Feeling Stressed? Try Weaving a Towel!

Wiser people than me warned about trying to turn my passion for weaving into a business. Don’t get me wrong. Of all the jobs in the world I could have, weaving, teaching weaving, and writing about weaving are pretty cool and tremendously rewarding. However, managing and growing a business for which I wear all the hats means I don’t spend nearly enough time at the loom.


  Colorful Twill Towels
  Colorful twill towels by Ellen LaBruce

It’s not only the bookkeeping, financial reporting, bill paying, inventory management, sales tracking, retail selling, product photography, exhibit entering, class planning, handout shipping, studio cleaning, and the never-ending, omnipresent need for marketing through every conceivable channel. It’s also the commitment to business networking and multiple non-profit projects that are close to the heart. Right now, I’m neck-deep in grant writing and fashion show planning.

At times like these, when I find myself spending way too much time staring at the computer, and not nearly enough throwing a shuttle, I look longingly at my looms. They want to be in action, and I miss the rhythm of the treadles and beater.

Every once in a while, my husband reminds me that work is spelled w-o-r-k, not p-l-a-y, no matter how much you enjoy what you’re doing. It’s those times when I grab some yarn and start winding a warp. Whatever I decide to weave, it needs to be easy, quick, pretty, and useful.

Towels are perfect. Three yards of cotton or linen yarn warped at about 14 inches wide will get you three nice-sized kitchen towels in pretty short order. Throw caution to the wind and mix in some bright or unusual colors. Thread a fun twill, or a couple of them, and weave each one with a different pattern and weft. They’re towels!

Ahhh. That feels better. Even writing about weaving those towels helps bring down the stress levels, though not as much as actually touching yarn, of course.

If you need some inspiration, open the latest issue of Handwoven. It’s filled with lovely towels of all sorts, as well as other pretty and useful home textiles that, for the most part, are simple rectangles. Did you see John Mullarkey’s green waffle weave bath towel with the tablet-woven hem? Now, granted, the tablet weaving might add a little extra time to the project, at least for those of us not as adept with the cards as John. But oh how cozy and inviting those waffles look.

And there on page 42 are wonderful placemats woven by my former Haywood Community College classmate, Catherine Alter. What a nice twist on double weave blocks.

Then I realized I had missed the Endnotes column by Madelyn van der Hoogt in my first flip through the issue. Her treatise on the “art” of handwoven dish towels made me laugh out loud, especially the part about guests who will walk across the room to dry their hands on her wall-mounted, handwoven dish towel art, when she has perfectly lovely commercial towels hanging right by the sink.

I don’t hang my handwoven dish towels on the wall only because I don’t have the wall space. I do have two towel drawers behind the sink. On the right are the commercial, everyday, wipe-the-cast-iron-skillet and grill-tools towels. On the left, the handwoven towels, some made by me and others by friends. My husband washes and dries the dinner dishes. Invariably, when he

I keep my mouth shut and take it as a compliment . . . and another reason to go weave more towels.


Karen Donde

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