Monday, February 28, 2022


Finally, the tea towels are off the loom and finished.  It seems to have taken forever.  I feel very excusey (not really a word) when I say life this past month has been hectic.

As well as our washing machine giving up the ghost, our heat pump/furnace started struggling during a very unexpected cold snap and we are waiting on replacements.  And, to add insult to injury, just when we stated getting all of that under control the microwave just stopped working.  Needless to say it has been a very frustrating and expensive month for us. 

Now that I believe we are on an upward trend I can show photos of my tea towels.

All six turned out well and I did have the bonus of freeing up all of my pirns.  It is so strange to see all 12 of them empty!

I happened to look into my tea towel drawer just after taking photos of the new tea towels and it was just plain sad.  The towels were well over 10 years old, and like the painters house, the weavers tea towels were dull.  The one on the right front was actually woven in 2006!

I decided right then and there to be my own customer and so I am keeping the lot and don’t they look fresh.  The odd one out at the back is from the linen and cotton tea towel warp I wove awhile ago.

This weeks garden shot is of some sunflowers we grew last summer.  Our hearts go out to those in Ukraine.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Black Table Runners

I had noticed that we are a little low on table runners in the shop and black table runners are always popular.  I went through the weaving stash and I found some lovely mercerized 5/2 cotton in black and taupe.  They will be perfect for some table runners.

I have some favorite patterns that I like to use for table runner but I felt that this lovely gleaming black cotton deserves a special pattern.  So I picked a gorgeous 12 shaft pattern that featured circles.  I’m very excited by this pattern, I love weaving circles!  

I started to pull the warp for the table runners and I had to get Mom to take a photo of my hand because of the fine dust that was coming off of the black cotton.  That was the first hint that something was wrong.

I finished pulling the first 100 threads and then when I tried to tie onto the warping board for the second bout the black cotton just shredded in my hands.  I’ve never had this happen before.

The black cotton turned out to be unusable for warp, with just a soft tug the yarn would break apart.  It definitely would not hold up to the tensioning on the loom.  When I moved the cone, a circle of fine black dust was left on the floor.  The fine dust meant that I couldn’t take the risk of using the black cotton as weft, I had a feeling that it would disintegrate further.     

So I had to throw away the whole cone of black cotton, which was quite sad as it was lovely.  I’m glad that I found out that the black cotton was bad before I had spent more time setting up the loom with threading and such. 

I went back into the stash and thankfully found more black cotton this time 2/6.  I had to shorten the warp to from my planned three runners to two runners but thankfully I can still use the same pattern.  

I have finished threading and tying onto the loom.  I’m looking forward to seeing the pattern develop on the loom.  Hopefully I can weave today!

Final Garden Photo is the catkins on the Contorted Hazelnut - Corylus avellana 'Contorta' (Harry Lauder's Walking Stick).  The catkins and leaf buds are a wonderful sign of spring. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Black and Birch Shawl

The raspberry red and black shawl is finished but I still have enough warp on the loom for another shawl in the black 2/8 Tencel.  Before I tied the warp back onto the cloth beam, I changed the tie up of the treadles.  I like to change things up so that the shawls aren’t exactly the same. 

I still have the same threading and I’m even using the same treadling as the red shawl but the motif is definitely different.  The motif is a diamond within a circle surrounded by a trellis of diamonds.  I really like motifs that create circles, I think that it is cool that two straight lines can make curved lines.

The weft colour that I’m using is 2/8 Tencel called Birch.  It is a lovely soft silvery green and it glows against the black warp.

This fancy snowflake twill pattern is a joy to weave and one of my favourites.  I was coming to the end of the shawl and with less than an inch to go I finished my pirn.  As I hate waste I measured out the last of the weft that I needed and hand wound the last pirn.

Something that I find interesting with the pattern is that the motif that I think is the main motif on the shawl isn’t the motif that they show in the pattern.

Below is the motif from the pattern.

This is what I think is the motif.  Even then it doesn’t really show that full story of the pattern, I think that showing two repeats of the threading and two repeats of the treadling are much better idea to show the pattern.  

The shawl isn’t quite finished; I haven’t twisted the fringe or press it.  But here some pretty photos anyway because I can’t wait to show you.

Final Garden Photo is of spring crocuses.  The first two blooms have opened and they are a lovely sign of spring!  

Monday, February 7, 2022

The Saga of the Tea Towels

It seems that everything has been conspiring to keep me from the loom, so my weaving time has been very limited.   What should have been a weaving dawdle, has turned into a weaving slog.

My first impediment came in the form of a malfunctioning heat pump, we called the heating company and due to the fact that we live in an area with booming growth; they are so busy with new builds that getting service is difficult.  Luckily we have two gas fireplaces and we were able to keep cosy by running them alternately.  The downside of this is that I’m so paranoid about fire, I spent several nights sitting up babysitting the fires. 

Then, and this is definitely a first world problem, we received some flat pack furniture that demanded my studio space for assembly. I know whaa, whaa, whaa!  Hopefully I will be back on track soon.

Since it has been weeks since my first post about these tea towels I thought I’d refresh your memory of the pattern I am weaving.

I have woven four of the 10 shaft overshot tea towels, the first in this lovely clear blue, although the pattern is overshot, this is a one shuttle weave.  This means there is no tie down threads, just pattern threads.

The second tea towel is in a subtle dark rose and right now I think it is my favourite.  There is something so very calming about the colour.

The third in blue/green that is truly fresh and pretty.  Now I think this one may be my favourite!

Finally I took the leap and used red/violet or magenta.  This colour shows the pattern to its best advantage, just lovely.

I still have two more tea towels to weave, but in the meantime, here are some of the stats for the project.  The warp is 7 yards (6.4 metres) long, and I pulled 441 ends of 2/8 white unmercerized cotton and sleyed 2 per dent in a 10 dent reed.   It takes between 1.6-1.8 ounces (48-50 grams) of weft for each tea towel.  I allow 1 yard (.9 meter) for loom waste on my Louet Spring Loom.

The garden is still in dormant mode, but there are a few shafts of sunlight that hint of warm weather to come. The daffodils have really begun to grow and the alliums have shot up, eventually the cranesbill will cover the entire spot with purple flowers and hide the die back of the bulbs.  There is hope!

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

One More Shawl is Done

I am doing a commission for a lovely black and dark raspberry red Tencel shawl.  The pattern is a fancy twill that has a trellis of diamonds running the length of the shawl.  So pretty!

Does anyone else to this?  I sit at the loom for a measured period of time but I use physical markers to set the time, for example I’ll weave until I finish the pirn or until the cd is finished.

My favorite measure of time is, I’ll weave until the top of the containers that hold the floating selvages reach the top of the back beam.  That is also usually the time that the paper that I’m using to keep the warp separate on the warp beam hits the floor, it makes a satisfying thump.  So many ways to measure loom time without ever looking at a clock!

Here is a fun photo showing both sides of the shawl, one side is red dominant and the other is predominantly black.

I’ve finished weaving the shawl and have done the hand hem stitching.  The last step is to cut the shawl off the loom; I used 1 inch metal venetian blinds as spacers.  A trick that I learned the hard way is to make sure that you pulled the warp far enough forward so that when you cut the warp it doesn’t snap back and you lose the threads through the reed.  It also helps if you keep the tension of the warp loose. 

I loosely braided the fringe and the shawl goes into the wash.  I like to use a gentle soap like Eucalan.  The excess water is squeeze out of the shawl in towels and then the shawl is placed on a drying rack to dry.  I remove the loose braids from the fringe so the fringe can dry flat before it is twizzled.

After the shawl is dry, but before pressing the shawl, I like to twizzle the fringe.  

The shawl is now ready for McSteamy, the steam presser.  This is when the shine that Tencel is known for appears.

The final shawl is stunning. 

Final Garden Photo is a winter planter that we lasagne planted with bulbs and pansies.  Lasagne planting means that we layered bulbs into the planter so we will get a succession of blooming.  In the bottom layer is some tulips, then some compost/dirt and a layer of daffodils then more compost/dirt and the last layer of bulbs are the Dutch irises and then the last layer of compost/dirt and the pansies on the top.  The Dutch irises are just starting the spear their way through the pansies.  It is the first year for trying this process but we have high hopes!