Monday, April 29, 2013

From Flower Power to Stars and Bars with a Finishing Tutorial

I’m more than thrilled with these tea towels; they surpassed my expectations! I can’t decide on whether they are nautical or Americana, there is a definate feel of stars and bars with the blue selvedge…but either way they are stunners.
I decided to tie onto my previous warp and it turned out to be a HUGE mistake. I was able to weave three of the four towels just fine, but as I reached the end of towel number four, I had a problem with the ends of the knots bridging and completely destroying my shed. I do agree that tying on saved me time while warping the loom, but in the end it cost me more time. I’m sure that a silky slippery yarn like rayon would tie on fine, but unmercerized cotton was a nightmare! Of course, I didn’t take a photo of the snarled mess!
Here's a quick recap of how I finish my tea towels.
I leave fairly long ends when I change yarn colours while I’m weaving on the loom and I don’t clip them off until after I’ve washed the tea towel. So clipping is my first order of business.
As I iron the tea towel for the first time I use a big quilter’s ruler to make sure that I’m pressing the tea towel square. As I iron up the tea towel I keep lining the ruler as I go along and I push or pull the tea towel to keep it straight, and then press it to set the shape.
There is always a frayed fringe that needs trimming. I’ve found the closer you trim to your stay stitch the flatter your hems will lay. Another lesson learned is to never, never, never stay stitch with navy thread on a white tea towel because you can see it through the hem! Although I try and use up all my partly finished sewing thread bobbins, I also try to keep the colours the same.
Make sure that the planned selvedge ends for the hem are the same length. It’s definitely easier to trim off any difference in length at this stage and it ensures the hems are the same size when you turn them under.
This is the best way I've found to get a nice even turn under hem.  I use a stainless steel ruler and line it up on the tea towel, then using a hot iron I just press the hem over the ruler. The ruler will be HOT so watch your fingers when you pull it out.
Now that you have a nice pressed line, you can just turn under the hem to touch on the line and put in your pins…..easy peasy and pretty too!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Springing into Success

My Spring Palette colour theme tea towels are off the loom and I can say that they far exceeded my expectations! My only regret is that I only risked the warp for four kitchen towels, but it was a new weave structure and I wanted to play it safe.
I was all geared up to have these ‘No Tabby Overshot Checks’ go completely wonky after washing because of the two completely different weave structures and the lack of a tabby pick in the overshot part of the pattern; but, the tabby seems to have a very strong stabilizing effect and the extra two inches of plain weave border all around helped. Thankfully no seersucker effect, but there is a bit of tracking in the plain weave areas.

These tea towels have been washed and given a quick press, but as you can see from the pins; I haven’t hemmed yet.
The celery green tea towel looked really blah on the loom and I was starting to have trepidations about the pattern….
The next one I wove was pastel blue and this one really showed off the pattern and I was starting to feel really hopeful…
The soft peachy pink towel was next in line and by now I loved the pattern and the sun was shining and I was feeling good…
I really fell in love with the lilac and it has the strongest graphic effect and it is hands-down my favourite tea towel of the group.
Here they are together and you can clearly see how well behaved the selvedge's are with the extra plain weave added.
I really love this pattern and by tea towel number four I was sure it was going to work out, so here is the warp that I will be tying onto the warp ends I left through the reed. I will be doing navy, red and beige stripes and then using navy and beige as the weft….or maybe navy and red….or beige and red….ahhh the choices!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring Palette

It’s true….as soon as the fine weather starts I get a real bounce in my step and a change in my colour palette! In the fall and winter months I tend to choose deep, full, jewel tones in my weaving projects. Now that spring is all around me, the pastel palette is beckoning!
The colours I’ve chosen to use for my ‘Check’ tea towels….just scream spring! Just looking at them sitting on the mantle makes me happy!

I’ve already woven the first of the tea towels in celery green and now I’m on to towel number two in pastel blue.  Since this is a new pattern for me, I've only put on enough warp for four tea towels.
The checks are woven in 'No Tabby Overshot Check' blocks and the pattern on eight shafts is just the offset check blocks with plain weave blocks separating them. Shafts 1-4 weave the first block and shafts 5-8 weave the second block.
The check squares are in the ‘Bethlehem Star’ motif and although they appear to be rectangular right now, when the tension is removed they get quite square.
I  have extended the pattern to ten shafts so that I could have a third block which consists of plain weave for the selvedges. I made the selvedge borders fairly deep to ensure that it stabilized the differing take up between the check blocks and the plain weave blocks.

The original draft for the pattern on eight shafts is from 'The Best of Weaver's Overshot is Hot', but the treadling has changed from the publication to be 'as drawn in'.   Now hopefully my tea towels will come out looking the same!