It is so rewarding seeing so many weavers trying something new. Some are trying new warping methods, some are weaving with fine cotton for the first time, and some are stretching their design wings and changing up the pattern to suit their needs or because they may have made a threading error and followed the philosophy of “keep going”! Here are a few tips for weaving the color-and-weave towels.
Winding Your Weft
Winding doubled ends is not so much about tension as it is about evenness. In this effort, distance is your friend. I place the yarn supply on the floor and make sure that the yarn is traveling in a straight line up to my shuttle or bobbin.
If using a stick shuttle and you have a choice, select one that is slightly smaller than your weaving width. This will keep you from unwinding too much weft that can snag and snarl as you weave.
If you are using a boat shuttle, choose one with a low profile—about 1” tall—and a closed bottom. Relatively speaking, rigid-heddle’s create narrow sheds. Open bottom boats leave the bobbin prone to snagging; how much can depend on your boat shuttle’s design and your technique. Closed bottom shuttles have a solid wood bottom that helps them glide across the warp.
Some of you have been asking what boat shuttles I use. My go-to boat shuttles are Schacht’s closed bottom slim boat shuttle or Leclerc’s colorful Styrene shuttles. The latter measures just over an inch, but I find they still work well and I love the bright colors that help me track which shuttle I’m supposed to use next.
No matter which shuttle you use, keep your weaving under tight tension. This will keep your shuttle from falling through the warp. Pass your shuttle close to the rigid heddle where the opening is the largest.
With practice, you can throw your boat shuttle and it will zip along the warp making passing back and forth faster. You can see this at :14 in this video.
I often get asked if you should measure your weaving under tension or not. When measuring my progress, I back off the brake a few “clicks” so that it isn’t under extremely tight tension. You want some tension because it makes it easier to measure accurately.
Measuring cotton or linen under tight or loose tension doesn’t really make much of a difference in the final results. However, if you measure wool, wool blends, or other more elastic yarns under tight tension, it may skew your results, leading you to believe you have a finished length longer than you do. This is why I get into the habit of backing off the tension a bit before measuring.
If you are using a guide and you are ready to advance, back off the tension a bit, then roll out the paper guide and pin. Advance your warp and then place the yarn under tension. Rayleen Bryan Grim shared this photo in the Facebook group. She added extra notes to her guide—a terrific idea!
Managing Your Selvedges
All the good technique tips of managing selvedges apply here. You have the added challenge of managing multiple colors at the selvedges. There are tips for doing this on page 5 of your pattern. In general, as long as you do the interlacement of colors consistently, these areas will look just fine.
I can hardly believe it, but some of you have already finished your towels and are ready for more! You can always warp up the another colorway and weave a set as a gift. Cotton Clouds offers this kit as part of their permanent collection.
I have three projects left to reweave: the Bouquet Shawl and Simply Striped Rug from Weaving Made Easy, and the Vanilla Cake Table Scarf from the 2015 First Fall edition of Knitty. (Wondering what the deal is with these weave-alongs? Click here.)
My thought is to do a stashbusting Vanilla Cake Table Scarf for the next weave-along. It won’t tax your brain too much. You can lengthen the warp and use wool for a scarf or weave as-is for a runner. We can talk about all sorts of decorative knotting techniques and yarn selections that I know are a biggies for many folks.
I’d officially start this weave-along December 1st. Then, after the New Year, we can tackle the shawl and rug. I’d start that one on January 15 to give me a few weeks to regroup after the holidays. I’ll poll the groups to see which project you want to do first.
As an aside, I’m really into rugs these days. There are three rugs in my new book, Handwoven Home, that will go on pre-sale in January. Check out my What Would Georgia Weave? class I’m offering February 17-20, 2017 at Ghost Ranch, an area where Georgia O’Keeffe painted some of her most breathtaking works. We will weave a mini table top rug (about 7”x 9”) using Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings and the environment she loved as inspiration for our color palettes. Along the way, you will learn all the techniques needed to scale up for a larger rug.
Weave happy, folks!