Hello, friends. The loom has been dressed with more kitchen towels this week. I just cut off this fabric from the loom yesterday afternoon and finished the first towel this morning. Here is my “teeming with twills towel” in unbleached cotton and China blue:
I really like this blue! It is a little less assertive than a royal blue and that suits me just fine. There are several twill motifs in this piece; they offer both visual interest and a way to explore different textures without compromising the structural integrity of the cloth. Kitchen towels need to be able to get the job done.
I finished the custom order for sandy beige towels in this same design and they are already in their new home:
Hello, friends. The loom has received a very special new addition! My husband crafted me a custom handle for my front beater for Christmas. I knew that Don had been spending extra time in his basement workshop around the holidays but really didn’t know what he was planning. The new beam handle is wonderful! It is affixed to the front beam of my Leclerc Nilus II and I’ve found it to be very beneficial. I don’t have to reach as far to grab the beater (I’m not very tall, coming in at just over 5′ 3″) and the additional weight of the beam + handle means I don’t have to beat each pick with quite as much “oomph.” Here are some photos:
The toweling cloth that is on the loom this week in sandy beige and unbleached cottons is a custom order. I’m enjoying this pattern so much that I plan to weave additional color combinations. (Teaser: keep your eye out for China blue and red).
I’ll be packing up a healthy supply of kitchen towels to take to the League of NH Craftsmen Retail Gallery in Nashua. This is a lovely gallery located right on Nashua’s Main Street and restaurant options abound. Nashua has a very walking-friendly downtown and makes for a great day trip.
More snow today. If I make some decent progress at the loom, I may be able to get outdoors on the cross-countries skis.
The loom has been dressed with one of my favorite weaving structures this week, waffleweave! Waffleweave, which is really just a variation on a point twill, creates cloth that is right at home in the kitchen. The little cells shrink up to make a highly textured and absorbent cloth. It does, however, present some challenges to the weaver. I’ve found that when winding a warp for waffles, it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of “too much.” When I work with 8/2 unmercerized cotton for waffleweave, shrinkage is considerable. For example, with these towels, I am weaving 34 inches of waffleweave pattern in order to yield a 24 inch long towel after finishing. That’s a lot of shrinkage (30%!). Here’s the towel in process:
I wove some waffles using a dark brown 8/2 unmercerized cotton warp and played around with some stripes using some bits of cotton from my stash:
Next up after the waffles will be a new overshot pattern for me, “orange peel.” I’m really looking forward to seeing how this pattern shakes out. I am basing my design off of the weaving draft found in the Josephine Estes weaving booklet, which you can access, too, right here:
Today I made a short driving trip to South Berwick, Maine to drop off some of my work at the Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum. The Mistletoe & Holly Artisan Sale begins next weekend and I am happy to include this historic venue among my current list of retailers. Here is a photo of the Sarah Orne Jewett House:
I took up several overshot pieces, bamboo scarves, and of course, a selection of my handwoven kitchen towels. Here is the sage green towel that I was working on last week, all washed and hemmed:
While a lot of my inventory is currently stocked in retailers in anticipation of the holiday shopping season, I have reserved a few designs here in the studio for online purchase either by visiting my shop or by clicking the links right here:
Handwoven waffleweave washing cloth
Handwoven 100% unbleached cotton washing cloth. Use in the kitchen or bath! Machine stitched hems. Size: 11.5″ x 10.25″. Machine wash and dry.
Handwoven cotton kitchen towel in sage.
Handwoven kitchen towel in sage green and unbleached natural cottons. Measures 17" x 25". Machine stitched hems. Machine wash & dry.
I’m working on finishing up a sister-version of the sage towel in red. Here it is on the loom:
I’m really partial to red in the kitchen, I have to admit. Next up on the loom are some projects that I will be working on for gift-giving (top-secret stuff!) and also for private requests. It is always a busy time of year but that’s a good thing.
I’m getting ready to send a collection of handwoven kitchen towels to the Sarah Orne Jewett House & Museum Shop in South Berwick, Maine; they host a holiday seasonal sale every year that features the work of artisans from New England. I won’t be onsite to answer questions about my items as I can at art fairs, so I put together a “FAQ” sheet about my towels to assist the museum staff and patrons. I thought I would share it here!
Will my towel shrink if I wash it in the washing machine?
Shrinkage will be minimal. After cutting the freshly woven fabric from the loom, I machine wash the fabric in hot water and use the high spin cycle option. I then machine dry the towel fabric on the cotton setting. These steps help to “set” the weave and any significant shrinkage is accounted for before hemming.
Will the colors run?
It is very unlikely. During the initial wash I include a color catcher sheet with the towel fabric. This step helps to pull out any residual dye leftover from the cotton milling/dying process.
Can I wash my towel in a machine?
Yes. Wash the towel at your preferred temperature and machine dry. Avoid chlorine bleach as this will discolor the yarns.
Do people really use these in the kitchen?
Yes. I like to weave items that you can live with on an everyday basis. The densely sett yarns create a thirsty fabric. Machine stitched ends hold up to heavy use. Some of my customers prefer to use their towels for bread basket displays, for the powder room, or even as substitute placemats or small-sized table toppers.
Speaking of towels, I started working on another batch today. Here is the first towel, just underway:
I will also be weaving this same pattern with a nice Christmas-y red cotton yarn as the main color. Be sure to check my shop for my latest additions! I also added a couple of new scarves to the shop this week:
I best get cracking on those kitchen towels! Happy November, friends.
NOTE: The loom has been sold! Thank you for looking! Updated Nov. 2017.
My husband and I are “right-sizing” our home and belongings over the course of this year. As such, I have attempted (not for the first time) to make do with the yarn options that I currently have on hand in lieu of placing large orders of cotton, tencel, or bamboo. A diamond twill kitchen towel that I designed this summer has worked out really well to help me work through small cones of 8/2 ummercerized cotton. I generally work with between 4-6 colors in the warp for each colorway. Here is one of my latest combinations:
I will be sending some of these towels off to the Sarah Orne Jewett House in South Berwick, ME for their annual seasonal holiday sale. However, if you can’t make it to Maine in November or December, I have reserved a few of these gems for my online shop inventory.
In an effort to forward our “right-sizing” goals, I am also looking for a new home for my small Harrisville Designs direct tie floor loom. If you’re interested in learning more about the loom, please visitthis document. It is a great little loom for novice weavers, or for those interested in doing demonstrations. Here is a picture of me working at the loom during an artisan fair:
If you have any questions about the loom or the kitchen towels shown above, please contact me. It would be lovely to chat.
Hello, friends. One of my favorite steps in the weaving process is winding the warp. I will admit that I was less enthusiastic about this necessary step when I was limited to using a warping board. I found the board to be fatiguing; perhaps if I had a wall-mounted warping board it would have been less so, but I always ended up perching the thing on the floor and it was just a major chore. Then my husband got me a warping reel!
This is a Harrisville Designs (made right here in the lovely state of New Hampshire) reel and I really like using it. I confess that I often have more warp chains waiting to be put on the loom than is really necessary. Here are my top three reasons why I love warp chains:
It is relaxing! People at art shows often comment that weaving “must be so relaxing.” I rarely find this to be the case (weaving and especially warping the loom require a fair amount of attention to detail) with the exception of winding the warps. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I prefer the quiet or, weather permitting, I open a window.
Get off yer arse! As I approach my fiftieth birthday (yikes!) I find that it behooves my hips and backside to take frequent breaks from sitting at the loom bench and stand up for a while; why not wind a warp if I’m just going to stand around, right?
Play with color: Winding warps takes me back to my finger painting days, in many instances. Obviously this isn’t always the case (it is a function of the design, really, and many of my warps are monochrome), but it sure is fun to play around:
These chains will (someday soon) be more of my diamond twill kitchen towels. But until I finish my overshot table runners that are on the loom, the chains will have to wait:
I like weaving these small centerpiece-sized table toppers and, based on customer interest, I’d say that there is every reason to weave smaller items like this. They look really pretty on a dining table, especially on top of a simple clean cloth. They also pair well with smaller furniture pieces, like the one I have here on an antique bureau:
I took a big leap recently and ordered myself some custom-woven ribbon labels for my handwoven pieces. Pictures to follow, once I actually cut some cloth from the loom!