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Tidal Towels

Amanda writes, "Since moving house two years ago, I’ve learned a lot about plumbing and water - and not by choice! Having found it flowing in places it shouldn’t be, I designed a set of thirsty bathroom hand towels using Mallo cotton slub and Lithuanian linen from GIST. I love the complex material experience that using a handwoven cloth can give - in these towels, the softness and thick and thin nature of Mallo pairs nicely with the crispness of linen, as well as giving the wave motif added visual and tactile depth. 

Often called ‘overshot,’ floatwork patterns of this type are easy to set up and weave. There are two components to the weave: a ground tabby and a pattern weft. The pattern weft shoots over blocks of warp ends and is followed by a pick of tabby that ‘locks’ it in. If you’ve never tried overshot before, this is an easy introduction to the technique. 

When designing these towels, I thought a lot about the visual language of washrooms, especially tiles, borders, boundaries, and how we contain water in our homes. This lead to the idea of a floating section of overshot - contained between two pairs of Mallo ends in the warp, the wave motif is woven is woven for as long or as little as you like, a high or low tide. If this looks especially hard or time consuming to you, don’t worry - it isn’t! There are instructions included in the pattern (and photographs) to get you started. But of course you can always weave across the length of the cloth if you choose."

Designed by Amanda Rataj for GIST: Yarn & Fiber. 

Need some help getting started? Check out Resources for Beginner and Intermediate Weavers. 

             
             

Materials 

Warp & Weft: 1 cone of Linen Weaving Yarn in Cream, 1 cone of Mallo Cotton Slub in Denim 

Tabby Weft: Linen Weaving Yarn in Cream, Pattern Weft: Mallo Cotton Slub in Denim

Kits: Each kit includes enough yarn to weave a set of 2 towels that measure approximately 15.5" W x 27.5" L each after washing and hemming.

High Tide Towel

Low Tide Towel

Project Notes

  • Tools Required: 4 shaft table or floor loom, 10 dent reed, 2 shuttles & bobbins
  • EPI: 20 (threaded with 2 ends per dent)
  • PPI: 15-20 in tabby (weaver's preference)
  • Width at Reed: 16.9"
  • Warp Ends: 338
  • Warp Length: 3.3 yards (120")
  • Technique/Draft: Overshot
  • Finished Dimensions: Set of 2 towels measuring approximately 15.5" W x 27.5" L each after washing and hemming
  • Finishing Details: Hand or machine sewn hem
  • Care Instructions: Machine wash warm, hang to dry, press while damp if needed

Weaving & Finishing 

Floatwork (what we call often call overshot) is created by ‘floating’ pattern threads over a tabby ground. Use tabby in between your pattern picks. NOTE: the draft uses grey in the weft for contrast only! 

Click on the draft below to see it larger. 

Warping/Threading: Wind the warp in the following sequence for a total of 338 warp ends. Thread heddles according to the draft above. 

  • Yarn A - 26 ends
  • Yarn B - 2 ends
  • Yarn A - 281 ends
  • Yarn B - 2 ends
  • Yarn A - 27 ends

Weaving/Treadling: Amanda writes, "For the inset ‘wave’ motif, use the pairs of Mallo in the warp as the outside border of the motif. Starting at the right side of your warp, insert your shuttle to the left of the Mallo ends, angling towards the outside of the warp. This lets you throw your shuttle easily across the length of your warp rather than fighting to stick it into the middle of your warp. Repeat this process at the left side of your warp, reversing the directions: insert your shuttle through the warp towards the right of the Mallo ends, angling towards the middle of the warp. Secure the tail of yarn on your first and last pattern pick by wrapping it around the linen warp end closest to the Mallo border. 

These towels can be woven with a tight beat for a stiffer towel, or a looser beat for a more casual look. I’ve woven them closer to 15 ppi - I hate a soggy towel, and I’m banking on this more open weave helping it dry faster. Find a beat that’s comfortable for you and weave within it. 

If you choose to weave your towels with the wave motif across the width of the towel, you’ll need to either add 1 floating selvedge end at each side of the cloth, or wrap your pattern weft around the outermost end."

High Tide Towel

  • Weave 4” of tabby. 
  • Weave 10 repeats of the wave pattern (see draft) - the pattern starts and finishes with treadle 1. 
  • Weave 11.5” of tabby. 
  • Repeat wave motif. 
  • Weave 4” of tabby

Low Tide Towel

  • Weave 4” of tabby
  • Weave 5 repeats of the wave pattern (see draft) - the pattern starts and finishes with treadle 1.
  • Weave 17.5” of tabby. 
  • Repeat wave motif. 
  • Weave 4” of tabby

Each towel should measure approximately 32.5" in loom. 

Finishing: Zigzag stitch the raw edges, machine wash warm and hang to dry, press as needed, finish with a hand or machine sewn hem. 

About Amanda Rataj

Amanda Rataj is an artist and weaver living and working in Hamilton, Ontario. She studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and has developed her contemporary craft practice through research-based projects, artist residencies, professional exhibitions, and lectures. Her textile focus of the material and conceptual nature of vernacular, everyday objects used for the home and body; her work (and weaving patterns) are available at her website, and at Guildworks, or by commission. 

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January 17, 2020