Oh how I hate to take pictures.  These napkins have been done for ages now.  Well, they’ve been done for more than a month, which is a lot less than the eternity I spent weaving them.

Eternity Napkins

Completed February 2, 2012, woven on Spear’s rigid heddle loom.

Pattern: Erika de Ruiter’s “Magic-Step” shaded color-and-weave-effect basket-weave blocks from May 2008 WeaveZine.  I threaded seven blocks (37 tr each) plus balancer (1 tr) plus altered borders (20 tr each) and wove seven blocks for each of two napkins, plus some extra cloth in plain warp stripes.

Warp and Weft: mixture of Spectrum golden willow-bud green and Uki unbleached white 8/2 unmercerized cottons.

Warp Length: 2 yards and a couple of inches.

Ends: 300 plus 2 weighted floating selvedges.

Sett: single-, double-, and triple-sleyed in 9.25 epi heddle for a little more than 17.5 total epi.

ppi: about 16

Width in reed: 17 1/8”

Weaving width: 15 1/2”

Width off loom 15 3/4-16”

Finished width: 14 1/4”

Length on loom: forgot to tally

Length off loom: 57” total, 20” each napkin including 1 3/4” hem allowances, 17” extra cloth.

Finished length: 51 1/2”

Loom waste: 9” rear, 4” front

Finishing: Hot hand wash with long soak, hot machine wash and tumble dry, hot iron, hand hemmed.

Finished dimensions: each hemmed napkin is about 14.25” wide by 15.5” long.


Unless you are a glutton for punishment there’s no good reason to weave this pattern on a rigid heddle loom.  Using two shuttles and weaving at 16+ picks per inch is bad enough, but the main problem is the need for floating selvedges.  On a rigid heddle loom, selvedges can’t float.  The best you can do is thread them in the slots of your heddle (not the holes) so they have a little freedom of movement, then you must remember to twine your shuttle over or under them at the start and finish of each pass regardless of whether your selvedge threads happen to be on the top or bottom of the shed.  Doing this on top of trying to keep track of whether you must weave one, two, or three picks of each color in the same shed–a constantly changing series within each pattern block–makes a lot to keep in mind.  Also worth noting is the constant stress on the selvedge threads.  The twining stretches them out, which makes it necessary to suspend them over the back of the loom with weights rather than beam them with the rest of the warp.

I made a lot of mistakes that had to be fixed off the loom. With basket weave it’s really hard to see when you catch a stray warp thread, and the low tension of rigid heddle weaving makes it really easy to do.

At 17.5 epi these napkins tracked and and were a more open weave than I’d hoped.  The sett should certainly have been closer–maybe 20 epi for 8/2 cotton–but I think there would be an inclination to track no matter how close the warp, because that is how the variable basket-weave wants to behave.  I noticed that the towels in the WeaveZine photo looked like they’d had the bejeezus ironed out of them–maybe that’s why.  Neither of these particular cotton yarns shrank or fulled as much as I’d hoped, but somehow the off-white Uki 8/2 was slightly harder and thinner than than the 8/2 Spectrum even though it was not as heavily twisted, and the Spectrum fluffed up and dominated it a bit after the napkins were washed.  Cottolin might be a better option for a crisp rendition of the pattern, which has a lot of interesting possibilities.