Random Acts for Napkins

Red Warp Napkins
Red Warp Napkins

Sometimes we all need a quick, gratifying project to fill the need to create beauty and have something functional.  Especially a project that fits the needs of our family.

For years, I have gazed longingly at the projects that others have made using random colors and yarns in making a warp.  The ease that those creators have used to make seemingly random choices of warp yarns was daunting to me.  I am a planner, I like to know what the finished product will look like at the end, and I find it difficult to start on a journey and not know where I am headed.

Home Alone and What to Weave?

On a recent weekend, I was home alone with all the time that I wanted to weave.  I cast about for what to do with my free time. Empty more looms?  Start on the cowl project that I have in mind for a year?  Rework a draft that has been nagging at me?

As I was cleaning up the studio at the end of the day on Friday, I happened to open one of our Tubular Spectrum™ bobbin drawers to put away a wound bobbin and found that the drawer was completely full! I started arranging the bobbins to make one more fit.  My mind was drawn to the thought of a random warp to clear off some of the bobbins.  I have wanted to make napkins for my family…napkins in a colorway that can withstand my kids wiping up tomato sauce or wiping their greasy hands with them.  A random warp using 10/2 mercerized cotton would be perfect for that project!

The Fall Trifecta

I started with bobbins of Burnt Umber, Cranberry, and Copper (my favorite fall trifecta of colors).  Then added 5 Yellow Red, both 5 Red and 10 Red then added Gold and Butter.  All those colors seemed to lean heavily on the red / orange quadrant of the color wheel.  It needed some pizzaz!  I thought about Cynthia Newman’s Metamorphic Napkins which have a kind of similar colorway.  But oh, wow do the 10 Red Purple and 5 Blue colors pop out in those napkins!  The addition of 5 Blue and Thyme to the mix added what I hoped would be the bit of pizzaz.   When I pulled all those bobbins out of the drawer, it was a lovely pile of bobbins, and now the drawer would close.  I felt fabulously successful already!

Warp the Loom!

Which loom to use?  I wanted these napkins done in the relatively short amount of time that I had, and with all that color, I didn’t want to add any complicated pattern.  An empty Flip Rigid Heddle loom was the obvious choice.  The napkins were about 14” wide in the reed, the 10/2 yarn doubled in the reed, using a 12-dent reed and the warp was about 120” long.  I wanted to get at least 6 napkins out of the warp, and if I got more, great, if not, oh well.  I picked a bobbin and started to direct warp the loom.

Empty Bobbins

It was really gratifying to empty all those bobbins.  I also didn’t have to worry about dye lots because with all the color going on, no one would notice anyway! I was supposed to choose the bobbin colors randomly, but I figured out quickly that I still was imposing order to the randomness. As I warped, I realized which colors were very visible in the warp because of their value.  Butter was much lighter than all the other colors, and as a result, I could see the stripes of butter from a long way away.  I did sort of space those Butter stripes across the warp although it wasn’t precise.  Using 10/2 mercerized yarn doubled in the warp allowed me to get the loom warped in less than an hour, even with all the color changing!

Weave those Napkins!

Using 5/2 Tubular Spectrum™ yarn for weft allowed me to make a balanced weave without having to double the weft.  And it provided more chances to empty bobbins! It took me about 5 hours to weave 6 and a half napkins.  I used 5 Purple, Tangerine and Cranberry for weft and made two napkins with each weft. On two of the napkins I wove weft stripes at one end.

Washing and hemming my little pile of napkins took another 2 hours.  For a grand total of 7 hours and 6 and a half new napkins.   I am delighted to have accomplished a project and I realize that right now in my life, that is immensely satisfying.

While I was weaving, I was designing the next random warp…blues with a hint of 5 Green Yellow for the accent color.  Oh dear, I think I have created a monster.  I wonder how many warps I can finish before the holidays.

And the bobbin drawers have even more space available.

Happy Weaving!


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