Weaving a tablecloth: it sounded like such a great idea…

I haven’t had time to weave since before Christmas.  Knitting, and teaching about knitting, have occupied all of my Crafting time and energy.  However, when the pandemic lockdown happened, last spring, our son claimed the computer room as his office as he began to work remotely. The dining room table became my new “office”, and the tablecloth is awful.  The best thing you can say about it is that it protects the antique table from damage.  So, I thought it would be fun to weave a tablecloth to replace it.  My loom won’t make a cloth this large, but it will be large enough to protect the table, and we never eat in this room, anyway.  A hand-woven cloth would be prettier, and make me much happier than this awful thing.  I think my mom bought it at Target, sometime in the 80’s.  Honestly, how did I put up with it this long?

I perused my Handwoven magazine collection, and found this really cheerful tablecloth.  I immediately ordered too many colors from Yarn Barn of Kansas, because hey, I want choices!  It uses a Summer/Winter weaving pattern, which I hadn’t done before, but I loved the plaid.  How hard could it be?  Yeah, that was my first mistake, not reading the pattern closely.  When the yarn cones arrived I fussed with my color choices for a few days. I decided that I wanted to add a 4th color, and ended up choosing colors that were fairly close to the originals, as they had attracted my attention in the first place.  My first hint of possible chaos came when I wound the warp.  This stuff was awfully thin, and there were a LOT of ends.  Looking at the pattern, it clearly stated a total of 1240 ends.  1240 ENDS. Oh, boy, what had I done?  Looking closely at the cotton, it was basically THREAD.  I was going to be weaving THREAD.  OK, I could do this.  I got the warp wound, and started to thread through the heddles, and this was the first time that threading was LITERAL.  Masses, and masses of threads.  Honestly, all I could do was laugh, and remind myself that the worst thing that could happen is throwing away a pile of cotton thread, if it all failed.

June 2006, Handwoven magazine

June 2006, Handwoven magazine

Technicolor Cloth, design by Tracy Kaestner. Weave structure: Summer/Winter. Warp and tabby 16/2 cotton, Pattern weft: 8/2 cotton. All materials are from Yarn Barn of Kansas

I took my time with the warping process, doing about 100-200 threads in a session, and trying to stay relaxed.  This isn’t going to be a gift, there is no time limit, so I just enjoyed my audio books and doing something that is simply, and only, a hobby.  Bill would come down every once in awhile and shake his head, marveling at what I was doing (or attempting to do).

Once all the threads were wrangled safely into postion, I wound the warp, and let it rest for a few days under tension.  I was a bit afraid to test the warp, wondering how many mistakes I had made, and how many fixes would be needed.  Amazingly, I had only TWO crossed threads, which only took a few minutes to fix.  I guess taking my time paid off. Whew.

Now, I am weaving, and the weaving itself is a snap.  You never know until it’s off the loom, washed and dressed, but I think this might actually work out!  The weft tabby is the same colors as the warp, and the weft pattern is Natural color that is slightly heavier cotton than the warp, so it dominates.  This softens all of the colors.   Weaving is such a fabulous way to work with color, as the colors shift and change hue as they intertwine.  I find this endlessly fascinating.  Bill, the best husband in the world gave me the most recent Handwoven magazine for my birthday, last week, so he obviously believes that I can do this. He is so supportive of my hobby, and I don’t take that for granted in the least.

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