Monday, 1 February 2016

What is on my loom - January

I live in the north of England and every year we go to Amsterdam on the local ferry for a couple of nights. The Opera, concerts and museums are wonderful.  On our trip two weeks ago, we visited Haarlem for the day.  The  railway station still has the old waiting rooms.

We wanted to go to the Franz Hals museum which we visited last year, but is well worth a second look. On the walk to the museum I passed a weaving shop.

Unfortunately the shop was not open as it only opens on a Friday. This was very good for my soul as the yarns in the window displays were so very enticing and I might have been seduced into buying more yarn. My New Years resolution was not to increase the size of my 'stash' so I was pleased that the temptation could be resisted.

What a colourful window display!

So very enticing!

The shop web site is   Do take a look.

The weather was very cold.  In the centre of town there is an old cafe which is a very popular. If you go to Haarlem, visit this cafe.  It is splendid and lovely and warm on a very cold day.

Weaving in January - a set of napkins.

Four napkins

But now on to weaving.

I have just completed a set of table napkins.  I used cottolin and plain weave.  The design is very simple - just a set of stripes in two colours. For tea towels I use a set of 20 epi but for napkins I used 22 epi.
close up before washing showing the reed marks

close up after washing
Here you can see the material before and after washing.  Before washing the reed marks show clearly.  After washing the warp and weft comes together and the reed marks are minimised.  However, you can see that the material is not smooth.

Cottolin is a mixture of linen and cotton.  To iron, I use pressure to get rid of the creases in the cloth. Usually, it takes two or three washes and presses to make the cloth smooth.

The marble slab used for ironing.
My normal ironing board has a wire mesh underneath the cover and is not suitable for pressing.  I have found that this marble pastry board is perfect.  I can press very hard to eliminate the creases in the material.

A linen mangle from Denmark.

I visited Denmark a few years ago.  We stayed on a camp site outside Aarhus.  Whilst we were there, I went to an antiques fair in the town.. Normally, I do not check out antique shops but I was searching for a particular item.  In 1947, a wooden rigid heddle was designed as a tourist gift and I had read that it had been very popular. It had 17 long holes and 16 long slots so was made for 33 warp ends. It looks so lovely so I thought that I would search for one but no luck. I would have loved to have an old hand made item like this.

Made as a tourist gift in 1947.

What I did find and buy was an old linen mangle.  It was difficult to carry on the bikes as we had not brought any large bags and the board and rolling pin are very heavy! It hangs on the wall outside my weaving room.  Linen is wrapped around the rolling pin then the board is placed on top.  The horse handle gives a good grip and the board is rolled to and from over the rolling pin.  This presses the cloth.

An old linen mangle from Denmark.

In the 19th century, linen mangles were very popular. The custom in Scandinavian countries was that a young man would carve a mangle and present it to a girl he wished to marry. If she accepted the gift, they were betrothed. 

In Sweden there was a saying,' Beware a man who has too many mangles.' If the girl refused the gift he had to take his mangle home. Usually, the initials of the girl would be carved so he could not use it again.

These were always intended as decorative items to be hung on the wall. If you visit museums in Scandinavia, you can see many examples of these beautifully carved gifts.

Happy weaving.

I must let you know about a wonderful resource - not for weaving but for courses. Currently I am taking a short three week course with Future Learn about the Scottish poet Robert Burns. It is excellent.
 I took a course last year about Hans Christian Andersen run by the University of Southern Denmark.  I can really recommend the quality of the materials.

All the course are free and anyone can join. Indeed people from around the world take part.  There are no exams.
Here is the link.

Susan J Foulkes  February 2016


  1. What gauge cottolin yarn did you use? Or weight, as some say.
    I'm just learning to weave towels and am having a learning curve with what yarns I like best. I have used Knit Picks Cotlin which is a DK weight that works pretty well. Right now I have some 8/2 cotton on the loom. I don't know how it will turn out. It seems quite thin! I double warped the loom, so hoping for the best. I don't have a weaving guild near me, so I'm doing quite a lot of trial and error. Lovely napkins. Yours are very much what I aspire to!

    1. I use cottolin which is equivalent to 8/2 cotton. If you look at my blog for June 2014 you will see the instructions for weaving dish towels with cottolin sett at 20 ends per inch. I love weaving dish towels. Thank you for your comment about the napkins.
      I am weaving some hand towels in waffle weave to go with the napkins. The weave instructions will be published on my next blog.
      Happy weaving

  2. like your tourist band loom... never saw this one before... added to my pinterest list! Lots of folks in USA are hand carving these looms again and they make nice wall hangings when not in use!

    1. Hi Regina

      It is lovely. I was amazed that it could have been considered as a tourist gift. How fortunate that you have wonderful wood workers in the States to make original items like this.



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