I’m sure many have had the experience of washing a delicate item and finding that it had shrunken substantially. This is no fun when it’s an accident. But, what if you could do it on purpose? That’s exactly the theory behind this project. By using two fibres that shrink differently, the finished fabric has depth and texture.
I started with very fine wool and silk yarn. I bought a kit for School of Weaving Season 3 Episode 6 from Jane Stafford Textiles in Canada. The kit contained 18/2 merino wool (laceweight) and 30/2 bombyx silk (even finer) in beautiful blues and green.
The pattern said to measure out a 7 yard warp to make two scarves plus have room to sample/play. Given the cost of importing this yarn from Canada, I wanted to make sure I got as much as possible from it. Pulling out a spreadsheet, I computed that I could make 3 scarves on a 9 yard warp and use almost all of the yarn, so that’s what I did. Nine yards is about the maximum length I can get on my warping board.
The warp is alternating stripes of wool and silk, and is sleyed fairly open at 15 ends per inch. This made for a very gauzy fabric on the loom. I had to be careful not to beat too hard.
The weft is the same wool and silk as the warp – with striping patterns made up on the loom. Each of the three scarves was 90 inches long on the loom, and the first (and last) 20-30 inches was woven in silk, with the centre section woven in a combination of wool and silk. The idea is that, when washed, the wool will shrink, but the silk will not. So where the weft is silk, the fabric will be ruched or gathered. After weaving three scarves, I had room on the warp for a small sample piece.
Each of the scarves is different, and the sample has a wide variety of different patterns of wool and silk striping in the weft. Once off the loom, I couldn’t wait to wash them and see how they shrank. First step, though, was to finish the fringes by twisting them.
I washed the sample first to make sure I understood the process. The result was fascinating:
Where the weft was all silk, there was lovely ruching and where wool and silk were alternated, there was a bubbly texture.
Finally, here are the three completed scarves:
This was a fun project, and I’m very happy with how all three turned out. Definitely something to try again!