Summer Encore

Warp Chains

The leaves are turning to vibrant colors, and while the calendar says it’s autumn, we’re having a nice warm and sunny stretch.  I know I should be weaving in the traditional fall colors, especially for upcoming events and sales, but these turquoise colors gave me one last shout from the shelves.  So, a batch of bright cotton towels to pay homage to the summer that has come to an end.

Something Old, Something New

Sample of traditional pattern, woven in cotton

I love it when a puzzle comes together. Case in point: a convergence of a traditional weave structure, a mathematical concept, and customer requirements, resulting in a unique set of kitchen towels.

I enjoy perusing old textile books, especially those from Scandinavia. A lot of what I find is elegant, yet often quite utilitarian; quiet statements of exquisite craftsmanship. This approach to the craft really resonates with me.

I ran across this particular weave structure in a book of traditional Finnish textiles, Handweaving Patterns from Finland by Helvi Pyysalo and Viivi Merisalo. It was presented as a natural linen towel, with large square blocks with alternating vertical and horizontal ribs, a subtle checkerboard effect.

Square One

There is, of course, no one right way to approach creating a new design. There are several elements to consider, any one of which can be square one: the look, or visual impact, which is primarily expressed through color and structure; the feel, which comes from fiber and texture; the intended purpose, such as decorative, durable or wearable.

I sometimes start with a weave structure that interests me, such as shadow weave, twill, lace, etc. I’ll puzzle with placement of the structural elements, or blocks, and then play with the color arrangement, to find the best way to show off the structure. Other times I begin with the useful requirements of the cloth, such as sturdy upholstery or light, flowing summer shawl, and then find the fibers and structure that suit that purpose well.

For this project, however, it all started with the colors.


I love the water, always have, and these water-colored yarns in silk and wool just jumped into my arms. I looked at them for a while on the cones, then cut off some lengths, draped and twisted them around each other to see how they interacted. I thought of waterfalls tumbling into a tropical pool. That’s what triggered the structure: undulating twill that cascades down over the fabric. The luxurious fibers are perfect for a scarf that is light, yet warm – the waterfall scarf.