Sunday, November 8, 2009

Huck Unstuck: Finished Project!

Remember that since vacation, the first thing in the morning I spend an hour in my studio, working as a production assistant (to myself)?

The first project I tackled was finishing off a warp of 8 huck towels.

Eyeballing the warp after 7 towels, made me think 8 were possible.

Each morning, I'd head to the studio and weave, then hem and finish towels. Some mornings I was very excited to work on these towels. Some mornings (especially while hemming), I wasn't feeling particularly motivated or inspired.

But my rule of "more weaving, less thinking" means that I have to stick with it through moments like that.

In the end, I couldn't be more thrilled to have a stack of 8 huck towels - 2 for our kitchen, and 6 to give as gifts.

Look how close that one blue knot is to the back of the heddles. It couldn't have been any closer.

After I cut the towels off the loom, when I checked my notes I realized that I didn't think I'd have enough for an eighth full length towel. Good thing I wove it totally believing there was enough!

Sticking Points of this project:
  • Dithering endlessly about what to do with the last 4 towels worth of warp (I'd woven the 4 designs that were part of the Handwoven article, and I was paralyzed with too many competing ideas for what to do with the next four towels worth. In the end, I decided to just re-weave the first four towels, but change the color order.)
  • Hot, hot, hot in my studio in the summer
  • Difficulty getting an even beat in the first towel

What I loved about the project
  • The color combo in these towels makes me happy every time I see it in my kitchen
  • Meeting Rosalie Nielson, who wrote the Handwoven article that included this towel design
  • Tension on this warp stayed even and I didn't have anything hanging off the back of the loom at the end of the warp because I didn't break any warp threads. (First time that's ever happened!)

What I learned
  • First time I've ever cut the beginning of the warp off to test finishing
  • Sometimes you have to beat lightly to get an even fabric
  • Even though I had some difficulty maintaining an even beat, and getting beautiful selvedges, I've decided that my selvedges are good enough to branch out into weaving other things that really need straight edges.
  • This is the first block weave I've ever done.

What I'd do differently:
  • I'm definitely trying to even out my weaving momentum, so that I don't have long lulls like I had in this project. Maybe I need to make sure I don't let a project stall for more than a week without knowing what I'll do to resolve whatever issue I'm having. (This project sat all summer in part because I had so many ideas for how to finish the unplanned part of the warp that I couldn't decide. On vacation, I finally decided to just go ahead with getting usable towels and stop dithering. (That's my More Weaving, Less Thinking rule!)
  • Cutting off the first towel on a warp is very freeing. It can be done with or without glue. Glue lets you get the absolute most out of your warp. I was going to say it wasn't necessary, but in the end, the last towel needed every bit of warp. Generally speaking, I won't usually use glue when I cut off.
  • I'd like to try UKI yarn to see if there is less tracking than with this Homestead cotton. Rosalie's original towels were with UKI yarn, and having seen them in person, I can see that the yarn behaves differently.
  • I might change the design of the edges so there are a few more threads. All four pink stripes were the same width, and since I had draw-in at the edges, the small amount of difference bugged me. (Or I have to figure out how not to have draw in - which I'm not sure is even possible.)
  • Weave the towels in the article in the order 2,3,4,1. Because of the structure of the first towel, it was much tougher to vary the beat to get that towel to be even. I did all of the towels twice, and towel 1 was hard for me the second time too. Starting the project with that towel was a tough place to start.

Project Details:

Project Plan: Set of huck dishtowels from Handwoven, J/F 2001, "Tales & Towels of Huck" pp. 34-37 by Rosalie Neilson.

Warp & Weft: Homestead 8/2 unmercerized cotton from Halcyon Yarn in
Color 9: Royal Blue
Color 64: Turquoise
Color 54: Green
Color 31: Rose

Sett: 18 epi (2-1-2-1 threads per dent in a 12 dent reed)
PPI: 16
Total warp ends: 293

Width off loom: 15 inches
Length off loom: 29 inches

Finishing: Machine wash warm with color catcher, tumble dry, press while still a little damp.
Hem by machine.
Machine wash and dry so the towels fluff up.

Finished towel size: 13.25 x 22 (Some of the decrease in length due to hem.)

Ironed towels with one towel fresh out of the dryer

I tend to think in series. These towels are the conclusion of a 4 towel series in which I focused on learning the basics of weaving - dressing the loom, weaving, finishing, acquiring yarn, understanding other people's patterns or designs. Not saying I won't weave more dishtowels soon, but I feel comfortable branching out into other types of weaving now.

I recently gave two of these towels as a housewarming gift. I got a huge compliment in return...the recipient felt like she could see my personality in these towels and I really liked that idea.

Even though they weren't my design, I did choose the colors, and I really like the idea that a little bit of my vision and personality came through!

Related posts:
Restarting this project after vacation
Taking this towel to meet the towel designer
Cutting off a single towel: One Stick Trick
Worrying at the start of the warp
More start of warp worrying
The beginning of this project


Susan said...

Oh, congratulations! They look wonderful and you must feel very liberated by getting this project completed.

I like the way you do a summing up of the pros and con's of the experience too.

The colours ar bright, cheery and very much like a Caribbean summer!


Sharon said...

Boy oh boy, did I need to read this. I've book marked it because I need to come back and read it a couple more times. I get lost when I'm always trying to figure things out for myself and I can't seem to shake the broken warps. This was a total shot in the arm. Everyone seems to sail through dish towels and I'm still back at broken warps and wobbly selvedges. You made my day.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful towels and great analysis. Congratulations!

Susan B. said...

They look wonderful! I too will have to come back to this post for more reading but I enjoyed it, and related to different parts of it!

Charlotte said...

Your towels are really superb! I love the colours you chose too - really fresh and cheerful. Good to read a detailed analysis, I will definitely refer back to your post when I get round to weaving tea towels.

And all before the start of the day, you must be pleased!

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for reading or even skimming my giant post!! A lot of that info is for me at least as much as it's for you.

I don't know what improved my warp tension and selvedges aside from practice and repetition. It's almost like as soon as I learned what to do to improve a warp midway if you're having trouble with it, warps stopped needing me to do that.

I am really happy with how the early morning weaving schedule is working out for me. It's the perfect time of day for me to focus and see things through.


Theresa said...

Sue, the towels are simply wonderful. Love the colors and I like the pattern very much! You certainly got a lot of learning out of them too. Great pros and cons list. I applaud you for doing 8 to begin with. I would have stalled too with such a long warp although the answer to that is to acquire more looms! ;-) Then it's okay to have one dedicated to sitting around with a long warp on it. HAR!
So,, have you got your next warp planned?;-)

Delighted Hands said...

Yay! You did a spectacular job on these towels! I am glad the new weaving schedule is working for you. So what is the next project?!

Anonymous said...

Those are beautiful towels - love the colors!!

Life Looms Large said...

Glad you guys like the colors of the towels!! I do too!

I have a mixed warp somewhere in progress on the Toika that you guys will be hearing all about shortly. (I definitely need your wisdom and advice.)

My next warp on the baby wolf will be a scarf for Jim. It's looking like it will be shadow weave, but I'm hitting some snags in the design process that might turn that scarf into something else entirely. You'll also be hearing more about that in future posts I'm sure!!

Thanks for visiting and commenting - and venturing into such a long, long post!


Benita said...

And lovely towels they are, too!!! They will be a joy to those getting them as Christmas gifts. Haven't started my Christmas weaving yet...

Valerie said...

They are wonderful towels!! I know that post took a lot of your time and want you to know that I appreciated every word of it. Thank you for taking the time to share your process and reflections.

Leigh said...

Beautiful Sue! Well done indeed. I appreciate your perseverance.

Susan H said...

Congrats Sue!!!! Not a weaver (thought tempting when reading your posts!) but I know how it feels to finish off a long-dormant knitting project. And, your woven pink and purple towel is still the highlight of our kitchen (and I think I've finally taught F not to use it as a cleaning towel!)

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for listening to my ramblings about this towel and commenting!!

I started blogging for 2 reasons: to provide more information about Toika looms online, and to give myself incentive to document my projects better.

My end of project posts are sometimes very long - but I appreciate you guys for reading about it!

Susan H - I'm glad that the pink & purple towel lives on!! I still use mine too. Is your long-dormant knitting project the indigo project by any chance???

Thanks guys!!


Deanna said...

yeaaaa!!! What a great post, and congratulations on the completion! I love your thoughtful assessment of the project - with what you liked, what you didn't like, and best of all, lessons learned. Bravo!

Gee, this might even nudge me back into weaving. :-)

Chris said...

Congratulations. Your towels are beautiful1.

Alice said...

Sue the towels are beautimous! Great colors! I think of all the blogs yours inspires me the most of all the blogs I read. I believe that you and I share a way of doing things, leaving things, worrying about things at the same place in our weaving. We seem to analyze in the same way. I just don't seem to get around to writing it down like you do and you do it so well.

And my studio is*&^% hot in the summer too.

Sara said...

oh, I love them...they are beautiful! That's the kind of stuff I want to make...

Restless Knitter said...

Those look so pretty! I'd smile every time I used one.

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for your comments!! (Maybe I should finish projects more often - but then I guess it wouldn't be so noteworthy!)

Deanna, if I'm any part of nudging you back toward weaving, that makes me a happy woman!!

And Alice, your compliments make me blush. I love the idea that I could inspire anyone in any creative direction. Thank you!!

Sara, No reason at all for you not to be able to make a project like this. Find your favorite project in Handwoven, possibly change it to make it yours (unless you already love the colors) and weave it up. You can do it!! (If I can, you can!!)