Friday, January 6, 2012

In Which I Weave the Place Mats of Bitter Disappointment

I am not yet an expert weaver.  I know this because I have really just started weaving and it's a complicated game and there is a lot left to learn.  So I didn't expect perfection out of this project, which is only the third project I have woven on my floor loom.  At the same time, I chose the project carefully and worked with a user-friendly yarn (3/2 cotton, if you care) and kept careful records to make sure I was following the instructions, even though it took me 6 months to weave six measly place mats. And I was really excited to finish these because I have never, ever had a matching set of six place mats and I'm really tired of only having the option of "artfully mismatched" mats on my table.

So last week, after I got a little impatient with the whole slow cloth experience and decided to bust through the last placemat (and a little bonus mat made out of the extra warp that was, amazingly, still available on the loom), I took a whole whack of pictures.  Because I was really excited.

Here is the last mat; I had already started to cut the warp off the loom, which is why everything looks so saggy.

This is a shot of the cloth beam, which is where the loom stores the roll-o-finished place mats.

Here is the entire length of place mats laid out on my couch.  For reference, the couch is about 82 inches wide.

The next three show the three different patterns that I wove, two mats in each pattern.  All of the patterns are similar.  I know I harped about having matching placemats before, but I couldn't decide which of the three patterns to weave and I am realistic enough to know that I wasn't going to be happy weaving six of the same thing anyway, so I made thematically related placemats instead.

And here is where I prove that I am as much of a rookie as ever:

I have lined up three placemats for reference, one of each of the different patterns. Do we see the problem?

Same color: check.

Same design: check.

Same size:  FAIL!

DUH!!! How could I not realize that 18 repeats of one pattern would not necessarily create the same amount of cloth as 18 repeats of another? I already know that in knitting, different stitch combinations make different sizes, so why did I fail to transfer that knowledge to weaving?  Add in the fact that the open and lacy pattern condenses more than the others after washing (it seems so painfully obvious now), and what I have woven is not a set of six mats, but three pairs of off-white placemats.



I can only hope that it is true that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes.  If so, then at least I am smarter, even if I am incapable of making six matching place mats.

In the mean time, my next weaving goal is to finish the towels I started on my table loom last year.  At least, I think they are supposed to towels.  There is a cryptic note in my plans referring to them as place mats, but I don't think I'm ready to go there just yet, so I will keep thinking of them as towels.  Once I finish them, all three looms will be empty.  I know I will set the rigid heddle loom up for another pair of Bronson Check place mats.  I'm very fond of the first pair that I made, which match each other nicely, and I'm equally keen to use up the cotton that I've accumulated.


I also plan to make some form of towels on the floor loom.  The great news is that the towels don't have to be the same size, since I don't usually keep all of them out at once.  Not that this matters, because the only thing that will vary from towel to towel is the color of the weft, and that is unlikely to cause a whole lot of variation in the size of the towels.  They'll probably look like little clones of each other, and then I'll be really bitter.

Not much else to report.  In knitting, I have finished the first sleeve on my Sullivan sweater.  I started the second sleeve at the barn today, but a few rows in I realized that I had lost a stitch somewhere and had to undo most of my work (though not the i-cord cast on, for which I am extremely grateful since it is a big, hairy pain in the butt to do).  In spinning, I am working my way through two four-ounce bundles of this polwarth roving,


 which my children and my cat


loved so much last year that they couldn't stop touching it.  Each bundle will be used to make a skein of three ply yarn, and I'm on the second the the three bobbins I have to spin from the first bundle.  Not a ton of progress, I admit, but more will come.

Ah, poo!  Who cares anyway; I can't even make matching placemats.

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