Friday, 27 June 2014

Designing simple warp faced bands.

I love designing striped bands to use as hanging tags for towels.  Here are two designs for my latest tea towels. For these simple designs, the colour order of the warp ends determines the pattern. There are a number of pattern effects that can be used for warp faced bands like these.

To design a new stripe, I use the PCW weave program from Fiberworks. This enables me to see how the different colours of the warp threads will look when woven as a warp faced band. I keep records of all the bands that I design.  My book The Art of Simple Band Weaving, has over 150 patterns for narrow warp faced bands.  In the first part of the book, 15 simple pattern effects are illustrated and examples show how these patterns can be adapted.  These two red and white bands are based on the bead motif.

Woven with a red weft

The bands are woven in cottolin, the same thread used for the towels.  There are 33 warp ends for each band. They are warp faced so the weft has to be pulled tight to bring the warp ends together.

Woven with a white weft

There are two designs as the towels are woven with different wefts and may be either predominantly red or white. The single red and white warp spots are made with two warp ends together so that they stand out clearly. This is indicated on the top of the diagram by a thicker rectangle. I like this effect.

I wove the bands on my Swedish band loom. The warp was 63 inches in length which made a band of 43 inches.  There is always some loom waste at the beginning and end of the band.  There would be less loom waste if woven on an inkle loom.

 Here are the finished bands.

Band width: approx 0.5 inches (15 mm)

The red and white tea towels.

The two tea towels are woven in plain weave in cottolin, sett at 20 epi.  Two colours alternate for the warp.
Weave structure: Plain weave
Warp ends: 482
Reed: 10  with  2 ends per dent
Sett: 20 epi

all white weft
2 red then 2 white weft

Dimensions before washing.

Length after hemming:  27 inches (69 cm)                 width: 22.75 inches (58 cm)

Dimensions after washing.

Length after hemming:  25.5 inches (65 cm)              width: 21.25 inches (54 cm)

And here are the tea towels.

Red and white tea towels with contrasting tags.

Happy weaving!

Durham Weaver
June 2014

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A Pattern for Tea Towels

Here is a pattern for blue and white checked tea towels woven in cottolin or nialin. This pattern for tea towels is very popular with my friends.  The yarn is a blend of cotton and linen.  It makes a hard wearing and absorbent tea towel. You can use 8/2 cotton instead.

Weave structure: plain weave
Warp sett: 20 ends per inch
Weft sett: 20 ends per inch.
Number of warp ends: 494 (12 blocks of 40 ends plus 14 ends white on one side and an extra 4 ends on the other).

Make the warp.

Alternate 10 ends of white, then 10 mid blue then 10 dark blue then 10 mid blue.  This is one pattern block of 40 warp ends. Warp 12 blocks for the towel. Finish with another block of white ends to balance the pattern.  I always increase the number of white ends at each side to 14 ends instead of 10. The selvedges of the towel always pull in slightly so this makes the stripe a similar width as the rest of the pattern after washing the towel.

The weave draft

To weave.

Weaving the towels on my loom.

  1. Weave 12 picks with 16/2 cotton in white.  This is for the turn under part of the hem.  Weaving in a thinner cotton makes the hem less bulky.
  2. Using three shuttles and weave as drawn in.  This means weave ten picks white, ten picks mid blue, ten picks dark blue and then ten picks mid blue.  This is one pattern block.  Weave 15 pattern blocks and finish with an extra 10 white picks. The weft is the same as the warp yarn.
  3. Weave 12 picks with 16/2 cotton for the turn under part of the hem.
  4. The woven towel will be about 32 inches in length.

Finishing the towel.  

Turn under the 16/2 cotton stripe and then turn the first white stripe.  This makes the hem.  I use a zig-zag stitch to sew the hem securely.

Make the hanging tags.

I have woven another four tea towels in this design and needed to weave a narrow warp faced band for the hanging tags.  I use my Swedish band loom which can take very long warps.

narrow warp faced band for hanging tags.

I found that I had woven a band of 133 inches.  Only about 3.5 inches is need for a hanging tag, so now I have plenty in stock when I weave some more towels using this pattern.

Cut lengths for the tags.

Sewing the tags.

I always hem my towels then add the woven hanging tag.

Cut about 3.5 inches of the narrow band and iron flat.  Turn over each end and place on the centre of the towel hem. Iron again so that the tag lays flat. The tag should rest on the hem of the towel.

To ensure that the towel tag does not slip when sewing it, you can tack it into place.  If you feel confident about sewing. just pin it and sew.

Sewing the tag onto the towel.

I usually sew the band onto the towel using my sewing machine but you can hand sew on to the hem.

After sewing the tag, the towels are then washed and ironed.

Dimensions before washing.

length after hemming:  30 inches (76.5 cm)                 width:  23.5 inches (59.5 cm)

Dimensions after washing.

length:   29.25 inches (74 cm)                                      width:  22.75 inches (56.5 cm)

Happy weaving.

Durham Weaver June 2014

Sunday, 8 June 2014

More on handfasting bands

I have just received an award for my six silk handfasting bands shown in my first blog. The title of my piece is 'Tying the Knot.' I am a member of the Durham Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers and  I entered these bands  into the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers National Exhibition 2014: Yarns in the Cathedral, held in Norwich Cathedral.

The Braid Society awarded a rosette and prize to a braid item in the exhibition.   Anne Dyer from the Braid Society made the beautiful rosette which I am very proud to have won.
The Braid Society Rosette

Celtic Handfasting or the binding of hands, is an old wedding custom that has become more popular since the ceremony featured in the film ‘Braveheart starring Mel Gibson.  Handfasting is probably the origin of the term ‘tying the knot’ for getting married.

A special cord or band is wrapped around the joined hands of the couple.   After the first wrap, each person answers a question and makes a promise to their partner. There are five more wraps and after each one, a question and promises are made.  After the final sixth wrap, the band or cord is tied, usually by the best man. In some versions only a single long cord or band is used and is wrapped after each promise. These promises can be devised by the couple themselves although many web sites offer a set list of promises for the handfasting. 

When I first heard of this delightful addition to the wedding ceremony, I designed a long band. It has a pattern of two hearts facing each other along its length and has two joined hearts in the centre. It is made of unbleached singles linen for the background threads, red wool for the edges of the band and silk yarn for the pattern threads. Natural yarns, each with their own very different nature are blended into a beautiful whole. 
Starting to weave the band using a standard heddle.
The joined hearts in the centre of the band.
I thought carefully about the materials to use for the band.
Linen cloth is long lasting and grows more lustrous with time. 
Silk adds a touch of luxury – we all hope for some luxury in our lives! 
Red wool outlines the band: an old custom signifying protection from outside harmful forces.  

The completed band is 422 cm in length and 1.1 cm in width. I finished the band with a short double plait and tassel wrapped in red wool with a small bead heart sewn at the end. It took a long time to weave!

Happy weaving.

Durham Weaver

June 2014

Thursday, 5 June 2014

A Collection of Tea Towels.

Tea towel and hand towel
I like to weave tea towels to give away as presents.  I enjoy designing stripes for the towels and trying different weave structures. Here is one of my own tea towels hanging up in my kitchen ready for use alongside a handwoven linen hand towel.

I use cottolin which is a mixture of linen and cotton.  It makes a very durable and absorbent tea towel. Most of my tea towels are woven in plain weave sett at 20 ends per inch.

 Three hand towels in waffle
weave and one tea towel. 

  I have woven many tea towels recently and have just finished four blue checked towels. I always weave a hanging tag to match the towels on my Swedish band loom.  See the YouTube video:  Five ways of weaving narrow bands.

weaving a tag for the tea towels
Matching tags

I enjoy designing tags to fit the colours of the woven towels.  The tags are woven in the same cottolin as the tea towels.  This tag has 29 warp ends and is 13 mm in width. In my book,  The Art of Simple Band Weaving, there are over 150 designs for simple woven bands.

Towels for gifts

Here is my collection of tea towels!  I have been experimenting with different weave structures: a variation of pebble weave and false damask.  They dry dishes very well and make very good presents.

The hand towels with the wavy design featured
in Vav Magasinet  1/11

The inspiration for the colours for this set of towels came from the Mediterranean. The two handtowels with the wavy pattern are featured in Vav Magasinet 1/1, pages 50 - 51.  I also designed the woven tag for the handtowels and won second prize in the handtowel competition.

Ready for weaving.

I have just put a new warp on my loom to weave some more towels. There is something very satisfying about seeing the warp stretched so neatly on the loom ready for weaving to start.

Starting to weave.

Two shuttles are used to make an interesting pattern.  For this towel there are three white picks and then one red pick.

Happy weaving!

Durham Weaver
June 2014

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Weaving handfasting bands

This is my first post as a new blogger.  I am passionate about the craft of weaving.  I love natural yarns; wool, silk, linen & cotton.

I discovered the beauty and variety of woven bands from the Baltic region and have become fascinated by the amazing patterns that can be seen in museums.

I also love designing my own versions.  I recently wove a set of handfasting bands in silk.  Celtic handfasting or the binding of hands, is an old marriage custom.

The Endless or Eternal Knot.

The pattern on these woven bands is known as the Endless or Eternal Knot.  It is one of the eight Auspicious symbols in Buddhism. It can represent eternal love and friendship.  A gift of the endless knot symbol is said to make an auspicious connection between the giver and recipient.  I wove six bands and used six colours for the symbols: red for passion; orange for kindness; yellow for joy; green for health; blue for devotion and purple for steadfastness.

Durham Weaver

June 2014
A set of six silk handfasting bands by Susan J Foulkes