Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Linen. Who Knew!?

Awhile back, my friend Carol S. started weaving some linen kitchen towels. Carol is a most talented weaver. And her towels are works of art. I am lucky to own two of her towels.

I love linen kitchen towels. I always have. I often get them at garage sales or second-hand stores. Sometimes my sister, Meg, finds them for me at such places. Linen is very absorbent, and it dries very quickly. A good combination for this practical household item.

For the same reasons, I like to wear linen during the summer. Much more comfortable to me than cotton.

Anyway, after seeing some of Carol’s towels I wondered if I could weave some on my rigid heddle loom (an Ashford Knitter’s Loom). I posed this idea to a number of my weaving friends. The consensus was NO. But by then, I’d gotten this bug of an idea to weave my own linen kitchen towels. I would not be denied!

It was suggested that I rent the loom from the Northland Weaving and Fiber Arts Guild (for which I am the secretary). So I did. Before now, I’ve only woven on an inkle loom and a rigid heddle loom. This loom is a floor loom, with 4 harnesses and 4 treadles. (Thanks to the fantastic book by Rachel Brown, The Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Book, I now know what these terms mean!) Quite sufficient for weaving towels. Here’s the loom:

But I did not have any appropriate linen yarn for towels. I put out an email request to my local spinning group for some yarns – to trade for “a player to be named at a later date”. Marty F. came through. She brought over a basket full of linen yarns. She strongly urged me to first weave a narrow and short sample. She said starting with full size linen towels as a first weaving project was like teaching someone to knit by starting out with lace. Ok. I agreed to try a sample. Marty then showed me how to use a warping board. I wound a 2-yard length for 24 wraps. A few days later, Marty helped me put the warp on the loom.

First important lesson learned: It’s hard to warp a loom when you’re wearing bifocals.

Marty showed me the treadling for plain weave. And she showed me a type of hem stitch. And she gave me good tips on how to beat (where to put my hand on the beater) and how to arch the weft yarn before beating.  And she lent me a boat shuttle.  Cool tool!

Then she said, “play”. So I did. I’ve been making bookmarks of a sort: with one inch or so of some wacky treadling pattern, then 6 inches of plain weave, followed by another inch of another treadling pattern. And I used a hem stitch at the beginning and end of each bookmark. Here’s what’s now on the loom:

When I was doing the warping, I wasn’t sure I’d like this process. But as I wove, I started to fall head-over-heels in love with linen. So crisp! So tidy! So easy to see the weave structure! I may well become addicted to weaving with linen. And I can see that I’ll get my own floor loom sometime in the future.

Some of you may remember the days when I said I’d never take up weaving….

1 comment:

  1. I've been thinking about trying some linen towels. Not sure I want to try that by myself. Need to find a workshop somewhere! Love your sample.