Tried and True: One Small Skein

I have a single skein of colorful cotton/bamboo sock yarn that a sweet friend gave to me. I’m not a knitter. What can I do with a mere 50 grams of silky-soft yarn? My 13.5” Glimåkra Emilia rigid-heddle loom is perfect for the task. When I’m at home I weave on floor looms. When I travel I like to take Emilia along.

"Make Do" warping while away from home.
This is called “Make Do” warping while away from home.
Glimakra 13.5" Emilia rigid heddle loom, ready to tie on and start weaving.
Emilia is beamed and the heddle is threaded. Ready to tie on and start weaving.
Weaving in the Casita Travel Trailer.
Now, a trip to visit some wonders of creation in Texas. Time to bring Emilia along. Weaving in “La Perlita,” our Casita Travel Trailer.
Weaving outside while camping.
Weaving outside the Casita in the shade of a tree is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
Weaving outdoors.
Two shades of bamboo thread are used for the weft–hot pink and coral–woven in alternating blocks of color.
Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park, with poppies in the foreground.
Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park. Poppies in the foreground provide color inspiration for more weaving projects.
Hemstitching at the end of a scarf on the rigid heddle loom.
Hemstitching at the end of the scarf, easiest to do while still on the loom.

One skein of this yarn yields just enough to make the warp for a short scarf with fringe. I am using Xie Bamboo thread for the weft, left from the huck lace shawl I wove for myself to wear to my daughter’s wedding six years ago (See Quiet Friday: Coral Shawl for a Memorable Occasion). This thinner weft gives me a loose weave, and the color blends in a way that allows the changing color of the warp to take center stage.

Trimming fringe on a handwoven scarf.
Back home again, doing the finishing. Fringe is trimmed to an even length.
Trimmed.
Trimmed.
Twisting fringe.
Twisting fringe. (For more on twisting fringe, see Tools Day: Fringe Twister.)
Twisting fringe.
Fringe twisted.
Handwoven scarf before washing.
Before hand washing.
Rigid heddle scarf made with sock yarn.
Scarf has been air dried, and the fringe knots have been trimmed. This soft short scarf is just right to wear with a light jacket in the Texas autumn air.

Now that this scarf is finished, the only thing left to do is make sure I have a new warp ready for Emilia in time for our next travel adventure.

May you take your joys with you.

Happy travel weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful. It looks like sunshine

  • Bev says:

    Karen, you are making the most of each opportunity! An exquisite scarf from one skein of yard…and while traveling in God’s beautiful creation! Delightful! Blessings to you, Bev

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, It’s great to hear from you! There’s something about seeing God’s beautiful creation that prompts us to be creative in our own simple way. Such a contrast, though, between the mountainous marvels and our little handwoven threads.

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    That’s a great way to use a single skein, you turned it into a beautiful and useful piece! And isn’t it the perfect statement in a challenging time; find light and happiness where possible

    Love, Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, It took me a while to decide how to use that pretty skein. I’m looking forward to wearing the scarf. There’s usually a way to light and happiness even when there seems to be no way.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Cynthia says:

    Beautiful and glad you are out camping. Have fun

  • Kristin G says:

    What a perfect project for a special skein of yarn! I can’t help but smile when I see those cheerful colors And I always love to see the difference in the cloth once it is wet finished. It’s like a bit of magic ✨

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin, This special scarf from that special skein will always remind me of that friend that wanted me to have it. Isn’t the magic of wet finishing wonderful? This one was already soft, but really softened up even more!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Tried and True: How Far Will Your Quill Go?

Do not overfill your quills. It may seem efficient to load the quill as much as possible so you can weave as far as possible. Like me, you may have to learn this the hard way. A too-chubby quill that has to be coaxed through the shed takes more time and effort than winding a few extra quills. So much for efficiency.

Cottolin bath towels on the Glimåkra Standard.
Cottolin bath towels on the Glimåkra Standard, in twill, broken twill, and reverse twill.

It helps to have an idea of how far the thread on a quill will go. With this information, you can wind a few in advance without ending up with an excess of wound quills at the end of your project. I like to have the next quill ready to go when I am weaving so that I can put the new quill in my shuttle and keep weaving with very little interruption. This is especially helpful when the treadling sequence is tricky, like with the reverse twill in every other large color block on these cottolin bath towels. 3-2-1-6-5-4

How to Estimate Weaving Distance for Filled Quills

1 Start a new quill, leaving a 4 – 5 cm tail on the surface of the cloth. Or, start a new quill at the beginning of a color change.

How to measure how far a quill will weave.
End of one thread. Ready for a new quill.
How to know how far a quill will weave. Tutorial.
With the threads overlapping in the shed, the tail of the thread on the new quill lies on the surface.

2 Weave until the quill has emptied. Leave a 4-5 cm tail on the surface of the cloth.

How to know how far a full quill will weave.
Quill has emptied. Tail is brought out to the surface of the cloth.

3 Replace the empty quill in the shuttle with a new quill and continue weaving 1 – 2 cm further.

4 Measure the distance from the first weft tail, or line of color change, to the second weft tail. Place a straight pin, in line with the first weft tail, directly under the second weft tail. Measure from the pin to the second weft tail. This is the approximate weaving distance you can expect to cover with a new quill. Notate the quill’s estimated weaving distance on your project notes for future reference.

Tutorial on how to know how many quills you need to wind.
Measure the woven distance.

5 Trim the weft tails close to the surface.

6 Increase accuracy by repeating the process three times, and then use the average as your quill’s estimated weaving distance.

The large color blocks on this bath towel are 14 cm long. A single full quill will weave 5 1/2 – 6 cm; therefore, I make sure I have 2 full quills, plus at least another half-filled quill before I start a new color block section. It’s nice to be able to leave my foot on the treadle while I change out quills, so I don’t lose my place.

Cottolin bath towels.

May your efforts prove to be efficient.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Oooo! I love these colors!

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    I just noticed you work in metric measurements. I hadn’t before. Hmmm. Is that the side effect of transposing 2.54 cm per inch so many years? Metric does make the math easier.

    Moving/estate sale in 5 weeks. The epiphany is textile projects will have to wait until the basement in Wausaukee is set up. The last visit I made up north the home made floor loom was to the point of hooking up the castle. I stopped after I put it on backwards.

    Thank you for your reality touchpoints.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I started using metric measurements for weaving after going to Vavstuga Basics. It makes sense to me.

      Blessings on all your transition events.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    You always give us such great tips! Thanks, Karen. And thanks for using metric measurements, I wish everyone did.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m happy if a tip is helpful to you. As I mentioned to Nannette, metric measurements make sense to me for weaving. I am not a math whiz, so I like the simplicity of metric math.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Linda Adamson says:

    I really like your colors as well. Did you set the cottolin at 24 epi? If so is it thick enough this way?
    Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, These really are comfort colors for me. I’m using a metric 50/10 reed, so my sett is 10 ends per cm, equivalent to 25.4 epi. So, 24 epi would also be a good sett for this twill. I wouldn’t call these towels thick, but they will be soft and absorbent. My experience with Bockens 22/2 Cottolin is that the cotton/linen blend makes great towels. They seem to get softer and more absorbent the more they are used and washed and dried.

      I haven’t made cottolin bath towels before, so hopefully I can give you a good report when we start using them!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Maureen says:

    Hi Karen,
    May I ask, what are you using for a bobbin? It doesn’t seem to be the rolled piece of paper that is usually used for a quill. Where did you get them, is it from purchased yarn? I’ve found that some of the empty yarn spools don’t fit in my Glimakra quill shuttle.
    Your weaving is always so inspiring, you have a wonderful colour sense and technique.
    Maureen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maureen, The quills that I use are narrow cardboard tubes made for this purpose. These cardboard quills function like the rolled piece of paper that you describe, and come in different sizes to fit the Glimakra quill shuttles. I purchase the cardboard quills from weaving suppliers in the USA, like GlimakraUSA.com or Vavstuga.com. If I need extra quills, I make them from rolled paper, too.

      Your kind and encouraging words mean a lot to me.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin Girod says:

    That’s a wonderful tip, Karen! I’m definitely going to try that with my next project. And I’ve always trimmed my tails after washing. Do you trim to the fabric while on the loom no matter the size or type of yarn?

    • Karen says:

      Kristin,

      Good, I’m glad you found this tip helpful!

      I trim weft tails as I go–regardless of size or type of yarn. I like to trim as much as possible while it’s on the loom because I don’t want to have to go back and do it later. 🙂

      I try to make sure to have my weft threads overlap enough in the shed to take into account shrinkage that will happen with washing and drying. If you trim before it’s washed, the added benefit is whatever bit of thread that is left on the surface will nicely disappear as it shrinks into the cloth.

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

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Tried and True: Checklist for Winding a Warp

I am winding a narrow warp for my next drawloom project. My warping reel is in a little four-foot-by-four-foot corner of my drawloom studio, and has just enough room to maneuver. When I am ready to wind a warp the first thing I pull out is my trusty checklist. I use a checklist for efficiency. It keeps me on track. And it’s more dependable than my memory.

Checklist for Winding a Warp

__ Weigh warp thread and write the amounts on the project notes. By weighing the thread before and after a project, you will know exactly how much warp thread was used in the project.

__ Stick a sample four-inch thread to each thread label; put a rubber band around the tube. After you finish winding the warp, you can quickly pair each yarn with its correct label because of the sample thread stuck to the label.

__ Bring supplies to the warping reel. If your warping reel is in a different room, or in a separate building, like mine is, make sure you have all you need before you head to the warping reel.

+ Thread for the project

+ Thread stand, if not already in place

+ Scissors

+ Choke ties

+ Project notes, with fully completed draftAn incomplete draft may give faulty information. Also, a review of the project notes and draft is a good idea, especially if weeks or months have passed since you wrote it all down.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Set up the warping reel for warp length. Use a guide string, or measure the distance needed to place the pegs and turning pin at the right place on the warping reel for the warp you are going to wind.

Checklist for winding a warp.
Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Set out the thread on the thread stand. Wind the warp with two or more threads at the same time, for best results.

__ Hang or tape up the project notes at eye level. Project notes show the warp sequence and other vital information.

__ Take note of warp length, number of bouts, and number of ends in each bout. Aim for 25 cm (10”) or less in the reed, or 200 or fewer ends, per bout. For the drawloom, wind the warp in pattern unit increments when possible.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Wind first bout, counting warp ends. Use a cord between groups of ends to keep track of the counting.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Visually check the warp order. Check to see that the warp order on the warping reel matches the warp sequence on the project notes. (I added this step to my checklist after the time I omitted 6 threads at the center of a warp, discovered after threading the loom.)

__ Tie off around the turning pin or the outside peg. Always wind the last pass with two or more threads together so you can tie them around the pin or peg.

__ Tie the lease cross; and tie choke ties on the warp. Tie the cross first, and tie any passes of the warp directly above the cross. Then, spin the wheel and tie the warp wherever it passes on the side opposite the cross. Also tie at the turning pin, at the top and bottom of the loop.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Chain the warp bout. Start the chain by holding the loop at the turning pin, and pull out the pin. Chain the warp, ending at the cross. (I use my knee, not so gracefully, to control the turning of the reel as I chain the warp.)

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Place the warp bout on the loom, with the lease cross end going through the beater.

__ Wind remaining bouts, following the same procedure. When you place the warp chain on the loom double check the warp sequence to make sure the bouts are in the right order.

Checklist for winding a warp.
Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Roll up the thread tubes, replace labels, weigh thread and write down amounts, and place thread tubes in project bin. Each loom has its own project bin to hold the thread for that project.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Put away the choke ties, scissors, and thread holder.

__ Fold up the warping reel.

Checklist for winding a warp.

Get ready to dress the loom!

Checklist for winding a warp.

May you enjoy the process.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Elisabeth says:

    Thank you so much! I realize it has been awhile, long enough to forget the steps. I’ll wind a warp today following these instructions. Then I will have two towel warps and can hopefully dress the loom without my usual long pause I’ll weave the easy one first, to get back into it, and have as a goal to have some towels ready as Christmas gifts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I’m glad you can use this! A checklist really helps me when I’ve been away from the loom for a while. I don’t have to re-think everything. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your towels. They will be beautiful, I’m sure!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Ah, yes, tie the cross. I don’t know how many times I’ve come *this close* to forgetting that step.

  • Karen Simpson says:

    Thank you so much….I’ve never weighed before to determine usage amount…will do. I also number my bouts with a sticky…learned the hard way..ha….

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way, too. 🙂 I also weigh my weft thread before and after. The accumulated data helps when planning new projects.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barbara says:

    I use a different color tie at the top of the lease cross so I know which way is up when taking the warp bout to the loom. Got confused once with a striped warp, took a bit of “undoing” to be sure I didn’t have the same colored stripes next to each other.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, Thanks for sharing your helpful tip. Getting the warp bouts mixed up at the loom is not fun. Some of our best lessons come through fixing our mistakes!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Summa Irukalam says:

    This is terrific! Thank you.

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Tried and True: Organized Reeds

My weaving history includes very fine threads all the way to heavy-duty rug warps. As a result, I have acquired a wide selection of reeds over time. All five of my looms have beaters that will accommodate any length or height of reed. When I plan a project, one of the first things I consider is whether I have the size reed that is needed. To keep my reeds organized, I need two things. One, a simple method to manage the reeds I have, tracking the reeds as they go in and out of use. Two, a place to store all the reeds, arranged in order by dents per cm and dents per inch.

Reed Organization

  • Reed Inventory

I keep a list in my Notes app on my phone with the sizes and lengths of reeds that I have. If a reed is in use, I note which loom. If a reed will be needed for a planned project, I also note that. As soon as I remove a reed from the beater at the end of a project, I put the reed away and update my Reed Inventory list.

Simple system for tracking reeds in and out of use.
Sample Reed Inventory note. When I am planning, I look at the note on my phone to see what reeds I have that are available. “Next” reserves the reed for the loom that needs it next.
  • Reed Holder

Steve created a storage solution for my reeds. The holder goes along the back wall of my drawloom studio for about six feet. Here are the details, using nominal board sizes. The reeds sit on a 1” x 6” board at the base, which is supported against the wall by a 1” x 4” board. The base, with a 1” x 2” lip, sits about 12” off the ground. The reed dividers are 3/8” x 5 3/4” dowels that are sunk into a 1” x 3” board that is attached to the wall, which sets the dowels about 27” above the base.

DIY Reed Holder behind my drawloom.
Reed holder is fastened to the wall behind the drawloom. (Notice that the drawloom rag rug warp has come over the back beam…)
Organized reeds!
The dowels are placed at a height that will hold even my shortest reeds.
Reed holder stores weaving loom reeds. DIY
Reeds are in order by dent size. Metric reeds are separate from those with dents per inch.

If you would like a PDF copy of Steve’s diagram that shows all the dimensions, click HERE to send me an email request.

May you have a place for everything, and everything in it’s place.

Yours,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Geri Rickard says:

    That handy husband of yours! What a nice solution, and I like the pegboard with hanging lams, etc. very nice,

  • Marianne says:

    Thanks for sharing! Weaving requires so much paraphernalia so i am always curious how other weavers organize their studios. Thank you you for inviting us into yours!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marianne, Yes, paraphernalia is a good description of all the tools and supplies needed for weaving. Learning ways to organize things seems to be a requirement for weaving.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Ha! In the first picture of the storage rack, I thought it was attached to the wall at an angle, with the shortest reeds on the right. Nice optical illusion. And very nice storage solution.

  • Elisabeth says:

    Very neat idea! I agree, it’s so helpful to have a good system for storing tools and accessories. Thank you for sharing!
    Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, It’s much more relaxing to have everything in its place. And it saves money because I’m not buying duplicates of things I already have, but couldn’t find.

      Thanks!
      Karen

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Tried and True: Something New from Something Old

My grandma made a pattern on brown paper for a neck pillow. I suppose she found the pattern in a magazine or newspaper decades ago. I am using my copy of her pattern to make my own neck pillow. Maybe someday my pillow will be as worn and wobbly as Grandma’s well-loved neck pillow that I remember.

My version of Grandma’s neck pillow.

Looking through my pile of handwoven scraps I find the piece of fabric that had been hanging as a Roman shade on the back door of our previous home. This two-block twill in cotton and linen was my first 8-shaft project on my floor loom. Good memories! The fabric, softened and slightly faded through daily use, is perfect for the comfy neck pillow I’m imagining. (Unlike Grandma’s pillow, I’m making this one with a removable cover so it can be easily laundered.)

Roman shade from my first 8-shaft weaving project.
Roman shade from my first 8-shaft weaving project. I wove the linen draw cord on my two-treadle band loom.

Instructions for Constructing a Handwoven Neck Pillow

Supplies:

  • Cotton muslin, pre-washed
  • Handwoven fabric, pre-washed
  • Cluster Fluff, or other cluster fill or polyester fiberfill
  • 7” invisible zipper
  • Sewing machine
  • Invisible zipper foot
  • Sewing thread
  • Hand-sewing needle
  • Iron
  • Sleeve board for pressing, optional

Steps:

  1. Cut four pillow pattern pieces from the muslin.
  2. Sew two of the muslin pieces together, right sides together. Press seams open.
  3. Sew the other two muslin pieces together, right sides together. Press seams open.
  4. Sew the two parts together, right sides together, leaving a 4-inch opening for turning and stuffing. Press seams open using a sleeve board.
  5. Turn the pillow right side out.
  6. Stuff with Cluster Fluff, starting at the furthest end from the opening. Fill to desired fullness.
  7. Hand stitch the opening closed.
  8. Cut four pillow pattern pieces from the handwoven fabric.
  9. Serge or zigzag the fabric edges. Press flat.
  10. Insert invisible zipper between two of the pieces.
Making a handwoven neck pillow.
Invisible zipper is sewn into place between two of the panels.
  1. Complete the seams at both ends of the zipper. Press seams open.
  2. Sew the two other pieces together, right sides together. Press seams open.
  3. Open zipper, and sew the two parts together, right sides together. Press seams open using a sleeve board.
  4. Turn the pillow case right side out.
  5. Push the muslin pillow into the pillow case. Close the zipper.
Handwoven neck pillow cover.
Inner pillow and outer cover are made from the same pattern to make it a snug fit.
Handwoven neck pillow. How to with construction steps.
Fabric is 16/2 cotton warp and 16/1 linen weft.
  1. Take a nap in your favorite chair with the pillow behind your neck.
Handwoven neck pillow.

If you would like a pdf copy of my grandma’s neck pillow pattern, please click HERE to send me an email request. I will be happy to send the pattern to you.

May you see old treasures in new ways.

Rest and Be Well,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    This is wonderful! A lovely tribute to your Grandma!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, My Grandma was very resourceful. She probably made her pillow from a leftover scrap from her sewing fabrics, or from a garment too worn to wear. I think she would be happy with my humble version.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Nice demonstration of what to do with hand woven fabrics. A 2nd life for a beautiful fabric.

    My Grandma left behind recipes and gingham cross stitched textiles. I cut up a skirt with her embroidery to add to a wedding memory quilt made for my daughter and husband.

    You have a hug from your grandma every time you recline.

    How wonderful.

  • Linda Mesavage says:

    My grandmother was not a Weaver but she was the seller and did a lot of things out of leftovers. What a lovely tribute to your grandmother! I love your project.

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