Weaving Samples

Full transparency here – weaving samples is not my favorite thing to do. Despite the advice of several of my more experienced weaving friends, I’ve avoided weaving samples for quite some time now. Some of my projects turned out great- some not so great, but I was willing to throw caution to the wind and take my chances. Well, then it happened. A baby blanket that I thought would be absolutely fabulous turned out to be a disaster. I couldn’t wait to get it off the loom and it now has a home as a dog blanket.

Here are a few reasons for weaving samples:

  • You may want to try out different weaving drafts for your project to see which one you like the best.
  • If you are using multiple colors in your project, you’d also want to see how the colors interact with each other. Two beautiful, vibrant colors can turn to a “mud” when woven together. Unless you are super savvy with color combinations, this would be a main reason for weaving samples.
  • You want to be sure you are using the correct ends per inch (epi) for your project
  • You may also want to calculate shrinkage after washing if you want a specific size.

So pretty much, a little work on the front end could ensure you end up with a product you really like!

So I ordered this beautiful 6/2 cotton from the Yarn Barn of Kansas to make bath towels for my daughter. It’s so incredibly soft. Instead of just jumping in right away, I decided to take time, pull out a few possible patterns and weave a few samples. Let’s see how it went!

For my first samples, I chose an undulating twill pattern from Mastering Weave Structures and a twill pattern from The Big Book of Weaving.

I thought I’d love this weaving before making the samples, but I was really surprised with some of the issues. In the top sample the twill seems almost collapsed. I like the texture of the cloth, but it’s just too tight. In the second sample, you can see the colors more, but to my surprise the white cotton almost takes on a gray tint when woven with the sienna. It’s difficult to see in the photo, but it is a little grayish. I wove this sample at 18 ends per inch. I was really happy with the structure of the fabric so I decided to keep that sett for the remaining samples.

For my next samples, I pulled out my favorite “go to” book, A Weaver’s Book of 8 Shaft Patterns by Carol Strickler. I chose a few twill patterns and pretty much got the same result.

I really liked these patterns, but for this specific project, the cloth had no texture. It just felt a little thin. Again I had the issue of a grayish tint when the two colors were mixed together. So, good try, but just not it.

At this point I was convinced an 8 shaft twill wasn’t going to work. I found a Swedish lace pattern in an old Handwoven Magazine and was pretty sure it was going to give me the texture I was looking for. I was hoping that the colors wouldn’t mix as much as the float seems longer. As I wove the sample, I was happy with the texture, but there was still a gray tint. Ugg.

So what was the end decision? We are going to use the Swedish lace pattern. We are weaving a solid white and a solid Sienna towel with coordinating stripes towards the bottom of the towel. Now off to wind those warps!

Items and Resources Used in this Project:

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