Our spring-time vintage towel class has turned into an ongoing Weaving Study Group. The first project was to create something based on one of the vintage towels in my collection. None are exact reproductions — the new towels each show the personality of its weaver. Here are the towels, with the vintage version on the left and the new on the right:
Deb chose a towel with a very pretty trim. A little overshot, a little plain weave. The towel itself is woven in a lace pattern. Like huck toweling, but with only one float. More research is needed to nail this one down. She used a 20/2 warp and 8/2 weft. The towel is fairly hefty. I wouldn't mind it in a bigger size as a bath towel. ((A towel tidbit: the loopy towels we use now weren't introduced until the mid 1800's. Then and now they are called Turkish towels.))
The towel Jeri selected is made from linen and was probably purchased from a bolt of toweling fabric. You can still find toweling by the yard in some fabric shops. Jeri's towel is woven using a combination of 10/2 and 20/2 mercerized cotton.
The towel Joy selected was woven with a monk's belt accent. When she analyzed the accent, she quickly noticed that the original had a mistake. Needless to say, Joy fixed the problem on her towels. They are woven with 20/2 cotton.
The original towel in this set was handwoven at Berea College. Berea College is unique: students pay no tuition, but they must work 10 hours per week at service jobs, including weaving. Students come primarily from southern Appalachia. The Berea towel has a bit of miniature overshot as trim. Sybil swapped the warp and weft colors and used 2/2 twill as her trim.
The original towel in this pair dates to 1920 and came from Berlin. It was unused and the cotton is as fresh and pretty as the day it was woven. It was woven on a loom with many more shafts than a typical handweaver has access to, so I reinterpretted it as an 8 shaft pattern. The towel is woven using 10/2 cotton.
If you live locally and are interested in joining our study group, please let me know. Our current topic is overshot and we meet again in March.