Sunday, 14 December 2014

What is on my loom: hand towels

Weaving waffle weave hand towels.

I have just finished a set of hand towels in waffle weave.  I love this weave structure.

Here is the draw down. I have used green, red, blue and white to show the structure clearly. It is woven using seven shafts.

Drawdown for 7 shaft waffle weave hand towels.

Warp: 8/2 cotton in three colours, natural, light green and dark green.
Weft: 8/2 cotton in three colours, natural, light green and dark green.
Sett: 24 epi

Total number of warp ends: 589 ends.

The pattern repeat is 12 picks and 12 warp ends.  I used three colours: natural, light green and dark green.

The colour order is as follows:

24 natural, 12 light green, 12 natural, 12 dark green, 12 natural.  I varied the order in the centre but to balance the weave the final group of natural warp ends should be 25.  In all there are 45 groups of 12 ends and two larger groups of 24 at one edge and 25 at the other edge.  Look at the towel on the loom for the exact colour order.

There is no need for a floating selvedge as the waffle weave shrinks and fulls up beautifully.
To start, I used a fine 16/2 cotton for the first 12 picks ( one pattern repeat).  This is for the hem so that it will not be too bulky.

Here is the weaving on the loom.

I wove one towel with just the natural as the weft.  A further two towels I wove with five pattern repeats in natural, light green, natural, dark green etc.  The length of the towels on the loom was approximately 95cm (37 inches)
A close up of the weave structure whilst on the loom

Once off the loom I ironed the ends of the towels to make the hem. I turned up one pattern repeat -  (the first 12 picks in fine cotton)  and ironed it flat. Then turn a further pattern repeat in the 8/2 cotton.  This makes the hem which can now be tacked. Don't worry if your hem is slightly larger.

Close up of the hems before washing. 

I used a wide zigzag stitch on the sewing machine to hem the towels. Once hemmed the tacking stitches can be removed.

To wash the towel, I put it into the washing machine with  my normal wash and then into the drier.

This weave structure makes very textured towels.

 The shrinkage is as follows and is measured with the towel already hemmed.

Before washing ( and after hemming):   Length: 85 cm  (33.5 inches)     Width: 57 cm (22.5 inches)

After washing and drying.:                     Length: 62 cm (24.5 inches)       Width: 45 cm  (17.75 inches)

There is a lot of shrinkage for this weave structure.  The final towels are beautifully textured and make ideal hand towels.

Hanging tag.

I also wove a narrow warp faced band to use as a hanging tab on the towels.  I used the 8/2 cotton in the same colours.  Here is the drawdown.

Drawdown for warp faced narrow band.

The narrow band has 42 warp ends.  If you look along the top of the drawdown, you can see the colour order for the warp. Some of the dark and light green warp threads are doubled so that they stand out in the pattern. This is indicated by a thicker square on the drawdown.

I wove the band on my Swedish band loom.

These type of bands can be woven easily on an inkle loom or with a rigid heddle. (See my book The Art of Simple Band Weaving and the Youtube video Five ways of weaving narrow bands).

I cut the band into 4 inch lengths for the towel hanging tags. Turn under the ends of each tag and iron flat.

Pin to the edge of the towel and oversew.

The band tags were sewn onto the towels - just in time to be wrapped for Christmas presents.

The three tags: one is sewn onto the edge of the towel.

More narrow patterned bands.

Bell key ring holders by Tamaki

My friend Tamaki posted a lovely photograph of some of her key bell holders.  She has been making them to raise money for the orphans of the tsunami.

She loves band weaving and has made some lovely bands in beautiful colour combinations to go with the key holders.

She allowed me to publish her photograph. As you can see, she has been very busy making these lovely bands and knitting the key holders. All of the keyholders sold.

The colours are just right for Christmas.

And finally - a Happy Christmas to everyone.

Susan J Foulkes  December 2014

Monday, 1 December 2014

Travels around the Baltic: Mora to Falun, Sweden

When I first visited Sweden, the wealth of handmade textiles in museums came as a very pleasant surprise. There are examples of woven bands everywhere; in museums large and small as well as displays in shops.  There is a reason for this abundance of textiles.

At the end of the 19th century, there was a realisation that society was changing and that old crafts and traditions were dying out.  Artur Hazelius had set up the Nordiska Museum in Stockholom in 1873 and in 1882, George Karlin founded the Kulturen, the Museum of Cultural History, in Lund in southern Sweden. The museums started to collect examples of peasant craft but it was felt important the skills should not be lost. 

The Nordiska Museum, Stockholm

In 1899,  Lilli Zickerman founded the Home Craft Committee She was a formidable writer and speaker and she brought together an executive board chaired by Prince Eugen.   Zickerman understood the importance of keeping records. From 1914 to the 1930s she compiled many inventories of the traditional textiles of Sweden. She took over 24,000 photographs, hand colouring many of them. She had intended publishing a series of books, but only one was published in her lifetime. These records are now in the Nordiska museum in Stockholm. 

One book about the Nordiska collection was published in 1925. Swedish Textiles is an overview of the weaver's craft with descriptions and black and white pictures, of items in the museum. I found a second hand copy some years ago.  It is written by Emelie von Walterstorff, a member of the Home Craft Committee. It has a forward by Luther Hooper.

In Sweden, each district population was encouraged to set up a handicraft association, so many set about making inventories of the textiles in their area.  One astonishing discovery was made by Paul Jonze in 1910.  He was appointed to make a list of items of rural culture for the Association of Jämtland’s Handicrafts. Next to Överhogdal church, the sexton had found an interesting textile that was lining a box used for storing firewood to heat the church.  When examined properly, this textile was identified as a woven tapestry dating between 800 and 1100 AD (the Viking Period). It had been woven on an upright warp-weighted loom. It is now on display at the Jamtli Museum in Östersund.

Schools were encouraged to teach crafts as a fundamental part of the curriculum so that these traditional skills would be passed on. In Stockholm, the Svensk Hemslöjd store selling Swedish handicrafts from different parts of the country was opened and is still there today. Permanent stores were established around the country to provide a focus for buyers and sellers, the shop in Leksand being the first. Buyers from the large towns could visit these regional stores to order the textiles they wanted.  This provided a source of income for rural women.  These stores were to be centres for exhibitions and craft courses as well as selling venues. Records were kept of local patterns and materials which form the basis of many museum collections today. With all this interest in craft, it is not surprising that Sweden has preserved such a profusion of textiles.

In Leksand, the shop/centre that Lilli Zickerman and the architect Gustaf Ankarcrona established in 1904 is still there. Upstairs there is a small museum of costumes and bands.  They had a stall at the Weave Fair in Umea where the assistants dressed in the local costume.

The Leksand shop stall at the Weave Fair in Umea. 

Most of the local records are now in the nearby Leksand museum which was founded in 1899.  When I visited the museum in 2011 to study the band collection, many of the woven bands I examined still had the original labels detailing when they were collected. 

The county town in Dalarna is Falun and the Dalarnas Museum in the centre of town is another textile heaven. It was here that I spent happy hours examining samples of woven bands. The museum was founded in 1883 and the present building is on an attractive site next to the river.  

Dalarnas Museum, Falun

The costumes and textiles are beautifully displayed.  Although light levels have to be kept low in order to preserve old textiles displayed in glass cases, there is a wall of modern reproductions for the visitor to touch and handle. All these reproductions are represented in the permanent display of historical costumes. I was surprised by the heavy weight of material for the skirts and could appreciate the lovely rosepath patterns in the cloth. The patterns of woven bands can be examined closely. This hands-on display and the accompanying documentary film is an innovative and very welcoming introduction to the textile gallery.  Maria Björkroth from the museum explained that the display is used on guided tours to bring the viewing of costumes to life.  Through the experience of touching and examining, visitors see items in the showcases that they had not noticed and have a greater understanding of how they were made. 

This was my second visit to this wonderful collection.  After my first visit in 2011, I published a book of band patterns from Gagnef-  Woven Bands from Sweden.  This time I examined the rest of the collection of bands from this village.  I love the way the weavers used many colours.  There were a few examples of early bands which were in red and white.  After chemical dyes became available, dyed wool was imported and was very popular.  The bands became multicoloured.  For me it was particularly interesting that the coloured wool came from the UK.

The revival of Folk costume in the early 20th century ensured that the museum has some stunning examples. The Dala-Floda costume is one of the most colourful. The appliqued bags for each costume are so attractive and the museum has many examples. 

Some bands are easy to analyse and weave, but the more complex wider bands can take many hours to chart. 

Many bands are now woven commercially, particularly the waist bands which have to support a sturdy skirt.  I wove an example of one waistband in fine cotton and wool..  The photograph shows my band on the left and a commercially woven band on the right.  (The patterns are not the same).

If you look closely at the bands, you can see that the pattern thread in the centre is green.  This thread is known as the heart of the band.  It is a useful guide when weaving.

I hope that you enjoy the descriptions of my visit to Scandinavia.  In January, I will describe the Sámi weaving that I saw. 

Happy weaving and Seasons Greetings to everyone.

Susan J Foulkes  December 2014