Using Handwoven to Jump-Start a Project

You can always start a weaving project from scratch: dream one up, find a draft, pick a yarn you think works with the draft, do some color wraps, sample for sett and yarn/draft/color combinations, write up a full draft, plan your project, and order yarns or comb through your stash. I do that, but I also often use Handwoven to jump-start my projects, whether it is to explore a color combination that I like or try a weave structure or yarn I’m not familiar with.


My first foray into using weaving raised twill stripes on a plain-weave background. Photo credit: George Boe

In the summer, I like to weave with cotton, which works out well because I love handwoven napkins and towels. Inspired by the napkin articles I’ve been working on for the next issue of Handwoven (September/October 2018), I’m starting to sample for some cotton napkins. I’m using some of what I learned weaving my exchange towels for the Convergence 2018 Towel Exchange. I based those towels on Karen Tenney’s Tropical Twill Stripes in Winning Towels. The towels are mostly light blue plain weave with raised colorful twill stripes. I have to sample for the napkins mainly because I am switching from 8/2 to 10/2 cotton, and while usually, a sett of 24 epi works for plain weave with 10/2 cotton, the twill stripes need to be sett closer than the usual 30 epi.


A well- used and well-loved tablecloth was a source of inspiration. Photo credit: Susan E. Horton

I was setting the table for a dinner party last weekend as I was mulling over the whole napkin idea. While ironing one of my favorite old tablecloths, I happened to notice that although it is mostly green plain weave, some of the green stripes are raised twill and the colorful stripes are plain weave. Huh! I hadn’t considered that option. The randomly striped napkins in my head became much more organized as I started to rethink the project.

I now have a sample draft ready to warp and thread this weekend, and if all goes well, I’ll be able to plan the full project. It is a project that was (1) initially inspired by Handwoven, (2) further inspired by a recent project, and (3) revised by an old tablecloth. I can hardly wait for the weekend!

Weave well,

Featured Image: These 5 napkins designed and woven by members of the Silver City Weavers’ Tea Study Group inspired me to start my own set of handwoven napkins. Photo credit: George Boe

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  1. Anonymous at 11:25 am July 4, 2018

    Are patterns available for the towels in the photo accompanying this article?

    • Tamara Schmiege at 8:12 am July 5, 2018

      Patterns for the napkins in the top photo will be in Handwoven September/October 2018.

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