dent in the supply. I look forward to turning more odds and ends into useful items!
These are lovely! I love the way they look all on the clothesline!
Thank you! They were a little eye-dazzling all together, I thought – during weaving I only saw 6 inches at a time and based my color choices on that!
Very nice thank God for patience. Continue to Be a Blessing because you’re Blessed. Mtetar
Thanks Mtetar. I use up less patience in weaving my own than in driving to the store and waiting in line to pay? 🙂
They’re just beautiful! Learning to weave is one of my dreams, so this was really inspirational! I like the fact that they are just simple basic colours, I think it enhances the weaving.
Meanwhile, I will continue to use the kitchen towels that I inherited from my granny. She was a lady of many kitchen towels, and they’re all made of good old-fashioned sturdy cotton that lasts for ever, so I probably have enough for the rest of my life – or at least until I learn to weave myself…
Isn’t it amazing how the old ones last? I still have bath towels that my mom and mother-in-law got for their weddings – while the big new fluffy ones I buy fray at the selvages after a couple of years.
I hope you get a chance to weave soon!
They look fab! Never tried my hands at weaving but this is so inspiring!
Thanks! I hope you can give it a try sometime, even on someone else’s loom just for a few rows, to see if you like it, After months of a garter stitch blanket, you might enjoy the change! 🙂
CHT members still get samples several times a year. This is one of the nice benefits of this state guild. I agree handwoven towels are wonderful
I really treasure all the samples I have collected over the years – different ones spark my imagination at different times. I helped with the CHT samples a time or two myself, so I am glad that weavers are still sharing their time and expertise!
Love the colors and you are so talented.
Thank you! Not the colors I would prefer, but on the other hand they will stand the test of time and never look dated! 🙂
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