Shawl weaving

©2022 Michael Raven

I finally got over the disasterpiece I had left on the loom for nearly a week and decided to overhaul it and make it work today.

Oh, I thought things had gone wrong with my last project, but I was given an education that I probably won’t forget right away. The shawl/cape project I had set up to do couldn’t have gone much more wrong before I even got to weaving.

More than a week ago, I had set up the loom to begin on the shawl (which will double as a blanket, if I so choose) I wanted to make. I wanted it to be special because the design itself was simple: no color variations, bog standard weaving pattern, etc. The finished project was targeted to be around 48-inches wide and about 100-inches long. My little 24-inch loom meant that I would have to make two panels to get around those dimensions. Simple, easy peasey, so I decided to use the same yarn I had used to make an oatmeal-colored, 100% wool scarf a while back, just a brownish heather.

I had forgotten just how stretchy the wool was, and that was the source of the bulk of my issues this time around. Stupid git.

I took extra-special care to warp the loom, but apparently not careful enough. Adding to my stretchy issues, karma decided to correct my previous mistake of skipping heddle holes to string up my project and add them into this project. I had four extra warp threads because I had doubled up the threads in two places quite accidentally. I was going to manage them on the fly until I finished the leading edge on the loom using a new skill I am trying to develop — the hemstitch. I spent an hour making this hemstitch so I could not rely on knotted tassels to keep my hard work from unraveling. That went, well, better than I expected — that is, until I realized that the tension on the right hand side of my loom was utter shite. A rigid heddle loom depend on good, even tension to do your weaving and I had a bit of a mess with loose yard that became looser as it stretched out.

With heavy sighs, I put it aside until today.

I decided to just cut out the hemstitch that had taken an hour to learn how to do by trial and error and retied all of the warp threads. Knowing that my tension issues would likely come back as I worked, I rolled my warp all the way back to the rear of the project where I had set it up. Sure enough, I found plenty more slack.

I cut out the extra warp threads and retied the ones I kept down. I stretched the yarn as much as I could as I rolled it yet again, back onto the delivery roller. This time, I used a roll of thick Kraft paper instead of the cardboard slats used to keep threads from getting embedded in the threads under them on the roller to improve tension and fought with that system a bit because I cut my roll of paper just narrow enough to fit, which was a mistake as it shifted and bound up. Fixing that, I managed to get all the thread back on the correct roller, looked for loose spots in my warp (oh, yes, of course there were), untied and retied them down until you could bounce a coin off the warp. Believe me, I stretched that SOB yarn as far as I could before doing so and still had to retie a few a third and fourth time before I got to work in earnest.

All in all, fixing my mess took several hours.

Then I started to weave, put in a new-and-improved hemstitch, and then wove a bit more.

In fact, I am about a third of the way into my desired length, although I lost some of my desired width just due to the nature of the thread density I am working with and the stretchy nature of my wool. But… BUT… I managed to save a project that some other beginners might have scrapped wholesale. And, it is starting to look great. I’m glad I didn’t give up, because it is exactly the look I am wanting (the pictures don’t do the color justice, I’m not sure why they appear so washed out; it’s much darker).

I figure it’ll take me a few weeks to get it to the stage where I can combine two panels using another stitch I’ll have to learn to make it happen: the ladder-stitch, a hidden stitch to bind to panels together.

Then, I’ll go buy one of those broaches I saw on Etsy that grabbed me and hope I look stunning in my wool unisex shawl. It should be long enough to keep my shoulders and arms warm in Minnesota, if not long enough to reach my waist (honestly, I am tempted to make a third panel if I need to for that).

I might get it done sooner, but then… who would bake my bread?

11 thoughts on “Shawl weaving

    1. I’m not up to sharing a post about it, but I did just about half an hour ago finish the first panel. I was slightly disappointed to see that I had “lost” almost 30 inches in “waste” and in my shenanigans, but it looks good already at 70 inches by 21 inches. Can’t wait to see the effect of essentially doubling the width and giving it some finishing.

      Liked by 1 person

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