Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Learning Experience

I guess I’ll call this “finished”. It was an experiment that I wasn’t sure would work, but I put a warp on the full length anyway just in case it was successful.

Note: The yarn is a soft grey/beige, not at all like the picture. Also, the fabric is hanging in a sunny window with the shadows of a tree splashed across it.

(click for bigger picture and more detail)
<------warp runs crossways------>

I was given a large cone of 50%flax/50%cotton yarn that is about a 32wpi thickness. It wasn’t all that strong, didn’t fare well in the “snapping between hands” test, but I loved the colour and the slubs and wanted to weave a huck lace window valance with this yarn as warp and weft. It didn’t work. The slubs in the yarn abraded and sloughed apart under the friction of the reed and the opening and closing of the sheds. I don’t consider it a total failure though.

Long after I knew that the yarn would not work for the planned curtain I kept weaving anyway, enjoying the process and learning from the experience as I went. I learnt that I can indeed control my beat enough to weave this pattern evenly. I definitely learnt to fix broken warps though after so many of them I started just tying in a new thread with knots, knowing full well that this would not be correct in a “real” piece. I learnt that the pattern is easy to weave, not too terribly hard to thread, and I will likely try it again with a wet spun linen which should not abrade so badly. I also tried rough sleying through the reed and gained confidence in warping my loom. Much learning happened so I do not consider this a failure even though I ended up cutting it from the loom with much wasted (the yarn was free though so I wasn’t terribly upset).

I have a question for experienced weavers. I would like to try this pattern again, but I’m a little concerned that I will be using the finished fabric sideways. When hung the valance will have the warp running sideways, not from bottom to top. I know from sewing that this would be “crossgrain”. Do you think that would be a problem? My loom is only 36” wide but that is plenty of width if I go sideways. Done this way I can even do several inches on one side in plain weave for a rod pocket. I tried that with this experimental piece and it worked very well.


Sue said...

I'm not an experienced weaver by any stretch of the imagination, but I think if the piece is supported across the whole width, as it would be with the rod pocket, it would be fine. It looks lovely!

I have a cone of linen that I want to turn into curtains someday, too.

lookinout said...

When I wove, I was a pretty conventional weaver and therefore would tend to seam the curtain. I think it will be wonderful, no matter what. Gillian

joanna said...

I'm an experienced weaver and I always thought that it was best to hang anything with the warp vertical because the warp is usually stronger.... until a museum asked me to reproduce fabric woven in the 17th century. It was linen warp with wool weft, 40 meters of of fine stripes in 13 different colors, about 140 cm wide if I remember correctly. It completely covered three walls of a room and was meant to serve as insulation to keep the room warm. The whole thing was hung with the warp horizontal, with a horizontal seam running across the middle of the whole piece (so that the stripes were vertical). That was 8 years ago and it's still doing just fine. It was hung with loops around pegs and without any weights at all other than the weight of the cloth itself. There went all my theories!

Marlene said...

Thanks Joanna, that gives me more confidence to go ahead as planned.

That wallcovering sounds like a very interesting commision. Do you have a photo of it?