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: Christmas Tree Skirt Fabric

This is a Christmas tree skirt in the making. The next stage of this special project will include appliqué and embroidery. The embellished tree skirt should be complete by the time Steve and I put up our Christmas tree this year. This luscious white-on-white wool cloth is just the beginning. Some colorful handwoven remnants will tell the rest of the story. I’ll let you know when that part is finished…

At the very end, with the back tie-on bar right behind the shafts.
Back tie-on bar is right behind the shaft bars. The shed is compromised, but I am still able to squeeze my shuttle through to weave enough picks to empty my quill.
Just off the loom, unwashed handwoven wool fabric.
Just off the loom, unwashed. 8/1 Möbelåtta unbleached wool warp and 6/1 Fårö bleached wool weft.

I thoroughly enjoyed the one-shuttle monotone weaving. It was a quiet stream amid my other rambunctious color-filled looms.

Handwoven fabric for a Christmas tree skirt.
Wash on delicate cycle in the washing machine. Place in dryer on low heat for ten minutes. Air dry to finish. Snuggle.

Here’s a view into the process of making this cloth.

May your days be merry and bright…

Happy early Christmas,
Karen

16 Comments

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Handwoven Detail Notes

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.

Cottolin bath towels coming up!
Beaming the cottolin warp for bath towels.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is attached.
Warp is tied on and leveling string is attached.
Preparing to weave 7-color bath towels.
Seven different colors of wound quills. All seven colors are in each towel, warp and weft. The weft sequence varies with each towel.
Boat shuttles vie for the starting line, like in a regatta.
One boat shuttle for each color. This reminds me of sailing with my dad and my sisters. Boat captains would vie for the regatta starting line, shouting, “Starboard!”

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.

White ribbon shows where to place details on the handwoven bath towel.
After weaving a short section to test the threading, I start the first towel. A red line, as always, denotes the cutting/starting line. I placed marks on the white ribbon at the left that show me where to place details along the length of the towel.
Simple handwoven details make all the difference.
Single ultramarine thread is laid in with the sea blue to outline a change of treadling. A simple handwoven detail.

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.

May you attend to the details.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    These towels are so beautiful…and as always, your words of faith, reminding us of the blessings we have been given by God. Thank you for your inspiration! I know you give the credit for all you do to our Lord. God Bless you! 🙂

  • Beth says:

    Beautiful color choices and details!

  • So pretty. I hope one day to be able to make towels like this. Thank you for your help to the weaving world.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Brigitte, One step at a time, and before you know it, you’re weaving the very things you were hoping to do. This has been my story, and I’m sure it will be yours, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    It is the details between common chocolate cookies and Boston cream pie.

    May we all enjoy Boston cream pie from a master craftsman.

  • Joanna says:

    Isn’t broken twill a blast to thread? I just love it. Your towels will be lovely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, Yes, I do enjoy a threading pattern that requires thinking. The treadling is that way, too, with these towels. This is the kind of project that is very satisfying to do.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    Always love your posts! I love the way you incorporate a story into each post. I hope to weave this well one day! I’m a super beginner.

    • Karen says:

      Hi super beginner, You have a kind way of expressing yourself. Thank you for the encouraging words! I have no doubt by you will reach excellence in weaving. All it takes is time, practice, and patience. Enjoy the journey!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin G says:

    I look forward to seeing the finished towels. I’m sure they will be gorgeous! And I particularly enjoyed hearing about the memory of sailing with your family. Those must be precious memories!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin, Those sailing memories are memories I cherish! I’m looking forward to putting these towels to use as soon as they’re finished.

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

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Tried and True: Leftover Linen on the Band Loom

Remember that time you miscalculated when planning your warp? You found the mistake when you were threading, and you ended up with an extra group of ends. If you have ever done something like that, then you understand where this leftover linen warp came from.

New warp on the Glimakra band loom.

This little linen leftover warp is now on the Glimåkra band loom. I removed two ends to get a warp with symmetrical colors. It’s perfect for making hanging tabs to go on the leftover linen waffle weave washcloths. The weft on these band loom shuttles is from one of the little linen warp chains I mentioned last week. (See Put the Linen Back to Use.)

Leftover linen to use as weft on the band loom.
Linen from a leftover warp chain fills the little band loom shuttles.
Band Loom weaving.
Weft tails show the color variance–turquoise and blue–in the leftover linen used for weft, indistinguishable in the selvedges of the woven band.

When the thread comes to an end on the shuttle, I follow this simple process to begin a new weft.

  • Place the ending weft through the shed, leaving a tail of at least 1/2”.
How to change the weft on the band loom.
  • Without changing sheds, lightly tap the weft in place with the band knife.
  • Bring the new weft on a shuttle through the same shed, going in the same direction as the previous weft’s shuttle, leaving a tail of at least 1/2”. (There is now a weft tail extending in both directions.)
How to overlap wefts on the band loom.
How to add a new weft. Glimakra Band Loom.
  • Without changing sheds, lightly tap the new weft into place with the band knife. (This helps to make a snug fit for the two wefts in this shed.)
  • Change sheds. Beat firmly with the band knife.
  • Send the weft back through.
How to end one weft and begin another on the band loom.
  • Beat firmly, and continue weaving.
Instructions for ending and starting wefts on the band loom.
  • After weaving 1/2” further, clip off the weft tails; or, clip all the tails after the entire band is woven and has been cut from the band loom.
Linen band weaving for hanging tabs on linen washcloths.
Weft tails are left extended on this band. I may trim some of them later to 1/4″ for effect, to be used as hanging tabs on the leftover linen waffle weave washcloths.

May you put your leftovers to good use.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Your ribbon bands add such a nice touch. Asking because I have no knowledge, how does a Band loom differ from an Inkle loom in what can be made with them?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, There’s no difference between the band loom and an inkle loom in what can be made on them, except maybe the width. I can weave up to about 4” wide on the band loom, though I normally use it for narrow bands. I also can put on a much longer warp on the band loom than on the inkle loom. This warp on the band loom right now is probably about 5 or 6 meters long.

      The band loom is not as portable as an inkle loom, but the main advantage for me is how much faster I can weave bands on it. I can weave a band about four times faster on the band loom than on my inkle loom. The reason for this is that it has two treadles to open the sheds, making both hands free to do the continuous weaving.

      I guess the other reason I use the band loom whenever I can is it’s just plain fun!

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    Morning Karen…..I, too, have a question. Please. Do you sit and weave on the side of the loom, beating sideways….or at the end as with a regular tinkle…
    Thanks so much..I always enjoy your blog..

  • Nannette says:

    The extra beating of the filler overlap blends the change so it is indistinguishable from the rest of the band. Who’d a thunk?
    Thank you for the lesson.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, It is surprising what a big difference this little action makes. You really cannot see where the weft changes after I clip off the weft tails.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Not the Easiest Way to Weave

I considered making a matching set, but at the loom I get an inclination to explore. Hence, no two placemats are alike. A change in the weft changes everything. New colors emerge! Slate and apple green on a coral warp become periwinkle and avocado. If you look closely, though, you can still see the underlying coral and camel stripes of the warp.

Cotton placemats on the loom with color and weave effects.

Second placemat uses red and orange in the weft. These colors work with the coral in the warp to bring out a distinctive color-and-weave effect in the design.

Three double-bobbin shuttles—this is not the easiest way to weave. I am carrying the colors up the selvedge, so it gets tricky when all three shuttles end up on the same side. Nevertheless, this is the joy of weaving a challenge. How and where to set the shuttles down, and which hand picks them up—ever aiming for efficiency. Newly-formed colors and technical pursuits—this is a handweaver’s thrill of discovery!

Three double bobbin shuttles for this color and weave placemat.

Beginning of the third placemat shows variation in pattern and color choices. Three double bobbin shuttles put my manual dexterity to the test.

Color and weave variations.

Coral and camel warp stripes form the base of the design. Pattern variations are produced by varying the number of picks per weft color.

Imagine the thrill of discovery that awaits us in heaven! Love permeates heaven. Like a narrow-striped warp, love is written into the fabric. The environment there is love, where pride and selfishness don’t exist. Blending of colorful personalities will be such as we’ve never seen. All to the glory of our Grand Weaver. And how marvelous that through Christ we’ve been given everything needed to practice that kind of love here and now. Double bobbin shuttles, and all.

May you rise to the challenge.

Love,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Ruth says:

    Karen,
    Thanks so much for the color show this morning. It is snowing once again up north and I am so ready for spring and color. The close up of your placemat makes my heart sing! And the double bobbin shuttles with their color are beautiful. Blessings to you and yours.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Beautiful colors Karen! Geez, I have problems with 2 shuttles, someday I’ll make it to 3!!!
    Libby

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, Three shuttles is a little crazy. I may make it easier on myself for the placemats after this. I’m enjoying the colors, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    I really like that they are all different but have the same warp (core). It’s almost llike human beings 🙂 They are all beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I see it the same way. I think it will make an interesting set. Yes, humans are all made in the image of God. What could be more beautiful?

      Thanks,
      Karen

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