My sister-in-law, Yvonne, spent over two hours on a zoom call helping me with some clean up in the family cabin bookkeeping. I was grateful for her time and expertise. I know she did not expect anything in return, but I decided to weave some towels for her.
I had been thinking about attempting towels with a waffle weave pattern. Ideally that requires a 4 shaft loom which is much bigger and more complicated than what I have. However, I found instructions for waffle weave using a pick up stick with a rigid heddle loom like mine. A pick up stick is a narrow piece of wood shaped like a ruler that is used by weaving it in and out of the warp yarns at the back of the loom, as in the following photo. The pick us stick allows for more combinations of which warp yarns are up or down to create more complicated patterns.
I warped the loom using enough off white 8/4 cotton weaving yarn for four towels. The weft yarn for the first towel was blue Cotton Pure from Purl Soho.
Waffle weave consists of a pattern of six rows. It took me many repeats of the pattern, along with some tips from Torri, to really feel comfortable with it, understand what was happening, and be able to remember the pattern without looking at my notes. The six rows are combinations of having the heddle in the up, down, or neutral position, and having the pick up stick forward in a flat or standing-on-end position, or back out of the way. Following are the six rows of the pattern:
- Row 1 heddle down; pick up stick back
- Row 2 heddle up; pick up stick forward and flat
- Row 3 heddle down; pick up stick back
- Row 4 heddle up; pick up stick back
- Row 5 heddle neutral; pick up stick forward and on end
- Row 6 heddle up; pick up stick back
You can see three repeats of the blue waffle weave pattern in the photo below, after the blue plain weave rows for the hem, and green header rows which will be removed.
The next photo is a close up of two repeats of the six waffle weave rows. The shuttle of blue yarn is making the first row of the next repeat, which is every other yarn.
The following photo shows the position of the heddle and pick up stick for row two of the pattern, with the pick up stick pushed forward and flat just behind the heddle. Every forth yarn warp yarn is down, the next three yarns are up in front of the heddle.
The next photo shows the same row but in front of the heddle with three yarns up, one yarn down.
The next two photos show row five of the pattern behind and in front of the heddle. The pick up stick is pushed up behind the heddle and standing on end with the heddle in the neutral position, causing the opposite pattern of one yarn up and three yarns down.
After finishing the blue towel successfully I went ahead with towel number two and three for Yvonne. She picked pumpkin orange and olive green cotton weft yarn for her towels, with the off white warp yarn.
I wove some plain weave rows at the beginning and end of each towel that would become part of the hem. The following photo shows the end of the first blue towel and the beginning of the second orange towel. After removing from the loom and washing the weave will become more dense due to the yarn not being under tension and shrinking in the washing machine and dryer.
Following is a close up photo of the third towel in green waffle weave.
For the forth towel I decided to use multiple yarns and colors to go with the decor in our new RV. The next photo shows the five yarns for the last towel in shades of green, off white and brick red. The multicolor yarn is Berroco Espresso which is thicker and is 50% cotton and 50% acrylic, so not as ideal for towels but there will only be one section of it and the colors really add to the look.
I wove random amounts of each of the various weft yarns using plain weave in most cases, but waffle weave for the green 8/4 cotton.
The 8/4 cotton weaving yarn is thin enough to make a rolled hem without being too bulky. I prefer the look of the rolled hem for towels, although it is more work than doing hem stitch with fringe. To make the rolled hem after removing the weaving from the loom and washing, I used my sewing machine to zig zag stitch at both ends of each towel. Then I cut them apart, folded over the ends twice, ironed them flat, and hand stitched them down.
The three washed and hemmed waffle weave towels are shown below.
The sampler towel is not even on the sides due to the different thickness of the various weft yarns. The multi color Berroco yarn is much thicker than the 8/4 cotton yarn. The waffle weave pattern also causes the width to be narrower in that section.
All in all I like the results and feel this project was a success. I expect to make more waffle weave towels in the coming months.