In my last blog post (Vignettes), I was just beginning to weave a new series of designer kitchen towels. Getting started on them had been a long slow process, as I was not inspired by the colors I was going to be working with. There’s a little backstory here to explain that, since most of you probably know that ordinarily I choose the colors for virtually everything I weave. This time was different.
Last October, I was the organizer for a weaving retreat held here on Whidbey Island, led by Kathrin Weber (Blazing Shuttles), dyer and weaver extraordinaire. This winter, she initiated a towel swap for the members of the group, and dyed some cotton yarns in colors that were reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest. I selected one colorway called Mount Hood, and another called Stormy Ocean. When I got them, they seemed drab and murky to me; I was uninspired, and did nothing for a long while. One day, in a new shipment of miscellaneous hand-dyed yarns from The Drop Spindle, there was a fat, lustrous pearl cotton in interesting colors, some of which were similar to the ones I’d gotten from Kathrin. Eureka!! there was the accent I needed to bring the whole venture to life. In the photo above, you can see glimmers of it.
And in this photo, they’re even more apparent. By this stage — winding the warp onto the loom — I was delighted with how the colors and textures were interacting. The two main yarns were in an A-B-A-B-A distribution across the 22.5-inch width of the warp, and at no point were there similar colors adjacent to one another. There were some very interesting combinations that emerged, and through it all the shiny thicker accent yarn kicked everything up another notch. I loved it all!
The title — Ancient Elements — came from my impression that the yarn colors represented the land, the sea, and the sky here in this region (no fires west of the Cascade Range, and the volcanic beginnings are long in the past). The ancients believed that the fundamental elements of the world were earth, air, fire, and water — so my towels used that nomenclature. Here they are (photos taken during the weaving process) ~
Air #1 ~
Water #1 ~
Earth #1 ~
Air #2 ~
Water #2 ~
Earth #2 ~
Water #3 ~
Two of these were sent off today to Kathrin in North Carolina for the towel exchange, another was sent to its new owner in Florida, and the rest have been purchased by Washingtonians. Needless to say, my early reservations and hesitations were for naught.