Sunday, May 26, 2013

How dishtowels are born

Sometimes people say, "Oh, weaving is sooooo interesting--why don't you tell me EXACTLY how you make that?"  About an hour into my explanation the questioner tends to drift off, feign death, or engage in some other artifice to make the explaining stop.  

So for the curious I offer this pictorial essay about weaving.  

Start with an idea--here a scarf pattern found in an issue of Handwoven Magazine

read the instructions and decide to make dishtowels, not a scarf, and further decide to use cotton, not the fibers used in the scarf

Rewrite the pattern (draft) in Ann-speak to accommodate the changes
Select hopefully appropriate thread from the shelves in the workroom

Measure each of the 400+ threads to an exact length, here 6 yards
Move the threads to the loom and HOPE this doesn't happen--it does.

Wind the threads onto the back beam keeping them in order and untangled as they are here, even though it doesn't look like it. 

Thread EACH of the 400+ threads through the eye of a metal device called a heddle without crossing the threads and whilst keeping them in the correct order for the pattern

Heddles threaded--THIS is so beautiful, it brings tears to my eyes.  The nonsense you see at the left of the frame is  a correction for a couple of threads that were missed in the measuring and threading--thankfully there were only two such threads and they were next to each other.

Another shot of the lovely threaded heddles

Thread each of the 400+ threads (in order and without crossing any of them) through the slots in the reed.  This is known as sleying the reed. The reed is used to beat the weft threads into place.
Wind yet MORE thread on bobbins, insert bobbin into shuttle and  . . . WEAVE

Cut the towels off the loom and hem up the ends.  At this point they are stiff and somewhat disappointing--not at all dishtowel-ish.  They need to be washed and dried.

Here they are all washed and dried and ready to be used.  They don't look much different than the unwashed ones, but ohhhhh, they are sooo much softer.  

That's it, except it takes hours and hours to dress (thread or warp) the loom.  The weaving goes really fast unless you discover threading errors that have to be fixed or threads break

Yeah, I know Walmart sells dishtowels.  And, I was lying -- People don't really ask me to tell them how it's done, I just offer that info, but they do really glaze over and run away, can't understand why. 


My Tattoo

My Tattoo
A bike chain tattoo, that is It's chain lube ya know