More colors, more towels

17 of the 19 colors of yarn I ordered arrived on Thursday.

17 of 19 yarns arrived

When I saw it all, I gulped. I fear I overdid it. But it’s done.

This afternoon I wound the warp for another 8 Safe At Home towels (the squares within squares).

beaming the warp for more Safe At Home towels

I’ve already decided (thanks to a suggestion from a friend) that after this warp I’m going to go back to circles for at least one warp of 8. When I wove circles before, my warp colors were limited – usually 5-6 warp colors for the run of 8 towels. I think I’m going to make every circle (18 across the width) a different color. Although I may change my mind before then. Maybe I’ll limit it to 9 colors – 2 circles of each color.

Earlier today I took the photos of my crackle towels and posted them on Facebook. (Have you joined the Second Wind Fan Group?) I’m happy with them.

6 crackle towels

I wove each of the 6 towels with a different color weft. I also used 4 different treadlings.

turquoise, black, and smoked paprika towels

Unlike the last 2 batches of towels, all the colored yarns here are commercially dyed.

periwinkle, midnight multi, and purple towels

The Midnight Multi towel has a variegated weft with navy, purple, medium blue, green, and red-orange.

Contact me if you’re interested in purchasing any of my towels.

Using stash – or not

For MANY months I’ve been saying ‘must use stash’ yet somehow I keep acquiring more yarn. 🙁 I have an excuse/rationale, but still…

My handwoven towels have been a real hit. Especially those colorful squares of Safe at Home.

7 handwoven Safe at Home II towels

I only got 7 towels out of this warp, and each one is long for a towel – 33″. I was counting weft stripes instead of measuring length, and apparently I wasn’t beating as firmly as I did for the first batch of these towels.

Regardless, I had requests for 2 of these towels – which turned into 3 – before the warp ever went on the loom. As soon as I posted this batch of 7 on Facebook I sold 3 more of them, so only 1 towel is left.

So I knew I’d need to weave more of these joyful and useful babies. And I didn’t have enough unmercerized cotton left to put another warp on the loom. (Ok, honestly, I do have some grays and taupes, but I don’t think that’s what people want right now. I may try that in the future.) So what to do? First I contacted a woman handling the sale of yarn from a local estate. I got a few unmercerized cottons but she didn’t have many. However I did also buy a few cones of light tints of cottolin and some mercerized cotton. And some undyed tencel. I couldn’t pass up the price. Sigh.

Not much for the Safe at Home towels, so I HAD to place an order. I had no choice, right? RIGHT?? I ordered 8oz. cones of 19 different colors. Sounds like a real lot, but honestly, that’ll only make about 3.5 batches of these towels.

While I’m waiting for the yarn to arrive, I put another batch of towels on the loom. 😉 For years I’ve said to myself, “I don’t like crackle weave.” And then I’d see something woven in crackle and say, “That’s beautiful.” Repeat the “I don’t like it – that’s beautiful” sequence several times, and I knew it was time for me to try it.

I doubted they’d sell as quickly as the Safe at Home towels, and knew I might not like treadling them (the treadling is all somewhat complex) so I only put on a warp for 6 towels. I have 4 woven so far, each with a different weft color and I’ve used 3 different treadling patterns. We’ll see how they go.

handwoven turquoise 'crackle' towel

handwoven mauve 'crackle' towel

handwoven black 'crackle' towel

Meanwhile, I have way too much Tencel & rayon, chenille, and silk to use up. But that’s not what’s moving out of my house right now. So I will weave cotton towels.

48 Hours Later

It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t easy, but I got it done. I’m going to walk you through the steps, partly to help anyone else who might find themselves in a similar situation, and partly for me to refer to if I ever do something this foolish again. 😉

I started trying to unwind/unbeam the warp with the threads through both heddles and reed. This was quickly turning ugly, and threading the reed is a really quick process, so I unthreaded the reed.

Much better. I thought I could get through this task with the heddles remaining threaded. It wasn’t going very well, though. Snarls were happening frequently, especially in the green and magenta sections. I’d dyed both of these yarns years ago, and my math told me I didn’t have quite enough of either for a whole section of the warps. So I opted to use two of my hand-dyed threads and one commercially-dyed thread for a three-thread cross. The mix of these yarns just seemed to grab on to each other as I tried to unwind.

I didn’t really want to unthread the heddles if I didn’t have to, and knew that doing so wouldn’t solve my problem, so I just moved slowly, combing the warp frequently, although I knew there was the potential for this to cause me problems later (stretching yarns differently).

After a few frustrating minutes, I could hear Laura Fry repeating one of her lessons: “A thread under tension is a thread under control.” AHA! All I had to do was to get enough warp in front of the heddles so that I could hang some weights! I removed the beater and reed, went under the front beam and over my warping valet, and hung weights.

hanging weights on the warps to unwind

The milk jug is on two warp colors next to each other which are both behaving well. All the other colors had their own weights, ranging from 1.5-2 pounds each. I started with the weights as high as I could make them, and as I unwound they neared the floor. Back to that end and move the weights back to the top. This made the job INFINITELY easier! Thank you, Laura Fry!

When it was all unwound, I realized I’d done something a little foolish, but no big deal. I should have taken those to-be-removed blue-violet threads out of the heddles before I started unwinding. I had to remove them at the end, which meant I had to pull the entire 8-1/2 yards backwards through the heddles. Fortunately this didn’t cause a problem.

Then I removed the ‘bad’ warp section and replaced it with the new warp section on the lease sticks and the the apron rod.
replacement warp on the lease sticks and apron rod

I didn’t want to put the raddle back in, so I simply spread out the replacement warp threads to about the correct width as I wound. At the front of the loom, I now started with the weights near the floor and as I re-beamed the weights rose. When they were at the top I’d simply rehang them to be back at the bottom.

re-beaming the warp with the replacement section

This part went as beautifully as beaming almost always does for me (again, thanks to Laura Fry). Then I just had to thread heddles for the replacement section and re-thread the reed. Before I knew it I was back in business and weaving.

Back weaving on the fixed warp

YES!! Another problem solved. Whew!

Pandemic Brain

Let me just start by saying I am not sick. I do not have COVID-19 or any other disease. I feel fine, other my usual age-related aches and pains.


I clearly have what I’m calling pandemic brain. IMHO it’s related to pregnancy brain for women going through that. One’s normal mental processes are not functioning properly. Thinking isn’t always rational. Counting skills go out the window.

I would never want to imply that I don’t make mistakes. I sure do. But it’s highly unusual that I’ll make mistakes 4 out of 5 projects in a row. And that is what has happened.

beaming gems multi-warp

It started in mid-March. I planned a beautiful skein-painted project, intending to make one shawl and weave yardage to make something else – a vest, perhaps. The weaving went fine, but I hadn’t done my calculations correctly, not wound enough warp ends, so the fabric isn’t as wide as I’d intended. Fine for the shawl, but for the yardage? I’ll have to find a different pattern than the one I had planned on. I’m confident I can do that at some point, but not yet inspired to do so.

Next up was my Safe At Home towels. I do love them, and the mistake wasn’t a big one – winding 62 turquoise ends instead of 72 as I was winding the warp. So I had to hang 10 ends over the warp beam and hope I could maintain tension. It all worked out fine but caused me a small amount of anxiety as I wove.

handwoven colorful towels

After that was my Comfort At Home towels. They went off without a hitch.

7 handwoven Comfort At Home towels

Then my Spring At Home towels. As noted, I didn’t pay attention to my math and initially wound skeins only half the size I needed for my wefts. Again, a problem fixed easily enough by winding and dyeing more skeins, but a silly, if simple, mistake.

hand dyed warp and weft for Spring At Home towels

Now I’m working on another batch of Safe At Home towels. I looked through my stash and found colors that I thought worked well together.

warps for Safe At Home2 towels

The turquoise is obviously a commercially dyed yarn. The magenta and green are skeins I dyed back in 2016 for a project but didn’t use. I dyed the yellow and orange skeins specifically for this project. The dark blue-violet is some hand dyed yarn I’ve had for years, dyed by someone else, that I thought was just what this warp needed. In fact, I have 2 of the towels on this warp already spoken for, just from those warp colors and the Safe At Home weaving plan.

I got the threads measured out and beamed.

beaming Safe At Home2 towel warp

All heddles and reed threaded, time to tie on to the front apron. I had some difficulty in the beginning, and ended up doing my lashing on twice to get my tension right. Ok, that’s a pain in the butt, but whatever.

Then I started weaving. I was having difficulty maintaining tension and couldn’t figure out why, but said to myself, you just need to keep going. It will get better. But it wasn’t getting better; it was getting worse. All of sudden the lightbulb went off. I got up, looked at my yarn labels, and closed my eyes and moaned. That lovely dark blue-violet wasn’t an 8/2 yarn – 3,360 yards per pound. It was twice as thick – only 1,680 yards per pound. I thought it felt a bit different when I was measuring it, but as this yarn is also more loosely spun, I attributed it to that and kept going. BIG MISTAKE!

There’s only one way to fix this. Start by removing the weft.

weft cut so it can be removed

Here I’ve got half of that done.

removing the weft

Next insert lease sticks to retain the cross.

lease sticks re-inserted

Go back through the stash and see if I have something else that will look good for warp. Nope. Tomorrow I will wind another skein and dye it, hoping for something similar to that blue-violet.

Then I will go back to the loom. I will carefully unwind all of the warp, pulling it back through the reed and heddles so that it’s all at the front of the loom. (If needed, I will unthread the reed and the heddles, but I’m hoping I don’t have to.) I will attempt to save the 84 ends of the blue-violet yarn, as it is a lovely color and is almost 9 yards long, but if I have to toss it, I do.

Once the newly-dyed skein is dry, I’ll measure that out, put it on the lease sticks, and beam it along with the other 5 colors. Sigh.

I just HOPE that I DO NOT keep making mistakes. This is a royal pain. And not like me.

Spring At Home Towels

The reaction to my Safe At Home towels was so strong and so swift, I knew I needed to weave at least one more warp of colorful towels. I planned and prepared for this batch, Spring At Home, while I was weaving the Comfort At Home towels.

To start, I had to measure out the warp so I could weave eight towels. I’d recently gotten a big cone of undyed yarn that was 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton and wanted to use that. Although I would usually wind this warp in two bouts, I decided to wind this in three bouts because odd numbers are usually more pleasing to our eyes.

Once the warps were scoured and soaked I mixed up chartreuse, fuchsia, lavender, and ice blue dyes and set to work. I had a written plan about how to dye each bout, with each color only used twice.

Hmmmm. Ice blue and lavender dyes look remarkably similar, at least wet. Will they look the same dry? I don’t know. So I changed the plan somewhat.

I also wanted to dye the wefts for this batch of towels, so I wound skeins and prepared dyes for them, too: golden yellow, grape, avocado, and turquoise. But at the last minute I decided to dump the leftover ice blue, lavender, and fuschia dyes into the turquoise bucket.

Here are the final warps and my planned wefts.

hand dyed warp and weft for Spring At Home towels

I beamed the warp, and as long-time readers know, one of my favorite shots is a painted warp going around the back beam.

beaming the Spring At Home warp

I started weaving with the yellow weft and loved it. But wait…why am I going through the weft faster than planned?

Back to my notes and Geez! Once again I hadn’t paid enough attention to the numbers. My math told me I needed about 2.5 ounces of yarn for weft per towel. So although I wanted to weave two towels of each weft color, I only made my skeins about 2.5 ounces each!

So I only had enough weft for four towels, not eight. I had to dye more yarn. And I didn’t have enough of that hemp-cotton blend, so had to go in my stash for more undyed 8/2 unmercerized cotton, and fortunately had some. Wind more skeins and go back down to the basement to dye them. I decided as long as I was dyeing more yarn, I’d make each towel a slightly different color. This time I mixed up tangerine, celery, turquoise (with no additions), and red-violet. Here are the 8 wefts all together.

8 hand dyed weft yarns for Spring At Home towels

Back to the loom. Weave all eight towels, wet finish, and hem them, and here you go.

8 handwoven Spring At Home towels

I divided the towels into two batches for the photos, and decided to label them for posting both here and on Facebook. The first four have that hemp-cotton yarn for both warp and weft.

4 handwoven hemp-cotton Spring At Home towels

And the next four have the same warp, but 100% cotton weft.

4 more handwoven hemp cotton Spring At Home towels

I won’t post on Facebook for sale until tomorrow, and I anticipate they’ll go quickly. So if you want one of these Spring At Home towels, contact me to make purchase and delivery arrangements.