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Friday, March 11, 2011

Twill Towels - Cotton/Linen Adventure

More towels!  This time I made them as a bridal shower gift.  I used fibers that were new to me and a twill threading (M & W) that was also new to me.  

I got a very good deal on some WEBS 8/2 Cotlin (50% cotton, 50% linen) so I bought about a dozen cones in various colors.  I also had some cones of BORGS "Bomullin" which is the same fiber content but made in Sweden.  I thought I'd make towels from both and compare.

I used 8/2 mercerized cotton for the warp and sett it at 24 ends per inch, as for twill.  I had a cone each of white and natural so I wound them together and figured no one would be able to tell.  I was right about that!

I planned for six towels, 22 x 38 on the loom with a 1 inch hem of 10/2 white cotton at each end.  I also left myself some room to goof off at the end and I'm glad I did because I made a nice discovery.  More about that later.

First I wove the brick red towels.  This was the Swedish cotlin.  Here are the close ups.

Hurts  my eyes....

Next I wove two green towels using a second treadling and making them different by adding a horizontal stripe to one.
Because the person I made these for loves green, I made the third pair with olive green and brown.  I used a third treadling and varied it with wide stripes.

I had my six towels and still had about a yard of warp to play with, so I used the third treadling but switched to a thick and thin mercerized cotton flake.  It is quite a lot heavier and has specks of other colors in it.  The main color is dark mauve.
This one wasn't the full length of the other towels but is a nice "shorty" towel for personal use.

What I learned:

The Swedish cotton/linen was far superior to the WEBS.  It also costs twice as much, so if I were making a VERY VERY special project I'd be tempted to use only the Swedish.  The hand of the final cloth was crisper (like linen) and it didn't make any fuzz while I wove.  It also didn't need any ironing right out of the dryer.  The WEBS cotton/linen is softer and fuzzier.  I imagine it will not wear as well over time but the price could not be beat so I'm not unhappy with the purchase and have a lot more of it for other projects.

I learned that I have a hard time keeping track of even the simplest treadling sequences.  If my mind wanders, I mess up.  So, I assign a note of the scale to each treadle and sing a little song while I weave.  It's boring, and the words are the numbers of the treadles, but it WORKED FOR ME. 

I also learned not to freak out if the weaving doesn't look like the picture in the book.  I sleyed  the reed 3 threads to a dent.  This created little tracks in the cloth and at first I thought I'd threaded the whole thing wrong.  Nope.  After I washed the towels they were perfect.

Finally, I learned that I REALLY like the cotton flake towel!  The dense sett of the warp made for a nice, firm fabric.  It's heavy but not at all stiff.  It would make a wonderful bath towel!  If I hadn't left myself room to experiment I probably would not have discovered this - usually cotton flake is woven at 10-12 epi. 

The hemmed and finished towels are 19 x 34.5.  I am beginning to understand why towel weaving is so addicting.


  1. I've only recently discovered weaving towels and find it very addicting.

    Where did you get the lovely tags sewn onto your towels hems?

    would you email me the info?

  2. is the company from which I purchased the woven labels. It takes about a month to get them.

  3. Great towels! I have made some towels with cotton flake on my rigid heddle and loved them. I'm about to start some towels on my new-to-me floor loom (4 harness 6 treadle) and do a twill. Your blog came along at the perfect time!
    What size dent did you use? You twisted white and neutral 8/2 together, and sleyed 3 threads to a there were actually 6 threads in each dent (w/the 8/2 twisted together)?

    I'm sorry, I'm tired, so maybe I'm not reading correctly. Just curious.

    Great towels tho. I'll be using white for warp, so I can use colors in the weft, and now I know I'll love it! :-)

  4. Thanks for the comment, Martha. I didn't twist the two strands of 8/2 cotton together and use it as a doubled strand - I measured the warp with two strands in my hand at one time, one from the white cone, the other from the natural cone. I used an 8 dent reed, sleyed at three ends per dent - 24 ends per inch. There were three strands of 8/2 cotton per dent. Hope this helps clarify!

  5. Lovely towels, Kris! I agree, the flake towel is beautiful! I bet you were disappointed to come to the end of the warp.

  6. Thank you Kristine. I'm still very new to weaving, so I need all the help I can get (figuring all this complicated stuff out).

    LUV the towels.

  7. As the happy recipient of these amazing towels, I can attest: they completely rock.

    St. Seraphina, thanks! Love you!