Monday, June 28, 2021

Striped Cottolin Tea Towels

I put on enough warp for four tea towels in stripes of lime, pink, orange, periwinkle, purple and turquoise 2/22 cottolin, a real Unicorn Party!

The weft choice for the first two tea towels was an easy pick, purple.  The purple is 2/8 cotton and it is a very close match to the purple cottolin that I used to separate the stripes.

As the warp is striped I didn’t add a plaid border to the tea towels, the stripes are plenty enough!  The weaving went very quickly and I soon had two tea towels wrapped around the cloth beam.

I wasn’t sure what colour I was going to do the last two tea towels, so I got out the bins full of 2/8 cotton and separated out all the possibilities.   I was hoping that one of the greens would work; but I think that the winner is going to come from the blue family.

I auditioned royal blue, navy blue, sage green and a dark aubergine purple.  The winner was definitely the royal blue.

The royal blue is such a pretty colour and it works really well with all the colours in the stripes.  It actually makes many of the colours seem more fresh.

The tea towels are off the loom and ready to be washed but it’s too hot here to run the drier and steam press so they are going to have to wait until it is cooler to be finished. 

The beginning of June was 10 degrees colder than normal but now two weeks later we are having a record breaking heat wave; the temperatures are 10 to 20 degrees warmer than usual.  We’ll probably hit 40 C today and with the high humidity, it feels so much hotter!

The garden seems to be coping with the heat for the most part; the purple flowers are Knautia macedonica 'Thunder and Lightning', Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Sun' is the sunny face in the foreground, Salvia greggii 'Amethyst Lips' and Nicotiana alta 'Lime Green' round out the rota.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Designing By The Seat Of My Pants

As I typed the title of this blog, I thought, hmmmmm, where does that saying come from?  Well, Mr. Goggle tells me that to ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ is a saying from the early days of aviation when pilots flew by their judgment rather than by instruments which had yet to be invented.

This saying really epitomizes my trial and error style of creating these tea’s how the story progressed.

I wanted to use 1/8 tow linen, just because it’s pretty and I had enough to make nice colour block tea towels unlike any I had woven before.  My goal was pink on one side, lilac on the other separated by green outlined in purple.  The colours were chosen based on the tow linen I had.  I had no idea of the weft at this point.  Like I said, seat of my pants.

I planned to use the tow linen as the warp because it can be difficult to make nice selvedges with some types of linen and I thought to make my life easier by using some kind of cotton as the weft.

My original idea was to pull a warp of about 40 percent pink and 40 percent lilac with 10 percent other for the break in a vaguely St. George’s Cross pattern.

When I started to pull the tow linen and found that it was super fuzzy, way fuzzier than I expected and I knew immediately that it would have potential bridging problems.  There is nothing worse that a warp that will not lift due to fuzz sticking together; so out it came.  I would swap the cotton to the warp and use the linen as weft, changing on the fly!

Searching the stash I found 2/16 unmercerized cotton in similar colours, some a little darker and a wee bit different tones, but close enough and it looked like I had enough at first glance. 

I began pulling the cotton warp and ran out of 2/16 pink cotton at 172 ends......I was looking to have around the 240 mark.  So back to the computer and a rejig of the draft. 

My initial thought was to just increase the number of lilac ends that I needed and so I created this draft where the cross is moved off centre and the whole shebang was more asymmetrical but still pretty close to my plan and pretty nice looking.

Back to the warping board with the lilac cotton and surprise, surprise...I ran out of lilac at 272 ends, exactly 100 ends more than the pink cotton, but far short of what I needed at 308 ends. So another iteration which increases the green and still looks good, but not perfect.

Gotta love PCW and the ease of changing a draft!  I started to increase the amount of green in the centre cross and to fiddle with the purple breaks and this is my final draft and I’m pretty happy with it. I decided to move a lilac stripe into the green and it now looks vaguely plaid; and still pretty.

I suppose now would be a good time to plan just how I’m going to weave it.  The warp is 613 ends and set at 28-30 ends per inch gives me a width of between 20-21 inches.  I’m using a metric reed that is 14-15 dent and I will be setting 2 per dent; but I plan to weave the tea towel to 36 inches.   Drat! More math and more ‘designing by the seat of my pants’!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Juneuary Tea Towels

My loom has been empty for a while so what is that best thing to get back into weaving?  Tea towels!  I started the project by getting out the cottolin cones; there are lots of small amounts perfect for a striped warp. 

I separated out the cones into two possible colourways, a pink/red and a wild mix of colours which really appealed to me.  The colours are turquoise, orange, pink, periwinkle, lime and dark purple.

I did the math to find out how much yarn I had left on each cone.  For cottolin there is 3200 yards per pound, and I figured that each cardboard cone weighed 0.4 oz.  But I wanted to make sure that my math was right so I pulled the warp using the smallest cone which was the turquoise and counted the ends.  There were 2 more threads than the math predicted but better too many than not enough.  I went ahead and pulled the warp as I felt that my math was good enough to pull the warp with no problems.

And yes, there was enough yarn for the warp to my slight surprise; it is always worrying when the cones start getting empty.  The tea towels are going to be colourful!  I used the dark purple to separate and define the stripes of colour and to give the tea towels a more cohesive look.

I didn’t finish the cones so I’m already thinking about the next tea towel warp where I can use up the rest of the cottolin yarn.  I’m thinking ribbons of stripes with large stripes of lilac and lime. 

The greenhouse has undergone another transformation from seedling propagation to food production.  The greenhouse is full of tomatoes, cucumbers and hot peppers and we still managed to squeeze in some chairs!  The tomatoes are in 5 gallon pots and are being trained up heavy twine that is attached to the ceiling of the greenhouse.

There are already tomatoes!  The greenhouse tomatoes are already over 4 feet tall and the tomatoes that we planted outside to hedge our bets are only two feet.  But it has been a cool start to June, hence Juneuary.