Melissa writes, "As I write this, I am in the process of moving from Salem, Massachusetts up to the Portland, Maine area. I grew up in Maine, and its siren song is calling me back for a third time, now with family in tow. One exciting aspect of this move is that I will have a dedicated studio in my backyard. Surely this is a weaver’s dream come true.
I was thrilled to create one last project in my Salem studio, using Duet, the beautiful new cotton/linen blend yarn from Gist. I spend a lot of time weaving with plant fibers, and the quality of Duet is impressive. The 55% linen gives it a luxurious feel. You know that feeling of weight you get when you hold a warp chain of linen? This is it. And the 45% cotton means that it is incredibly soft straight off of the loom. The combination creates a fabric that is irresistible.
So I have created a Duet duet for your weaving pleasure. This is a quick twill weave inspired by vintage French grain sacking, and it only requires a three yard warp.
One half of our duet is an extra large towel that can easily tackle any job your kitchen throws in its direction. Delicately dab your greens dry! Transport your tomatoes from the garden to the kitchen in its soft embrace! Sop up the heartiest of spills! The possibilities are endless!
The second part of our duet is an apron. This apron is a no frills workhorse, large enough that you’ll always find a fresh spot to dry your hands. I love to cook, and I am forever trying to remember where I left my hand towel. The Duet apron is essentially your favorite hand towel with a strap!"
You can download an updated version of this pattern and purchase a kit here.
Designed by Melissa Hankens for GIST: Yarn & Fiber.
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Warp & Weft:5 cones of Duet Cotton/Linen Weaving Yarn
Melissa's finished apron dimensions:Waist: 37", Length: 20", Ribbon: 74"
"You’ll need to determine the width of your apron ahead of time. I wanted mine to wrap all the way around and meet in the back. I took a piece of cotton yarn and wrapped it around my waist following the circumference I wanted it to rest upon when tied. Before I cut the cotton measuring string, I added 6”, 4” for the hems at each end and another 2” to account for the fabric shrinking. This left me with a measuring string just over 42” in length. I marked the center point (it’s helpful to use a light color string and a dark marker or pen for contrast) so that I knew where to place the center of my pattern, and I set the string aside.
I have a thing for the number three as well as a bit of sneaky asymmetry. I wove a 2” header [with Color A] and then added three thin stripes in Santorini [Color B]. Each stripe was two picks separated by two picks of Dune [Color A]. Once my weaving was underway, I pinned the measuring string along the edge of my fabric. You can tuck it off of the front of your loom so it doesn’t interfere with your weaving. As you advance the cloth, be sure that your measuring string follows the fabric as it is rolled on.
Continue to weave your 2-2 twill in Dune [Color A] until you start to see the center mark on your measuring string. Feel free to improvise here. When you are about 3” from your center mark weave as indicated below. If you are slightly off, feel free to turn your pattern at whatever your center point happens to be. My striped pattern is as follows:
This should, approximately meet the center point on your measuring string. From here, repeat the sequence in reverse starting from *).
Weave your 2-2 twill in Dune [Color A] until you reach the end of your measuring string.
The rest of your warp will be used to create the companion towel. I placed a dowel in my warp to create a space between projects. You can also use a contrasting string. Feel free to create any combination of stripes you’d like. I wove about 6” of Dune [Color A] and then added three stripes of Santorini [Color B] using 12 picks for the outer stripes and 16 picks for the center stripe. From here I wove until I reached the end of my warp.
I cut the fabric from the loom, and machine stitched the cut edges as well as the edges to be cut at the center to prevent fraying. From here, the fabric went into the washing machine and dryer. No need to be cautious here. Once dry, I pressed the seams, folding the cut edges under twice to hide them away. Feel free to add a loop for hanging your towel at this point, and then stitch your hems in place. Your towel is now finished!
The final step to complete your apron is adding the waist tie. Since you will be folding a selvedge over to create the channel for your tie, there is no need to double fold. Press your hem over about ¼” wider than your tie material. I used a tightly woven cotton ribbon 5/8” wide and measured it to twice the width of the fabric. If you want to tie your apron at the front, a la Julia Child, you may want to add more length. A cloth tape measure can help sort this out for you. Once you stitch your hem in place, clasp a safety pin to the end of your ribbon, and thread it through the channel. The pin will help you guide it along and can be removed once it’s through to the other side. Voila! Dinner party time!"
Melissa Hankens is a weaver based in the Portland, Maine area. While she has been weaving professionally for over a decade, her career may have started one fateful Christmas long ago when, at the age of nine, she was gifted her first loom.
Melissa works extensively with natural fibers, primarily hemp, linen, and wool, to create beautiful and functional linens, blankets, and garments. She takes the idea of fewer, better things to heart with the creation of every piece, and loves to bring out the natural beauty of the materials she uses. Each seam is pressed in place and hand sewn, a process she feels gives her pieces heart and also pays homage to the way things used to be made: one at a time, with care, and meant to last.
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