process · weaving · yarn

asymmetrical tea towels (Pt. I): warping & re-beaming

For the first time in my creating, I made a sort-of mood board. Because I never went to design school, this way of creating in the process never resonated with me before but in weaving, there are so many colours and patterns that I felt I needed something to focus my thoughts. Over the course of a few days, I pulled some images that I loved and combined them to help direct this next project. These are the images that I pulled off a Google search:

I love the soft pinks and creams, as well as the gentle yellow in each image (except the second). There is the dark blue of his wine glass in the third image and the grays throughout. These colours just kept resonating with me again and again so I decided to try to find them in 2/8 cotton to see what they might look like woven up!

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These are the colours I eventually settled on, with a bit of help from Norah! I love the play of the lighter tones and the dramatic darker blue. After some humming and hawing, I decided to follow (roughly) the pattern from Jane Stafford’s Season Two asymmetrical tea towel. They have been all over Instagram and I love the striping but also the range of towels possible from one simple pattern.

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Let us talk about warping for a moment. It is a whole other ballgame compared to rigid heddle weaving. I know there’s the whole 2-heddle thing in rigid heddle right now that is really popular – and Liz Gipson has some amazing Patreon videos to help with this and I highly recommend her YarnWorker School of Weaving (it is amazing) for rigid heddle weavers – and so warping can take on lots of different ‘hats’ in that arena as well. In terms of using a warping board and warping front-to-back on a harness loom, it is a whole learning curve unto itself.

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The first few projects that I wove on the Jane were very straightforward and warping was easy-peasy. This was more challenging because the 2/8 cotton has a bit of a twist in it from being on the cones so long, as well, I’m warping by myself and holding tension, using books and ensuring the paper is going on all at the same time is tough! I totally get the draw of sectional warping now!

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After warping the loom, I ended up re-beaming (re-warping) the next morning because there was a warp thread that broke halfway through and that section just did not wind on evenly. I was really worried that if I did not go back and fix it, it would come back to bite me later with poor tension and wonky fabric. There’s no point to weaving the towels if they are not going to turn out, am I right?! In total, the cost of yarn for this project was $75+tax CAD so I want to ensure these turn out, that my time on the project was well spent, and that I create a product at the end I like, enjoy and want to use! Part of the reason for tracking my expenses for weaving is two-fold: I am being very intentional about what I’m bringing into the home for weaving this year and second, I would like to sell a few things at our annual guild sale in the fall so it helps to price things when the time comes.

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In Jane’s sampler, the colours were (bottom to top) light grey, dark grey, red, black. I decided to use colours instead of shades and substituted the red for ochre yellow. The black become dark teal-blue, and the light grey became light salmon-pink. I also used different math for larger stripes and less white, but still off-set and asymmetrical.

After re-beaming (and new paper), I began taking the warp out of the raddle at the top of the loom to thread the heddles. The re-beaming process was actually quite straightforward. I enjoyed doing it and I decided to take my time, come what may, no matter how much time it took. I had not rushed the night before but I thought it best just to embrace the learning and process. In our spinning, I preach that and now was my chance to fully embrace the situation. I’m really glad I did because I did not get mad or upset or angry at having to re-beam, I just plodded along. It also gave me a chance to think a lot about the various warping techniques we have access to in our modern weaving culture. It is really incredible.

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Although I was tired because it was late at night, I decided to begin sleying the reed after threading all the heddles. I needed to figure out how to place the towels on the loom because I didn’t use the heddles on harness 7 or 8 and they were crammed to the left side of the loom. To ensure I had enough heddles, I needed to use harnesses 1-6, which will be time-consuming and slow to weave but that’s the process on this table loom. These small steps in project planning make a lot of difference and decisions I made early in the process, affect decisions later.

As I work my way through sleying and begin weaving, I am thinking about this 9-yard warp and the towels I will be able to create from this project. I am really looking forward to reflecting on that soon!

Do you have a preferred way to warp? I would love to hear about your favourite method.

2 thoughts on “asymmetrical tea towels (Pt. I): warping & re-beaming

  1. Wow, wow, wow! I love the colours and the asymmetrical pattern you decided to use. Can’t wait to see these grow. And your writing was a good reminder to me that taking time to set up things properly is not wasted.

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