Go into any museum that exhibits old textiles, pull out your magnifying glass or loupe, and prepare to have your hat pop off at the wonder of the finishing details you’ll see there. The fabrics themselves may be awesome, but it’s the little hand-worked touches that amaze.
So often a hem is not just a hem; it’s an opportunity for the maker to assert her skills at making that hem almost invisible, or extra-fancy. Look at those fringes: they probably go far beyond simple overhand knots (not that there’s anything wrong with overhand knots). They can have twined bases, or extravagant netting, or odd little crocheted bobbles.
Speaking of crochet— it’s been used in a wonderment of ways ever since the invention of the hook, whenever that was. Picot edges, lacy edges, sturdy edges, edges with a fringe of crazy corkscrews or bobbles.
Personally, I’ve hemstitched yards and yards of linen towels and napkins, but I always forget how to do it on the loom. Or how to do the dread Kitchener stitch, which looks so logical. So this is what I want to say about Interweave’s Compendium of Finishing Techniques: it can inspire you to take your cloth to the next level with striking little details, and it can remind you how to do tricky moves for which you have lost your muscle memory.
So enough about the book. It’s one of those that should be on every weaver’s shelf. But even if you don’t own it, you should absolutely know how to make a Knotted Monkey’s Fist, shouldn’t you? Here you go:
1. Wind the yarn loosely three times around two fingers (Figure A).
2. Wind the yarn horizontally around the first set of wrappings three times (Figures B and C).
3. Slide the loops off your fingers. Wind the yarn down teh center of the horizontal wrapping and through the loops that were on your fingers (Figure D). Wrap three times in this direction (Figure E).
4. Pull slowly on the same starting tail, tightening the knot until it forms a ball. This step requires patience and practice (Figure F).