Well, I got the cotton-wrapped polyester warp on and started weaving. After debugging the warp (fixing a few crossed threads, loose threads, etc.), I started weaving with the ecru/taupe weft, with dismal results: barely visible pattern and a dingy, dirty-looking fabric. So I switched to white weft, resulting in a cleaner-looking fabric, but with not much more pattern:
Since low contrast was not working, I decided to switch to high contrast. I didn’t have any black thread on hand, so I grabbed some 60/2 silk just to see how the color would work out:
I liked this better, so I decided to try dyeing the cotton-wrapped polyester thread a dark brown using fiber-reactive dyes. Because of the polyester content, though, I only got a medium reddish-brown, which produced this:
This reminds me of wood grain, or maybe streaked sandstone?
Anyway, the warp was not weaving up gracefully. Because of the long repeats in the threading, the threads from the back shafts tended to bunch up while weaving, resulting in a poor shed. And random threads throughout the warp would seem to loosen and start floating on their own. I guess that’s what happens when you weave with a totally inelastic and somewhat slippery thread!
By the time I wove up the brown sample, my temper was starting to reach meltdown levels. Then I happened to touch the fabric, and realized that the “hand” of the fabric was terrible. In retrospect, this should have been obvious: if you take a tightly-twisted, waxed and glazed, mostly-synthetic sewing thread, and weave it into a fabric, you’re going to get something that feels tight, hard, and synthetic. So I cut the first yard or so of fabric off the loom and wet-finished it. The resulting fabric combines the charming drape of screen-door screening with the marvelous texture of 1970’s polyester double-knits. (My mom made me wear those as a kid and I HATED them!) There’s just no getting around it: this is nasty fabric.
So I’m going to do a few devore experiments with it today, but unless those go a lot better than I expect, I’m going to cut the remaining 14+ yards of warp off the loom. As frustrating as it is to toss out that much yarn, it’s much better than the alternative, which is spending the next two weeks struggling to weave off a fabric I can’t stand.
Next on the loom will be a warp for my first article for Handwoven, to be published in the Blocks issue. The profile draft is the one they’ve published in their Weave-Along on Weaving Today. It should go on and off the loom fairly quickly – I’m thinking a 9″ wide scarf in 30/2 silk, black and white, would be just perfect, and I can weave a couple of scarves in different weave structures on the same warp if I design the drafts right. I don’t expect that will take me more than a day or two – it’s a narrow warp, simple threading, and pretty familiar ground.
After that, I’ll put on the really interesting warp, a devore sampler. I am going to try out four combinations:
- 20/2 tencel + transparent nylon metallic yarn
- Tencel + polyester-core metallic embroidery thread
- Tencel + Riciclo, a cotton/polyester thread from Giovanna Imperia
- Tencel + 1/69 transparent lurex yarn with nylon support
I will probably make each section 5″ wide (total warp width 20″). In each section I will “carry” a strand of the non-burning thread with every 8th thread of tencel, for a total sett of 5 epi of the nonburning thread. When I weave it, I will also add a non-burning thread every 8 picks.
After the thread is woven, I will satin-stitch around the cutout areas with polyester thread before burnout, to provide a neater edge and to support the burned-out edges. Once the tencel burns away, the result should be just a hint of glitter over the underneath layer of fabric – exactly what I want.