I am on a mission to learn more about the mechanics of weaving. I really want to understand how weaving works as I am making a project. With this mission in mind, I am really enjoying Patty Graver's book, Next Steps in Weaving, which I reviewed in a post here. The first section in this book is on twill, so I thought: "Hey, that's a good place to start." I decided I wanted to sample some twill. There is no rule I know about that says you cannot make a functional sampler, so while each sample was rather large, I decided to sample different manipulations of the warp/weft relationship to make kitchen towels. I grabbed a piece of paper and Deborah Chandler's book, Learning to Weave. With her equations, I worked out how much warp I needed to make four reasonably sized kitchen towels. Without diving into the math, which perhaps would make a lovely post at a later time, I worked out that I needed five yards of warp and 288 ends to make four 20"x30" kitchen towels. I adjusted the 288 to accommodate the rosepath twill I wanted to play with, so my final end count was 285 ends. This was roughly 1,425 yards for the warp, which required about 8 balls of Knit Picks Dishie. (While typically a knitting yarn, this cotton yarn seemed perfect for a kitchen towel AND I happened to have a lot of it on hand.)
I tried four different combinations with the rosepath warp. The first towel, the green one, was the traditional rosepath. I think it looks lovely. Twill is a common weaving technique in which you have a staggered overlap of weft over warp threads. In the case of a 4-shaft loom, a balanced twill would have 2/2 twill, or rather two weft threads crossing (or floating) over two warp threads. With the way my loom was warped, I was also able to do the extended pointed twill (or a zigzag) in a balanced 2/2 twill. That is the pink towel. It is actually my favorite. Both of these towels feel really thick there is really a nice balance to the pattern. No float is too long and there is a nice diagonal flow to the twill. I used almost the entire ball of Knit Picks for each of these towels, meaning each towel took a little less than 190 yards of weft thread. This yardage includes a hemstitch. In the photographs below, you can see each of these towels, front and back. And interesting feature of the twill is that if the pattern is more weft facing on the front, it will be warp facing on the back. This means if you are using different colors for the warp and weft, the back will be the inverse color pattern of the front. This was more noticeable in the rosepath twill than the extended point twill. (The front of the towel is in the top of the photograph, the back is on the bottom.)
After these two balanced twills, I decided to go crazy and do an unbalanced twill. I did a 1/3 twill where 1 weft covered three warp threads at a time. This is the brown towel. The result was charming. It is a more symmetric version of the rosepath twill in green. While the green towel had two different diamonds that emerged, the unbalanced twill had only one diamond. This towel does not feel quite as nice as the balanced twill, the threads feel a little looser, but it does not impede the usefulness of the towel. It still feels nice and thick, just maybe a little less durable. The warp/weft inversion is much more noticeable on this towel than the previous two. The front of the towel is weft facing, the back warp facing- the difference is striking.
My last towel was the reddish one. It is awful. It is almost a broken twill, but not quite. A broken twill would be if I switched the zigzag every two weft picks. I, however, decided to completely eliminate the overlap of the wefts, which left a very loose, rather ugly cloth. I would have been better to try the broken twill on this one. Also, while all of my other towels allowed one ball of Dishie to give me a towel approximately 28" in length, I used significantly less weft thread on this towel and ended up with a goofy long towel. There was very little vertical draw in for this towel. To keep this towel functional, I did not make a fringe but rather hemmed the edges rather drastically. I must say, though, this is a towel I might hide away or keep for particularly messy kitchen adventures. The pattern itself is not terrible, but the feel of the cloth is very thin. It just feels a little off. The back and the front of the towel are indiscernible, but I think it is because it is really not, by definition, a twill and does not have the same warp/weft relationship.
I am very happy with this adventure. I learned a lot about twill in this project and am definitely going to explore it more. I also learned a lot of general odds and ends about my looms functionality. Like I skipped a dent in my reed when sleying and had this lovely gap running up my weaving for all of my projects. I was using a rather thick thread (probably the upper limit) for my 12-dent reed, so it was noticeable. However, the gap has all but disappeared in the first washing of the towels. With some use and a few more washings, it will be gone completely. I also learned that I need to pay attention to my pattern. Skipping a pick is easy to do and very noticeable in the finished projects. If you catch it in time, definitely unweave and fix it. I did not notice my mistake until I took my towels off the loom, so it will have to stay. (Check it out up close in the photograph below.) I also learned I might need to leave a little more space between my towels if a plan on doing a knotted fringe, even if it's short. All's well that ends well, though, and I am very pleased with my towels.