Harder than I expected

bedroom curtains

Back when I lived in the sticks I didn’t need or have any curtains on my windows, a feature that disconcerted some visitors but that I really liked. All the light that was outside came right in.

My little house in the city came with blinds on all the windows. Based on what I see in my walks around the neighborhood and the stains on my window frames, I’m guessing that the prior owner had the blinds down most of the time. Not me. My blinds go up to their full heights every morning and go down in the evening when I have to turn the lights on. While the blinds work, the look is harsh for me. So I’ve been planning on weaving curtains.

I thought I’d start in with the bay window in the kitchen, but for a variety of reasons changed my plans and decided to start with the bedroom. And I’m very glad I did.

I love weaving lace. I’ve woven lots of it. I’m usually good at having my beat be consistent. But this time? After I’d woven the first few lace blocks I was struck by how critical it is for the beat to be absolutely consistent this time. If the size of a lace block is a tiny bit different at one end of a scarf than at the other, it wouldn’t be noticed. But in curtains? When two panels will hang next to each other on the window? Especially when an accent color outlines each block? Any differences in the beat of those two panels would be immediately obvious, and would draw my eye, certainly not in a good way.

bedroom curtains 2

First I thought I’d simply pay more attention and get my beat consistent. But that wasn’t working well. Then I figured I’d measure a few squares and build up muscle memory for the beat. Even that wasn’t getting me the results that I wanted. I had to walk away from the loom and do something else for a while to figure out this puzzle, so I did the necessary planning to order the yarn for my next 2 warps of baby wraps.

That’s when I got the idea to build myself a little jig. Cut out of cardstock, I used the widths to make the outside of the square fit perfectly into the plain weave section and the inside square outline the lace section.

jig 1

Then when I turn the jig sideways, and match up the lines, the motif will be perfectly square.

jig 2

I wove that square for several motifs, and then a little light went off in my head. Uh oh. They’re square under the tension of the loom. But when I release that tension the length will ‘shrink’ and they won’t be square anymore. I need to weave just a tad bigger than the jig. That’s where I am now.

So what does all this mean? Since I’m already working on my 2nd panel, it means that the best I can hope for at this point is to have 2 panels on one window that match. The 2 panels on the other window won’t match, since that first panel has rectangles of different sizes as well as squares. The total length will be right, but the periwinkle lines won’t match up right.

Depending on how bad they look, I may end up having to buy some more yarn and weave another panel or two. But I won’t know until I weave these off, wet finish, pin their hems, and see how they look in real life.

In case you’re wondering, this is a modification of the ‘mosquito net’ curtains in Laila Lundell’s Big Book of Swedish Weaving. I’m using 16/2 baby blue with periwinkle 8/2 doubled for the accents. I modified the draft for my 8-shaft Macomber, evening out the number of heddles to the extent possible so I didn’t have move lots from one shaft to another. This pattern requires only 3 treadles, so that’s incredibly easy. It’s all about the beat. If I could do all the weaving in one sitting it would be easier to be consistent, but of course I can’t do that. Not good for my body, plus my life has other obligations. I’ll do the best I can.

Note to self: when doing curtains for kitchen, use all 1 color yarn; then any inconsistencies will be much less obvious.

6 comments to Harder than I expected

  • Alma

    I was wrong about my towel being the same. It is in stripes, white and blues. Each square does have the patterned square in it, which is what made me think it was the same.

    It is still terrific!!

  • Peg Cherre

    Thanks Alma & Judy. It’s impossible to know how those horizontal lines will/won’t match up until the curtains are hung. Shouldn’t have chosen a different color for the heavy lines. 🙁

  • Judy T

    Awesome Peg! I love that you’ll have such beautiful handwoven curtains in your house… how very fitting!!!

  • Alma

    Well, now, see, I don’t know so much about your worries. I understand about the tension on the threads while they’re on the loom, and all. But my new Christmas towel is woven in this pattern – maybe even exactly these colors, and I love it for the symmetry of each square as they go along.

    Are you being hypercritical?

  • Well, I am so happy you came up with the jig idea. I’m stealing it for sure! And the picture probably doesn’t tell the whole story because those curtains look perfect in them. How lovely they will all be when done!

    We have rooms without curtains too. Only the hottest rooms get them to block the sun in the summer.

    Pets to Jack!

    • Peg Cherre

      Trust me, the ‘squares’ are very inconsistent. We’ll see how they look when they’re all done and ready to hang. Since it’s just my bedroom I will live with whatever, but I may need to pick a different design for my kitchen curtains, one that isn’t so dependent on complete and utter consistency.

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