As a teenager with a 200-year-old loom that filled his bedroom, I developed a love for weaving linen. With no one to scare me off I wove my first piece of linen out of some ancient Fawcetts singles I found buried in a bin at Peter Patchis Yarns in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Looking back now it's almost a miracle it went off without a hitch. The draft for that first piece of linen was one I found in a book put out by the Merrimack Valley Textile Museum (later to become the American Textile History Museum which sadly dissolved in 2016), a diamond spotweave from a towel woven in 19th-century Billerica, Massachusetts. The design was extremely popular however, and surviving examples can be found all over New England. "Weaver Rose," of Kingston, Rhode Island, had the same pattern in his collection of drafts under the name "Prussian Diaper*." The concentric diamonds of this design are a timeless classic, rooted in the past, clean and smart for the present.
I prefer to make towels the way they used to be—strong, absorbent, and large. Woven of natural gray singles linen yarn, they're a hard wearing and hard working towel that only improves with age. Linen absorbs and loses moisture faster than cotton, making it the ideal fiber for hand and dish towels. These towels are a generous size, double that of most on the market today. At this size you'll always find a fresh spot to dry your hands, and by distributing wear over a greater area they'll outlast a skimpier towel. Linen has a uniquely elegant versitility, beautiful when line dried with casual wrinkles, or ironed to bring a high gloss to the spotweave pattern. A well made linen towel is an investment that will serve dutifully in the kitchen, bath, or on the table for decades.
*Diaper was originally the name for a family of linen fabrics woven with an all-over pattern that was popular for table and kitchen linens as well as drapery and clothing. The name comes from Ypres, Flanders, which became famous for these types of goods in the 16th century. When these textiles were worn out they were reused for baby clouts, eventually giving their name to that household essential. I say we take back the name and cover our tables with elegant linen diaper yet again.
- 21" x 35.5"
- Singles linen warp, singles linen weft
- Natural gray
- Spot weave
- Hemmed on two ends, all sewing by hand
- Wash warm to cold, line dry, iron if desired