By Jane Patrick
My daughter Nora is getting married this summer and I’m thrilled that she has asked me to weave a shawl for the occasion. (I’m honored that she wants me to make something for her special day and completely relieved that it is NOT THE DRESS she wants me to weave—that would be way, way too stressful.)
Since I’m exploring the rigid heddle loom in depth these days, I have taken up the challenge to create THE WEDDING SHAWL on my 25" Flip loom. I’m using two 12-dent heddles together for a 24 e.p.i. sett. I want the fabric to have some weight to it, as her dress is a smooth, heavy satin.
I’m using tencel in the warp along with a 24/2 wool. For easy textural vertical stripes, I’ve threaded stripes of tencel then skipped about an inch of dents and then threaded the next stripe of tencel. Sampling told me that I wanted to control the yarns at the edge of the tencel stripes somewhat, so I’m bordering each stripe with 2 ends of a 24/2 wool. This felts up a bit in the washing, allowing the threaded stripes to move into the open space somewhat but also containing them a bit.
For the weft, I’ve decided on Glacé, a rayon ribbon yarn, as well as tencel. I like what I’m going to do in the weft: weave a variety of variations along the length. I’ll have no set pattern for these, but rather just watch what is happening in the cloth and respond—a real advantage of handweaving over commercial cloth! A reason to weave! And no two fabrics alike.
Some of the combinations you see in the sample at left are alternating Glacé and tencel, weaving two ends of Glacé and two ends of tencel, 2-3” long stripes of tencel, and broad stripes of Glacé. I’ve also taken advantage of the two-heddle options and woven with just heddle 1 to create a basket weave variation (1 end vs 3 ends), as well as alternating heddle 1 up and heddle 2 up with a plain weave tabby background (both heddles up and down alternately).
The samples shown here are blue and green because that’s what I had on hand. The green is tencel, the dark blue is 2-ply wool, and the aqua weft stripes are Glacé. For the fabric on the left, I used tencel only for the weft. While this fabric has a lovely drape, it is too lightweight for what I intend for the shawl.
For the fabric on the right, I tried wool in the weft and then I vigorously washed the sample in the washing machine and then threw it into the dryer with other laundry. Although there are elements of this sample I like, I determined that it shrank too much for this use. For the shawl, I’ll work from the results of the ideas I sampled in the center swatch.
My next sample will be with the white yarns I’ll use for the shawl, as well as experiments with a beaded edge finish. I’ll keep you posted on the sampling process…