It is the smallest of details that set handwoven towels apart from ordinary towels. With that in mind, I am writing some detail notes in the margin of my project notes. Borders: Towel 1 – sea blue, apple green – contrast thread – ultramarine; Towel 2 – ultramarine, sea blue – contrast thread – maize; Towel 3 – apple green, ultramarine – contrast thread – sea blue; Towel 4 – dusty, sea blue – contrast thread – apple green.
There are seven colors of cottolin in the warp, and the same seven colors in the weft, just like the accompanying hand towels I completed in April. (See Process Review: Jubilation Hand Towels.) Narrow warp-wise and weft-wise stripes of broken twill produce interesting patterns in the cloth. The deep borders I am planning on the bath towels give me a chance to add simple details that only a handweaver can do.
Have you ever identified a master craftsman by the specific details that show up in the hand-crafted article? In the same way, we can recognize our Maker’s hand through the magnificence of the details we see in each other. You are his masterpiece. Hand-written instructions guide the details. When we come to the Lord as our Maker and Redeemer, we find his hand-written details woven into our hearts, something only the Grand Weaver can do.
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.
+ Project notes, with fully completed draft — An 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.
__ 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.
__ 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.
__ Wind first bout, counting warp ends. Use a cord between groups of ends to keep track of the counting.
__ 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.
__ 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.)
__ 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.
__ 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.
__ Put away the choke ties, scissors, and thread holder.
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.
Colors – a set of seven colors, to be used in warp and weft
Fiber – 22/2 cottolin for warp and weft
Reed and sett – 50/10 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.
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.
These hand towels are a preview. If they turn out as hoped, I may have to make some bath towels to match.
Nothing about the original draft is incorrect, but when I wrote it in pencil on my planning sheet, I transposed one. little. thing. The threading key. “X = plum; black square = other colors.” Exact opposite of what is written in the draft from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. (See When You Misread the Threading Draft, where I discover my dilemma.)
Thanks to Fiberworks weaving software I am working out a solution. I adjusted the tie-up, so the treadle tie-ups on the first, third, fifth, and seventh shafts trade places with the tie-ups on the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth shafts. It works. And now, the one little threading error that is clearly visible seems like a breeze to correct!
There are times when my whole perspective needs an adjustment. It’s time for love. Love adjusts our view. At the heart level, love brings about changes in us. It re-sets our attention and motivations. Because God loved us, we can love, too. We don’t see, understand, or know everything now, which shows how incomplete we humans are. But the love that heaven knows is something we get to participate in here and now. Our cloth is far from perfected, but our love adjustments give us a glimpse of cloth from another realm.
A zillion threads—2,064 ends, to be exact. I wound the warp in four bouts. And then, …a sinking feeling! I had wound each bout with exactly half the ends needed. This double weave throw, almost the full weaving width of the loom, needs 1,032 more ends.
I had counted ends as if there were only one layer. I did all four bouts that way. Yikes! Now I am winding four more identical bouts. I will put the lease sticks through all eight bouts. Somehow. Thoughtful study of the details on my planning sheet would have prevented this major error. But I knew what I was doing, and could remember the important things. Or, so I thought. And I was eager to get started…
Walk. How we walk through life matters. To walk in a manner pleasing to God we need to know what he wants, and give that our full attention. If I run ahead, eager for the next experience, and neglect to consult the Grand Weaver’s project notes, I’m asking for trouble. The vibrant-colored warpwill still get on the loom, but this is called learning the hard way.