Here are some images from my most recent warp – cotton tea towels. I thought a traditional pattern of stripes with the main colour in the warp being creamy-white and the stripes in navy and brown. A few of the tea towels were woven to form checks. The rest were done using each colour in the warp as the weft colour for each individual tea towel.
They were woven in plain weave which was quite refreshing to simply use the colours as the point of interest not texture as well. I have tried waffle weave, m’s and o’s and other textured surfaces but I think I prefer the plain weave. My logic was having the texture would make for better tea towels – and I found that’s not the case. Also having less bulk in the fabric means hemming is much simpler and tidier.
The label that I sew on has changed position too. Instead of being held in by the hem I have separately sewn it on and am much happier – it looks more professional and practical.
Sometimes I think it is good to step back from your work and question is this the outcome I really wanted. How could this be improved? It is a concern that you get so engrossed in the weaving that things like, how the hems look, how the label sits, are left as an after thought. When really these wee finishing details can add so much to the end result.
These cotton tea towels are woven in 8/2 unmercerised cotton from Webs, at 20 epi (ends per inch). They are so satisfying to weave, as they are woven in one long length, each one differentiated by a colour and/or pattern change.
A visitor to the studio, after seeing them on the loom commented that you would need to design your kitchen around the tea towels – I thought it was a perfectly reasonable suggestion!
With new maniototo yarn and the 48″ AVL loom all ready to go, it was a warp of firsts. First time using the new yarn, and the first warp on the moved and reconditioned AVL that belonged to Mum. I decided that the first warp that would go on Mum’s loom was some knee rugs. Using Maniototo yarn which I had hand dyed and a weave structure of blanket tweel. Being the first warp on the loom a narrow short warp would have been sensible, but I couldn’t help myself – I wanted to do knee rugs so commonsense went out the window.
Luckily I didn’t have too many problems. I had to hunt round for the right reed which was 47 1/2 inches not 48in as I had planned for which meant a few extra threads hanging off the back! The next problem was the rod which had the start of the weaving on, caught on the underneath rollers under the shafts. But once I had stepped away from the loom to try and solve why it wasn’t working properly I noticed that the rod had caught and it was easily fixed with no damage done to the weaving. When the warp was off the loom Tony attached two wooden rails across the rollers to prevent this happening again.
The plan was to do a sample but was happy with how it was weaving so just carried on. This meant that I had enough warp on to do two knee rugs and one children’s blanket.
I had miscalculated the amount of yarn that I needed to dye. Thankfully I had plenty to wind the warp. I then dyed some more blue for the weft – I thought this colour would be easier to match. It did turn out a lighter shade which I think adds to the overall look of the blanket.
With the hand dyed yarn there is a very slight (sometimes not so slight) colour variation and I think it adds character to the weaving.
The Maniototo yarn wove and dyed well. The loom after a few initial hiccups also went very well. Overall I am happy with the outcome.
We were able to get Mum’s loom out of the Christchurch Arts Centre last year. It had been sitting there since the earthquakes and my brother was allowed to enter the building and retrieve it, then sent it up to our place. We managed to clear a space for it and Tony has been putting it together for the last couple of weeks.
It was very sad seeing it for the first time, as it was covered in black grime, quite emotional – thinking of Mum and imagining her working at the loom. Tony got to cleaning the surfaces with sugar soap. Aprons washed, heddles soaked, beater re-furnished. There are still things to be done on it but we have attached the computer (or black box) up and it seems to be working.
I have a warp wound and ready to go when the loom is completely finished. I feel Mum will be sitting right next to me when I weave on it.