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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Process Review: Jubilation Hand Towels

These towels make me think of my father. He was a brilliant architect. As an architect’s daughter, I learned to appreciate the interaction of structure, design, and color. This fabric has it all! These towels are also an expression of joy, a prominent aspect of my dad’s personality. If you could create a tangible article of jubilation, this would be it.

Broken and reverse twill structure. Handwoven towels.
Broken and reverse twill structure. Using all the same colors, each towel has a different sequence of weft color order.

After weaving three towels, I eliminated the floating selvedges. Which one of the four towels do you think was woven without floating selvedges? Leave your answer in the comments. (1 – 4, with the towel on top as #1.)

Four new handwoven towels.
Three of the four towels were woven with floating selvedges.

Here’s a short slideshow video that shows the process from start to finish:

Jubilation bath towels are up next on the Glimåkra Standard!

May your jubilation rub off on your family and friends.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

47 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    Number 4

  • Nancy says:

    They are all beautiful!

    I think it is number 4 that didn’t have a floating selvage. I know those edges anywhere! Ha ha

  • Kristin Martzall says:

    The towels are gorgeous ! I think I would have liked to have met your father…….
    !

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin, I’m sure you would have enjoyed my father. He was a very likable guy. Thank you for your compliment on the towels!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Charlotte says:

    The richness in color and design…goodness…gracious…such beauty have you created! I and going with #3, to be the one without a floating selvage.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, Your encouraging words mean a lot to me. Thanks for making a guess. Stay tuned… I will reveal the answer next week.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    They are beautiful, Karen!

  • Rachel says:

    I believe it is 4. My question is why? These towels are stunning. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rachel, If your question is why would I eliminate the floating selvedges, I have a few reasons. Primarily, though, I can get a much better rhythm in weaving without them. And in most cases, I find they are unnecessary.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • My guess is #2. Only because it looks a little different than the others. Did you start out without one and then decide it would be A little easier to use one?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, I started out with the floating selvedges because I thought I needed them because of the reverse twill. After three towels I decided to chance it and cut the floating selvedges off. I was pleasantly surprised. It leaves only small floats at the selvedge (which are unnoticeable after wet finishing), and it was much easier for me to weave without them. I only had to toss and catch the shuttle, so my hands didn’t have to stay so close to the warp.

      Thanks for making a guess. I’ll reveal the answer next week.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Bethany Garner says:

    What a glorious video Karen… the loom, the threading, the weaving and the music brought me great joy this morning. Be safe and well! You are loved!
    Bethany in Kingston, ON Canada

  • Kristin G says:

    I’m guessing #2. These towels are gorgeous, Karen! The video with all of its loveliness brought a smile to my face this morning (and I needed it – I was feeling like a grump!) Your father sounds like such a wonderful man. Thank you for spreading joy today 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin, Well, I’m glad this had that effect on you because the world needs your beautiful smile! You would have liked my father, and I know he would have liked you.

      Thanks for your guess. Stayed tuned for next week….

      Hugs,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen. Your craftsmanship is so precise I couldn’t pick out the missing salvage with a laser pointer and a flashing neon light.

  • Loyanne Cope says:

    The towels are lovely. Your colors are always so interesting. If I am not being too forward, your edge in the picture where the towel is still on the look looks so firm. Would you share how you did this? Thank you, Loyanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Loyanne, It’s good to hear from you.

      While on the loom, the edges stay firm for two reasons. 1. I generally keep the tension fairly tight. This is especially possible with a countermarch loom. 2. I always use a temple. The temple helps me weave tight selvedges—the weft is very snug at the selvedge, which helps keep the outer warp ends firm.

      I hope that makes sense.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • jane n wolff says:

    These are lovely. Cam you share what yarn you used?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane, Thank you for asking. The warp and weft is 22/2 Bockens Nialin (Cottolin). The cotton and linen blend is perfect for making absorbent towels.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • KimG says:

    Well, I LIKE the edge of number 2 the best. Where is the pattern from, how many shafts and what are the were and warp threads? Absolutely stunning!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kim, Thanks! I like knowing what you like the best.

      I started with a draft for wool blankets from Favorite Scandinavian Projects to Weave, by Tina Ignell. I adjusted it for size and sett to make the towels, and chose my own colors. This uses 6 shafts and 6 treadles. Cottolin for warp and weft.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Kevin B says:

    Your towels are beautiful! Beautiful colors and fabulous weaving! I’m guessing #4 is the one without the floating selvage.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kevin, I have enjoyed these colors immensely. It’s fun to find a set of colors to play around with. Thanks for making a guess! I’ll let you know the answer next week…

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement.
      Karen

  • D'Anne says:

    I suspect you inherited your father’s precise workmanship and creativity as your work is always exquisite. He sounds like a delightful father. I think #2 is the one without the floating selvedge, but I look forward to your answer. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, Your cheerful encouragement means so much to me! If I inherited my dad’s workmanship and creativity that’s saying a lot. You have a keen eye. We’ll see if you’re right about the selvedges.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Jan says:

    Beautiful towels Karen. I think No 1 is the one without the floating selvedge.

  • Linda says:

    My guess is #4. I always use a FS with twill and it makes me laugh that I am having such a hard time seeing the difference! Beautiful towels!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, Floating selvedges are very common. I’m pleased to know that it is not easy to tell the difference. Weaving is far simpler for me without them. Thank you!!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kat says:

    My goodness! These towels are just stunning, color, pattern, all of it! My guess is number 2. It just looks different form the other three, and I prefer the look of that edge!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kat, Your descriptive words really warm my heart! I’m glad these towels look good to you.

      Thanks for including your guess – and your reasons.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Janis Schiller says:

    Hi Karen,
    Your towels are wonderful. I love the combination of reverse and broken twill.
    Is this your original pattern or is it from another source?

    The video was enjoyable to watch as well.

    Can’t wait to see what your Jubilation towel project will be!
    Regards, Janis

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janis, I’m very happy with the reverse and broken twill combination. It puts a lot of action in the design.
      I started with a pattern for wool blankets in Favorite Scandinavian Projects to Weave, by Tina Ignell, and made adjustments to turn it into towels.

      The next Jubilation Towels will be very similar, only bigger! Bath size.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    Your towels are beautiful! Nothing beats the feel of hand wowen towels, I am sure they will be wonderful as bath towels, too 🙂
    My guess is # 2, for two reasons… the edge looks different, and I think I recognize the colors from the last towel you wove where you made this change.

  • Tobie R LuriTobie says:

    Hi Karen-The towels are beautiful but I have a question about rag rugs. I cleaned out my linen closet and discovered I have too many sheets and think they will make very good rugs. I plan to cut them in strips and dye them. My question is how wide should I make these strips–1 inch/2 inches? These are older cotton sheets so are pretty soft. What do you think? And thanks for advice!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tobie, That’s great that you have cotton sheets that you can use for rag rugs. I recommend you test some different widths of strips after you get the loom warped before you cut all the strips. I use a sett of 8 epi (3 epc) with 12/6 cotton rug warp. Most of my fabric strips are 3/4″ wide. If the fabric is thin, I cut them a little wider, up to 1 inch. If you want thicker weft, 2 thinner weft strips will pack in and lay better than one wider strip. Most of the Swedish rag rug books I refer to use fabric cut to 2cm (about 3/4″), so that’s what I try to follow.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Lora says:

    Number 2. Gorgeous towels.

  • […] PS Floating Selvedges. Last week I asked if you could tell which one of these four towels was woven without floating selvedges. (1 – 4, with the towel on top as #1.) See Process Review: Jubilation Hand Towels […]

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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

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