Process Review: Leftover Linen Waffle Weave Washcloths

This is the kind of weaving results that makes me giggle like a child. Waffle weave is one of those things I have been intrigued about for some time, and have wanted to give it a try. Will it really buckle up into waffled wrinkles? Will linen do that? Will it be even better than I expect? Yes, yes, and YES. Talk about transformation!

Using linen thrums for weft.
Taken from thrums, each length of thread is added with a square knot, which makes for slow quill winding. And slow weaving, as I untie each knot that comes along, and overlap weft tails in the shed.
Made with linen leftovers. Weft tails cover the surface.
Shaggy thick blue linen weft tails cover the surface.

Everything in these waffle weave washcloths is linen that has been leftover from previous projects. The tail end of linen tubes, quills that didn’t quite get used up, thrums, and threading missteps that gave me skinny warp chains of several meters. The warp is 16/2 linen, but the weft is everything from fine linen threads, to bundles of threads, to coarse linen rug warp. I discovered, as you will see, that the thicker the weft, the more pronounced the wrinkles. The thickest wefts have given me delightful accordion pleats.

Waffle weave washcloths made entirely of leftover linen.
Wet-finished linen waffle weave has a surprisingly soft hand. After hemming, I am trimming the weft tails to 1/4″, leaving a hint that this is made of leftovers.

Please enjoy this process video of the making of leftover linen waffle weave washcloths! Watch to the end to see the squishiness of this unusual cloth.

Don’t think that this is the end of waffle weave. I am already thinking of all the interesting possibilities…

May your best wrinkles make you giggle.

Happy Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Geri Rickard says:

    I have been waiting to see the final results and they are super! What a cool idea!
    Enjoy using them, I’m sure they will feel wonderful!

  • Elisabeth says:

    I love that you made these beautiful washcloths out of “useless” material! I consider leftovers a precious resource, and I find so much joy in finding a purpose for them whether it’s yarn, thread, fabric, or food 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, It’s satisfying to put some scraps back to use. I’ll save all my linen thrums again, and in a few years I’ll have enough to use them up again.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Those are great! I’ll bet they’ll feel great on your skin as well.

    I made waffle weave towels several years ago and loved how they came out. Unfortunately I gave them all away, so if I want some for myself, I’ll have to weave more. Maybe washcloths would be better. Or both!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I made enough that I can keep a couple of them and use the rest as gifts. I would enjoy having this linen waffle weave as towels, or even bath towels.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    I too have saved my 16/2 linen thrums from my tapestry warps. This would be a fun project for making a couple bath towels. Thanks for the film.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I can’t get myself to throw linen thrums away, so I was glad to have a way to use them up. Bath towels would be wonderful! I’m glad you enjoyed the film.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Laurie says:

    Very creative! I like the end result. Did you weave the hems in plainweave, and then fold over, or just fold over the waffle ends? I also like that you left ends as a reminder…..

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, I did weave the hens in plain weave and folded them under twice. It turned out to be a very narrow hem. The little weft tails add an interesting touch, and makes the washcloths look a little…rustic. 🙂

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    I’ve used waffle weave for baby blankets out of cotton and it makes a cozy blanket!

  • An interesting use of thrums.

    I’m wondering why you didn’t use a simple slip knot to join the pieces? It would make it much faster than untying square knots. I use them all the time if I have a break in my thread when winding bobbins.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, A slip would work great for this. I like the square knot because I can tie it with less thread, and it makes a small knot. Also, surprisingly, it’s one of the easiest knots to untie.

      I just pull one end straight, and the other end slips off. That’s not the best description, but it’s a snap to undo a square knot…most of the time.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Hi Karen,
    It was fun to watch the video. I wonder if a one of a kind scarf could be made with the hodge podge of thrums? Or, a gypsy skirt ala Stevie Nicks? LOL.
    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, A hodge podge of thrums would make a terrific scarf. I’d like a linen waffle weave scarf, in fact. Maybe next time.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Emily Lefler says:

    Wow! These turned out so fun! And I love the ki mark on the shuttle!!
    Love, Emily

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emily, Thanks for dropping by! I am thrilled with the way these turned out.
      Steve woodburns my initials on my shuttles and tools for me.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Tried and True: Another Use for Thrums

Handwoven towels need handwoven hanging tabs. I finished the Vavstuga cottolin towel warp, so now it’s time to put my band loom to use. Why not use the warp thrums to make the woven band? The length of the thrums is too short for the band loom, so I am knotting two ends together for each strand.

Thrums are used to make a warp for the Glimåkra band loom.
Thrums ends are tied together to make a warp long enough for the Glimåkra band loom.
Glimakra band loom.
Cottolin band warp is from the towel warp. Unbleached cottolin is used for the weft.

Everything is starting out just fine, but my inexperience with the “weaver’s knot” proves problematic. One by one, the knots are working themselves loose. I re-tie each failed knot into a confident square knot. Finally, after three weaver’s knot failures, I decided to advance the warp far enough to get past the knots altogether. Smooth sailing after that, and I still ended up with plenty of woven band for the six woven towels.

Woven band for hanging tabs on handwoven towels.
Weaving about 30 cm before the knots, and about 40 cm after the knots. Each hanging tab is about 10 cm, so I have plenty of woven band for the six towels.
Using thrums to make coordinating tabs for handwoven towels.
Unwashed towel fabric. Using warp thread from the towels is a great way to make coordinating hanging tabs, as well as a satisfying use for some of the thrums.

I like finding another good use for the thrums. So, I will do this again. But next time, I’ll do a refresher on knot tying before I begin.

May your knots hold tight.

All the best,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Nancy says:

    What a great idea!

  • Nannette says:

    It is great to find a use for the thrums. I cringe when the work of the spinner is cut away. My last thrums were set aside for raspberry tie ups. Someone else I know uses hers for pillow stuffing.

    I am not familiar with a weaver’s knot. Would you have time in a future posting describe?

    Kind regards,

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I haven’t found a lot of uses for thrums, so I’m happy when it works out like this.

      I don’t think you should learn the weaver’s knot from me until I get better at myself. 🙂 Jenny Bellairs shows a terrific way of tying it – see the link in her comment below this.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • I know the people in the weaving industry can tie the weaver’s knot very quickly, but unless I need the tiny knot, I find it is quicker to put the two ends together and tie an overhand knot.

    I did find some instructions quite a few years ago that I was actually able to remember without looking up instructions, and made a pictorial blog post here: https://jennybellairs.blogspot.com/search?q=Weaver’s+knot

    It doesn’t seem to work well on all weights of yarn though, especially thick firm yarns.

    Karen, I enjoy your blog posts and look forward to learning something new, especially since getting my Glimakra Standard 10 shaft loom last summer.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, Thank you so much for posting your pictorial blog post on tying this knot–Super! I definitely want to try that out. And yes, an overhand knot would have served me better in this instance. Maybe I’ll think of that next time! Thanks!

      I hope you are enjoying your Glimakra Standard 10 shaft loom as much as I enjoy mine!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Nannette says:

      Thank you Jenny,

      The knot looks so easy to be such a challenge. Thank you for sharing your blog. Besides Karen’s blog I have been binging on the vlog Curmudeon66 out of DePere Wisconsin. Content driven by a retired guy with the heart of a teacher.

      My Blog is all over the place. The latest weaving posting is linked below. My work is primitive at best. Hoping to improve with each project.
      http://piasinitimes.blogspot.com/2018/04/plarn-mat-for-homeless.html

      When I have time I will have to put in a few more posts of my spring projects.

      Kind regards,

      Nannette

  • Rachel Lohman says:

    Maybe take the trums and tie together and knit or crochet a washcloth?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rachel, I like that idea. I’m not a knitter or crocheter, but I have friends who are. Maybe they would like to use my thrums.

      I do have plans to use my saved linen thrums for weft in washcloths. I hope to do that sometime this year.

      Thanks,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Cartoon Support

Alignment, security, and visibility are the main things I think about in regard to attaching and supporting the cartoon. In order to weave a tapestry this size, or any size for that matter, you need a good way to manage the cartoon. My cartoon is drawn onto a thin Pellon product (Pellon 830 Easy Pattern, 45″ wide) that is meant for pattern making. This material is easy to pin, doesn’t tear, and only barely wrinkles.

Alignment
Align center of cartoon to center of warp.

A blue dashed line from top to bottom of the cartoon marks the center. I also have a pencil mark on the exact center of my beater. When the blue line on the cartoon is perfectly aligned with the center warp end, as seen from the mark on the beater, I know my cartoon is in the correct position.

Beginning a new tapestry.

Pencil mark on the beater is above the center warp end.

Security

  • Pin the cartoon in two places on each side of the woven tapestry.
    This warp is too wide for me to reach all the way to pin the cartoon in the center. So, on both sides of the weaving I place one flathead pin near the selvedge, and another one as far as I can comfortably reach toward the center. I move the pins forward each time I am ready to advance the warp.

Beginning a new four-shaft tapestry.

Two flat-head pins hold the cartoon under the tapestry weaving on the right-hand side.

  • Hang a support slat under the cartoon.
    I learned this from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 239, 2008 edition. I used this method previously for a rag rug that had a cartoon for a large inlay pattern. It also works well for holding the cartoon for a woven transparency.

Positioning a cartoon under the warp.

Seine twine loop with rubber band hangs from beater cradle. Slat holds cartoon up against the warp.

Supplies: 12/6 cotton seine twine, 2 rubber bands, long warping slat

1 Make a loop with the seine twine to hang from the beater cradle to just below the warp, with a rubber band on the loop.

2 Tie the ends of the loop with a bow knot or a weaver’s tie-up knot (this useful knot is described in How to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, p. 39).

Cartoon management for tapestry.

Top of loop tied in a bow knot.

Weaver's tie-up knot helps hold the tapestry cartoon.

Weaver’s tie-up knot is perfect for this application, since it is quick and easy to undo and re-tie if repositioning is needed.

3 Make another loop the same way, with rubber band, and hang it on the other beater cradle.

4 Place the warping slat in the hanging rubber bands, underneath the cartoon.

5 Adjust the length of the loops so that the slat lightly presses up on the cartoon and the warp.

One way to manage a tapestry cartoon.

Rubber band gives flexibility to the seine twine loop that is holding up the cartoon.

  • Pin the rolled-up cartoon underneath.
    I roll up the Pellon cartoon under the warp and pin it once on each side. As the warp and cartoon advance I can reposition the pin as needed.

Cartoon management for tapestry.

Under the warp, the cartoon is loosely rolled up and pinned.

  • Move the slat toward the breast beam, out of the way, to beat in the weft.
    Because of the rubber bands, the slat support has flexibility and does not impede the movement of the beater.

Visibility
Move the slat near to the fell line.

With the slat under or near the fell line, it presses the cartoon up to the warp. By doing this, I can easily see what comes next as the tapestry weaving develops row by row.

Managing a cartoon for tapestry weaving.

Placing the slat under the fell of the weaving raises the cartoon to visibility where it is needed most.

I wait for my ordered yarn to arrive. Meanwhile, I dream of this tapestry becoming a reality as cartoon meets wool.

May you have the alignment, security, and visibility you need.

All the best,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen. I learn so much from your posts! This one is very timely for me as I have enrolled in the workshop for transparency weaving. Now I feel a little better prepared.

    I never thought of applying the words alignment, security and visibility to life before but they are exactly what everyone needs. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m glad you will be in the transparency workshop. I know it will be great! Just remember, there are about as many different ways to handle the cartoon as there are tapestry and transparency weavers. 🙂 I’m sure you will learn even more at the workshop!

      Alignment, security, and visibility – for a balanced life.
      All the best,
      Karen

  • Rebecca Neef says:

    Wonderful system! In future perhaps I should do my tapestries on my Glimakra, instead of my Lillstina on which it now languishes. The Lillstina has no beater cradle! Just goes to show, as Roseann Rosannadanna said, “it’s always something.”

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rebecca, I’m sure there’s a way to manage a cartoon on your Lillstina! My experience is limited to my Glimakra. I do think the Glimakra is a sweet loom for this type of weaving, though. I hope your tapestry revives soon. Life’s too short for a loom to be tied up with something that’s not working.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Thanks for the idea of the rubber bands. I will do that next time and I can see it will work better. You inspire me to start weaving something. I’ve been busy moving. Just curious who is teaching the transparency workshop?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, The rubber bands do make a big difference. I hope you get a chance weave something soon! Your transparencies are inspiring!

      Laura Viada is teaching the transparency workshop in Houston. Her work is amazing. Laura is also going to teach the workshop in July at HGA Convergence in Reno.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Linen Satin Dräll

This is one of those weaving projects that puts you on top of the world. Everything about it. Linen, ten shafts, five-shaft satin weave, ten treadles, gorgeous Moberg damask shuttle, single-shuttle rhythm, full-body weaving, magical fabric. I did have more than my share of knots in the warp, and a few skipped threads and selvedge loops. But you will see no evidence of those glitches now. All you will see is the natural beauty of linen, with its characteristic unevenness. And the reflective satin dräll weave, with its light-catching trickery.

The warp is Bockens unbleached 16/2 line linen. Two of the towels use 16/1 golden bleached linen for the weft. At my husband’s request, the remaining three towels have 16/2 linen weft, in ecru. The thicker weft helps make these into robust absorbent handtowels. A table square finishes off the set.

Enjoy the process with me as I reminisce over the start-to-finish pleasure of weaving these towels.

Winding a linen warp.

Linen warp chains.

Tying on the linen warp.

Tying up 10 treadles on a countermarch!

Sampling weft colors on a linen warp.

Sunlit linen damask weaving.

Hidden patterns in the 5-shaft satin.

Linen 5-shaft satin dräll!

Beautiful Moberg damask shuttle.

Spliced warp ends.

Linen satin dräll on the loom.

End of the warp is near. So many warp end repairs!

Cutting off! Linen 5-shaft satin dräll.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for towels.

Ready to sew handwoven hanging tabs on new linen towels.

Just off the loom--linen 5-shaft satin handtowels.

Handwoven linen towel with handwoven hanging tab.

Handwoven set of linen satin dräll towels. Karen Isenhower

May you find pleasure in what you do.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Exquisite, Karen!

  • JAN says:

    Nice finishing touch with hand woven hanging tab. Had you ever though of putting another one in the middle of the long edge so the towel can be hung on a hook above the sink?

    • Karen says:

      Hi JAN, I haven’t done that, but it’s a great idea. I would need to figure out how to attach it, since there is not a hem on the side. These tabs would be a little too thick to fold the ends under, but could certainly do that with tabs made with thinner threads. Have you done it?

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Janet says:

    Beautiful towels and beautifully woven!

  • Betsy says:

    Wonderful towels! And I’m so impressed that your husband knows enough about yarn to recommend 16/2 over 16/1.

    Your little bowl of pegs next to the treadles reminds me of my last project, huck placemats. I could remember the treadling, but not the 18 repeats. So I had a bowl like yours with 18 pegs, and after every repeat I moved one peg to another bowl. And every once in a while I’d crawl around the Julia counting the repeats in case I made a mistake, lol.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, Haha, I may have given the wrong impression about my husband. He specified thicker, less dainty towels, and I chose the appropriate size of linen.

      What a great way to keep track of repeats. I’m going to remember that!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nancy Nordquist says:

    These are absolutely beautiful! Than you for sharing so many photos and details of the process.

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Yes, this weave is magical and so fun to weave. And thank you for the beauticul photos. Did you use your phone to take these photos?
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I feel so “at home” weaving something like this. It is satisfying and rewarding.

      I use my iPhone 7 for all my photos. Steve has a very nice digital SLR camera, but I do best with the simple little iPhone. And it’s always in my pocket or on the table beside me. I take way too many pictures, and then I whittle them down to my very favorites to share here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barb says:

    Beautiful design, beautifully woven. The joy & pleasure you have in weaving shows in every finished project. Each time you use these towels, you will be reminded of your enjoyment of the process of weaving. Thank you for sharing your talents and inspiring other weavers to find that joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Your thoughtful comments mean so much! If I can inspire another weaver to find a little more joy in this wonderful weaving process, that would be fantastic!
      Part of the pleasure of having towels like this in my home is getting to see others enjoy the results, too.

      Thanks so much,
      Karen

  • Angela says:

    Beautiful and inspirational!

  • Gretchen says:

    Love these Karen!! So simple and classic… and perfect! Beautiful.

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Tools Day: Eliminating Warp Knots

You are not going to believe how many knots I came across in this 16/2 linen warp! Too many. As I wound the warp I made the decision to leave most of the knots, and deal with them on the loom. (I did remove knots that were close to the beginning or ending peg on the warping reel.) I lost count, but I’m sure I have spliced the warp on this five-and-a-half-meter project at least a dozen times. (To see more details about how I splice the warp, visit this blog post and video: How To Splice the Warp – Video.)

I do not weave over warp knots. A knot introduces a spot of vulnerability to the fabric. Knots can fray, loosen, or come undone over time, even if the knot is originally imperceptible.

In a couple instances, a knot distorted the tension of the warp end because of catching on a heddle or passing through the reed. For that reason, I now try to eliminate knots in the warp before they reach the heddles.

Tool: Warp Separator

  • Identify the warp end that has a knot, and insert the warp separator between warp ends to isolate the thread.

Warp separator to isolate warp with knot.

  • With a length of repair warp thread, follow the path of the original thread to splice in the new warp end, feeding it through the heddle of the original warp end.

Warp separator to isolate warp end with knot.

  • Bring the repair warp thread through the reed in the same dent as the warp end that has a knot.

Eliminating a warp knot.

  • Attach the repair warp thread near the fell by wrapping it around a flat straight pin.

Splicing a warp end.

  • Remove the warp separator from between the warp ends.

Warp separator for repairing a warp end.

  • Place a weight on the floor below the back beam. Wrap the repair thread around the weight two or three times to hold the thread at tension that matches the rest of the warp. Loosen the wrapped-around thread before advancing the warp, and then re-tighten before resuming weaving.

Splicing warp ends.

  • Weave one to two inches with both the original warp end and the repair warp thread in place.
  • Then, cut the original warp end with the knot (behind the heddles) and let it hang over the back beam.

Cutting a warp knot behind the reed.

  • The original and replacement warp ends overlap in the weaving for about one to two inches.
  • Remove the straight pin when it reaches the breast beam.
  • Re-attach the original warp end when it is long enough to secure in front of the fell line with a flat straight pin.
  • And then, cut and remove the replacement warp thread.
  • Trim all the spliced warp tails after wet finishing.

Spliced warp end to eliminate a knot in the warp.

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

This warp separator was a gift from The Weavers and Spinners Society of Austin, included in the goodie bag from last summer’s Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference. It would not be hard to make a warp separator like this from wood or sturdy cardboard. I have not been able to locate a supplier online.

If you know where to find a warp separator tool, please put a link in the comments.

May you have very few warp knots.

All the best,
Karen

23 Comments

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