A Weaver’s Counting Rhyme
These towels are based on a draft from Malin Selander’s Swedish Handweaving, which has a lovely cover that looks like a handwoven inlay.
I love this book, but since it was issued in 1961, there are just a few color illustrations, which are crammed full of woven items. Then those items are labelled with designer names like “Hambo” or “Chomper” or “Sarsaparilla,” that have nothing to do with the actual weave structure of the project. The draft pages may or may not show a black and white picture of a fabric sample. It took me years of weaving before I could read drafts well enough to figure out which one went with which illustration!
This is the draft of the pattern I picked to weave from the color illustration, the dark fabric with the brightly colored columns. But most of my yarn is left over from when I worked at a historical park and was trying to weave things that looked handspun, and I really need to use that up, so I ended up with a warp of randomly spaced white and cream cotton.
To get the effect that Malin Selander got, you need to use a fine yarn on one shuttle for the background tabby, and a thicker colored thread on a separate shuttle. The more shuttles you use, the more time it takes to set them down and pick them up properly to get a nice selvage. So I did two of the towels (the light blue and the tan) with just one slubby yarn on one shuttle. It goes so much quicker and I think it still looks pretty nice, but those are little too boring and predictable for me; they look commercial. I may use those for dye experiments and see if I can liven them up, but on the other hand, it’s okay for dish towels to just sit there and dry things without calling attention to themselves.
I really enjoyed finally getting a project done this year, and finally reducing the number of tripping hazards in this house by using up a few balls of yarn!
This sounds fascinating; I’d like to watch you do it. A nice looking gathering of towels, I’d say!
Thanks! I had my 8-year-old nephew weaving last week. Weaving is easy, just a few simple steps over and over. 🙂
Wow, nice. I loved this rhythmic post and the towels are great.
Thanks! They are very quick to weave up.
that looks like a very interesting book. Yes, some of those patterns (not yours) act like they are written in code but once you crack it……….you GOT it!! Doing 8 shaft towels just now and again using up ‘stuff’ and am thinking they will be too thick. Maybe BIG placemats ! Thanks.
That is part of the fun of weaving your own — I made some of these dish towels really big! Big enough to actually cover the counter top when I am canning or something.
My 8 shaft loom won’t fit in this little house and I miss it! It is out in the barn being lonely.
Your towels look amazing. You are so talented in so many ways.
Thank you very much! I like them because I find them more absorbent than ones I buy at the store; those must have some sort of fabric treatment on them.
We have gotten spoiled with full color illustrations in craft books. When my guild sold off some older quilting books those with b/w photos languished on the table. Maybe you could update the book you’re using by weaving each pattern and photographing it.
I have thought about doing that! She did a whole series of weaving books, and a lot of the drafts don’t have any picture at all. I keep hoping someone else will have taken on that challenge but if they have, I haven’t found anything about it.
Goodness! Weaving too! You really are versatile!
I really started out as a weaver and just turned to quilting so I could move colors around more easily. Which reminds me, I need to look into your tablecloth again!
Weaving is one of those things that I mean to try but never get around to. Would you advise going to some sort of class or is it the sort of thing you can learn from a book and videos? Your towels are inspiring.
Thank you for the nice comment!
I would advise taking a class first, to see if you like the process of weaving. For one thing, the equipment can be pretty expensive, and if you take a class, you will be able to try different types and brands of looms, and you will be able to see what features you like best. Then you can check if there is a guild near you because sometimes they have looms to rent.
Setting up the loom to weave is half the process, and that might be taught in its own class. Learning that part from a real person would be good because they could help you make any adjustments you needed to, but for a back-up reference, I would definitely recommend Peggy Osterkamp‘s videos. I took classes from her, and had to un-learn everything I had previously learned about dressing the loom, but her method saved me so much time and headache in the long run!
Reading the drafts is like reading music, and nowadays the way they are written is pretty standardized, so you could probably learn that from books.
When I teach someone how to weave, I start with just having them choose wefts and throw the shuttle — once they are hooked by the magic of creating fabric, I go on to teach them how to measure warp and thread the loom with a very basic draft, and after that I teach them to read drafts for themselves so they can start experimenting! I hope you find somewhere to try it!
Thank you for all the info. I shall have to investigate further.
It’s a nice pattern–I love the variations that were possible!
I was thinking about you and your consistent selvages while I was hurriedly weaving — “Kerry really just started weaving and her selvages are beautiful!” But I ignored that little voice and just kept going. The ones with 2 pattern colors, where I had to carry one color up the side, are particularly uneven. But oh well, they will still dry dishes! 🙂
Great use of your stash! The older books are great resources. Too bad the photos usually aren’t in color.
And in this book, a lot of times there is no picture at all, or like the one I wove — the picture was of a tannish sample when I was looking for a dark background with a light pattern. Once I finally figured it out, it seemed so obvious! 🙂
Re your comment to Anne w., I had the opposite reaction with my first weaving class. The loom was warped and we were to just throw the shuttle (boring) and I wanted to know HOW one got to that point and was never interested again until I learned how to wind a warp and dress the loom! I know, that is the part that lots of weavers do not care for. I love the fiddly bits that calls for and when I am weaving (the ‘boring’ part) I am thinking of what I can weave next!!
And yes, my present endeavor Will be placemats!! I’ll send you a pic.
I guess it is such a broad topic that no matter where you start, you feel like you were dropped in the middle and you need to learn a starting point. I took weaving in college and we spent the first two weeks learning to draft — since we didn’t look at any looms or samples at that time, I had no idea why we were coloring in graph paper squares! Later I was glad that I learned to draft with paper and pencil, before computer programs came in.
Comparing it to another craft, like ceramics — I want to start with wedging the clay and building a pot, not learning about where to dig clay and what chemicals go into which glaze. I am not into the analytical parts.
I have just taught weaving to one person at a time, so I can gauge their interests and adjust — if the student wanted to start with drafts and dressing the loom, I could do that. But I cannot imagine trying to get a whole group of people on the same page. Fortunately, not a problem that I will ever have.
Totally agree! ONE person at a time 🙂 although I have been spinning for over 30 years I cannot teach it……no idea what I do to teach in a technical fashion! Yes to preparing the fleece in different ways but that’s it. Weaving is different and slower. Thanks for your posts as always.