I am a big fan of hemp textiles. I enjoy several favorite hemp and cotton-blend T-shirts, cushy socks, and even handspun tapestry jewelry. I love the balance of softness and crispness in this versatile fiber.
Recently I was talking with someone about hemp yarns and items that can be handwoven with them. I thought of the Waffle-Weave Bath Mitts I wove for the January/February 2020 issue of Handwoven using Bluegrass Mills 6/2 cotton from The Woolery. Bluegrass Mills also produces 6/2 yarn in 100% hemp in a similar color range, so I decided to reproduce the bath mitts in hemp.
I stuck with Paperwhite for the warp, which isn’t quite as light in hemp as in cotton, and for the weft I used Queen Anne Lace. On the cone, the hemp yarn is stiffer than cotton and feels slightly thinner. I thought I might need a tighter sett, so I wove samples at 20 and 24 epi to check. That showed me that 20 was the correct sett which was also the sett I used for the cotton.
I found several knots and places where the plies were uneven. You need to allow extra yardage when figuring out yarn amounts to work around these spots. The yarns are uneven in spots, with occasional slubs of short fibers, but these didn’t cause any difficulty; they add a little extra texture to the finished cloth—and extra lint under the loom.
I usually don't follow a recipe or pattern exactly as written—apparently not even my own! I altered this one to weave twice as wide but half as long for each piece, folding the bath mitts along one side instead of the end. While it doubled my threading and sleying time, it cut the weaving time in half, which was more efficient for a long warp. I wove 1½" pseudo-plain weave for the top hem, 11" waffle weave, and 6 picks pseudo-plain weave for a seam allowance for each mitt. The original design had coordinating inkle bands for the hanging tabs. For this set, I used the warp thrums to make 4-strand braids of doubled yarns for the hanging loops.
Fresh off the loom, the hemp waffle fabric felt much stiffer and rougher than its cotton counterpart. After machine washing and drying, the finished mitts turned out softer in hemp. At either texture, these mitts are a luxurious item for the bath or spa. Meanwhile, I'm imagining more projects for a favorite fiber.
Project Type: 4-shaft.
Structure: Waffle weave.
Equipment: 4-shaft loom, 8" or 15" weaving width; 10-dent reed; 1 shuttle.
Yarns: 6/2 hemp (2,450 yd/lb, Bluegrass Mills), Paperwhite and Queen Anne Lace.
Warp: 20 epi (2/dent in a 10-dent reed).
Weft: 20 ppi.
Width in the reed: 14 9/10".
Woven length (measured under tension on the loom): 13" per mitt.
Finished size (after wet-finishing and hemming): bath mitts 6" x 10" each.