Thursday, February 18, 2016

Collapse Fabric in Twill Blocks with 60/2 Silk and... Mystery Yarn

I am very happy with this sample! However, there were plenty of obstacles in beaming this warp. And then there's the question of the mystery yarn....

Here it is (next photo, below) on the loom -- about 12" wide in the reed with two different wefts. The weft in the bottom sample is from Giovanna Imperia. It's an Italian 100% cotton crepe in a terra cotta color. At 24,000 yards per pound, it's perfect for a collapse weft on a 60/2 silk warp.

The weft on the top is a silk tram, purchased from John Marshall at Convergence in 2014. Gorgeous pale olive color! Slippery as anything, but about the grist of 120/2 silk -- which is also great for a collapse effect on this warp.

And here's the draft. Simple enough.

I wound a warp of 9.5 yards, 756 ends, with alternating stripes of 12 ends each using 60/2 silk in orange and a variegated hand-dyed yarn I purchased from Randall Darwall -- also at Convergence in 2014.

Darwall is a brilliant weaver and dyer. I loved the yarn. Looked like silk to me. Trouble is, I could not, for the life of me, figure out what the grist was. I think, based on the inaccurate measurements of my McMorran Balance, that it's somewhere around 18,000 yards per pound. I sent it to Michael Cook, dedicated lover of all things silk and creator of, to test it to see whether it was fine silk still in the gum. He sent back the disappointing answer that it was rayon or some kind of cellulose fiber.

Still, it was gorgeous and I started beaming the warp. Long story short, rayon -- and more specifically, Lyocell -- have a strong tendency to pill (or as the experts call it, fibrillate). This means that the yarns will often get stuck together, bound by these tiny and incredibly annoying fibrous pills. I spent an inordinate amount of time breaking them up, sometimes resorting to using a seam ripper.

Still, eventually, I was able to beam the entire warp. And the yarn is gorgeous, in the subtle colors that Darwall uses so well. 60 ends per inch, and no breaking whatsoever.

Here's the sample just off the loom.

You can see that it already tends to create vertical pleats, even before washing. And after washing in hot water and mild soap, with a bit of coaxing by pulling on the fabric vertically, the fabric collapses nicely.

All's well that ends well! Or begins, as I'm starting to weave a set of samples for the next Collapse Weave Study Group sample exchange (a study group of the Complex Weavers). Thanks for reading!

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