Weaving a Set of Kitchen Towels

Winter 2014

As summer 2013 came to a close and my mom downsized her Michigan footprint to a small rented storage unit (in preparation for a move to Singapore), I ended up inheriting a number of furniture pieces and other items of the family estate, which I deployed around my Maryland house to create a more lived-in look and feel. One of these items was an eight-harness loom. My mom has been weaving for decades, but I never took the opportunity to learn from her until the care and maintenance of such a large piece of equipment became my sole responsibility.
Project execution and results
My mom gave me a brief tutorial on planning the project and warping the loom. I ended up forgetting most of the details on sleying the reed and threading the heddles, but at least I could work the treadles and the shuttle once the warp was held tightly in place. I worked slowly throughout the winter, finding the occasional time slot in between grading and lesson planning to weave another cycle or two of the period-12 treadling sequence. When one of the selvedge threads snapped, I reached out to my colleague Professor Asher (who had signed up for a weaving class at Montgomery College) to learn how to perform the necessary repair. The hem stitch at the end I learned from a YouTube tutorial, just in time to remove the project from the loom when my mom returned to Maryland for a visit. We borrowed the sewing maching of my upstairs tenant for the interior hems (since the warp length was long enough for more than one towel). One of the completed towels is seen below, with Cavendish bananas providing a rough sense of the dimensions.
[dish towel under some fruit]
Transferrable skills learned from this project
  • Planning a weaving project
  • Winding weft thread manually onto shuttle bobbins
  • Repairing broken selvedge thread while the rest of the warp is still under tension