Saturday, November 19, 2011

Scarf project

[Photo2.25 wool/llama scarves]
I am still learning to weave, but more importantly, I am learning more about fibre. How does different fibre structures react in a weaving? And why you "full" a weaving as part of the finishing. To demonstrate.....I decided to play with various blends of white wool and black llama and create a scarf that used different percentage blends that would give various shades of gray. I wanted a scarf for my husband, hence it needed to be ‘manly’ and the shades of greys produced for the blends looked very suitable. I decided to warp enough for weaving two or three scarves (the first hint that indecision or impreciseness doesn't always work).
Preparation: I carded washed wool and llama separately and created a series of batts of each fibre. I then blended the fibres in different percentages in the drum carder and ran them through twice again to get homogenous blends. I created a variety of llama/wool blends: 80/20; 70/30; 66/33; 50/50; 33/66; 30/70 and 20/80 for the warp. I used the 50/50 blend for the weft.
Spinning: I sampled spinning yarns at different ratios and settled on 6:1 ratio using a semi-worsted backward draft. I counted the treadling which was 8 out and 2 in, producing: WPI of 12; TPI of 2.25; & Twist Angle 25˚. Weaving: The different blends were used in the warp on my 4 shaft Leclerc Artisan loom. The first scarf was done as a plain weave. The second scarf was done as a 1:3 twill but I forgot to hook up my peddles correctly hence, ended up with 1:3 on one side and 3:1 on the other. I did not have enough warp for a third scarf but there was enough warp for me to do a sample and try the twill again, this time hooking up the treadles correctly and was able to weave 14 inches. This became a neck cowling rather than a sample as I think it had the nicest handle before fulling. This was my favorite and I really regretted not having enough warp to do that third scarf!
Finishing: The scarves were taken off the loom and then the fringes were twisted and knotted. Mistakes in the weaving were fixed. The scarves were then taken to a friend, Norah Curtis, who is a sweater designer and also designs the wool fabric for the sweaters. She is an expert at fulling fabric. I did worry about the different blends shrinking/fulling at different rates. I expected them too but was not sure about how much difference would occur and how much it might impact the scarves but Norah and I checked every minute to see what was happening and were ready to pull them out of the wash if needed. Norah has a top load washing machine and we filled it with hot water 38˚-40˚ with Dawn dishwashing soap. Norah looked the fabric and said 3 -4 minutes would probably do it but we still checked every minute. We turned the washer on to slow and set the one minute timer. At the one minute mark we stopped the machine and squeezed the scarves to check them. At 4 minutes we decided they were ready. We removed the scarves, drained the washer and put the scarves back in for a rinse and spin cycles. They came out beautifully. The final finishing was to let them hang to dry, then steam them as they lay flat and then left them to dry. We measured the two scarves and the neck cowls before fulling and after:

[Photo:Twill before fulling]
Left: Twill before fulling
[PhotoTwill after fulling ]
Right: after fulling 

[PhotoPlain weave before
[PhotoPlain weave after fulling]

Left: Plain weave before fulling
Right:  Plain weave after fulling

[PhotoNeck Cowl before

Left: Neck Cowl twill before fulling
Right: Neck Cowl twill after fulling
[PhotoNeck Cowl twill after fulling]


  1. Beautifully done!! Are the close up photo's intentionally black and white or do the fibers photograph that way?

  2. Thanks Valarie. The photos came out that way, probably because I may have hit the auto-fix button and it may have increased the contrast. They seem awfully dull compared to your painted warps. I can't wait to try one a painted warp.