Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wrinkly Crinkly Linen

My husband makes fabulous bread.   Really, really fabulous bread.    When it's rising, he covers it with a damp towel.   I love looking at big bowls of rising dough.  

[Too bad I don't have a pic of one to put here.  It would have looked great.]

Anyway.   Eric uses our dish towels to cover the dough with.   Which is fine.  Great, even. 

Except that dish towels are made to be a bit fluffy and absorbent.  They need to be in order to fulfill their raison d'etre  [I have no idea if I spelled that right.]  of drying dishes.

As opposed to linen towels, which are made to be lint-free and elegant. 

Now, if I've got a choice between a fluffy towel and a lint-free towel to put on my bread, then I'm going to choose lint-free.    Yep.

The problem is that it's hard to find linen towels anymore, except in antique stores and in places that I can't afford to shop.    If I score an antique linen towel in an antique shop, there's no way I'm going to use that on bread.  

So, I decided to make my own.   

yarn: 16/2 natural linen
sett:  20 epi  [too tight!]   Next time I'll go for 15epi. 
12-13 ppi
beat:  very firm
weave:  plainweave

For dish-type towels,  I plan on 1 yard of warp per towel.   I weave towels at 20 inches wide.    I'm never disappointed in the finished size, even with hemming and shrinkage.  

Weaving with linen is not hard at all.   It's a stiff yarn, but it doesn't take long to get used to.   Keep an eye on your selvedges, like you do for everything.    There is no give at all in linen yarn.  It winds easily and stays put.  Period.  End of subject.   This is one of the easiest warps I've ever put on a loom.

Sett:   I asked a good friend what sett to use and she recommended 15-18.   I should have just shut up and done it that way.    16/2 looks so skinny!   and when I weave cotton towels, I use a 24 epi sett with 10/2 cotton yarn.   So, I upped the sett on the linen towels to 20.    It's not a crisis - they look fine!- but you waste yarn in the warp beginnings and ends, so there's no need to pack the warp unless you really need to.   And you don't need to with plainweave linen towels.   Stick with 15-18 epi. 

When I took it off the loom it was stiff. 

As a board. 

As hardware cloth.

As that coarse stuff you do needlepoint chair seats on.
No. Drape. At. All.   It couldn't have been stiffer if I'd soaked it in starch.

Not to worry!   Everything is a bit stiff when it comes off the loom.   As my good friend and weaving teacher, Suzanne Halvorsen, says, 'It's not finished until it's washed!'.  

True, true, true.   Especially for linen.    Wash it! 

Here's a pic of a washed towel on top of an unwashed one. 
After it's washed, it's happier.   It has that wrinkly crinkly linen look. 

I love that look.

And now Eric has linen towels to cover his bread with.    The bread was happier, too. 


  1. I love hearing you talk weaving even though I have no idea what any of it means. ;)

    As for raison d'etre, I believe it's right except for the accent over the first "e" - "ê"

  2. Thanks for the spell-check, Teresa!

  3. So lovely. And I could no more do that than fly to the moon.

    Any chance of getting Eric to guest-post his bread technique? I would love that, and I'm sure I would not be alone.

  4. Janiel - You could so weave this. If you wanted to. But you don't, and I do, so it all worked out.

    Great idea on the bread post....


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