Hi all. It has been FOREVER since I have posted here. The weaving bug is hitting, but the wallet is kind of empty.
My parents' 50th anniversary is in August, and I want to weave them something very special. I have been scouring Handwoven for some ideas. I found Rita Hagenbruch's overshot tablecloth idea(Jan/Feb 2011), but when I priced out the yarns she suggested for the size of my parents' table, the price is around $102. I do have some money from etsy.com sales, but was hoping to save it for another use (or an emergency.)
1. She recommends 16/2 cotton for the warp, 16/1 linen for the pattern weft, and 30/2 cotton for the tabby. I know I can adjust the sett and use 20/2 cotton for the warp, 20/1 linen for the pattern, and maybe 40/2 for the tabby. Do you think this combination would work, or should I just suck it up and buy the recommended yarns? Am I just being a cheapskate?
I just get so frustrated with the cost of everything...
2. Do any of you have any good ideas for a tablecloth draft in which the yarns wouldn't cost a lot? (Ha ha. I know. I'm laughing too.)
All cotton makes a lovely tablecloth. Try 20/2 cotton in the warp (about 30 epi) and tabby weft. Cheaper pattern wefts might be 3/2 or 5/2 cotton, 6-ply rayon (from Webs), or possibly 10/2 or 20/2 linen ($15/half pound Webs sale). You can often save money by using mill ends or a store brand rather than UKI or other name brands. The quality varies, but is generally very usable. Many of us build up a cheaper stash at store sales, guild sales, and estate sales (my heirs will have a great time holding a "dead weaver's sale" when I am gone).
This is a really thoughtful gift!
I think a weaver can use any yarns they want and not be considered a cheapskate if they can execute the project with skill, and it is suitable for the intended purpose.
It's great you want to do this, and your parents are probably going to love the finished piece no matter what you decide, so here are some thoughts about the undertaking if I were in your shoes...
I am thinking if you change the yarns from a given draft, (even tho' they appear to be only slight size changes) you will need to sample. Without looking at the exact draft, my guess is the design motifs could appear different and a change in sett may need to be considered right off the top, which might change the amounts of yarns needed, and change your total cost estimate.
When figuring your cost, did you consider Halcyon or Web's quantity discounts? Would you consider all cotton (in a combination of sizes) to lower the price point?
Are you flexible with your colors? Can you take advantage of mill ends or buy from someone else's stash? Mill end vendors that I know of are Shel B. Yarn (NY), also Silk City (in Patterson, NJ — warehouse access the 3rd Saturday of the month from 10-1.) There may be others (R&M Yarns? They used to be in GA, but moved.) However, locating what they have on hand at any given time, then refiguring your plan based on a limited supply is time-consuming and can be frustrating.
Finally, it sounds like this project is going to be a pretty significant undertaking. So if you feel you will be more successful sticking to the plan given in the magazine to finish by an August date, I'd suck it up and buy the recommended yarns.
Hey, why not put a little extra warp on there, and make something additional to sell on etsy and start to recoup the cost of the materials?
Good questions. I definitely hope you pursue this project and keep us posted!
Thanks for asking this question, and thanks for the replies which have been very useful to me too!
Part of the challenge of weaving (for me) is designing for and using the yarns I have on hand. I don't think I've ever planned a project then ordered the right quantity of materials. I guess I'm an implulse buyer.
Anyway, for the wallet's sake, I say do a few samples with the yarn you have. Also I'll add that even a rather coarse cotton makes a wonderful table cloth -- I've made cotton throws/blankets that are now being used as table toppers. These are not in the startched, crisp, ironed tradition, but very practical nonetheless.
I am decoding huckaback right now, in anticipation of the arrival of my new WeaveBird 24-shaft loom. There are almost as many variations in threading, treadling and notation for huck as there are books. But I've made progress with charting and block substitution, and have ideas for some runners and tablecloths in singles linen and hemp. It was huckaback that got me into weaving in the first place as I had done scads of huck embroidery and wanted a greater variety of fabrics than was available.
Thanks again for the helpful hints everyone.
Thanks to all of you for your great suggestions. I think I get frustrated with the fact that I don't have a huge stash like those grand personalities you read about in magazines (this shelf is for all of my red-violet 150/4 linen and this shelf is for the blue 50% rayon 50% yak yarn). So I, like most people will build up my stash slowly. I am itching to get at linen. I am a spinner, so I COULD start spinning, but no way will I get it done by this August.
I will seriously think about the all-cotton route and will look into the sales on Webs, etc. I have dealt with RM yarns and Shel too, and both are very good. I have 20/2 cotton, Laurie, so I can look into using that. Hmmm, now the wheels are turning. Sally: I will put on some extra warp, now that you mention it for etsy sales.
My shop is "weavingcowboy" if any of you are interested. My stock is very small right now, but I hope to make it grow over the summer.
It also occurred to me last night you could make a smaller item than a table cloth, (like a runner), and reduce the overall cost.
I have gotten some excellent deals on linen and very fine bamboo at Silk City in the past year. Their website is poor, and they don't "describe" some of their yarn lines in quite the same way as weavers are used to (ypp and conventional ply) so it is helpful to see the yarn in person and talk to one of the staff, so you can get an idea of comparable size. If you have a resale #, you can probably set up an account with them.
BTW—the WEB's sale ends May 31st, and Halcyon is having a 40th anniversary sale right now. So you picked a good time to be planning this project!
FYI—the only weavers I meet who have a stash like you describe typically are selling yarn too, or used to own a yarn shop and are left with inventory.
Another category with large stashes may include the weaver who has been weaving longer (and been exposed to many more "too good to pass up" sales) - not that I know anyone like that.....
More cheap sources of yarns - Webs regular lines of cotton (not the UKI) are relatively cheap, and they have some mill end cottons and linens that can be very cheap but limited in selection. Michael White here on Weavolution has been posting some great prices for cotton and silk. LeClerc/Brassard has good prices. Lunatic Fringe occasionally carries cheap cottons. Be careful on ebay - some of what you get is mismarked or old/fragile, but others are absolutely fine.
Laurie Autio, who lives too near to Webs
I like Sally's suggestion to make another one or two (use a different tie-up or treadling) to sell to recoup your costs.
Ask a question, and get lots of great ideas. I am going to look at Silk City's website now, as I have never done so. Thanks for the reminder that Webs sale is done on the 31st. Laurie: thanks for the idea of using a different tie-up or treadling!
I am seriously thinking of using 20/2 cotton as warp and tabby, and 10/2 linen as pattern. I have to fiddle with the pattern and sett a bit, but no problem. Sometimes for me, planning can be more fun than the weaving...
I was looking at Strickler's 8-shaft book last night and I may end up using one of her huck patterns for a tablecloth. I can use 20/2 cotton and don't have to worry about the linen thread.
Where ever you get the cotton warp, do get a good sized sample first and break it in a few places to check it's strength. There is nothing more frustrating than to find a low price on a thread only to find out that it was made from short fibers and will give you problems with breakage when you are warping and weaving. It should at least be a combed cotton and not a karded one. The cotton industry uses the shorter fibers in what they call 'karded', usually indicated just with a k on the label.
And when winding a 16/2 or 20/2 cotton, be sure to order at least two cones and wind two threads at a time. Three (3/3 lease cross) and four (4/4) wound together works too. This will make the beaming much easier. If you wind with one thread, you will have a 1/1 lease and it is more likely that you will have tangles during warping. This also can cause breakage with a 'k' thread.
Joanne, I never knew that's what the k stood for - thanks!
If you'd be open to using 10/2 cotton instead of 20/2, there's a woman on the Housecleaning Pages who is selling 10/2 mercerized cotton in natural (off-white probably), 3.5 lb cones for $7/lb.
Thank you Joanne and Tien. I feel so honored when great weavers like you correspond with nobodies like me. I still look at the pics of your wedding ensemble in Handwoven, Tien, and admire the stunning cloth you wove. (I emailed you awhile back - I'm the guy with the handspun blanket in one of the Letters columns in a recent Handwoven.
All the best,
@ Joanne: I know what you mean about poorly spun cotton. It drove me nuts on a project last year... sometimes mill ends can be trouble! (And sometimes they can be wonderful!)
I just checked out your Etsy shop. You have some really nice overshot in there! I live not far from you, and work in Rockport - it's nice to see another weaver in the area! If you get a chance see what I have in mine - ThreadbareDesigns. I'll be interested to see what you decide about the tablecloth. I just received the Best of Weavers - Huck and it has a tablecloth project in there that's really nice.
I can only speak from my experience of sewing and knitting. If there is any time pressure at all, or any pressure to have it just perfect, more time spent sampling means less time to actually execute the project. I have regretted on more than one occasion not simply spending the money on the known and proven materials. If there is even a little flaw, you will cringe every time your mom shows off your gift, no matter how much the viewer ohs and ahs. For each sample you make and reject, your time investment increases as your available weaving time decreases. It is not about being cheap, or extravagant. It is about the use of your most precious resource-time. How many years will your parents treasure this heirloom you create?
IMHO, better to spend the extra dollars, enjoy the trouble-free weaving and bask in the compliments on a flawless execution of the gift knowing you deserve every word.
Thanks for looking at my shop! I've sold two overshot rug/runners so far, and I'm glad that people seem happy with them.
To all: I am still planning, but I am going to spend the extra bucks. I once got a cone of 10/2 that was endless trouble. It was poorly spun and kept breaking. It was a mill end, no name special...