Tried and True: Designing Handwoven Towels

How do you come up with a design for standout hand towels? Sometimes it’s nice to start with someone else’s ideas. There is a gorgeous wool throw, designed by Anna Svenstedt, in Favorite Scandinavian Projects To Weave: 45 Stylish Designs for the Modern Home, by Tina Ignell. This Colorful Throw—Reverse Twill makes a perfect template for designing eye-catching hand towels.

New handwoven towels.
Warp chains with seven colors of 22/2 cottolin for standout hand towels.

Decisions:

  • Colors – a set of seven colors, to be used in warp and weft
  • Fiber – 22/2 cottolin for warp and weft
  • Reed and sett50/10 metric reed, 10 ends per centimeter (~ 12-dent reed, 24 ends per inch)
  • Finished size of towel – 39.5 cm x 63 cm (15.5” x 24.5”)
  • Number of towels – 2 pairs of towels = 4 total
  • Spacing of warp stripes – add two more narrow stripes at each selvedge to balance the pattern

These decisions enable me to prepare a project plan, make calculations, and write a new weaving draft.

New handwoven towels.
Testing, testing…

When the loom is dressed, the design process continues as I begin weaving a sample section. This is where I decide what weft colors to use, the spacing of weft stripes, and specific treadling patterns. I add these notes to my project sheet, which I keep at the loom as my weaving roadmap.

Measuring for weft stripes.
I place my measuring twill tape along the reed to mark the spacing of the warp stripes. I will use that same spacing for weft stripes to make plaid towels.
Testing colors and patterns.
Sample weaving to try out colors, stripe spacing, and treadling patterns. And, simply to practice this broken reverse twill treadling, which requires concentration.
First towel starts after the red cutting line.
First towel starts after the red cutting line.

These hand towels are a preview. If they turn out as hoped, I may have to make some bath towels to match.

May your designs stand out.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Charlotte says:

    You will love the cottolin for your bath towels. I’ve used cottolin for warp and linen for weft. That works well. But, the balance of cottolin for warp and weft makes a wonderful bath towel.

    Your hand towels will be a treasure!!! The colors are smashing!!!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, I like the idea of using linen for weft with a cottolin warp. You would get the softness of the cotton in the cottolin and the extra absorbency of the linen. I may consider that for the bath towels. What size linen do you recommend for that?

      I’m already thinking these may be my favorite hand towels.

      Thanks!
      Karen

      • Charlotte says:

        I am sitting here at home, sipping my first cup of coffee. Hence, I don’t have my notes available to answer your question. But, I usually try a weft and weave a few rows of blocks to make certain I can square the block. If the yarn is too thick for the weft, but I’m crazy about it…I’ll weave 1/2 blocks for the cloth. I’ll treadle 1, 2, 3 and change to the next pattern row: 4, 5, 6. Does this make sense?

  • Anonymous says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Gorgeous colors. Eight shaft?

  • Joanna says:

    I wish you more joy with your plaid than I have had with mine. It’s been stalled on the loom forever. What was your inspiration for the color choices? I keep looking for echoes of your beautiful Texas Hill Country.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I know it is disappointing when something on the loom is less than what we’d hoped. What if you just finished your towels off with a single weft color, having only the warp stripes? Would that work? At least you could get them off the loom sooner.

      I have a set palette of colors for our home in Sherwin-Williams paint chips. I spread those paint chips out when deciding on thread colors for weaving that will be used in our home. I have yarn samples of all the main yarn/thread that I use (Yarn in a Jar from Vavstuga is fantastic for this) so I can spread the yarn colors out, too, and find pleasing arrangements.

      I hope you find a way to put joy back into your towel weaving.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kevin says:

    Really beautiful! I love the colors and the pattern!

  • Barb says:

    Love the idea of using the warp stripe pattern as the spacing for the weft colors! It is an idea i will sample on the striped cotton towels on my loom. Thanks so much for sharing, I always find inspiration in your weaving journey.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Copying the warp stripe spacing is an easy way to bring a cohesive look to the towels. Good for you to sample the idea for yourself.

      I sure appreciate your kind encouragement.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful weave.Love your color choices.

    Thank you. Much needed as I sit next to totes being filled with decades of craft supplies to be moved to the retirement home and the empty boxes to be filled for the anticipated rummage sale. The Reed Pleater will have to be sold. Can I let go of the silk screening supplies from my college days?

    In the next 9 months there is much to do to make the transition.

    Between you and Curmugeom66 my creative soul is renewed. (His last VLOG was snow blowing his yard just south of Green Bay.) That said, he has posted quite a few VLOGs using cottalin.

    Thank you for keeping me in the loop with your wonderful projects..

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I understand. I, too, had to let go of many prized saved things when we prepared for our retirement move. Happily, I have no regret of letting go, and I have not missed any of it. The move became my chance to start fresh. That doesn’t make your challenge any easier, but I hope you will be encouraged. You have a bright future to look forward to.

      All the best,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Weaving Ideas – Year in Review Video

Everything starts with an idea. And some of those ideas become tangible expressions of dreams come true. Who knew that a simple idea in 2012 would lead to a seven-year exploration of weaving through The Big Book of Weaving? (See Weaving through The Big Book.) Who knew that weaving on a drawloom in 2016 at Homestead Fiber Crafts would plant the idea of weaving on a drawloom of my own? (see Quiet Friday: Day at the Drawloom.) And who knew that an idea in 2013 to write about my weaving journey, calling it Warped for Good, would bring friends like you to come and enjoy the journey with me? For these things and so much more, I am truly grateful.

Siblings Tapestry is 3 cm away from completion!
Siblings Tapestry is three centimeters away from completion.
Drawloom rag rug - single-unit.
Single-unit drawloom rag rug is ten centimeters into testing everything–draw cords, sheds, shuttles. After a few more adjustments the actual rag rug weaving will commence.

Your ideas are priceless. That’s because you are priceless. You were made in God’s image, with the ability to imagine wonderful intricacies through creative thinking. In fact, you began as God’s idea. As we walk with him, we become the tangible expression of his dream come true.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit here with me to reminisce over the past weaving year.

May this year bring your best ideas ever.

For you,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Karen: You are such an awesome servant and ambassador for God! Your comments have always captured my attention, but this one really spoke to me! I even wrote your words down to read to a friend who has a birthday today. I respect and admired your creativity and the effort you invest in sharing! It all takes time and effort, but I can see that your heart is in what you do…and your heart belongs to God. May God continue to bless you in this year of 2020! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It’s a pleasure to be able to share what I enjoy. Thanks for your thoughtful words. I’m glad to have you along with me.

      Happy weaving new year,
      Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    It was fun to see all that you have done this past year. And I enjoyed seeing that photo of our winter drawloom class and the samplers on the drawlooms. You have done a lot of weaving already in your new home. I look forward to what you weave after our art weaves workshop next month. See you then.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, That drawloom class was a highlight for the year. I’m thankful to be in a place and season of life that suits my weaving endeavors.

      I am looking forward to the art weaves class. I still have so much to learn!

      See you soon,
      Karen

  • Cynthia H. says:

    Karen, what an amazing artist you are, beautiful work. Cant wait to see what you will be working on next. Say hi to Steve for me. Cynthia H.

  • lanora dodson says:

    This was inspiring on SO many levels! It brought a sense of peace, wonder, and excitement all at the same time. Thank you for sharing and cannot wait for the coming year to see what you’ll be creating!

  • Nannette says:

    Karen,
    Thank you for sharing!
    I will need to watch the video a 4 or 8 or 10 more times to absorb everything you did in 2019.
    The close ups are welcome.
    Nannette

  • Beth Mullins says:

    You’ve had a beautiful, productive year! You and your work are so inspiring, bringing excitement, curiosity, and clam all at the same time. I can’t wait to see the siblings completed and what’s to come in 2020.

    Happy New Year, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It’s good to have a sense of accomplishment. I always enjoy seeing your beautiful woven creations on IG. We both had a year rich with weaving. I’m glad to have your friendship on this journey.

      Happy New Weaving Year,
      Karen

  • Johanna McGuirk says:

    Dear Karen

    I am very keen to get the details for the electric bobbin winder as I am frustrated using the hand drill. Would it be possible to supply me with more details please? Hopefully my husband or son can put one together for me.
    Kind regards
    Johanna

    • Karen says:

      Hi Johanna, I am happy to share the details for the electric bobbin winder that Steve made for me.

      I will send you an email with the information.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Karen, thank you so much for sharing your video. It was both inspiring and calming. A beautiful expression of pure creativity expressed through our traditional craft. Love your work.
    Barbara

Leave a Reply


Process Review: Leftover Linen Waffle Weave Washcloths

This is the kind of weaving results that makes me giggle like a child. Waffle weave is one of those things I have been intrigued about for some time, and have wanted to give it a try. Will it really buckle up into waffled wrinkles? Will linen do that? Will it be even better than I expect? Yes, yes, and YES. Talk about transformation!

Using linen thrums for weft.
Taken from thrums, each length of thread is added with a square knot, which makes for slow quill winding. And slow weaving, as I untie each knot that comes along, and overlap weft tails in the shed.
Made with linen leftovers. Weft tails cover the surface.
Shaggy thick blue linen weft tails cover the surface.

Everything in these waffle weave washcloths is linen that has been leftover from previous projects. The tail end of linen tubes, quills that didn’t quite get used up, thrums, and threading missteps that gave me skinny warp chains of several meters. The warp is 16/2 linen, but the weft is everything from fine linen threads, to bundles of threads, to coarse linen rug warp. I discovered, as you will see, that the thicker the weft, the more pronounced the wrinkles. The thickest wefts have given me delightful accordion pleats.

Waffle weave washcloths made entirely of leftover linen.
Wet-finished linen waffle weave has a surprisingly soft hand. After hemming, I am trimming the weft tails to 1/4″, leaving a hint that this is made of leftovers.

Please enjoy this process video of the making of leftover linen waffle weave washcloths! Watch to the end to see the squishiness of this unusual cloth.

Don’t think that this is the end of waffle weave. I am already thinking of all the interesting possibilities…

May your best wrinkles make you giggle.

Happy Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Geri Rickard says:

    I have been waiting to see the final results and they are super! What a cool idea!
    Enjoy using them, I’m sure they will feel wonderful!

  • Elisabeth says:

    I love that you made these beautiful washcloths out of “useless” material! I consider leftovers a precious resource, and I find so much joy in finding a purpose for them whether it’s yarn, thread, fabric, or food 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, It’s satisfying to put some scraps back to use. I’ll save all my linen thrums again, and in a few years I’ll have enough to use them up again.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Those are great! I’ll bet they’ll feel great on your skin as well.

    I made waffle weave towels several years ago and loved how they came out. Unfortunately I gave them all away, so if I want some for myself, I’ll have to weave more. Maybe washcloths would be better. Or both!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I made enough that I can keep a couple of them and use the rest as gifts. I would enjoy having this linen waffle weave as towels, or even bath towels.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    I too have saved my 16/2 linen thrums from my tapestry warps. This would be a fun project for making a couple bath towels. Thanks for the film.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I can’t get myself to throw linen thrums away, so I was glad to have a way to use them up. Bath towels would be wonderful! I’m glad you enjoyed the film.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Laurie says:

    Very creative! I like the end result. Did you weave the hems in plainweave, and then fold over, or just fold over the waffle ends? I also like that you left ends as a reminder…..

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, I did weave the hens in plain weave and folded them under twice. It turned out to be a very narrow hem. The little weft tails add an interesting touch, and makes the washcloths look a little…rustic. 🙂

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    I’ve used waffle weave for baby blankets out of cotton and it makes a cozy blanket!

  • An interesting use of thrums.

    I’m wondering why you didn’t use a simple slip knot to join the pieces? It would make it much faster than untying square knots. I use them all the time if I have a break in my thread when winding bobbins.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, A slip would work great for this. I like the square knot because I can tie it with less thread, and it makes a small knot. Also, surprisingly, it’s one of the easiest knots to untie.

      I just pull one end straight, and the other end slips off. That’s not the best description, but it’s a snap to undo a square knot…most of the time.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Hi Karen,
    It was fun to watch the video. I wonder if a one of a kind scarf could be made with the hodge podge of thrums? Or, a gypsy skirt ala Stevie Nicks? LOL.
    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, A hodge podge of thrums would make a terrific scarf. I’d like a linen waffle weave scarf, in fact. Maybe next time.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Emily Lefler says:

    Wow! These turned out so fun! And I love the ki mark on the shuttle!!
    Love, Emily

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emily, Thanks for dropping by! I am thrilled with the way these turned out.
      Steve woodburns my initials on my shuttles and tools for me.

      All the best,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Tried and True: Leftover Linen on the Band Loom

Remember that time you miscalculated when planning your warp? You found the mistake when you were threading, and you ended up with an extra group of ends. If you have ever done something like that, then you understand where this leftover linen warp came from.

New warp on the Glimakra band loom.

This little linen leftover warp is now on the Glimåkra band loom. I removed two ends to get a warp with symmetrical colors. It’s perfect for making hanging tabs to go on the leftover linen waffle weave washcloths. The weft on these band loom shuttles is from one of the little linen warp chains I mentioned last week. (See Put the Linen Back to Use.)

Leftover linen to use as weft on the band loom.
Linen from a leftover warp chain fills the little band loom shuttles.
Band Loom weaving.
Weft tails show the color variance–turquoise and blue–in the leftover linen used for weft, indistinguishable in the selvedges of the woven band.

When the thread comes to an end on the shuttle, I follow this simple process to begin a new weft.

  • Place the ending weft through the shed, leaving a tail of at least 1/2”.
How to change the weft on the band loom.
  • Without changing sheds, lightly tap the weft in place with the band knife.
  • Bring the new weft on a shuttle through the same shed, going in the same direction as the previous weft’s shuttle, leaving a tail of at least 1/2”. (There is now a weft tail extending in both directions.)
How to overlap wefts on the band loom.
How to add a new weft. Glimakra Band Loom.
  • Without changing sheds, lightly tap the new weft into place with the band knife. (This helps to make a snug fit for the two wefts in this shed.)
  • Change sheds. Beat firmly with the band knife.
  • Send the weft back through.
How to end one weft and begin another on the band loom.
  • Beat firmly, and continue weaving.
Instructions for ending and starting wefts on the band loom.
  • After weaving 1/2” further, clip off the weft tails; or, clip all the tails after the entire band is woven and has been cut from the band loom.
Linen band weaving for hanging tabs on linen washcloths.
Weft tails are left extended on this band. I may trim some of them later to 1/4″ for effect, to be used as hanging tabs on the leftover linen waffle weave washcloths.

May you put your leftovers to good use.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Your ribbon bands add such a nice touch. Asking because I have no knowledge, how does a Band loom differ from an Inkle loom in what can be made with them?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, There’s no difference between the band loom and an inkle loom in what can be made on them, except maybe the width. I can weave up to about 4” wide on the band loom, though I normally use it for narrow bands. I also can put on a much longer warp on the band loom than on the inkle loom. This warp on the band loom right now is probably about 5 or 6 meters long.

      The band loom is not as portable as an inkle loom, but the main advantage for me is how much faster I can weave bands on it. I can weave a band about four times faster on the band loom than on my inkle loom. The reason for this is that it has two treadles to open the sheds, making both hands free to do the continuous weaving.

      I guess the other reason I use the band loom whenever I can is it’s just plain fun!

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    Morning Karen…..I, too, have a question. Please. Do you sit and weave on the side of the loom, beating sideways….or at the end as with a regular tinkle…
    Thanks so much..I always enjoy your blog..

  • Nannette says:

    The extra beating of the filler overlap blends the change so it is indistinguishable from the rest of the band. Who’d a thunk?
    Thank you for the lesson.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, It is surprising what a big difference this little action makes. You really cannot see where the weft changes after I clip off the weft tails.

      All the best,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


Put the Linen Back to Use

Almost in tears, I chained off the remaining linen warp, a handful of ends at a time. I had come to the end of the Lizard tapestry. There was still enough warp to weave another small tapestry, but because of our move, there wasn’t enough time. Oh, beautiful linen, what am I going to do with you? Too precious to hide or throw away. See Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry.

Linen Leftovers
Small linen warp chains are given new purpose as weft in these waffle weave washcloths made entirely of linen leftovers.

Linen washcloths, made completely from linen leftovers. Now, almost a year later, this is the answer for my precious linen warp—now weft. A single thread, or two or three bundled together. What a glorious way to put the beautiful linen back to work. See how these colors—blue, turquoise, and brown—influence the warp colors (also all leftovers)? It’s delightful.

Three threads are grouped together, and lengths are connected with square knots, and wound onto a quill for the boat shuttle. When I come to a knot while weaving, I untie the knot, overlap the threads in the shed, and leave weft tails exposed. I plan to clip the weft tails shorter, later, after wet finishing.

Where have your dreams and hopes been cut short? We all have times when disappointments make us wonder about our purpose. The Lord isn’t finished with you. As the Grand Weaver, he knows how to put leftovers to use. The Lord weaves us into connections with people. Influence a few for good. Your kind touch makes a difference in those lives with whom you personally intersect. The outcome is delightful.

May your connections be worthwhile.

Love,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    What a great way to turn lemons into lemonade! The towels will be beautiful!

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Karen, your message is well taken.. I hope you will be taking your own words to heart…as they so reflect who you are! You do, indeed, influence others, in your witnessing!
    I am totally amazed at your Beautiful Lizard; (he does deserve a name!) But even more, I am amazed at how you put the remaining warp to use, and at the same time, use left over threads, connected all along, for your weft.

    May God continue to bless you..and your husband, as he transitions into retirement and as you make adjustments, so both of you may enjoy time together.!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, Your thoughtfulness shines through in all your words! Thank you. I do aspire to be a positive influence when possible, so thank you for that affirmation.

      A name for the Lizard? Haha. I think I named him once, but I can’t remember what the name is. To me, I think he will always be Lizard, with a capital L.

      Steve’s retirement has been a blessing to both of us so far. We thoroughly enjoy the time we have together.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Tena Bell says:

    I am a brand new weaver and my instructor recommended your blog. Thank you for weaving life’s lessons into all that you do. God bless you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tena, I’m so thankful you decided to check out Warped for Good! (And please tell your weaving instructor I said thanks to her.)

      Feel free to ask questions as you wander into this weaving arena. You’re in for some great experiences at the loom!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beautiful solution Barb… very impressed that the small chains are being used and the towels are really special!
    bethany in Kingston ON

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bethany, I couldn’t throw them away. And I didn’t want to let those linen chains stay in the box too long. So I’m glad to have found a solution!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Karen, my waste not want not German grandma would be proud of you. Not only useful. Beautiful.
    Nannette

  • Lyna says:

    Waffle weave washcloths are a wonderful way to use those leftovers and bits! How big do you think they will be after wet finishing?
    Your reflections on the ‘Grand Weaver’ are part of why I follow your blog, thank you! One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 31:13, “She seeks out wool and flax and works with willing hands [to develop it].” (Amplified Version) It is deeply satisfying to make-with our own hands-things that are not only beautiful but useful and necessary to our homes. Plus weaving lends itself to so many metaphors!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lyna, I have never done waffle weave before, so I made my calculations based on an article in Väv Magazine for linen waffle weave. It said to expect 20% shrinkage. I have it at 44 cm on the loom, so hopefully, they will end up about 35.2 cm / 13-14″ wide. We’ll see… 🙂

      Yes, the verse in Proverbs 31 means a lot to me, as well! It’s sweet to make a connection with you in this way. Thanks so much for sharing your heart.

      In Him,
      Karen

Leave a Reply