Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Many weavers seem to dislike the warping, threading, sleying, all the activities that go into getting the warp on the loom and ready to weave. I enjoy those activities. What I dislike is doing the finishing.  When I cut a piece off the loom my mind tells me I am Towels trimmed ready for washing done and shuts down. I am ready to get on to the next piece. I have to use every trick in the book to get me to continue with the finishing.


I have used the sewing machine to zigzag the edges of the towels to keep them from fraying.  I have cut the towels apart.  I now have what almost seems like a pile of towels.  But they feel coarse.  They look a bit like window screening.  There is more work to be done before they morph into towels.

I need to get rid of all the weft yarns thrown in between each towel.  I need to trim any threads not trimmed at the time of weaving.  I need to check each towel for errors. 

treadling errorPROBLEMS

I did check for errors. The first error I spotted was a treadling error:  I threw two consecutive shots in the same shed.  It is at the hem border—the (more or less…) horizontal line of cream at the bottom shows two wefts each in the correct shed.  But then, at the top of that line is an apparent thicker shot in a third shed.  Actually that apparently thicker shot is really two shots in the same shed. 

I may keep this towel for myself.  I had planned on keeping one or two for myself, but then I had also changed my mind.  Or I may simply point out the error to Amy as a reminder that her mother is not perfect.  Not that she needs reminding, mind you.

And in the course of trimming up, I saw the occasional notch in the Notch in selvedge selvedge where one or more weft threads had caught and pulled tight when I threw the shuttle across the warp.  The one in the photo was particularly bad.  The rest are not nearly so obvious.  Clearly my pirn winding, though much improved over what it was when I first started weaving with end feed shuttles, still needs work.  But my eyes still need to be more attentive as I weave so I can catch these problems while it is still reasonable to unweave and correct. 


After I trimmed the towels up, I measured them. The first five towels were 25” wide.  The last towel was 24 1/2” wide---narrower than the rest as expected.  These were also the widths on the loom.  That did not change.  However, the width at the reed had been 27”, so that means there was either 2” or 2 1/2” of draw in, depending on which towel I am discussing.  Roughly 10%, a figure that is in line with normal expectations.  I expect more shrinkage widthwise after washing.

Measuring the length of each of them from edge to edge (which includes the hems), four of the towels measured 37” and two measured 38”.  This, two I anticipated because I had gotten confused at some point whether I was measuring edge to edge or from the bottom of the towel to the other bottom of the towel, minus the hems.  Next time I weave multiple items that I have to measure on the loom, I will attach a reminder to my little bulletin board on the castle.  Right in front of my face……….   Perhaps in red ink………..


Now I need to wash, hang dry and press.  Then sew the hems.  For towels I use the sewing machine for this.  Then I plan to wash them again and put them through the dryer this time, primarily to encourage more shrinkage, but also to soften them up a bit more. 

I will not put them in the dryer the first time round because I have read that wrinkles will set in cotton if the fabric is not carefully pressed first. Once that initial press is over, the dryer will create no wrinkles.  I do not know for sure whether or not this is true.  I only know that that is how I finished dish towels I wove many years ago and there is never a wrinkle in them.


I would so much rather be making the warp for my next piece…..

I would so much rather be working on the design for my next crackle piece…..

"Finishing the Towels" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on December 16, 2008. © 2008 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina


Laura said...

Hi Peg,

I, too, am struggling with the finishing pile! I'd much rather be weaving. But it isn't finished until it's wet finished (and hemmed, tagged, priced and inventoried for sale!) :}



Alice said...

Wow Peg, I would rather be doing anything than winding a warp! I love it when the winding is done and the threading is ready to commence. I like finishing too. Same with knitting, I love the coming together of the raw pieces into the usable whole.

I am a new weaver and tend to get anxious about the planning stage, I think because I am inexperienced and don't have a lot of projects under my belt.

I like those towels though! I may have to get going again.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Laura, well I shall remember to be grateful that I don't have to tag, price and inventory!
Alice, good for you! But as you come out of your beginner phase you may find yourself gradually enjoying the process of getting the warp on the loom. I am also a knitter and.........I do not like finishing! But I know that in both weaving and knitting, finishing can make or break the item.

Anonymous said...

The trouble with these dire warnings is that the only way to find out whether they're true or not is to steel yourself to make a sacrifice on the altar of science - and put an unpressed towel in the dryer. I'm not that scientific! Also I don't have a tumble dryer!

Susan said...

Hi Peg,
With regards to the towel where you have a double weft shot: you could remove one of the wefts and then ease everything into place with a pin. Then washing should ease everything into place further still. I have done this and know it works! The worse case scenerio is its 'your' towel if you don't like the look of the mend. I have a draw full of what I call my 'wounded soliders' towels that lead a very productive life in my house.
I like to do hand finishing while I watch TV not being able to simply sit.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Cally, right on, I am not going to test, especially with things intended for someone else!
Susan, that would be a good idea except it is a border and a border right on the very visible edge as well, so I would really need to weave it back in as it should be. I'm not going to....... Handwork on weaving I usually have to do at a table because I have to have something to spread it out on and a good light right over it. At least I am not handsewing the hems! Towels are not exactly a couture item.......(grin!)

Amelia, belle of The Bellwether said...

Thanks for the tip on finishing cotton tea towels ... I have one on the loom now, and *really* want to get it right. Wrinkles would have been a real drag.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, I LOVE finishing the fabric. When the weaving is finished it looks stiff and unfriendly. I can't wait to throw it in the washing machine, dry, hem and press and see the magic of weaving.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Amelia, glad you found this post useful.
AJ, it's not so much the washing and pressing I dislike. As you noted, those do wonderful things to the woven fabric at very little time expense. It's thing like checking for errors, mending, hemming........ If all I had to do was throw the fabric into the washing machine and then press it, I would be very happy indeed!

Leigh said...

Ah yes, finishing. I should be ashamed of the number of unfinished weaving projects that I have stored away. That's why gifts are good; they force me to finish the item! Finishing towels is one time when it's nice to have a serger.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Leigh, no need for a serger. Regular zigzaggins works just fine. Perhaps even better because it results in a less heavy edge when you turn it under for hemming. And you remind me, I have that cotton crackle yardage I have never made the jacket out of........

Trapunto said...

Your towels look crisp and lovely, especially piled up in their right-off-the-loom deshabille.

Peg in South Carolina said...

thank you, Trapunto.