Kitchen Mural Towels

March 23, 2011

There are a lot of completed projects I haven’t yet blogged about.  Most are small.  In the last year (-ish? more?) I have woven a pick-up band on a heddle I constructed, done some inkle weaving–enough to get comfortable with my inkle loom–and made some sample braids on a foam kumi loom.  The kumihimo was so intriguing, and the kumi loom such an inefficient tool, I then spent some time working up a cheap recipe for a wood-not-nasty-plastic marudai and tama for people (me!) without power woodworking tools, using common thrift store ingredients.  The marudai works nicely.  I’m pleased with it (especially the “common thrift store ingredients” part), but it is a lot to explain and take pictures of.  I’ll have to work up my strength for that, also for my explanation of the heddle I made for pick-up bands.  But I guess I should start somewhere, so here goes:

These are for my aunt, to complement a mural she means to paint in her kitchen.  They got rumpled in my photo shoot.  I am debating with myself whether to simply press them smooth and pop them in the mail, or take them with me to visit a local potter by appointment, buy a vase to go with them, and send that too.  I have a specific vase in mind–carved black-eyed Susans with a carmely-mustardy glaze over the top, if she still has it.  I’ve been kicking myself for not buying it when I visited her stall at a Christmas bazaar.

I wound the warp for these towels ages ago, planned them eons ago.  My table loom couldn’t tension a linen warp properly, wouldn’t create a shed that supported one of my usual Swedish shuttles.  I was going to use a narrow stick shuttle as an alternative.  I began weaving that way, but the stick shuttle tended to catch up the wrong warp threads.  Since my weaving was riddled with errors as well as being slow, I let it sit.  Months later I came up with a much better solution: both a slight alteration to the loom and to one of my shuttles.  If you remove the poppana spool-holder from a poppana shuttle, it becomes a lovely lightweight double-sided ski shuttle that holds a lot of thread.  Turned edgewise, it parts weak sheds and skims through them like a champ, no careful “poking” needed, and no errors.  If I keep the table loom, this is probably the shuttle I’ll use with it.

I have pictures of the Vävmagasinet towels on which I based these, but I can’t find them.  If I do find them, I’ll explain my adaptations in a separate entry.

Towels: Kitchen Mural

Completed:  December 2010, wet finished January 19, 2011

Shafts: 6

Pattern: two-block jeans twill Adapted from “Lin-Fina” handtowels, Vävmagasinet Nr 1, 1986

Warp: red-orange (Klippan #317), daffodil yellow (Venne), and light umber (Klippan #1165) 22/2 cottolin, 33 wpi.

Weft: 22/2 cottolin in light umber for striped towel (Klippan #1165) and linen-colored cottolin for the checked, both 33 wpi.

Warp preparation: 5 yards and 17″ on reel, cut in half for 2 yd 26.5″ warp, wound singly (but could have done in threes), beamed in quarter inch raddle.

Ends: 402 (192 red-orange, 162 yellow, 48 umber)

Sett: 24 epi in 12 dent reedppi: 17

Width in reed: 16 13/16″
Woven width: 15 3/4”-16
Finished width: 14 3/4” linen-colored weft, 15” umber weft
Length of two towels on loom: approx. 56”
Woven length two towels:  54 5/8”
Finished length before hemming: 48 3/4”
Length each hemmed towel: 23” (x 2 = 46”)
Loom waste: 6” front (including filler picks to distribute warp), 12” back
Finishing: very warm machine wash, damp-dry on low in dryer, hot press. 1/2” Machine hems with preshrunk cotton twill tapes sewn in for hanging.

Conclusions: I had to sley this warp 3 times: first at planned 21 epi, then (because sample cloth was too loose) at 24 epi, and a third time to correct a mistake.  The 8/2 putty-brown cotton (32 wpi) weft I’d planned to use for these was also a no-go.  The color was too desaturated and cold to bring out the interactions I wanted with the warp.  Instead I used matching umber cottolin for the striped towel, and linen-colored cottolin for the checked–fearing I’d run out of the umber if I attempted a second towel with it.  What with sampling at the beginnings and end of the warp and retying it twice, 2 yards 26.5” was barely enough for two towels.  They also turned out much narrower than I wished since I’d reduced the planned width of the warp by one full color sequence for fear of running out of yellow thread, then decided to increase the sett.  I’d have loved to have enough of this warp to make a runner in the pattern of the darker towel.  Is this a sign I should stop designing projects that use up leftovers?

To make the hems less bulky, I wove 2 picks of tightly packed sewing thread where I wanted each interior fold line.  After wet finishing I removed the picks of sewing thread and pressed the first fold of each hem along the “score” made by the missing thread.  This worked well.

No need to pre-shrink cotton twill tape, as it stretches.

Next time I weave jeans-twill towels with cottolin, I would prefer a slightly higher sett for crisper towels–25 or 26 epi would probably do it–though these were fine as they were.  On the other hand, a set of 24 but with thicker weft might provide more color interaction between warp and weft.  As would using weft of an intermediate hue/value somewhere between the extremes in the warp.