On the days that I work at Mount Washington Tavern, I use down times for weaving. When I got to the park in May, I was excited to see a table loom in the living history storage. I asked about it and no one could remember the last time it had been used. So I asked if I could use it when I was working at Mount Washington Tavern. Not only did the Chief of Interpretation agree, he took the warped loom up to the Tavern and set it up on a table by a window.
So, all summer, on Fridays and Saturdays, when there aren’t any visitors in the Tavern, I stand at the loom and weave. From the window I can watch the parking lot and see when people are coming. And, if someone asks about the loom, I can give them a demonstration on weaving.
This loom is a LeClerc Dorothy 24″ four shaft table loom like this one, but from the 1960’s. One of the rangers bought it at a flea market and then decided he didn’t have any interest in weaving. Once a took it out of the storage area, I spent some time cleaning it. The metal heddles were a little rusty and the loom was very dirty. Soap, water, and sunshine soon put it in working order.
Next I needed to warp the loom. It has a 12 dent reed, which means that I can weave 12 threads per inch. So I warped it with a linen thread that turned out to be too fine. But I made a couple of linen shawls and had a good time getting to know the loom and what it could do. One shawl is a plaid tabby weave and the other is variegated colors with a bunch of different balanced twill patterns. While I was weaving those, I read about the proper size of thread for the 12 dent reed and thought about other projects. I ordered some thicker cotton thread and waited for it to come in.
Once I finished the linen shawls, I measured the thicker cotton thread and put it on the loom. The written description for this yarn says it is recommended for a 12 dent reed and is perfect for dish towels. It is an absorbent unmercerized cotton. As soon as I started weaving with it I was happy. The density of the fabric is perfect, and they will be great dish towels. They also demonstrate how women, even after they could buy fabric, might have still woven for their households.
I tried two new techniques with these towels. I added a hemstitch, so I can hem the raw edges and not use a fringe. This is something that I do by hand at the beginning and end of each towel. I also learned how to do a temporary selvage thread. Instead of winding it on with the warp, I only add it for the twill towels. Plain, or tabby, weave doesn’t need a selvage. I am currently weaving the fifth towel – there is supposed to be enough warp for seven towels. But I only have a few more days at the Tavern and then I will be done.
I am enjoying learning more about weaving and creating some new items. I try to learn something new with each item I make. Hopefully I will be able to continue to use it at the parks where we work.