Monday, July 22, 2013

Of Mills and Twills

I recently unearthed a full 1 kg cone of yarn, made by one of the USA oldest mills, Holt Williamson. A 1939 copy of the Fayetteville Observer tells me that this mill was opened in 1898 and was originally a cotton mill. The owners were known for their care of employees, building homes, schools and providing free electricity for them. If you want to find out more about the history of this mill,  and the man behind it, here's a couple of interesting links: About William Holt Williamson also Fayetteville Observer 1939

The label on the cone tells me the colour is Amarillo, composition 53% rayon, 25% flax and 19% cotton, with an S twist and count of 2300 yards with a stamp stating it is "Made with Pride in the USA". I have absolutely no idea when this yarn was made.

Amarillo, with its gentle sheen and variegated cotton slubs throughout, is the inspiration for weaving  a set of 3 cushion covers for a friend. This is the first time I have worked with a fibre mix like this for the warp and quickly discovered that an even tension across the width of the warp was critical. Within the first 50cm of the weave, I managed to break a fair number of warp threads on one side of the weave before getting the tension just right. Once that was remedied, I was able to progress at a much more satisfactory rate! 

Each cushion uses a different mix of twill structures, using the same yarn as the warp together with wools, in natural, red, blue, yellow and greens (echoing the colours of the cotton slubs). I planned the weaving so each side of each cushion cover is different, to maximise visual changes when arranging them. Three cushions that can do the job of six different cushions. How's that for versatility!

Off the loom, broken warps mended, washed, steamed and ready to sew into cushion covers. Decided on two 45cm square cushions and one small rectangular cushion just to mix it up a bit. Some strong zips and set to work on the sewing machine.

Twill cushions view 1
Twill cushions view 2
Complete, with their inserts, ready to wrap for my friend for a belated birthday gift. These cushions have their story woven in!


  1. Perhaps you can do that for all your friends?
    Looks Great Heather.

  2. You never know. Might bring back some of my weaving from Japan to share!