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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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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It Is Going to Be All White

I am getting ready for Christmas. When I was a little girl, my Aunt Helen made a Christmas tree skirt for our family. It was a simple white felt skirt, with added colorful felt silhouettes depicting Christ’s Nativity. I want to reproduce that Christmas tree skirt using handwoven fabric. This fabric on the Ideal loom will be the base of the skirt. I will use some of my myriad handwoven fabric remnants for the colorful Nativity appliqué.

Weaving wool fabric for a Christmas tree skirt.
Möbelåtta warp on the right, and Fårö weft on the left.
Fabric for Christmas tree skirt.
Temple in place for consistent beat and tidy selvedges.

The warp is unbleached 8/2 Möbelåtta wool. The weft is bleached 6/1 Fårö wool. The 6-shaft point twill fabric is delightful. Perfect for what I have in mind. It is peaceful, soothing, restful, and calm. You can see that everything is going to be all white.

Wool fabric for Christmas tree skirt.
Six-shaft point twill.
Fabric for Christmas tree skirt.
In anticipation of Christmas.

There is a time for color, action, and noise. But we also need a time for serenity, stillness, and quiet reflection. Going alone to sit in the Lord’s presence gives us just that. It is there that we can pour out our heart in prayer. The Lord meets us where we are when we pray. And He tells the trusting heart that everything is going to be all right.

May your heart be at rest.

With you,
Karen

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

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

The towel that was woven without floating selvedges is the same towel that received the most votes. Towel #2!

It seems counterintuitive that weaving twill structures without floating selvedges could produce a pleasing edge. But most of the time the small floats that appear at the edge are inconsequential, especially after wet finishing. (By the way, I am weaving the white point twill mentioned above without floating selvedges, as well.)

Thank you for your wonderful participation!

6 Comments

  • Joanna says:

    That’s a really lovely fabric, Karen. And yes, it’s calm, soothing, and absolutely self-assured. I’m a lover of winter and the can see the joyful little swirls of snow and ice crystals dancing over the blanket of snow. Your tree skirt is going to be stunningly beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, It does look like ice crystals on a layer of snow. It’s pretty. I think it’s going to be a lovely fabric to hold, too. Like a lightweight little blanket.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Karen,
    Are you sure you live in Texas? Your handling of white on white brings memories of last December.

    Well done.

    Nannette

  • Elisabeth says:

    What a great idea for this beautiful fabric! You already know that I really like white on white, not to mention utilizing leftover fabric for the appliqué, love it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I have been carrying this project idea in my mind for a few years. It feels good to get it started. White on white has always been a favorite of mine, too, though I haven’t done much weaving of it.

      Thanks,
      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: Something New from Something Old

My grandma made a pattern on brown paper for a neck pillow. I suppose she found the pattern in a magazine or newspaper decades ago. I am using my copy of her pattern to make my own neck pillow. Maybe someday my pillow will be as worn and wobbly as Grandma’s well-loved neck pillow that I remember.

My version of Grandma’s neck pillow.

Looking through my pile of handwoven scraps I find the piece of fabric that had been hanging as a Roman shade on the back door of our previous home. This two-block twill in cotton and linen was my first 8-shaft project on my floor loom. Good memories! The fabric, softened and slightly faded through daily use, is perfect for the comfy neck pillow I’m imagining. (Unlike Grandma’s pillow, I’m making this one with a removable cover so it can be easily laundered.)

Roman shade from my first 8-shaft weaving project.
Roman shade from my first 8-shaft weaving project. I wove the linen draw cord on my two-treadle band loom.

Instructions for Constructing a Handwoven Neck Pillow

Supplies:

  • Cotton muslin, pre-washed
  • Handwoven fabric, pre-washed
  • Cluster Fluff, or other cluster fill or polyester fiberfill
  • 7” invisible zipper
  • Sewing machine
  • Invisible zipper foot
  • Sewing thread
  • Hand-sewing needle
  • Iron
  • Sleeve board for pressing, optional

Steps:

  1. Cut four pillow pattern pieces from the muslin.
  2. Sew two of the muslin pieces together, right sides together. Press seams open.
  3. Sew the other two muslin pieces together, right sides together. Press seams open.
  4. Sew the two parts together, right sides together, leaving a 4-inch opening for turning and stuffing. Press seams open using a sleeve board.
  5. Turn the pillow right side out.
  6. Stuff with Cluster Fluff, starting at the furthest end from the opening. Fill to desired fullness.
  7. Hand stitch the opening closed.
  8. Cut four pillow pattern pieces from the handwoven fabric.
  9. Serge or zigzag the fabric edges. Press flat.
  10. Insert invisible zipper between two of the pieces.
Making a handwoven neck pillow.
Invisible zipper is sewn into place between two of the panels.
  1. Complete the seams at both ends of the zipper. Press seams open.
  2. Sew the two other pieces together, right sides together. Press seams open.
  3. Open zipper, and sew the two parts together, right sides together. Press seams open using a sleeve board.
  4. Turn the pillow case right side out.
  5. Push the muslin pillow into the pillow case. Close the zipper.
Handwoven neck pillow cover.
Inner pillow and outer cover are made from the same pattern to make it a snug fit.
Handwoven neck pillow. How to with construction steps.
Fabric is 16/2 cotton warp and 16/1 linen weft.
  1. Take a nap in your favorite chair with the pillow behind your neck.
Handwoven neck pillow.

If you would like a pdf copy of my grandma’s neck pillow pattern, please click HERE to send me an email request. I will be happy to send the pattern to you.

May you see old treasures in new ways.

Rest and Be Well,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    This is wonderful! A lovely tribute to your Grandma!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, My Grandma was very resourceful. She probably made her pillow from a leftover scrap from her sewing fabrics, or from a garment too worn to wear. I think she would be happy with my humble version.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Nice demonstration of what to do with hand woven fabrics. A 2nd life for a beautiful fabric.

    My Grandma left behind recipes and gingham cross stitched textiles. I cut up a skirt with her embroidery to add to a wedding memory quilt made for my daughter and husband.

    You have a hug from your grandma every time you recline.

    How wonderful.

  • Linda Mesavage says:

    My grandmother was not a Weaver but she was the seller and did a lot of things out of leftovers. What a lovely tribute to your grandmother! I love your project.

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