Log Cabin Napery
Designed and woven by Malynda Allen
“Napery” refers to “table linens woven with flax, usually used to wipe the fingers and mouth.” This set of six hemmed napkins, woven in plain weave on a rigid heddle loom, feature a solid color with a contrasting log cabin corner motif. For ease of weaving, 8/2 cotton doubled is used for the warp, while a linen weft adds a luxurious touch. The soft, crisp combination of linen and cotton will be a simple yet elegant addition to your table.
8/2 cotton may be substituted for the linen weft. Cotton draws in a bit more than linen, so the napkins will be a little narrower. 16/2 linen or 20/2 linen may also be substituted in the weft. If you make substitutions, measure the start and stop of the log cabin sequence so that you can make both ends of the napkins match. The total woven length of the napkins under tension is 18".
I used my 25" Flip loom and stand; the napkins could easily be woven on a 4-shaft table loom or a floor loom such as the Wolf Pup LT. You will need a longer warp to accommodate more loom waste.
Finished size: six hemmed napkins, 13-1/2" x 14"
Weave structure: plain weave
Total warp ends: 149 (135 in main color and 14 in contrast color)
Warp length: 138" (includes 10% take-up and 18" loom waste)
Width in reed: 14.9"
EPI: 10 (with warp yarn doubled)
PPI: 12 for plain weave (with 1 strand of weft yarn), 10 for log cabin sequence (with 2 strands of weft yarn)
What You'll Need
- Warp yarn: 8/2 cotton (unmercerized), 1100 yards in your main color and 110 yards in your contrast color. I used Valley Yarns Elm Green and Georgia Yarn Company Natural.
- Weft yarn: 18/3 Linen, 600 yards to match your main color and 78 yards to match the contrast color. I used Gist Yarns in Fern Green (100 yards per napkin) and 78 yards Cream (13 yards per napkin)
- scrap weft in a different color for the header, cutting lines, etc.
- sewing thread to match your main color
rigid heddle or two-shaft loom with at least a 15" weaving width
- 10 dent heddle or reed
- paper strip, cash register roll, ribbon, or other non-stretchy material for replicating napkin measurements
- sewing needle or sewing machine
You can warp with the indirect method, or you can set up a warping peg for direct warping. Since the warp yarn is doubled, you can direct warp through each hole as well as each slot.
Make the warp 138" long with the 8/2 cotton doubled, 14 (doubled) ends in the contrast color and 135 (doubled) ends in the main color. Warp the loom following the warp color order chart, beginning and ending in slots.
Wind one shuttle with a single strand of 18/3 Linen in Fern for the single-color borders and center of each napkin. Wind a second shuttle with doubled 18/3 Linen in Cream for the log cabin sequences. When you weave the Fern picks in the log cabin sequence, you can either wind a third shuttle with doubled yarn or work each pick twice. If you choose the latter, be sure to catch your selvedge thread between each pick. The doubled wefts will make ends per inch equal to picks per inch in the log cabin sequences, giving you square motifs.
Make a template: Cut out a template that is about 20" long. Mark about 1" from the start, and 18" from the first line. This is the total length of the napkin.
Weave a header to evenly space the warp ends.
- Weave 1-1/2" plain weave in Fern for the beginning hem, measured under tension. (You can hemstitch if you don't want to machine-stitch for weft protection. Leave a tail 4 times the width of your weaving; weave the hem; work hemstitching.)
- Weave 1" plain weave in Fern for the beginning border, measured under tension. End with a heddle-up (or Shaft 2 up) pick.
- Weave the beginning 15-pick log cabin sequence following the pattern draft. Use doubled weft in both colors.
- Measure under tension: your napkin should now be about 4". Pin a paper strip or ribbon to the beginning of the weaving and mark the end points of the hem, border, and log cabin sequence. Leave the strip—we'll call it a measurements template—in place for now.
- Weave 10" plain weave in Fern for the center of the napkin, measured under tension. End with a heddle-up (or Shaft 2 up) pick. Mark your measurements template.
- Remove the measurements template and reverse it, so you can weave the ending log cabin sequence, border, and hem to match the beginning ones.
- Weave the ending 15-pick log cabin sequence following the pattern draft. Use doubled weft in both colors.
- Weave 1" plain weave in Fern for the ending border, measured under tension.
- Weave 1-1/2" plain weave in Fern for the ending hem, measured under tension. (Hemstitch if you wish.) Work 1 pick in a contrasting color for the cutting line.
- Replace the measurements template at the beginning of the weaving, in the proper orientation. Mark for the ending log cabin sequence, border, and hem, always measuring under tension.
When you weave the remaining 5 napkins, pin the measurements template to the first pick and work to its marks for the hems, borders, and center sections. Now your napkins will match each other, which is more important than matching the schematic.
If you didn't hemstitch, weave 1" of plain weave with scrap yarn to protect the weft. Cut the weaving from the loom, leaving the header intact if you didn't hemstitch.
If you didn't hemstitch between napkins, use a sewing machine and zigzag stitch to secure the weft at the beginning of the first napkin, on each side of the cutting lines, and at the end of the last napkin.
- Machine-wash the napkins in warm water. Tumble dry until the weaving is damp. Press with a hot iron and press cloth.
- Cut apart napkins on the cutting lines. Press the hems to the wrong side, then turn under the raw edge to meet the fold and press again. Sew hems in place by hand or machine. Enjoy your lovely new napkins!
Reading Pattern Drafts
There are three parts to any pattern draft: the threading, the tie-up, and the treadling. Pattern drafts convey a lot of information in a brief, simple graphic format for rigid heddle and shaft loom projects.
Threading explains how to warp the loom. Each shaft has its own line, starting at the bottom row with the first shaft (front shaft). The draft above requires 2 shafts, so rigid heddle weavers can make this project without any pick-up sticks.
- Read the threading from right to left, as its arrow indicates. On a shaft loom, thread the first warp end on Shaft 1; on a rigid heddle loom, thread the first warp end into a slot.
- Change warp colors as indicated by the colored boxes.
- Brackets mark off different sections of the warp and if a segment gets repeated, there are notes indicating how many times. Here you thread 10 warp ends for the border, 15 ends for the log cabin pattern, 2 ends for 49 repeats of the center sequence, and so on.
The tie-up shows how to tie up the treadles on a floor loom, which levers to raise on a table loom or the Cricket Quartet, or whether the rigid heddle should be up or down.
Finally, the treadling explains how to weave the project.
- Read the treadling from bottom to top, as its arrow indicates.
- Change weft colors, or double the weft, as indicated by the colored boxes.
- For plain weave sections of the project, weave the first pick with the rigid heddle up or Shaft 2 raised.
- The log cabin sequence always starts and ends with rigid heddle down or Shaft 1 raised, with doubled Cream weft yarn.
Once you know how to interpret pattern drafts, you can weave any project that your loom can handle. You can convert a rigid heddle pattern for your floor loom or vice versa (though you may need pick-up sticks or a double heddle).
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