8 shaft towels and lessons learned

I was really happy to pull this fabric off the loom - only 4 towels in all, but quite a time investment!

I love that such variety can be achieved on one warp, and I approached this project rather like a study in variation. 

Armed with Carol Strickler's 8 Shaft Patterns, I warped a plain white cottolin and hemp warp. My loom has 8 shafts and 10 treadles, so I chose a draft that would fit those requirements but with maximum versatility. I can't show you a copy of the draft, as that would be a copyright infringement. If you have the book, or are interested in purchasing, the page number for this draft is 29. For the threading, I chose the rose path variation.

This was by far my favourite, I love the bold yet intricate pattern. I used a dark purple 8/2 cotton as the weft, but doubled it to make the pattern weft stand out.  This is pattern #102 in the book, and uses 8 shafts with no tabby. I was worried about draw in, because I was feeling lazy and not wanting to use a temple, but the draw in was less than expected anyway. The treadling was really easy for this pattern, compared to the others which were more complex.

#101, a change of tie up and treadling, this is actually 4 shafts and 6 treadles to allow for the tabby. If I had my time over, I would have doubled the grey 8/2 cottolin weft to accentuate the pattern. At the same time, it's nice to weave something that looks delicate an intricate. Now that it's off the loom and washed, the pattern is a little too subtle for my taste. 

#100, another change of tie up and treadling - once again, not as bold as expected and next time I would use a 5/2 cotton for weft instead of the red 8/2. I do like the effect though, the diamonds are really lovely. This one is 8 shafts and 10 treadles to include the tabby.

Exact same treadling as the red diamonds, I just changed the weft to turquoise.

What I learned about the project:
*I used a sett of 20epi - next time I would increase this as the towels are a little airier than I would like. I don't think I would increase all the way to 30, but I'd give 24-26 a go.
* I am so glad I purchased Carol Strickler's book, it could definitely keep you busy for a very long time with the variety of drafts.

The most important thing I learned:
Once the towels were washed and hanging on the line, I realised that 3 out of 4 towels had treadling errors (!) Rather than being devastated that the towels I spent so much time on are imperfect, I used it as an opportunity for reflection. Why did I make the mistakes? What could I do differently next time? I found the answer to both of these questions quickly.

I made the errors due to tiredness, lack of concentration and interruption. Using 10 treadles in a non sequential fashion requires concentration! My studio is in a shared space which is actually a family room. The children have access to me whenever they want, and the room is a walk through room with no door. Hence, the lack of concentration.

What I will do differently next time is to simplify. I do like a challenge, but in this season of my life I have realised it is better for me to weave things that are perhaps more familiar and don't require as much focus. Forcing myself to take on greater projects may just lead to frustration, and I want to enjoy both the weaving and my family. So, for now, I will choose my projects more carefully and not go overboard. As I said to my husband "If I have to wait until we are old and retired to weave just the way I want to, I'm OK with that". I consider it a great blessing that I get as much weaving time as I do. It's a great reminder to be grateful and count my blessings! 


Annette Lancaster said...

Thank you for sharing your multi shaft weaving journey. I will be taking some workshops this summer and into the fall to transition from the Rigid Heddle Loom. Hope, after Christmas I will own one of my own. Your experiences encourage me to try this new skill.

Marjan said...

Thank you Kelly.(and for the e-mail😉)
From this blog I have learned that it is possible to change the tie-up and treadling even with all the threads woven in the shafts (sorry, I can't find the english word for it).
For me (on my tableloom) it is just the changing of the shafts that makes another pattern.
Good to realise this different between tableloom and floorloom.
Allthough you are not completely habby about all the towels, they look beautiful to me. And little 'mistakes', wasn't it you that learned me they are the signature of the maker? ☺️
Greetings out of Holland.🌷

Marjan said...

...habby... is happy ofcourse. 😄

Mj Drean said...

I have an eight-shaft Ashford Table loom. Can I make these towels on that? I love them!

Kelly Casanova said...

Thank you Marjan!

Kelly Casanova said...

MJ, you can weave 8 shaft patterns on your table loom, but not if you need to use tabby, as you would need 2 extra levers to do this. There are heaps of beautiful 8 shaft patterns you don't need to use tabby for though.

Ccrawfords said...

This is why your so good at what you do, and why your children know they are loved.
I love the towels but it will be sometime before I'm able to wrap my mind around patterns like these.

Kathy Dana said...

Great blog, sharing your impressions. Weaving will wait, children dont! Enjoy the journey.

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