Mata Ortiz Runner

May 28, 2013


If you are wondering what my hand-turned maple bowl is doing in this photo, the answer is that it is pretending to be a Mata Ortiz pot.  Mata Ortiz is a Mezzo-American revival pottery featuring clean forms and ornate surface decoration.  I wove this runner for a couple of Mata Ortiz fans. (The bowl is also there because I’m just that awfully proud of having found it at Goodwill for $4 brand new.  It’s the perfect shape to hold a ball of yarn, or for stuffing cut ends of thread into while weaving, and I’ve been using it constantly.)



Design constraints included the palette of the pots, the muddying effect of my putty brown sample warp, the narrow weaving width, the colors of cottolin I had on hand, and the fact that I ran out of one color mid-weaving!

Still, I found it really engrossing to design something so far outside the scope of what I’d design to please myself–to the point that I actually grew rather fond of it in the weaving.  Now my only beef are the proportions.  The central ochre section was longer in my sketches.  I ran out of that color four inches early; it shows.


Runner: Mata Ortiz

Completed: March 2012

Woven on Varpapuu Kothe Nordia table loom

Threading: 8-shaft rosepath, 17 repeats plus balancer and selvedges.

Pattern: Interleaved zig-zag twill from (draft #12247, reverse side up for slight weft dominance), with overshot motifs in borders adapted from #12408, and basket weave hems (or rather the closest you can get to basket weave in rosepath).

Warp: sample warp in putty brown 8/2 unmercerized cotton mill ends, and border stripes of “Polo” (the color of unbleached linen) 8/2 unmercerized cotton by Uki

Weft: 22/2 cottolin (Borgs and Bockens: ochre, orangey red, turtle green; Louet: pastel green), white 8/2 cottolin from Pacific Wool and Fiber, 3/2 mercerized cotton in cornsilk yellow, and Lily size 20 perle cotton in light bronze (as tabby weft for overshot border motifs).


Warp preparation: wound 12 yards and 5” by the single thread on warping reel with cross at both ends, cut in half for 6 yard and 2 1/2” warp, beamed 8 epi in 2.5 dpi raddle

Ends: 275 total including floating selvedges, 95 dark, 80 light

Sett: 22.5 (ended up being more like 22.75) epi, sleyed 2-2-2-3 in 10 dent reed

Picks per inch: 23-26

Width in reed: 12”

Woven width: 11 3/8”

Finished width: 10 3/8” – 10 1/4”

Length on loom: 53 3/4″

Woven length: 52”

Finished length before hemming: about 48”

Hemmed dimensions: 42 5/8”

Loom waste: 13.5” back, but next time stop at 15”

Finishing: normal warm wash and tumble dry twice, remove from dryer while still slightly damp both times, hot iron, 3/4” slip-stitched hems.

Conclusions: Close sett reduced draw-in, though it muted the weft colors a bit more than I wanted.  My beat was lighter for the first decorative border than the second, should have done more counting of ppi.  The overshot figures in the second border looked squashed after wet finishing.  Modified basket weave worked well for hems, but they are too thick.  Next time bind raw edge with seam binding and fold only once to hem?



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.

Textures For a Friend

April 10, 2011

Years ago bought some recycled sari silk because I loved it.  I couldn’t figure out how to weave it, though.  The yarn was bulky, but it wanted to be garment.  It was a textural handspun with twists and snarls as well as slubs, yet it wanted to be a warp.  I could see it would not work as a warp with either a rigid heddle or a conventional loom.

Back in the fall I wanted to make a gift, and whenever I thought of the friend to be gifted I found my mind turning back to the impossible sari silk.  At last I realized this might be a job for my new (-ish) standing inkle loom.  I wasn’t at all sure an inkle loom could produce cloth with a scarf-like drape or whether the leashes would handle the slubs any better than heddles would, but a sample band showed me it could be done and how to do it.  Then I wove this:

Scarf: Textures for a Friend

Completed: early February 2011

Pattern: warp-dominant plain weave

Warp: 2 ply sari silk–1 ply multicolored, 1 ply black

Weft: Antique French knitting twist, size no. 4, navy blue, 18 wpi.

Ends: 31

Warp length: about 2 1/3 yards–close to the maximum capacity of the loom

ppi: about 4

Width on loom: 4- 4 1/2”

Finished width: 3 3/4”

Woven length: 78” without fringe

Finished length: 76 1/2” without fringe

Finishing:  Hemstitched 5 1/2” fringes in bundles of two then tied off each warp yarn with overhand knot to keep from untwisting.  Hand washed in tepid water, tepid rinse, followed by many cold rinses disperse excess dye.  Let drip dry, then while still damp tumbled in dryer on very low heat to fluff.

Conclusions: I would have woven this even wider, but it turned out I had to cut out a lot of segments of yarn that were weak or even had bits of thorn, string, and shredded plastic spun into the yarn, so there turned out to be less of it than I anticipated.  I believe my loom could make a scarf as wide as 5” (finished width) if I was careful about not letting it pop off the pegs.  The slubs were not a problem because of the way you have to slacken the warp as you advance it on an inkle loom.  This makes it easy to guide threads through the leashes by hand if anything gets hung up, which only happened once or twice.  My first time weaving silk.  Firm and pliable at the same time.

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.

Checked Peach Runner

April 1, 2010

We bought this oak “credenza” at a famous discount used office furniture warehouse a couple of days before I finished the runner.  (I just can’t get over the word “credenza.”  Why does it sound so lugubrious?  I hear Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard: “Cre-Dennn-za.”)

We needed some low storage with a couple of file drawers, but not in the walnut or teak that is standard issue for vintage sideboards and office furniture.  I’d been looking for a while.  This cost $25!  We were very pleased with our ourselves until we realized just how incredibly heavy something made out of 1″ and 2″ thick pieces of oak and oak plywood really is (we had to ask a neighbor to help us get it up the stairs).  Unfortunately, the Used Furniture Coot at the warehouse chewed up the top edges when he tipped it on the dolly without padding, and we later discovered a crack inside one drawer front that may or may not be a result of the same.  But $25!  Actually, we are still pleased with ourselves.  The golden oak looks okay with our birch computer table, and since it is oil finished, I can re-finish over the scratches and watermarking without having to strip any varnish–if I ever decide to bother about it.

I didn’t have any plans for the runner, but it looks like it’s going to live here for a while, as it hides the marks.  The Crrredenza is certainly not going anywhere soon unless it sprouts wings.

Runner: Checked Peach

Shafts: 4

Pattern: warp-dominant M’s and O’s “Table Stole” from early 1960’s book Handweaving by Iona Plath, pg 125.  Added partial repeats of pattern on either side to eliminate floating selvedges.

Warp: peach Linnea Novita 4-ply 60% linen 40% cotton made in Finland.  13-14 wpi.

Weft: violet blue Borgs 2/2 Bomullsgarn (color 5215) 9 wpi.

Warp preparation:  5 yards on reel with two crosses.  Cut in center for 2.5 yards.  Wound 2 threads at a time, beamed 4-4-4-0 in quarter inch raddle.

Threads: 154 (152 in pattern; selvedge threads doubled but carried in separate heddles)

Sett: 12 epi in 12 dent reed.

ppi: 4.5

Width in reed: 12 7/8″

Woven width: 11 7/8″

Finished width: 11 1/4″

Length on loom: (Borgs weft only, excludes 2 x 2 1/2″ Linnea Novita hemming strips): 63 1/4″

Woven length: 58 7/8″

Finished length: 52 7/8″

Loom waste: 8″ front, 12 1/2″ rear.

Finishing: Lukewarm handwash cycle in machine, tumble dry warm until damp-dry, hand hemmed after zig-zagging edges on machine to prevent fraying.

Conclusions: Crisp warp yarn relaxed after finishing causing some deflection of weft.  Would have been better with sett of 13 or 14–same as wpi.  Checks better defined.

There should have been more of this Linnea Novita.  Each skein was supposed to hold about 104 yards.  Calculated warp as if using 4 x 100-yard skeins, so quite a bit less than stated amount.  Originally planned wider warp, then had to reduce by 24 threads while winding.

Because it was woven on a jack loom, there is a definite face and a back to this cloth.  I’ll have to keep this in mind when planning patterns for the table loom.  Sometimes the flatter back will be more attractive, sometimes the bumpier top.

I beat lighter and lighter as I went on, compensating for the feeling that I had crept into beating too hard.  Would have been a more consistent beat if I had just trusted my motor memory!  (Measuring results were hard to gauge when only 4.5 ppi.)

This would make a good pattern for a doormat with some coarse twine for warp, and heavy, strong-colored sisal or jute for warp.

All Hail

December 31, 2009

First, the final Merino Scarf/Hat Trade Report: nothing to report. Feeling a bit like the Little Red Hen, I got online and ordered a boughten merino wool hat from Sierra Trading Post.

We got our first snow a few days ago: one afternoon and evening’s worth, which were enough to snarl the commute through the whole region.  Nevertheless, people tend to accept it in a festival spirit because it is rare. Der Mann and I took a walk while it was still falling. Children had been let out to play in the dark, and there was a pack of giddy, roaming teenagers. A family was sledding on the street by the school; they’d built a jump. A woman took pictures of her snow-covered Christmas lights.  The town’s brand new plow (and first ever; it had pride of place in the 4th of July Parade) zoomed up and down Main Street removing 2 of the total 3 inches of snowfall, all of which were expect to melt by morning.

We walked past a couple of little girls messing around in their front yard, chanting in a mesmeric monotone, “All hail the snow. All hail the snow.” I was about to obey them with a “hail” when they snarked at us to get out of the street. Little twits. It made us laugh.

People who hate freezing weather move here on purpose to escape it, while I am one of those crazies who really likes snow. REALLY likes snow. Clearly, I am wasted here. Dark skies–preferably with white stuff falling out of them–irrationally lift my mood, the way some people perk up when it’s sunny. I joke that I have reverse seasonal affective disorder. I don’t even mind it lying on the ground for months. Not even when I have to shovel. Not even when I lived in New England.

I also like gardening where I can grow peaches and fig trees and camellias, which would be a bit of a problem if I got as much snow as I wanted.

Here is the last Great Granny yarn scarf, finished sometime around the start of December. It is for my English professor half-sister. I still can’t think “English professor” when I picture her, but that is what she is–albeit a very young one with a preternatural talent for getting good haircuts.

Scarf: All Hail the Snow

Plain weave on rigid heddle loom

22/2 cyan Silk City merino, doubled
burgundy worsted knitting wool from Great Granny’s stash
cadet blue worsted from (I think) Great Granny’s stash
heathered scarlet wool, maybe a 16/2, doubled (used it for overshot in my first weaving class)
fat natural wool flamé with regularly spaced slubs

Weft: 22/2 cyan Silk City merino, not doubled

Ends: 77

Heddle: 9-and-a-bit dpi

Picks per inch: 9

Width in reed: 9 1/2″

Length on loom: 70 1/4″

Woven width: 7 5/8″

Woven length: 66 3/4″

Finished width: 6 1/4″

Finished length: 62 1/2″

Finishing: Warm hand wash with chafing and agitation, 10 minute soak, dried flat.

Fringes hemstitched in bundles of four.

Conclusions: Sides a little wavy due to different shrinkage of cadet blue worsted. This is my favorite scarf of the four I made this year. I like the warp shots of textured yarn, which give me a lot of ideas, and the formal symmetry of the stripes.

On the other hand I am sick of scarves. I’m very ready for something else. Impediments? I don’t yet have a working non-rigid-heddle loom I can use without hurting myself (though I’m in the process of revamping one), and there may not be many more projects left in me before spring. I’m perpetually aware of the house reno nightmare waiting in the wings, ready to take center stage as the season changes. I should be ordering seed already, if I want to get my indoor starts going in time, to fill the bare dirt as soon as possible, to keep the yard from simultaneously washing away and being overtaken by weeds.

Anything could happen, though.

I’m not one to mark changes according to the calendar, but I haven’t often been as glad to see the back of one year and the front of the next.

All Hail the Snow! All Hail Two Thousand Ten! Twelve years ago today I was on a street in Edinburgh in a crowd so dense I could barely move, getting my butt pinched by strangers–nice enough in its way but you really only need to do it once. Tonight I will make pizza and watch anime with my favorite person in the world and our cat.

The Ugly Muscovy Scarf

December 23, 2009

By the way you can still trade me a hat for this scarf by leaving me a comment and e-mailing a picture of the hat.

I guess nobody has unwanted merino wool hats just lying around! It also occurs to me that I chose the wrong time of year. I forget how busy people who are putting together family celebrations are this week, as opposed to childless holiday slackers like us.

Which brings me to the scarf / stole I told you about back in November, which I am calling the Ugly Muscovy. Last week it was mailed, received, unwrapped, and much appreciated by its recipient. And that was my last Christmas package, so I’m done!

“Muscovy” doesn’t refer to the region in Russia, which isn’t ugly at all, but to the name of a kind of duck originating in South America. We never had Muscovies when we were raising our own ducks, though we often visited some at a local homestead park. After moving we noticed a pair of them in a neighbor’s yard in our new town. Muscovies are a popular low-care breed for small gardens, as they are great slug-eaters and (unlike most ducks) have a fighting chance against predators, since they roost to sleep. In terms of scientific classification they are actually more closely related to geese than to ducks. Maybe that’s why I never wanted any–they didn’t charm me with their dauntless incompetence the way our Indian runners did. (Also, Der Mann thinks the bubbly red caruncles on the males’ bills are cute. I do not!)

I named the scarf for the inlay: it is a common motif on South and Central American folk textiles. Probably only duck fancier would notice, but this motif isn’t just a fantastical “bird,” it has the shape of a Muscovy duck! I found it graphed out by M. M. Atwater in this July 1936 issue of The Weaver, in an article about loom-controlled leno featuring a Guatemalan huipil–she spells it “hupel.”

I have a small stack of these wonderful magazines. They belonged to the original owner of my loom, and after my shuttles and my antique swift from Sweden, they are my greatest weaving treasures.

The inlay was my favorite part of this project. I thought it would be tiresome. I’m going to have to try some more; I have an idea for a different way to use the inlay circles. I wasn’t as pleased with the Danish medallions, which I learned to do using Robyn Spady’s February 2008 article in WeaveZine. They don’t seem a very stable decoration when you are making them on this scale. For a little color and some textural interest in a fine linen, I can see them being very nice.

Scarf / Stole: Ugly Muscovy

Plain weave on rigid heddle loom with inlay and Danish medallions

Warp: German worsted weight superwash wool.

Weft: multicolored mystery wool, don’t know the name for this kind of yarn where the bulk is wrapped loosely around the core yarn like a telephone cord, without the extra twist forming loops as in bouclé. Do you know it?

Inlay and medallions: fat natural wool flammé with regularly spaced slubs.

Ends: forgot to count ends or measure width in reed!

Heddle: 9-and-a-bit dpi

Ends per inch: about 4 5/8.  I skipped every other hole-slot pair.  First time I’ve done this, and it worked fine with the puffy yarn.

Picks per inch: 4.

Length on loom: 85″ excluding fringe

Woven width: 14″

Woven length: 77″

Finished width: 12 3/8″

Finished length: 74 1/2″

Finishing: Machine wash warm, tumble dry warm.

Conclusions: I wouldn’t call this scarf the ugly duckling that becomes a swan, but I wasn’t ashamed to give it as a gift after all, mostly because I really enjoyed having woven something figured. As much as I love repeating patterns and stripes, there is something about little pictures that pleases me.  The clothes I remember from childhood are the ones with little pictures or applique.

The superwash was educational. If I ever use it for warp again, I’ll have to remember to run a line of machine stitching along the fringe to keep the the cut ends of the yarn from unraveling. (And wear a dust mask.) Its non-shrinking, non-felting characteristics were not useful here, but could be useful combined with regular wool for a differential shrinkage effect.

Parrot Tulip Scarf to Trade

December 16, 2009

Riddle me this: A merino wool scarf turns out prettily, and I love the colors, but the orangey gold looks bad on me. I don’t need a scarf, but I do need a hat. I can weave, but I can’t knit. I hate to shop.

I would like to make a trade. I’ve never tried anything like this before, but here’s how it will go: If you want this scarf, (which I warn you is quite lightweight, small, and fringey–see specs and measurements below), and have a merino wool hat you would like to trade for it, send a picture of the hat, along with your mailing address (so I can send you a thank-you for participating) any time before December 29th. I’m waiting till after Christmas to complete the trade so that you can include any unwanted gift hats. And tell your knitting friends.

My head is largeish. The hat can be old or new. It can be a machine-made as long as it doesn’t have a polar fleece lining. I’m asking for merino wool just because I am one of those people who, while not allergic to wool, has ridiculously sensitive skin. Any other itchless animal fiber would be fine, or a combination of animal and vegetable.

Being a person of stark red-and-white complexion, I’ll choose the hat that takes the scarf by the completely completely arbitrary qualification that it’s least likely to make me look like a radish! So if you don’t get the scarf, it’s not because I don’t love your hat and it isn’t gorgeous.

If you would like to make a trade, leave me a comment (including your e-mail address on the e-mail line where it will be hidden) and say so.  I’ll e-mail back, then you can e-mail me the hat picture.

Scarf: Parrot Tulip

Plain weave on rigid heddle loom

Warp: Lace-weight (38 wpi) coral Australian Country Spinners merino wool yarn with 10% nylon, doubled in heddles; Japanese hand-spun hand-dyed merino knitting yarn, single ply.

Weft: Lace-weight coral merino wool

Ends: 77

Heddle: 9-and-a-bit dpi

Picks per inch: 5?

Width in reed: 7 7/8″

Woven length (excluding fringes): 54″

Woven width: 6 7/8″

Finished length (excluding fringes): 46 1/4″

Finished length with fringe: 59″

Finished Width 6″

Fringes: twisted in groups of four ends with crossover to retain weft, secured with overhand knot.

Finishing: luke-warm hand wash with 10 min soak and some agitation. Two rinses, dried flat.


I used this handspun from Japan for an earlier project and loved it then, too. I’m going to have to go back to ebay and see if anyone is still importing it. It’s a self-striping yarn intended for knitting feltable hats and such, so the color segments blend into one another slowly and are quite long–long enough to cut up and arrange for my own color repetitions and stripe widths.

I need to buy a fringe twister. It was kind of fun, but I stood at the counter for close to two hours twisting these by hand.

Sadly (happily?), I can no longer say my house is a pet-free environment. Though I make sure my velvet friend stays away from the yarn and the loom, he has a way of getting in front of the camera. (He’s not a very allergenic cat. My cat-allergic husband can rub his face in his Howl’s fur with no trouble, but if you have a severe allergy, you’d better pass on the scarf.)


December 7, 2009

I finally got some pictures, so here’s the first scarf I wove in November; not the ugly one.

Scrapple involves cornmeal and organ meat and is not something I’ve actully eaten. I would if it came my way. In my family the term is “hash,” but the principle is the same. Hash is a catch-all word for a fry up involving chopped leftover meat, potatoes or hominy, maybe an onion, and whatever is in the fridge that would not make it too unappetizing. If you’ve got corned beef, that elevates the meal to “Corned Beef Hash.” Otherwise: Ham, Pot Roast, crumbled up leftover hamburger patties. Turkey run through the grinder. Homemade chili sauce and cabbage relish are the proper condiments. No, we do not break an egg over our hash. That would be a waste of an egg!

Since this is one of the last two scarves I managed to squeeze from the scraps of Great Granny’s small stash of wool, and it is meaty colors, scrapple seemed like the name for it.

Scarf: Scrapple

Plain weave on rigid heddle loom

Warp: old knitting wool of various sizes, wound on upside-down ironing board legs one notch back from narrowest setting, then cut (therefore doubled in length.)

From Great Granny’s stash:
pale eraser pink baby yarn
burgundy worsted

From thrift store:
rust DK weight
scarlet baby yarn

Weft: antique weaving wool–very fine, springy hot pink–about 20/2

Ends: 99

Heddle: 9-and-a-bit epi

Picks per inch: about 7

Length on loom: 62 1/2″ excluding fringe

Width in reed: 10 7/8″

Woven length: 56″ (w/o fringe)

Woven width: 9 3/8″

Finished length: 51 5/8″ (w/o fringe)

Finished width: 8 1/2″

Fringes: hemstitched in bundles of four, trimmed to 2″

Conclusions: I wound off all the yarn then composed the stripes by rearranging the separate threads around in the grooves of my rigid heddle loom’s cloth and warp beam until I got something that had some definition and broke up the burgundy sufficiently. This method worked pretty well.

To separate the warp, I used flimsy beige wrapping paper which I had taped together into one long roll. It got slightly crooked. Cumulative effect was enough to stretch one side of warp noticeably. Need some beaming sticks or better paper–possibly shorter sheets.

This scarf is for one of my half-sisters. I don’t know if she makes hashes. I’ll have to ask her. Our mom was more into casseroles than skillet meals; hash was something we ate at granny’s house. Der Mann and I see it as a treat because we don’t usually cook big enough pieces of meat to have leftovers.

My eenie greenie warp (You’re a hoot, Jane!) was intented to help me make some decisions about a project I planned back in late spring: cottolin-warp baby blankets in a Summer and Winter adaptation of the draft “Four Locked Hearts of America” from A Handweaver’s Source Book.  The Source Book is a fantastic volume of old coverlet patterns edited by Marguerite Porter Davison, presented as profile drafts.

Then I developed a back problem which seemed to be related to treadling.  The blanket project stayed on hold while I wove scarves on my rigid heddle loom.  Finally, I coaxed myself back to the Bergman with the argument that the real purpose of the eenie greenie sample warp was to see if my back problem was definitely related to treadling.  If I moved the tabby treadles to the other leg (treadles 7 and 8, the easiest), set myself up carefully, took lots of stretching breaks, and limited how much I wove in a day, would my back flare up again?

The answer was yes.  Two weeks and a chiropractic appointment after cutting Eenie Greenie of the loom, My SI joint is still giving me threatening jabs.  So that was informative.  Also sort of freeing.  I know what to expect, and I know it’s not because I’m doing anything wrong.  (Which makes sense since I’ve used the same set-up since I started weaving and had no problems until now.)   It turns out I’m just the middle-man in a rocky love affair.  “No hard feelings, I hope, Back.”  “That’s okay, Loom.  Stay beautiful!”  



This was my first time working from a profile draft, and my first time weaving summer and winter.  Leigh’s and Cally’s posts on summer and winter are wonderfully clear and to-the-point.  I reread them several times: I don’t have weaving software, and with overshot drafts the pattern repeats are so long I wasn’t about to attempt full draw downs on paper; I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing.  In the same spirit I revisited the summer and winter sections in Mary Meigs Atwater’s Shuttlecraft Book of American Handweaving.

There are other advantages in the summer and winter weave.  It is possible to change the character of the pattern completely and without re-threading by changing a few knots of the tie-up and altering the treadling to correspond.  It is possible, too, to weave all the charming patterns of the old double-woven coverlets on a loom that is not too elaborate for amateur craftsmen.  All in all, this is one of the most delightful things known to American weaving.

Clearly a fan!  Mary Atwater’s notes on threading and tie-up were easier to follow when I combined them with the information and pictures in Leigh’s and Cally’s posts.  She makes a number of sensible remarks:

The weave is beautifully logical and is far easier to thread and weave than ordinary overshot work.

This was very true.  No threading mistakes.  Although…

A different texture results from throwing the A tabby between pairs, and it is necessary to watch carefully in order not to make a shift in the middle of a piece of work.  This has a very bad effect.

Once I had woven off the sample warp, I kept hearing the words, “This has a very bad effect,” echoing in a dry tone of voice.  The fiendish part is just how easy it is to make this mistake!  As you may guess from the difference between my first picture (face) and second picture (back), when you are weaving, it’s really hard to see that you’ve thrown the wrong tabby.  A pick of the incorrect tabby looked pretty much the same to me as a pick of the correct tabby on the face of the web.  Each of those glaring skips you see in the second picture came from throwing just one wrong tabby.

As to weft, Atwater advises,

As usually woven, four pattern-shots and four tabby-shots are thrown for each unit of the pattern.  It is therefore necessary to select warp and weft carefully so that the figures will be of good proportion–neither squatty nor too long drawn out.  The warp and pattern-weft should be of about the same grist and the tabby thread should be a great deal finer.

The one thing I don’t like about summer and winter is the muddied look it can get when the tabby weft is too visible.   For the baby bankets I knew I would want a pretty thick weft, which meant I would use the “brick” treadling as opposed to pairs (x’s or o’s) and thus avoid “long drawn out” figures.  The brick treadling tends to hide the tabby pretty well.  I wasn’t worried there.  But since I was also using the samples as a way to look ahead to some summer and winter towels treadled in pairs, I was eager to see if Atwater’s ratios would be the key to sharpening contrast.

I found that the weft weights and their light/dark values made such a big difference to the overall strength and crispness of the pattern, I ended up trying all kinds of combinations.  A medium-value tabby seems to do really interesting things (medium between the warp and the pattern weft).  My favorite combination for towels was a tabby of very old light bottle green Lily perle cotton (1930’s or 40’s–they call it #20, but it is finer than a 20/2) which had about 2/3 the “grist” of the 22/2 cottolin; with a 16/2 blue Bockens line linen for pattern weft.  It’s the fourth from the top.

Most of the other samples were a little loose at 15 epi, but this one was good–light and flexible.  My favorite baby blanket pairing was also good at 15 epi: cottolin tabby with a 8-ply Finnish 50% cotton, 50% linen knitting yarn for the pattern weft.  Before washing it has somewhat the texture of a soft string.  After a hot water machine wash it makes marvelous cloth!  I’m not likely to find any more of that particular yarn on ebay, but I’ve seen similar stuff in a knitting shop, and I do have enough for one blanket.  In the picture, it’s the pale strip in the middle of the green samples at the bottom.

The darker green pattern weft there is cottolin, doubled and single, combined with various tabbies.  Using a brick treadling (o’s deflect the doubled threads and make the pattern too spotty), the doubled cottolin could also make nice towels with a cotton or linen tabby weft somewhat finer than the warp–this is what you’re seeing directly above the pale baby-blanket strip.  I’d set them at 16-18 epi.

Some other things I learned:

The border I planned needs one more unit and a couple of extra repeats to look right.

5/2 mercerized cotton (the aqua, from Goodwill), ick!  Pebbly and coarse and distracting in this context.  Not a useful cloth.

With a fine cotton tabby, plain old Lily Sugar and Cream knitting yarn makes a surprisingly nice fabric, though I’m not sure how it would hold up to the repeated hot-water washings a baby blanket wants.  This combination would also be a nice weight for place mats if it wears well enough.  (Top in photo.)

Fluffy Borgs 2/2 cotton (intense violet second from top) is not a good choice for a summer and winter, at least not with the cottolin.  It is very soft, but the linty halo worsens summer and winter’s tendency to look muddy.

The dark green sample (third from the top) is Poppana, a bias-cut cotton tape that fuzzes up like chenille when you wash it.  This stuff fascinates me.  I had visions of little summer and winter Poppana bath mats when I bought it last spring, but as I feared, I can’t really use a poppana shuttle with the Bergman.  A) I could barely squeeze it between the top and bottom of the shed and B) I had to weave with my fell WAY further from the beater than works well on my loom.  I could feel the beater bearing down on it from from the top, instead of hitting it squarely.  This might not have mattered with a different weft, but I really needed to be able to hammer at that Poppana to pack it in, and I couldn’t!  Poppana comes in disks, making it easy to handle; it would be a waste to wind it from the disks onto a rag shuttle or quills.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that.  Any thoughts?

I suppose the Poppana question is moot if weaving on my Bergman is going to keep hurting my back.  I found a forum where someone who had owned many looms remarked that her Bergman loom was much heavier to treadle than other countermarches.  This doesn’t surprise me: the stubby lamms, short castle, front-hinged treadles, and all that nice, dense Douglas fir are the culprits; it’s designed for sturdiness and precision rather than mechanical efficiency.

The eenie greenie warp confirms my treadling fears, and what do I do?  I immediately wind an 8-yard rayon warp for pillow tops and a couple of stoles in “Four Locked Hearts.”  It’s pre-sleyed and ready to beam on now.  Apparently I am in denial.