Wool Success!

When the opportunity came up to learn to weave, my first thought was that I could weave cloth from which to make clothing. Very quickly, I decided the first such project would be wool for a coat, but of course, I needed to actually learn to weave first. Which meant cotton, because that’s easy. (We’ll forget the linen experiment for now.) I did try wool once at the very beginning, reading that it was a forgiving fiber, but there was no instruction how how to to treat it, and I hadn’t any experience weaving much of anything else yet, and there was no real advice on what kind of wool to buy, so that didn’t go well. The result was a stiff, brillo pad-like scarf-shaped thing. The next time was more recently – last September maybe? – but I did plainweave with Jaggerspun 8/2, and beat it a bit too aggressively still not understanding how that was supposed to work, so the result was a stiff, though softer cloth. I consulted with my weaver friend who works at Webs (I am SO LUCKY to live 4 miles from Webs!), and upon seeing the stiff, plainweave cloth, she immediately advised, “You can’t beat it like cotton! You have to squeeeeeeze the weft in place. Treat it gently – just kiss the little lamb with the beater!” I take her advice very seriously.

And so, this past Sunday, I decided to take a little break from cotton and wove another sample. This time with wool, in a bird’s eye twill with very careful beating:

The above pictures are from before fulling – this cloth was fresh off the loom. The purple is 100% wool (Jaggerspun 8/2 Heather), the lighter color (pale, dull pink) is 100% baby alpaca (Hatfield from Valley Yarns). The multi colored yarns are just some handspun bits that were kicking around. I quickly knotted some fringe and continued to the fulling process!

This fulled cloth is SO SOFT. You just want to squish it and hold it and squish it again. I wish it were blanket-sized! You can see after the yarns bloomed that the pattern is now a lot more subtle in the purple warp and weft – I’m not sure I like that. In any case, I think more experimentation is required. The end result will be a shawl for me, and perhaps a shawl or two to sell. Or more. I need to make a couple to test.

Last night I went to the local weaver’s guild meeting and became a card carrying member! (Well, I’m a member – I’m not sure if I get a card…) The benefits are many: a pretty extensive library I can borrow from pretty freely, people I can thrust my latest experiment at without signs of flinching away, wisdom from other weavers, and cookies once a month at meetings!

In other news, this morning I had to shovel a bit of the porch. There are icicles on the roof of the second floor that are dripping onto a section of the porch under which I park my car. Icicles were forming on the underside of the porch right over the car and that was worrying. So I shoveled a bit.


Since I couldn’t get out the back door to where the problem spot was, I had to go out the front door (which is normally not used in the winter) and shovel a path to around the corner.

We have a lot of snow right now.

Also, it’s going to be 40F today. And I hear 50+F on the weekend. It’s going to be a lot of water.

Also, Monday is a holiday for me, which means MORE WEAVING. I hope to have more cotton stuff woven (bathmats) and another wool sample, possibly a competed shawl. And rip out the 3″ of the cardigan I started knitting so I can do it up correctly. And knit up another hat so I can get that in the mail. And finally just fix J’s sweater so I can give it back to her. But also, housework should get done at some point, and sleeping should also happen, so we’ll see…



Bath mats

Yesterday was a snow day for me. Finally, it seems winter has come here in western Massachusetts! The snow started about 7am, and I took this picture at about 9:45am. By about 11:00am, there was a foot of snow on the railing. It finally tapered off and stopped by about 4pm or so, and two hours later, the wind started howling.


So what do I do when I am not at work? Why, I get up early, make tea, and get right to work on a project. In this case, the bath mat warp was on the loom, and all that was left was to sley the reed and tie on. This went pretty quickly (hour and a half?), and then I started throwing the shuttle, which always really exciting. You spend all the time to get the warp just right, and it has to be absolutely perfect, but the only way to be absolutely sure is the when you start throwing the shuttle. So much suspense. Deep breath, throw, beat, throw, beat, throw, beat. And if everything is as perfect as it should be, you see the pattern come alive!

Alarmingly (and perhaps predictably), I’ve got a weaving-related injury: my right foot does most of the treadling, and since I’m treadling for several hours at a time, the muscles in my foot decided to rebel and cramp and be otherwise very unhappy. The remedy is ibuprofen, rest, ice, then gentle stretching and strengthening, which meant that all treadling yesterday had to be done with my left foot. I am not left-footed. Things went very slowly. But I did finish!

So. Two bath mats, all woven, hemstitched, washed, dried, and ironed out (for accurate post-wet finish measuring). I hemmed this morning.


I am so in love with this green!


I’m not 100% sold on the edges, but I have Ideas for more mats! And just look at that fringe!


Can’t decide which I like better: fringe or hem…


The reverse of each.


Here you can sort of get an idea of how thick they are.

I tested the fringed mat out this morning – it worked really well! It’s absorbent, and I find the size to be just about perfect. The fringed one came out to be 20″ x 30″ (incl. fringe), and the hemmed one came out at 20″ x 27″ (3″ worth of hem total). I’ll measure again after each wash/dry for two or three weeks to see if there’s any more shrinkage, and to note how they wear. This yarn is mercerized, which means it’s a bit stronger, shinier, and takes dye better than unmercerized, but it also means it’s slightly less absorbent. Mercerized cotton (I believe) should hold up better in the long run.

I am going to try a different treatment to the selvedges (edges) in the next run, too. Should be much neater.


Which I did. I totally did get all the things (or nearly all the things) done:

  1. Vacuum the house – check
  2. Wash and dry all laundry – check
  3. Finish weaving the six yard warp, wash and dry twice, cut apart into towels, iron hems, hem. – check
  4. Sewed a pair of pants for my friend, from start to finish. – check
  5. Knit with friends for a few hours at LYS – check
  6. Cook lunches for the week – (almost check – 3 lunches made, need 2 more)
  7. Grocery shopping for the week – (almost check)

So, the house is squeaky clean, and I still got other stuff done! WOO!


This was the MOST DELIGHTFUL cloth to work with – cotton denim, very dark blue, with some stretch – but it’s not clear who made it. The suspicion is that it’s Robert Kaufman stretchy denim, but I won’t know for sure until I order some more and compare. If all works out, I’ll order enough for two more pairs of pants for my friend, and some for me! Made on Saturday, hemmed on Sunday.

Its kinda hard to see, but the white one is actually two-toned: white warp, natural weft. My favourite one is the green one, of course! I don’t know what happened with the green/pink/yellow one – maybe I was just really tired? It’s not my usual color palette. But I’m really starting to love bird’s eye twill.

img_1801See what I did there with the hem? It delighted me to no end that I could get a design element just by folding the cloth over. Isn’t it pretty? The details can be so interesting.

I also came up with another Plan: weaving a bath mat.

Okay, okay. I hear you: why not just buy one? Isn’t that a lot of work?

But that could be said for pretty much everything I make. 3/2 mercerized cotton was on sale, I wanted to play around with it for possible future endeavors, and I’ve never in my life actually owned a bath mat. I use a small towel that I hang up after every shower. I don’t like those fluffy, rubber-backed rugs for bath mats because they end up soaking water and everything else up and tend to look ratty after a couple months of washing, and they end up smelling funky. So, I’m not looking to make a rug, just a mat. Or two, so I could rotate them. Or make one and sell one. I’m not sure.

In any case, I bought two cones of 3/2 cotton, one willow green and one white, enough to make at least 2 bath mats measuring 20″ x 30″ finished. At first, the plan was for stripes, but using the colors evenly would be insurance against running out of one color if there was a mistake in my math, so they’ll be twill, probably bird’s eye. Yes, there probably should be a ton of floats in there for extra absorbancy, but an even twill will probably be fine. (It’ll be fiiiiiiiiiine.)

Also, this is an experiment to see what the resulting cloth will be. For perhaps future blankets. Or other mats. So, really, it’s a sample, hopefully fairly useful when all is said and done. And then, if it all works, perhaps there will be actual bath towels. And washcloths. And hand towels. OOH! And then, maybe curtains! And if I could weave yardage, there’s a bathrobe in there somewhere…. Guys, who wants to buy stuff from me so I can fund all of this?

Today, we’re having Weather: snow to start, then freezing rain, then maybe some plain rain provided it gets warmer. It could be exciting driving today.



New yarn!

That new yarn arrived yesterday! I’m really tickled. I looked everywhere for the right shade of blue to go with that beautiful golden orange I waxed about the other day because I have Ideas about copying an overshot colorway I found online made by someone else. The pattern is from Weaving Designs By Bertha Gray Hayes: Miniature Overshot Patterns, but you’ll see once I’ve managed to get another warp on the loom for overshot. Which will be soon. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks.




In the meantime, as soon as I got home last night, I immediately wound up a quill with some gorgeous blue and started towel #5. Aaaand then I somehow finished it this morning before work. One more towel to go on this warp.

I’m thinking maybe black for the next towel. Actually, I might try black and white clasped weft, something I’ve been wanting to try for some time. It may not really work as a dishtowel in the end, but it would be an interesting experiment.

BUT. I have to switch gears and make some pants for my dear friend Jenny (hi, Jenny!) who even sent me the fabric (quite a while ago, I’m embarrassed to realize) and I said I’d make them, and then totally forgot because I got distracted with weaving. Which is not like me at all, but I need to rectify this and just make them. They don’t take long, so I’ll be able to get them in the mail on Monday morning.

Then I starting measuring a new warp!