Saturday, 4 March 2017

Project: Doubleweave Windpwpane Shawl

Woven: January - February 2016
Fiber: 8/2 tencel
Reed/Sett: 8-dent/32 epi

This project was a further development on the doubleweave baby blanket, and one that finally delivered on the weaving porn on the front of Jennifer Moore's excellent Doubleweave book.  My plan was to use her table runner pattern and weave a shawl in 8/2 tencel. 

Before getting started I wove some samples to work on the technique.  Using 4 ends per slot in the reed (2 per layer) I started on the top with a 12-dent reed.  The finished product was so dense that it was almost rigid, which although fine for a very structured garment, was not ideal for a shawl.  The middle, long sample was woven with a 10-dent reed, and the bottom, widest sample was woven using the 8-dent reed.  For a shawl I thought the 8-dent sleyed at 4 ends per slot for 32 epi was the way to go.

For my colours I chose a lustrous bronze as my base, with rainbow colours as my contrast blocks.  The plan was to mirror the pattern throughout the shawl. 
I used a temple to maintain my selvedges because draw-in without the temple causes by warp threads to snap.  With the temple, the weaving was very straightforward on the 8-shaft Louet Jane table loom.  The shawl was finished with twisted tassels, and after wet finishing (hand wash and dry flat) the finished shawl (exclusive of tassels) measured 23.5" x 72.5". 
For more information check out my website at or my instagram page at @the_meglg and @DeftlyWeft.


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Project: 3/1 Lace Shawl in Merino/Cashmere/Silk blend

This was a sentimental project for a friend of ours, who had used to have a very similar blanket when she was a child.  For this project I went back to the old standby, the Kromski Harp rigid heddle loom, using a 10-dent reed and a pickup stick to create the lace look.

I used that absolutely gorgeous Tanis Fibre Arts merino/cashmere/silk wool, hand-dyed in bright buttercup yellow.  This wool is very pricey (at $32/skein), but it is well worth it for the finished product. 

The project actually only took me 4 days from start to finish - - what a treat it is to work with a comparatively thick wool after all of those cotton tea towels! 

The pattern came from Betty Lynn Davenport's great book Textures and Patterns for the Rigid Heddle Loom, which is a treasure trove of weaving ideas.   The pattern only requires 4 pattern rows:

1. Reed up
2. Reed neutral, pickup stick
3. Reed up
4. Reed down

That's it!  For such a simple pattern, the results are stunning.  I love this pattern, and in the Tanis merino/cashmere/silk wool, the finished product is super soft and warm.  I know the recipient will love this shawl, and I must admit it's one of my favourite patterns, having made it a couple of times now. 

In a gallery!

The Nerd and I pass a little local gallery twice a day on the way to and from work.  It looks somewhat like an eclectic junk shop in that there's always what appears to be a random selection of arts and crafts in store. 

One day the Nerd decided to go in and bring some of our recent projects.  The proprietor was enthused and immediately offered us space in her store to display some of our woven goods. 

Gallery 402 - 402 King Street East, Toronto, Ontario
The shop features our weaving, as well as hand-knitted goods, leatherwork, jewelry, handmade candles, hand turned pens, and artworks of all kinds.  Our humble pieces fit right in.

Project: Double Weave Baby Blanket

A woman at my office is having a baby shortly, and in what was perhaps an excess of enthusiasm I decided to weave her a cotton baby blanket in that lovely Swedish cotton yarn.  In doubleweave.  Double width.  Because who doesn't love challenges.  And deadlines.  

The result?  A triumph of determination and a testament to my ability to weave all night for three nights straight.  But it got done in time, which is what counts.

The pattern was a straight twill in a selection of rainbow colours with bleached white cotton as the weft.  I set up the loom with 968 ends across 20" on the Louet Jane table loom, with 4 ends in each dent in the reed for 48 epi.  The piece was worked in doubleweave with one end open and the other joined for a fold that created a finished piece that was about double the width on the loom.  
Detail showing the open end and the two layers of cloth
With draw-in, the nominal 40" working width came down to about 37.5" off the loom, and about 50" long (before hemming).  After washing and finishing the completed blanket measured 34" x 40".  

Working doubleweave was much more straightforward than I expected, and I was helped both by Jennifer Moore's excellent book Doubleweave, as well as assistance from the Nerd who had far more experience working doubleweave than I.  

Among the Nerd's more useful advice was a recommendation to work a single row in a contrasting colour every two inches or so, raising a single bottom layer shaft so that the two layers are joined together.  This keeps the two layers roughly together and avoids issues from one layer being higher than the other as the fabric is wound onto the cloth beam, so that both layers are beaten evenly.

Work in progress showing "joining" picks to keep the layers together
I worked in a straight twill, throwing two picks on the top layer, and two picks on the bottom layer, for 8 pattern rows, repeated.

I found it was quite easy to avoid weaving errors (or as I call them, "trademarks") on the visible top layer, but almost impossible on the bottom layer, even with tipping the loom up periodically.  The Nerd tells me that a mirror helps to spot problems, and I will definitely try that approach on my next doubleweave project.

The other major thing I noted is that the ends tended to get compressed along the fold, in a somewhat irregular way, creating a pattern not unlike snakeskin along the fold line.  Not any weaving problems really, just an irregular look.  I am told that adding some thicker "support" ends along the final 4 ends before the fold may help avoid this collapse, and I will definitely try this.  I think avoiding a high-contrast colour that shows the compression is another trick - - I suspect the irregularities would be much harder to see on a plain white-on-white twill, rather than a white on dark purple, where the compression is more obvious.  

After the desired length was woven, I cut the work off the loom and pulled out the securing threads, and then carefully separated the layers to check for any missed picks that caught the layers together.  In a stunning triumph, I had no joined areas, and the entire blanket separated easily once I removed the work from the loom and teased apart the ends that had been tied around the apron rod by the cloth beam.  
Carefully separating the layers to check for adhesions
Finishing was straightforward.  I machine-sewed a zigzag stitch along each end to hold the hem during washing, and then threw the piece into the washer and dryer.  All that was then required was to trim the loose ends and finish the piece with proper hems.  
Finished blanket, folded in half
Finished blanket, unfolded

Project Update: Goose Eye Twill Towels

In support of our gallery showing (details in a separate post), I have been weaving my beloved goose-eye twill tea towels in that gorgeous Swedish (Egyptian) cotton on a virtually industrial scale.  After the initial rainbow and blue series, I worked up a second set of rainbow towels, as well as a second set of blue/purple tea towels and a lovely green series. 

The only variations are in the background colour - - natural versus white, depending on the batch (overall I prefer how the bleached white makes the accent colours pop), and length - - recent sets have finished up around 24" versus about 19"-20" for earlier sets woven to the pattern. 

So here for your viewing pleasure are some photos from these recent towel sets.  Enjoy!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Project: Goose-eye twill tea towel series (blue variation)

Having finished the goose-eye twill pattern in the cheerful rainbow range I wanted to work up a set of tea towels in a single colour range - in this case, blues and violets. 
The setup and pattern were exactly the same as for the rainbow towels.  I measured out 4 yards of warp in the 6 chosen accent colours and a bleached white background.  The colours went from light to dark across the reed and reflected back from dark to light at the midline. 

The weaving was quick and easy once again.  Well, as "quick" and "easy" as handweaving on a table loom can ever be.  Which is not all that quick or easy in the global scheme of things, but pretty quick and easy as far as handweaving is concerned.

I was able to measure out my warp using the built in warping board on my trusty Kromski Harp loom (as is my custom) and then transfered my chains of measured warp to my apron rod by myself with no difficulty.  Arranging the warp threads in the raddle and rolling the warp onto the back beam was similarly quick and easy.  It tool only a single (full!) day to measure my warp from cones to set up the loom and get everything ready to weave, which is pretty quick as these things go.

After completing weaving four tea towels each in the goose-eye twill I cut the towels apart and then ironed the hems in preparation for machine hemming.  After hemming it was simplicity itself to throw the hemmed towels into the washer and dryer to finish them prior to trimming off all the loose threads. 

I really really love the classic simplicity of this pattern as well as the wonderful softness of the finished towels.  The colours in this "blue period" series will be perfect for a certain Nerd's mother (these are her favourite colours) but I can see many people liking this colour selection.

I have a real desire to work a similar set of goose-eye twill in a lovely green range, and have ordered the yarn for this next project.  For now I may measure out another rainbow towel, but this one using the natural cotton and a herringbone twill for a change of pace.  We shall see.