May Flowers Runner - Weaving With Mercerized Cotton

Posted by Jodi Ybarra on

Join Our May Yarn Exploration

Weaving With Mercerized Cottons!

May Flowers Runner with Danish Medallions


For this month's yarn exploration we will be introducing our newest yarn, Pearly Perle 6/2 Cotton!

This is such a versatile cotton yarn that works well for a variety of weaving projects. It's wonderful for weaving runners, scarves, placemats, towels, or fabric for clothing.

New! Pearly Perle has a beautiful sheen with a soft twist and is the perfect yarn for both warp and weft. The weight of this 6/2 cotton is between a 5/2 and 3/2 weight and will work as a substitute in many of your well loved patterns calling for perle cottons.

Here are some key points about this well loved mercerized cotton. 

  • 100% Mercerized 6/2 Cotton
  • generously sized 8 oz cone
  • 740 Yards per cone
  • 16-20 epi
  • 2-ply soft spun twist
  • machine wash and dry
  • colorfast and safe for mixing colors


Mercerized vs Unmercerized - What’s the Difference?

As cotton lovers we are quite spoiled, compared with weavers of the past. The 21st century has given us such a great variety of high quality cotton yarns in a never-ending rainbow of vibrant colors! 

What Does Mercerized Mean?
Mercerization is a treatment on cotton that changes the way cotton fibers look and feel. When cotton is mercerized, it becomes more lustrous, brighter in color, and releases stains easily when laundered.

This process goes back to the 1880’s when John Mercer was granted a British Patent for his discovery that cotton and other fibers changed character when subjected to caustic soda, also known as sodium hydroxide. One of the changes was that this process caused the fiber to swell, become round and straighten out. Then in 1890 Horace Lowe found that by applying Mercer’s caustic soda process to cotton yarn or fabric under tension, the fabric gained a high luster. It became an overnight success and revolutionized the cotton industry and the rest is history!

Not only is the color brighter, it also gives the cloth a better resistance to multiple washings, keeping the colors bright and unchanged over time. 

It’s strength makes Pearly Perle a great choice for firm sturdy fabrics such as table runners and placemats or structures that can put stress on the yarn such as closely set doubleweave or rep weave.

What is Unmercerized Cotton?
If it’s not mercerized then it’s got to be unmercerized!  So what’s the difference?

Unmercerized cottons are in their natural form. They have a handspun look to the finished fabric, and are highly absorbent. 

Aurora Earth 8/2 Cotton is our favorite unmercerized cotton and is a great choice for hand towels, napkins, and other absorbent fabrics. 


To celebrate weaving with mercerized cotton, we want to share a new weaving pattern using our newest Pearly Perle 6/2 Cottons


May Flowers Runner with Danish Medallions


Let's Get Started!

  • Gather your supplies ~  We've supplied a pattern that was designed by Michele Marshall of Mingo's Corner Shop to help you get started. This pattern makes one runner, giving you the weaving width, suggested sett, finishing techniques, and amounts of yarns needed.
  • Let's Weave together! Michele and I are here for you every step of the way!  You can contact me by email at, or Michele at, if you have any questions about this May Flowers Runner. 


May Flowers Runner

 Weaving With Pearly Perle Cottons 

Weave Structure: Plain weave with Danish medallions (optional)

Equipment Needed: Rigid Heddle loom; 16” weaving width, 12/12.5 dent heddle; six shuttles (one approximately 10” if working the medallions)

Yarn Amounts for one Runner: 

Warp Yarns: Pearly Perle 6/2 Mercerized Cotton in Lavender 165 yards, Light Turquoise 80 yards, Champagne 125 yards, Navy 60 yards, and White 50 yards.

Weft Yarns: Pearly Perle 6/2 Mercerized Cotton in Lavender 112 yards, Champagne 56 yards, Light Turquoise 52 yards, Navy 48 yards, and White 30 yards; Aurora Earth 8/2 Cotton for hems Grape 80 yards.

Total Warp Ends: 194

Setts: 12 epi; 11 ppi, after wet finishing, excluding Danish Medallion picks.

Warp Length: 2 ½ yards (90” or 229cm) for one table runner

Other Supplies: one crochet hook, in the size range of D-G (3.25 to 4.25mm) for working the Danish medallions.

Finished Dimensions: 13 7/8” x 60” (35.5cm x 152cm), after wet-finishing and hemming.

Warping the Loom:
Set up your loom for direct warping a length of 90”. Measure 7 1/8” (18cm) from the center of your reed to begin warping. 

Warp two threads in each slot according to the following chart.  The Pearly Perle cotton will be used as a single strand in the warp (and weft).  Where there are two colors indicated for a single slot, tie off one color at the peg and begin the second color by tying onto the peg to complete warping that slot.

The chart shows one HALF of the warp, working from left to right.  When you reach the right side of the chart, continue warping by working from the right to the left (repeating the single Navy end to have two ends in the center) creating a mirrored warp. 

Wind the warp onto the back beam using separating materials, then transfer one end from each slot into the holes. 

Take care that you select the correct end to thread into the holes in places where this coincides with a color change in the warp stripes. (For example, where there are five Light Turquoise, then one Navy, then five Light Turquoise ends, be sure to get five ends of Turquoise threaded in holes and slots before threading the single Navy end.) The odd numbered ends are arranged in pairs that make even numbers, so you should be starting most of your ends at the back apron rod and only some of them at the peg. 

Note: This is a complex warp, so take your time.  If you make a mistake, mirror it on the other side and no one will notice!

Tie the yarn in small sections (8-10 ends) onto the front beam and tighten to get even tension across the warp.

Preparing the Shuttles: Wind one shuttle with a single strand of the 8/2 Aurora Earth cotton for hems. Wind as many additional shuttles as you have with single strand of each color of Pearly Perle, using the shortest shuttle for the Champagne color if choosing to work the Danish medallions.

Weaving: Weave with scrap yarn to evenly spread the warp.

With the 8/2 cotton in Grape, weave 20 picks for the hem starting in the up shed, then work a hemstitch over the edge before continuing into the plaid.

With the Pearly Perle 6/2 cotton, weave using the following chart using single strand Pearly Perle.  Begin the weft chart with the first pick in the up shed.  Starting the Pearly Perle in the up shed means your first pick for the top of the frame of the Danish medallions will be in the up shed, which is needed to correctly form the medallions.

Though the Perle cotton is a 2-ply yarn, the individual plies are too soft for using the split-ply technique to start and end colors.  Color changes will be made by tucking in the tail around the outer warp thread and back into the last shed (in the sample, the ends are about 1 – 1 ½” long).  Be sure to alternate sides of the warp for starting and stopping your ends whenever possible to avoid buildup along the edges.  In short segments, where there are alternating groups of 3 ends of each color, you can carry the colors up the sides if desired.  

The chart is to be read from the top (starting at 9 picks of Navy) to the bottom.  At the bottom, repeat the 2 picks of Navy and start working up the chart, ending with 9 picks of Navy.  The two right-most columns are to help you keep track of where you are in the weft sequence.

The shaded boxes are to indicate where the Danish medallions are to be worked. If you want to skip the medallions, just work these rows using the numbers in (#) for the gold.

continue on...

continue on...

The shaded boxes at the top are to indicate where to work the Danish medallions.  The medallions are demonstrated in many books – if you have the Syne Mitchell book Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom, the instructions are on pages 158-159; in The Weaver’s Idea Book by Jane Patrick, the pages are 47-48.  Many times, these are worked with a different weight of weft yarn; we will be working with only the Pearly Perle. 

The first, single, pick for the medallions in Champagne is the bottom of the “frame” of the medallion.  If you are strongly hand-dominant, start this pick to favor working the medallions for your stronger hand.  In my case, I worked the first pick from the left, so the second pick creating the “link” in the frames (which happens 8 rows later, from right to left) is created using my right hand to control the hook and yarn.

Working the Danish Medallions

  1. Using the shortest stick shuttle you have, work the first row as the bottom of the medallion “frame” with a single pick of Champagne. Leave the yarn attached and rest the shuttle in your lap, or anywhere out of the way for the moment, and ignore it for the next 8 picks – it should not be wrapped or otherwise used.
  2. Work 8 picks of the stripe color – our first color is Lt. Turquoise. Make sure that your last pick of this stripe is in the down shed. (If it isn’t, add one more pick of Lt. Turquoise to set up for the medallions.)
  3. Begin working the “top frame” AND the links of the Danish medallion by having the heddle for this pick in the up position. The heddle remains there for the entire row – only beat when the entire row is complete.  Counting 7 raised warp threads into the shed, pass your shuttle under these 7 threads and out of the warp on top of the cloth. (You will have a long, untethered, frame stitch on the outer edge of your warp. Try to adjust this to a neutral tension.  It will only appear on the side where your medallion wraps start.)
  4. Using a crochet hook, work it through the fabric in the space just below the bottom “frame” thread of Champagne (9 picks ago). Find the warp channel that your shuttle exited from so your “frame edge” is straight on your warp.  When inserting the hook, you will have to choose whether to include the lower shed warp thread or not – I varied this depending on where the colors changed.  Following that channel up, hook the shuttle thread with the crochet hook and pull a long loop through the bottom hole you’ve created.  Pass your shuttle down through the loop, making what looks like a long crochet stitch on top of your fabric.  Gently pull the shuttle up, toward the heddle, closing the loop and taking up the slack.  Once the extra weft is pulled through, continue to pull on the thread, up along the warp, to tighten the entire stich, gathering the weft fibers from the stripe.  The goal is consistency across the entire stripe.  On the sample, my “frame stitches” are about 3/4” in length, with fairly generous holes from the tightening. The look is entirely up to you!
  5. Re-insert the shuttle into the warp and count an additional 7 raised warp threads, and repeat step 4, creating a second “frame” of Danish medallions.
  6. Continue across the row, going under 7 raised warp threads each time until you come to the end of the row, where you will exit the shed (and go under just 6 raised warp threads). Beat normally.
  7. Work one more plain weave pick of Champagne, which becomes the bottom of the frame of the next row of medallions.

Each following stripe has 8 weft picks, separated by two picks of Champagne.  On the second and third rows of medallions, you will insert your crochet hook between the two rows of Champagne.  Stack your “frame edges” by using the previous row of medallions as a guide.  The third, and last, row of medallions ends with a single pick of Champagne.  At this point, cut and tuck the tail as you would on any other pick. 

After working the chart from top to bottom and back up to the top, weave an additional 20 rows of 8/2 Aurora Earth in Grape for the second hem.  Hemstitch and remove the project from the loom, or machine zigzag once off the loom.

I recommend hand-washing for the wet-finishing stage of this project if you’ve worked the Danish medallions.  Soak the runner in very warm water with a drop of your chosen soap for 20-30 minutes and hang, or lay flat, to dry. If you wish to machine wash your runner in future, place the runner in a lingerie bag to protect the medallions.

Depending on how you chose to finish your edge, you may need to trim extra loom waste to ¼” at this point.

Using a hot iron, fold the hem over at the point where the yarn changed from 8/2 to Pearly Perle.  A firm crease can be made by holding the iron for 3 seconds along the fold in small sections to press, rather than smooth, the fabric. Open the hem up and then fold the cut edge toward this crease.  Press again, holding the edge of the iron along this new crease so as to not remove the first crease made.  Then fold this edge over on the original pressed line, making sure your plaid lines match.  Pin or clip as desired and machine, or hand stitch.  If hand stitching, use leftover 8/2 in Grape and make sure to stitch along the last weft pick of the Navy Pearly Perle for an invisible stitched hem.

You did it!

Enjoy or Gift Your May Flowers Runner!

We hope you enjoy weaving this month's yarn exploration project!  We encourage you try our new Pearly Perle 6/2 Cotton and weave your very own May Flowers Runner With Danish Medallions!

This pattern is available as a free PDF pattern download with the May Flowers Runner kit purchase.

Special thanks to Michele Marshall of Mingo's Corner Shop for designing and weaving this beautiful runner for us!

Happy Weaving!
Jodi & Michele

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