Handwoven Dish Towels!

It has been a long, long time since I have woven anything that feels like cloth and I used to do it a lot! I showed you the weaving in progress and I have finally finished the dish towels.

They felt stiff when I cut them off the loom, and it is obvious that I had two threads in each dent of the reed – – – can you see what I mean in the top picture? How is it possible to make these towels look and feel soft and absorbent and function well? By wet finishing. I’ve been reading various posts and articles on the Internet and I had to laugh a bit. Wet finishing seems like a funny term for washing something before using it. I always wash handwoven fabric after I weave it. And I always wash the fabric I use for making quilts and weaving rag rugs as well. To me, a fabric isn’t finished until it’s been washed.

Before washing

Before washing


After washing

After washing

Big difference, isn’t it? And I was so pleased to see how they thickened up. Fulled is the word used for wool; I’m not sure it applies to cotton.

In case you think I am crazy for doing this, I have been inspired by several bloggers who weave dish towels. Kerry at Love Those Hands at Home has made a lot of them. And Karen at Warped for Good makes some beauties as well.

When I was Googling to see who else made “useful” woven items, I found Marilyn.  Please take the time to read her lovely piece about weaving such time-consuming textiles at Whimsy and Tea.

I must say that 8/2 makes for a nice weight in a towel. Now that they are hemmed, they are on the rack to be used tonight! And I’m looking forward to making more.

Handwoven dish towels!



A Quilt Store Visit – Island Quilters

While we were on our vacation, the stars aligned and we were able to stop on the way home for the grand re-opening of Island Quilters in Hilton Head SC! Why was this so special, you may ask? Because the new owner is my friend Beth Hanlon-Ridder! You have seen her name on the blog before, because she has had a machine quilting business for some years and she has quilted many of my quilts. But now she is in the quilting business big time.

Beth and I met in 1993 in Singapore. Peter and I had been there for a few months when I got a telephone call from Beth, who had just moved and had many questions and concerns. (Our husbands worked for the same company.) She is a super organized person and had thought about what she might do in her spare time and had brought a lot of projects. Mostly she was into counted cross stitch, but she did have one quilt pattern. It was a runner with pieced trees on it, I remember, and not a beginning project, but we did get through it. I had been quilting for about three years, so I was an expert, and I was glad to assist her any time she had a questionThis is a long way of saying that Beth is knowledgeable and experienced and IQ will be a wonderful place to shop.

Beth is knowledgeable

Here is my favorite part of any quilt store – the batik section. There are many to choose from and I restrained myself. I did buy some background for a new Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt, but I did need that, I really did.  She carries lots of other fabrics too,including some tempting holiday prints, but you’ve seen pictures of the studio and know I don’t need another fat quarter.

WOnderful batik shelves

There are lots of samples in the store. Some are of quilt design ideas and others showcase her wonderful machine quilting – her big machine is lurking in the back, waiting to get to work. Peter and I were so glad to see she and Jim again (thanks to Jim for photographing us!) and are so pleased now that we all live in South Carolina.

Deb & Beth & Peter

If you are in Hilton Head, please make sure you stop by and tell Beth that Debbie sent you!

Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley!

Peter and I are big Harry Potter fans (honestly, isn’t everyone?) so we decided on this Florida trip to make sure to get to Universal Studios to see The Wizarding World. Turns out that Universal has two parks and there is a Harry area in each, so we had to decide where to go since we did not purchase a two park ticket. We polled the young wait staff at our Disney World hotel and they all recommended Diagon Alley as the best “experience” and we certainly enjoyed it! Here is the interior of the store where the Hogwarts kids buy their pets (familiars?). The cat was twitching her tail and looking annoyed.

Pet store

While drinking a butter beer, we enjoyed all the advertising on the walls of the buildings and

Diagon Alley ad

remembered all the hilarious  tricks and toys and magical gags that the Weasley twins came up with at school and then for their store. This is the wonderful store front for Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.

Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes

There is so much to look at in Diagon Alley! The (what do you call the people who come up with theme park designs?) theme park designers really outdid themselves. The feel and texture of it was very evocative of the books.

Diagon Alley

We did not run into any of the human characters from the book, but were properly intimidated by the clerk at Gringotts!

Gringott's clerk

And Peter very much enjoyed the (escape) ride through Gringott’s bank. I get sick with very little provocation, so I sat that one out.

I hope I haven’t spoiled it for you. There’s lots to see and do (particularly if you buy a wand) and who knows what fun is to be had in the other side?!? Has anyone been there?


What’s In Bloom Wednesday 9/21/16



Sedum are such interesting plants! For the longest time they are green and then buds appear and finally they bloom. The bugs love them! The first day they were open, the flowers were covered with honey bees. I was so glad to see them. The next day they were covered with these orange and white bugs. I have no idea what they are, but I like their mosaic pattern. This morning when I went by, the plants were covered in tiny butterflies that zoom around fighting with each other and then feed a bit and then fight. There must be some sort of reservation system going on with the sedum and the bug families…

The 21 Year Old Rug Is Completed!!!

Perhaps if you have worked at a project on and off for many years, you will understand my surprise when after clipping and clipping and filling in skipped spots, I realized that The 21 Year Old Rug was finally done! How could that have happened?

I did a little happy dance and then started the finishing process. First I laid a piece of plastic and then a towel on the wooden floor. The rug went next and then I laid a sheet on the top. I filled the iron with lots of water and steamed over the sheet/rug many times. This is called blocking and if you work with any sort of fiber, you know what an incredible process this is. I took some photos, but you really can’t see the difference. I hook quite evenly, but even so, it becomes so smooth as the wool blooms. It certainly “could” be finished as is, but I think the braid will really make it special.

I googled adding a braid to a hooked rug and my blog came up! And not much else. Though I do remember how to do it, I did not want to do it the way my instructor showed the class. She lines, or covers, the whole underneath of the piece with flannel and then adds the braid. I asked her if she did this for floor rugs as well and she replied that she did. For many reasons, I don’t want to do this but the main one is that the flannel will be covered with cat fuzz the minute it lands on the floor! And how would I get the cat fuzz off of the flannel on the rug back? It’s tricky enough to vacuum the front of a hooked piece.

I did a lot of measuring and trimmed the burlap. I serged the raw edge and then carefully folded the edge using many pins, so there was a thin edge to lace the braid on. Then I hand sewed twill tape on the back. This would have been a lot simpler if the backing were not burlap, which is fragile and reacts badly to wet and heat. But you remember, this is a 21-year-old rug and I think I probably bought the pattern 25 years ago…

Almost done!


The braid is a bit tricky to begin, as you need to make blunt ends for butting at the end. Because of the way the corners are handled, I braid and lace and braid and lace and then do the special corner braid. Here is my little frame, which holds the wool strips firmly so that I get a tight braid. I can hear some of you saying “ahhhhh…” and it is fun to do!

Braiding frame


The ending – butting both ends of the braid – is SO not fun! I spent more than an hour trimming the wool pieces on the right and then sewing the ends and then trimming again and sewing. I was so anxious about cutting them too short. Not the end of the world, but it would have been nasty to repair. I was able to get a “perfect butt” {don’t laugh!} meaning the colors matched, but I am not happy about where the seams are butted and sewn. I may go back and sew them some more.

Butting the braid

So here it is! It will sit by Peter’s side of the bed as he always said he wanted it and kept encouraghing me to finish it. O happy day!

21 year old rug completed


The 21 Year Old Rug Update…

Because I have whined so much about the Vermont Shells hooked rug, I promised myself that I would not discuss the rug until it was done – but it is in the home stretch! While filling in some “holidays” and cutting ends, I was mulling over what sort of yarn to whip the edge with. And then I decided to make a braided edge. It will probably take longer, particularly as I don’t quite remember how to attach the braid, but it will be a lovely finish. {I’m so ready to be done with this rug…}

Here are some of the fabrics that I auditioned. The fabric on the left is the one that I used to hook the dark edge of the border, and I could certainly use three lengths of that, but braiding is much more interesting when several fabrics are used. The plain brown is the fabric I hooked around each of the clam shells and I liked the idea of adding some green, so I ripped 2″ strips of the first three wools and braided a quick sample.

Braid ideas

Sampling is important as it is impossible to know 1) how the fabrics will look when they are folded and braided and 2) how the braid will look against the rug. It looks pretty good.

Braid one

For the next sample I subtracted the plain brown and used the blue plaid. I liked the idea of echoing (in very dark values) the main colors of the shells. I like it!

Braid Two

Braiding is a good project to do while watching the Olympics because I can start and stop easily. {And can you believe the amount of commercials??? Holy Cow I am glad that we are watching a day behind. Peter says he is getting a sore thumb from fast forwarding and even with handwork it would drive me mad to watch so many inane commercials.}

The other project I am working on while viewing the Olympics is the Halloween Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. I haven’t worked on it in quite some time… It’s getting to be that time of year. Maybe I will try to finish it for Halloween of 2017… {It could happen.}

Halloween GFG