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: Color Gradation

When I decided to use up some of the quills that have collected, I stumbled on one of my favorite techniques—color gradation. The weft colors change gradually instead of making distinct weft stripes. Remember the placemats on the little countermarch loom? I am weaving the last few.

Color gradation on plain weave with color and weave effects.

Using up thread left on quills for some color gradation play.

Doubled weft gives opportunity for easy color gradation.

Color and weave effects on plain weave. 8/2 cotton weft is doubled.

The quills on a double-bobbin shuttle don’t always empty at exactly the same time. The quill that has thread remaining on it goes in a box for later use. Those quills in the box are what I’m using here. For this placemat I’m letting gradient color changes happen in varying increments, according to the amount of thread left on the quill. I have five shades of 8/2 cotton, ranging from coral pink to pumpkin.

Colors for gradient weaving.

Color “sisters” play well together.

This is the perfect setup for some subtle color gradation: Five closely-related hues, a double-bobbin shuttle, and a supply of leftover quills. For best effect, I arrange the colors in order, from light to dark, or dark to light.

Color Gradation

  • Weave a section with two quills of color A (the lightest color)
  • Weave the next section with one quill of color A and one quill of color B (one shade darker than color A)
  • Weave the next section with two quills of color B
  • Weave the next section with one quill of color B and one quill of color C (one shade darker than color B)

And so on…

What could be simpler?

Color gradation.

Pumpkin color adds a pleasing subtle accent to the corals and reds in the cloth.

May you make something beautiful with the little bits that you have.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Ruth Terry says:

    Such a lovely way to play with color. I often transition from one color to another without a hard line by weaving 1 pick with new color, 4 picks with old color, 2 picks with new color, 3 picks with old color, 3 picks with new color, 2 picks with old color, 4 picks with new color, 1 pick with old color and transition complete. Will try your double bobbin change next time I am ready to play with colors. Blessings during this advent season, Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Thanks for sharing another way to transition the colors. That’s a great way to achieve a lovely gradient.

      It would be fun to do a sample piece with various ways to do color gradations. Or, that would be an interesting study group project.

      Advent blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    We turned on the Spurs game the other night and I took one look at the other team’s uniform and said “gradient!” Not something you often see in a basketball uniform, lol.

    Love the placemat!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, That’s too funny! Who else is even going to notice such things? …unless we call it the popular name-“ombré,” meaning shaded in French.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Vivian says:

    I realized on a recent project the subtle transition between two light colours, in different tones added depth. I decided to shake up the mix and make the transitions much narrower in the next project and didn’t have as near an interesting effect. It needed large areas each for contrast.
    I love your pattern too

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Band Loom Time!

Before I can hem these new towels, I need to make some hanging tabs. Band loom time! Making a warp for the band loom is one way to use up some of the weft on quills that didn’t quite get emptied when weaving the towels. Of the four colors in the towels, I am using aqua, poppy, and orchid for the hanging tabs. The bright marigold, my favorite of the four colors, may bring too much attention to itself, so I’m leaving it out. A hanging tab must be a stable and firm loop that becomes a pleasing part of the towel.

Planning to weave hanging tabs for handwoven towels. Karen Isenhower

Towels, before wet finishing, are spread out with the thread colors on top. I am trying to determine which colors will work together in woven hanging tabs for all four towels.

Glimakra band loom. Hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Eleven ends are just enough for weaving a narrow band. (The two ends in the center are doubled in the heddle and counted as one.)

Glimakra band loom, making hanging tabs for handwoven towels.

Simple symmetrical design with aqua, poppy, and orchid colors. To use as hanging tabs for towels, the band is cut into short pieces, about ten centimeters (four inches) each. Each cut tab is then sewn into the hem of a towel.

Established. Stable (root word of e-stabl-ish) and firm. That’s how important our faith is as we walk through life. Everything hangs from it. So it must be woven carefully and stitched in securely, a pleasing part of who we are. Stable and firm in faith as we live for the Lord—that’s a beautiful way to live.

May your finishing details be pleasing.

With you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Laura says:

    Your towels are beautiful. Love the little bobbin you are using. Do you mind telling me where you got that from? Love all your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, Thank you! My husband carved the little band loom shuttle for me. You probably know that you can use a short cardboard quill for band weaving, but I will email the specs of the little shuttle to you in case you or someone you know wants to carve one.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Thank you for sharing the design and craft process for finishing the beautiful towels. So true is the need for a firm foundation in life. Nannette

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Glorious Weft Leftovers

I didn’t know it could look like this. The pleasant color interaction is astounding! Had I known, I may have woven the whole throw in this manner. This is the end of the warp, after 16 centimeters for the sample, 166 centimeters for the throw, and 50 centimeters for the lap blanket.

Double weave throw on the loom.

For the lap blanket I am spacing the blocks differently than for the throw. The deep plum weft has narrow and wider stripes that separate the squares into groups of three.

An ending sample is a perfect opportunity to use up weft left on the quills, and even some quills of 8/2 cotton left over from other projects. When the dark plum quill empties, others colors take its place. I put the colors one right after the other, without the dark plum separating them into squares. The fabric image that appears in front of me is mesmerizing!

Double weave sample on the loom. May be my favorite sample yet!

Softer color transitions are made by eliminating the deep plum weft stripes between colors.

Double weave sample. Karen Isenhower

Cutting off! Double weave in 8/2 cotton.

Back of fabric highlights the warp stripes, with deep plum squares. Now, for the finishing work!

Image. What we do with what we know contributes to the image of who we are. When we trust in Christ, who is the image of the invisible God, our image is renovated. We are renewed in our knowledge, aligning our image with God. What a magnificent thought! How differently we might live if we only knew how glorious the outcome will be. The Grand Weaver turns our leftover weft into his astounding masterpiece.

May you find glorious surprises in your leftover threads.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Rachel Lohman says:

    The joy of color is like being a little kid and opening your first big box of Crayons and seeing all the lovely colors – breathtaking! Thank you for that memory! Love your pieces – love your God references! Have a joyful day as you began mine!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rachel, Yes, it is very much like that cherished box of crayons! Color seems to be an outward expression of joy.

      Thanks for your uplifting words!
      Karen

  • Karen, my first thought when seeing your final photos was that of crayons. We may be happy with the box of 24, but God gives us so many more colors if we open ourselves to Him. Your Weaving is lovely.

    Would you mind if I use part of your ending message to send to a friend soon undergoing cancer surgery to her jaw? You have such a great way with words.
    Jenny

    • Karen says:

      Jenny, Your thought about opening ourselves up to God’s abundant colors, instead of thinking our 24 is all there is, really gave me something to think about. Thank you!!

      I am honored any time you find something here you would like to share. Please do!

      Touched,
      Karen

  • 5 colors. So many variations. God is good.
    Nannette

  • Annie says:

    Quite an astounding difference! I, also, thought immediately of crayons and love what Jenny said about it. Perhaps this will be the pattern for future throws?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, your loom and your hospitality with me, Karen. Unfortunately, I will not be able to come for the dressing of the loom this morning.

    I hope you have a blessed day, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, Interesting that several thought of crayons. I love that! Yes, I am going to keep this in mind for future throws, towels, scarves, and what-have-you.

      We’ll miss you this morning.

      Thanks!
      Karen

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Tools Day: Swedish Bobbin Winder

There’s nothing quite like the beauty and functionality of a well-designed tool. The Swedish hand bobbin winder is one of those tools. A bobbin winder is essential. Steve made a superb electric bobbin winder for me that I normally use. But at our Texas hill country home, my Swedish bobbin winder comes into play. And it is a pleasure to use. I clamp the bobbin winder on a shelf in the cabinet where I store my few weaving supplies for this location. The tube of thread sits directly below on a simple homemade spool holder.

Swedish hand bobbin winder for winding quills.

Swedish hand bobbin winder is set up in my supply cabinet. It is easy to remove and put away when I finish winding quills.

Swedish hand bobbin winder for winding quills.

Narrow spindle on the bobbin winder is the size that works for winding quills.

For these color-and-weave cotton placemats, I am using double-bobbin shuttles. So, with the impressively simple Swedish hand bobbin winder I am winding matching pairs of colorful 8/2 cotton quills.

Double-bobbin shuttles for weaving doubled weft.

Double bobbin shuttles are handy for weaving this doubled weft color-and-weave pattern.

May you have the pleasure of working with well-designed tools.

Happy weaving,
Karen

2 Comments

  • I am glad I found your blog. It visually explains how weaving should look when done right. AND—– (very important) has been kept up to date since 2013.
    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, What a kind thing for you to say! I aim to give visual explanations, so I’m happy to hear that from you.

      Yes, I have been posting twice a week ever since I started in April 2013. Thank you for noticing!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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