Monday, September 21, 2020

The Tea Towel and Why Weavers Love Them


 Tea towels are one of the first items a novice weaver makes and they continue to be a favourite project for even the most experienced weaver.

 When you weave a tea towel you are producing an artful piece of cloth that has a practical purpose.No need to feel guilty about having fun at the loom.  Instead think of your tea towel effort as a link to those weavers of old who produced their own household linens out of necessity.  Your tea towel project may not be as complex as their historic coverlets.  It may be on a smaller scale than the yards and yards of drapery material people wove in the 70's.  But, like those items it is a household necessity that you made by hand in your own style.

Rita's towels

 Tea towels make useful projects for exploring colour and weave structure.  They are a good size to illustrate an effect.  Their use relatively inexpensive materials and they are more useful than small samples.  If you plan ahead, one long warp can be used to explore different treadling variations as illustrated in the tea towels drying in the sun.  You can also explore how different weft colours will blend with the warp as illustrated below.

Pat's unhemmed tea towels

Sylvia's zigzagstripes

A multitude of tea towel designs can be found on line or you can have the fun and satisfaction of designing your own.  It is relatively easy to work out the threads and yards so you can concentrate on the visual design.  The rectangular shape is perfect for warp or weft stripes.  If you base your colours on those part cones in your stash you can make a practical item and clean out your yarn supply at the same time.  That allows you to claim double brownie points.

You can use many different weave structures or combinations of structures to make a tea towel making them a great project for learning about weave structure.  The photo below shows one of the guild tea towel projects that is designed for beginners in the group.  In this example the design involves two different structures that creates textural stripes.

 Now probably the most important feature of a hand woven tea towel is its ability to disappear from your studio.  They make wonderful gifts.  They are easy to pack in a suitcase or mail to a distant relative.  Wrap a loaf of home made bread in one and you have a thoughtful hostess gift.  Colour coordinate one with your friend's new kitchen and you have a special house warming present.

And best of all, they are the most popular woven item at guild sales.  So, if you are staying close to home these days and wondering what to weave, you can't go wrong with tea towels.  Make a long warp and have fun while learning something new.

tea towels for sale