Mother's Day 2015

rweait's picture
doubleweave pillow case project, winding onto cloth beam

I've been doing a little weaving. This is my Mother's Day 2015 project, shown in progress. Each additional thread of yarn is added to the cloth near the top right of this image. The woven cloth lengthens as each additional thread is added. This process continues, adding threads and lengthening cloth. The woven cloth is wound onto the cloth beam to allow more threads to be added to the cloth and to extend the maximum length of an object woven on the loom. The lower portion of the image shows several wraps of the cloth woven for this project.


Mom requested some pillow covers, in shades of blue, for her living room. The finished pillows should be approximately 14" square, and practical. Practical means that the covers should be removable for washing, the fabric should be durable and the pillows should be soft and comfortable for use during naps or pillow-fights.

We haven't decided on how to make the pillow cases removable for washing. The obvious options are to use a zipper, or buttons or Velcro® closure along one of the edges. We've elected to put that decision off until later, when we will collaborate on the assembly of the pillow cases. This assembly step is something I'm really looking forward to. I'll be able to learn a lot from my Mom's experience and it will be great fun to complete the assembly with her.

And she gets to finish making her own Mother's Day gift. Happy Mother's day Mom! I love you. :-)

We chose to use a modified version of the Autumn Windows table runner pattern from Jennifer Moore's book, Doubleweave. I'm enjoying weaving the projects in this book.

Warp plan

I chose a warp width of 15.5" to allow for some shrinking to the target size of 14". The pattern calls for two layers of cloth, it is Doubleweave
after all, each at 16 ends (threads) per inch. So I need 496 ends in the warp.

How long will each thread be? The pillows will be square, so 14" when finished and 15.5" on the loom. I'm counting on symmetrical shrinkage in the warp and the weft. This assumption is naïve but probably close enough. The length adds up.

Each pillow case has a front and a back. 15.5 + 15.5 = 31"

Each end of each pillow case will have a hem. 31 + .25 +.25 = 31.5"

There should be some space between each pillow case on the loom. 31.5 + .5 = 32"

I want to make two pillow cases for Mom, plus a third, just in case. 32 * 3 = 96"

Some length of each end cannot be woven due to the construction of the loom. This unweavable length is called loom waste. 96 + 18 = 114"

I'd like to weave some sample and practice cloth as well, so I'll leave some extra thread for that as well. 114" is about 3.2 yards, I'll wind a 4 yard warp
to have plenty to spare.

laying out the warp

The warp will require 496 ends of 4 yards, or 1984 yards of yarn.

The block design

The original pattern calls for 3 four-end blocks in each coloured square. I wanted larger squares and elected to use 14 four-end blocks per window. I left a border of 1.75" on each side of the warp. So my revision of the design uses 40 A-blocks and 84 B-blocks. Each block has two threads for the foreground layer and two for the background layer.

Warp yarn requirements

In the A-blocks, I've used the same colour for the foreground and background, an unbleached, natural cotton colour.
40 blocks * 4 ends / block = 160 ends.
160 ends * 4 yards / end = 640 yards of background colour

Each group of fourteen B-blocks has a distinct foreground colour, and all B-blocks have the same background colour as the A-Blocks.

Each group of fourteen B-blocks requires:
14 blocks * 2 ends / block = 28 ends of background thread
28 ends * 4 yards / end = 112 yards of background thread
The backgrounds are all the same colour, so 6 * 112 = 672 yards of background colour for the B-blocks

14 blocks * 2 ends / block = 28 ends of foreground thread
28 ends * 4 yards / end = 112 yards of foreground thread
There are 6 different foreground colours for the B-blocks, and each will require 112 yards of thread.

Weft yarn requirements

The threads that are woven across the warp are called weft threads. And I need to prepare for that as well.

Each weft thread extends across the full warp, or nominally 15.5". I'm using a square design, with as many threads in the weft as in the warp, and in the same order. So I already have some of these numbers.

For the A-blocks, 160 ends * 3 pillows * 2 sides / pillow * 15.5" = 413 yards of background colour.

For the six groups of fourteen B-blocks, 28 ends * 3 pillows * 2 sides / pillow * 15.5" = ~72 yards of each foreground colour

And six times that, or ~434 yards of the background colour thread within the B-blocks.

Yarn budget

So all in, this design requires 1746 yards of the background, natural colour yarn and 184 yards of each of six foreground colours.

Preparing the loom

Most of preparing the loom consists of untangling thread. This is one of the highlights.

tensioning the warp

Really, the less said about winding and tensioning the warp, the better.

The weaving

The pattern and loom make for pretty happy weaving work.

  1. Check the pattern
  2. Weave a thread
  3. Repeat from (1)

And pretty soon, three pillows are done. Nice.

As allowed for in the yarn budget, there was space left in the warp for a sample piece after the three pillow covers. Once the three pillow covers were complete, it appeared that I had enough left for a portion of one side of a pillow case. Right. A place mat it shall be!. This is the remaining warp, once I completed the extra sample piece.

remaining warp

There are about two inches of warp remaining at this point, but that short length make the loom more difficult to operate. So I stopped there.

Completed project

This is the full length of the project warp, once removed from the loom. On the lower right is the sample piece, and each of the left, top, and upper right are approximately one unfolded pillowcase.

doubleweave pillowcase warp

So the pillow cases are not done, as the final assembly will be a collaborative project with Mom.

This is the place mat / trivet that I wove on the end of the warp. The ends have been turned in and hemmed. The dimensions are 14.75" x 9.25" but the piece has not been wet finished. It could end up at 14" wide when done. We'll see.

doubleweave place mat


All photos by R.Weait.

This project uses yarn that I purchased at Camilla Valley Farm Weavers' Supply, in Orangeville, Ontario. They have a large and diverse selection of yarns suitable for weaving. Buy something from them and tell them I said "Hi!" I'll have more to say about these folks in another article.