Thursday, 1 October 2020

Weaving Tea Towels

I love weaving tea towels.  It is relaxing and they make great presents. I made these towels just before lock down and took photographs to explain how I weave. I have the time now to weave the hanging tags. 

I thought that on this blog I would show some different aspects of setting up and weaving on my Megado loom.

Materials: Warp: Cottolin in white, pale orange, deep orange, red and beige. 
                   Weft: cottolin in the same colours. 

Sett: 18 epi

Reed: 9 dent reed two ends per dent.

Warp colour order

                                                                                    Centre: reverse threading to complete
White                  26        24       24        24         24
Red                           24                                                24
Orange                                 24             
Dark orange                                    24
Pale orange                                                  24

Total number of ends : 256  This incudes 2 threads on each side for the plain weave selvedge. 


Here is the drawdown for these tea towels.  It gives a texture surface to the woven cloth. 

The pattern is on eight shafts.  I use two additional shafts for the plain weave border. If you only have eight shafts use a floating selvedge at each side. 

Making the warp - using the warping frame.

I have a useful warping frame which I hang on one of my bookshelves in my weaving room. (Sorry about the mess - I do try to tidy the shelves but .....)

After I have made a warp, I can unscrew all of the warp pegs so that the frame can be left in place until I require it again. 

For this towel I made the warp in three sections. Each section is made half inches which are divided using a thick thread. I tie a singles cross at one end. The warp is made in half inch sections. The three sections are put onto a sturdy stick. 
The three sections of warp. 

Here are the three sections of warp.  

These are transferred to the back beam by tying on the stick to the back beam.  Once in place I thread the cross sticks through the singles cross. 

The cross sticks have been placed through the singles cross. 

The stick needs to be firmly attached to the back beam so I tie it on with strong linen in at least 9 places. 
The warp is then taken through to the front of the loom and threaded through the raddle.  The sections of the raddle take half inch bouts of warp ends. 

The half inch sections of warp have been placed in the raddle. 

The three sections were tied in half inch sections during warping so the half inch sections are easy to find.  

Once all the sections are threaded through the raddle, the warp ties can be undone. 

Now the warp is ready to be wound onto the back beam.  I need my trusty assistant.

Winding the warp on the back beam

My trusty warping assistant. 

This can take some time and is a skilled job.  The cross sticks need to be pushed forward before each winding. The warp is separated on the back beam by sticks and then wide paper. 

Threading the heddles. 

The warp is wound onto the back beam. With the cross sticks in place I can start threading the heddles.  I usually start in the centre and work outwards. 

Threading the heddles. 

All the heddles are threaded. 

Tying onto the front beam

Once the heddles are threaded, the cross sticks at the back are removed. Each half inch bout is tied separately. It is very important to get the tension even across the width of the warp. I run my fingers over the warp to sense which warp ends are not at the same tension. 

I have woven a set of tea towels in this colour selection before and I liked the colours so much I though that I would weave some more. 

Starting to weave. 

Once the tension is even I can then start to weave.  In a wide warp I place a narrow stick in the first shed. Then I use some waste yarn to weave a few picks in plain weave so that the warp becomes evenly spread. 

Here is a closeup. 

Using a stretcher

Once I have woven a couple of inches, I use a stretcher (or temple). This helps to keep the weaving an even width.  

 The Weft.

It is important to put the weft across at the correct angle for the thread and pattern that is used.  Here is the weft at an angle of about 45degrees. I try to ensure that this is the same for each pick. The picture shows the orange weft going from right to left across the warp. 

For the final towel I used a beige weft.

Orange weft in the shed

Even tension a tip for the Megado loom

I am very fortunate as I have a 24 shaft Megado loom.  Winding the woven material onto the front beam is easy.  I can undo the ratchet on the back beam with my foot.  I then wind the woven part of the warp onto the front beam.  It is very important the the warp is stretched to the same tension every time it is wound on.  With the Megado loom this is easy.  The lever which winds the woven material hangs down on the right side of the loom.  I pasted a short length of tape measure onto the loom.  I know how far the lever should go each time so that the tension is the same.

Here is the lever with no tension.

Here is the lever with the correct tension for this particular warp.  I can ensure that it is in the same position after I have wound on the woven cloth onto the front beam. 

The finished tea towels.

Here are two of the finished towels. The hanging towel uses the same colours as the warp for a check.  

One towel has a single beige weft colour. This produces a check pattern but without having to change the weft colour. 

The hanging tags.

I love designing tags to match my tea towels. Here is my design.  There are 39 warp ends using the same colours of cottolin. You can just about see it on the towel on the right. 

Red             4                            3
White             2     2      2     2      
Orange               2                     
Dark orange              2                   
Pale orange                       2                     

I am also weaving a second tag for the tea towel with the beige weft.  Here it is still on my band loom. I designed a different pattern using the beige cottolin in the warp and as the weft. 

I hope that you are all enjoying weaving and keeping safe and healthy.

with very best wishes

Susan J Foulkes    October 2020