The neutral colors and the quiet elegance of these towels say “serenity.” What a pleasure to weave M’s and O’s. This was mostly single-shuttle weaving! Uncomplicated, luxurious, and serene. Five towels, plus one very long table runner that I made specifically for our dining room table. The fine 20/1 line linen weft increases the visual and tactile elegance for me.
I’m still amazed when I see the results that come from threads and a weaving loom. And thrilled that I get to be a part of that experience. Enjoy this short slide-show video of the process.
Hems shouldn’t be noticed. At least, not at first glance. I don’t want the stitching of the hem to detract from the overall handwoven quality. Decorative items, like this table runner, deserve a hand-stitched hem. But for functional pieces, like these tea towels, I stitch the hems on my trusty old Bernina sewing machine. This ensures the durability I want for something that will be thrown in the washer and dryer again and again.
Last year I purchased a Bernina walking foot through my local Bernina repairman. It was one of the best sewing investments I have made. (Don’t be fooled by off-brand “Bernina compatible” products.) The advantage of a walking foot is that it evenly feeds layers of fabric, which is especially useful for sewing handwoven fabric. And for the towel hem, it means the top of the hem won’t become skewed and slanted as you sew, like it might with a regular sewing machine foot.
One of the three sole plates that comes with the Bernina walking foot is a sole for edge stitching. This works beautifully for stitching a narrow hem on lighter-weight fabric, like these airy cotton and linen towels.
My process for a machine-stitched narrow hem
Turn and press the 1/4″ hem twice. Hold the folded edge in place with small fabric clips.
At the sewing machine, attach the edge-stitching sole plate to the walking foot. Align the fold of the hem with the edge-stitching guide.
Adjust the sewing machine needle to the right, so that it catches the fabric just inside the edge of the fold.
Slowly sew a narrow hem, keeping the folded edge next to the walking foot’s edge-stitching guide. Remove fabric clips before they come to the needle.
May your hems be a suitable frame for your handiwork.
Is there anything as exciting as cutting off? Oh sure, there will be some errors to mend. And only wet finishing will reveal the true nature of the cloth. But after investing hours and hours at the loom, cutting the fabric off is a celebration. This is the moment when the work of this weaver’s hands is finally revealed!
While admiring and examining the fabric as it comes off the loom, I am already moving onto the next step–finishing. Here are a few of my regular practices.
Thread-mark the right side of the fabric on each sample and individual piece before completely removing the fabric from the loom. This removes guesswork later. Thread a blunt-tip needle with 6 – 8″ of warp or weft thread, and make a 1/2″ stitch through the fabric. Leaving a loose loop, tie the ends of the thread together in a square knot on the right side of the fabric.
Tie sequential knots in the thread marks. e.g., First towel has one knot, second towel has 2 knots, etc. This enables accurate record-keeping measurements before and after wet finishing for individual items.
Cut pieces apart before washing.
1. Two weft picks have been woven for each cutting line. The two threads make an easy guide path for the scissors.
2. Use the same cutting-line color for every project (I use red, unless red is one of the weft colors in the project). This helps prevent accidental cutting at weft design stripes in the piece (which I did once –Oops!– before establishing this rule).
3. Pull out the cutting-line threads. Any remaining thread residue is easily removed with a lint roller.
Finish the cut edges with an overlock stitch on a serger or with a zigzag stitch (preferably a three-stitch zigzag, according to my friend, Elisabeth) on a sewing machine.
Humans are not finished until they are loved. Love is patience and kindness at the core. We want to be on the receiving end of that, don’t we? We all need someone to love us–to carry our burdens, to believe us, to hope the best for us, to endure with us. It’s in the finishing that we discover the value, the corrections needed, and the beauty that has been woven in. This is the love of God to us. This is the finishing work of Jesus Christ, and his love in us.
May you have many cutting-off celebrations.
With love, Karen
PS It’s good to be back with you! I hope you had a pleasant and weaving-full July.
Let’s take M’s and O’sbeyond the ordinary. Treadling variations bring out interesting patterns. And a little bit of color in the right places makes a unique border stripe. What other designs will emerge on the remaining towels, I wonder?
Some projects on the loom are complicated and tedious. This one isn’t. With primarily oneshuttle and simple treadling, this is breezy easy weaving. The hard work was in the hours of preparation, dressing the loom. Threading and sleying 896 ends is no small achievement. But now, because of that work, it’s pure enjoyment to sit here and weave.
Forgiveness is hard work, too. It takes effort to put away bitterness and anger. But we must. It paves the way for unhindered kindness, which our world desperately needs. Forgiveness changes you. If you’ve been forgiven, you know that. A forgiven person becomes a forgiving person. And when we forgive, which is never easy, we are threading heddles and sleying the reed. Our efforts make way for the pure enjoyment of dispensing kindness. And we discover that the fabric of our life is being made into something beyond the ordinary.
May you be on the receiving end of forgiveness.
The Discovery Towels workshop in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, August 24-26, is filling up! If you’d like to join us, call Debbie (at the number below) right away. I would love to see you there!
This is my attempt to add a fascinating detail. I alternated white and brass-colored ends in the warp stripe. In a similar fashion, I alternated colors in the weft stripe, too. It’s an experiment. The short columns that emerge in the weft stripe are a result of this thread arrangement. The outcome looks promising. Wet finishing will reveal the final effects of this low-risk exploration.
I like to do experiments on the loom. Little risks open up possibilities and ideas for future projects. Every learning experience is a step that leads to insight for future learning. And I have so much more to learn!
Step-by-step learning has some common ground with finding a good path for life. Walking the right path is like walking in the early morning. The dim light of dawn gradually increases and the pathway becomes more and more clear as the sun rises to the full light of day. Our Creator gave us a lighted path. The learning experiences from our experiments and explorations in life help us discover the path of the Lord, where the light beckons us. Walk in the light. It’s where we can see the next good step.