Jubilation Bath Towels are completed, just in time for Christmas! They go with the Jubilation Hand Towels I wove earlier this year, named with my father in mind. (See Process Review: Jubilation Hand Towels.) Nothing deterred my father from deep abiding joy. These bath towels are a tribute, as well, to my husband’s patience. He requested handwoven bath towels a few years ago. Laughably, my first eager attempt resulted in towels scratchy enough to be used as sandpaper back scratchers. Now, finally, we have absorbent and soft handwoven cottolin bath towels suitable for my Prince Charming.
Don’t you love it when the end of the warp yields bonus results? Just enough warp to make a pair of wash cloths, in which every one of the seven colors of quills was emptied. Hurrah!
Enjoy the start-to-finish process with me in this slideshow video:
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.
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
1Start 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.
2 Weave until the quill has emptied. Leave a 4-5 cm tail on 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.
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.
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.
Wind very narrow fabric strips on quills and put them in a boat shuttle. It’s efficient. It’s faster to wind a quill than to load fabric on a ski shuttle. Plus, I like the advantage of sending a boat shuttle across rather than a ski shuttle. This rag rug on the drawloom has fabric strips that are only one centimeter (~3/8”) wide, instead of the usual two-centimeter-wide (~3/4”) strips for an ordinary rag rug. Grab your boat shuttle and pay attention to a few simple tips. Your very narrow fabric strips will be woven up in no time.
Tips for Using a Boat Shuttle to Weave Very Narrow Fabric Strips
Use fabric that has minimal fraying at the edges. Trim off any long threads. Loose dangling threads that are long enough to wind themselves on the quill will make you wish you had used a ski shuttle.
Wind the fabric with the right side down. Then, when the quill unrolls, the right side will be facing up.
Handle the wound quill as little as possible to prevent fraying the fabric edges. Simply wrap the tail end of the fabric strip around the filled quill. Do not wrap the end into a slip knot around the quill because the fabric will fray as you release the knot.
Unwind enough weft for the pickbefore you throw the shuttle. Pull the weft out straight from the quill. When a quill unwinds in the shed, the weft comes off at an angle. And as such, if there are any loose threads at the edges of the fabric strips, the threads will wind themselves on the quill and bind it up. And you will wish you had used a ski shuttle.
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!
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.
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…