It all started with an email from Christina Garton at Handwoven magazine: Lunatic Fringe has a new line of "energized" yarns, called Gevolve, that she would like to feature in a story. (Energized is a broad term referring to yarns that are single-ply, elasticized, overtwisted, or otherwise likely to change shape after washing.)
I love working with yarns like this because they cause two-dimensional handwoven cloth to pucker, pleat, or pouf in all sorts of organic, unpredictable ways.
Would I be willing to do some samples and write up an article for the Yarn Lab section of the magazine? (The yarns would be free, of course.) Would I be willing? Now what would any self-respecting, full-blooded, stash-loving weaver do?
Also, I'd like to give a shout out to Michele Belson of Lunatic Fringe, who was kind enough to send me more yarn -- MORE YARN -- when I called and said I needed it.
Photo at top: The Gevolve yarns, beginning from the left, are silk elastic in natural and black, linen crepe in Z twist and S twist, and silk crepe in S twist and Z twist. (The S-twist silk crepe is tinted pink to distinguish it from the Z twist. The color washes out after weaving. And the yellow color on the cone on the right is what I call a "yarn bra" -- a plastic mesh sleeve that keeps the yarn from raveling.)
The Yarn Lab piece will appear in the spring 2022 issue of Handwoven, so I'm not to give away any details -- but Christina gave me the OK to share with you some additional samples ahead of time.
Here's a four-shaft pattern in double weave, using 16/2 bamboo in lime green and magenta in the warp.
Front of sample: Looks pretty flat, right? On this side of the double-weave cloth, I'm using S-twist silk crepe as the weft. It's drawing in and the effects are seen on the other side.
The weft for this layer is 16/2 bamboo. There are "pockets" in the fabric (openings between the two layers) which crinkle up in response to the draw-in of the active silk-crepe yarn on the other side. The draw-in happens because the 16/2 bamboo is an inactive, non-collapsing yarn.
Here's a closer look at both sides:
Front: Can you see the fine white-ish weft? That's the silk crepe. This yarn is just about 1/3 the grist of the 16/2 bamboo, so it almost disappears in the weaving -- but it has a big impact on the cloth.
Back: The blue weft is 16/2 bamboo. The fabric crinkles where the two layers separate and form "pockets." While the silk crepe draws in, the fabric on the other side collapses because the other yarns are inflexible.
So what are these pockets we're talking about? It's best to start with traditional double weave, which is based on block designs. With double-weave block designs, there are pockets throughout the cloth (if you're using a traditional double-weave tieup and treadling) except for where the layers change places (front layer becomes back and vice versa).
But when you're designing double weave using parallel threadings, you wind up with an integrated double weave (as opposed to block double weave, as mentioned above, or stitched double weave, where the "stitches" uniting the two layers are evenly placed). With integrated double weave, the layers will in some places weave together and interlace. In other places they will separate and form two different layers or pockets.
Note: This happens with four-color double weave, when you're using two colors in the warp and two colors in the weft. If you weave a four-end parallel threading, using four colors in the warp, you will not get pockets. Just integrated double weave and no chance for collapse effects.
Here are a couple more samples of what energized yarns can do with these structures.
Front of eight-shaft double-weave sample: 16/2 bamboo warps in lime green and magenta and, for this layer, a weft of Z-twist silk crepe.
Back of eight-shaft double-weave sample: Here, the weft is 16/2 bamboo in lavender. Where the structure forms pockets, you see vertical pleating. The fabric also stretches a bit.
Above, just for fun (because you can't really see the pattern): a four-shaft design using silk-elastic as the weft on this side of the fabric.
This is the other side, which has 16/2 cotton in bright turquoise for the weft. The pockets are long and narrow, but just wide enough to create some interesting texture. The silk-elastic is particularly stretchy and active: It shrinks the cloth to about half its width after washing.
Energized yarns offer so much opportunity for design and function: Think garments that stretch over the body's curves, jackets with self-collars showing the opposite and very different side of the fabric, cloth that pleats and puckers both vertically and horizontally -- or just in certain spots, for added interest.
And also, for the sake of inspiration: How about double-weave cloth that uses fine copper wire as one of the wefts? (I apologize for the small sample, but I ran out of copper wire.) I think of this for a bendable collar or cuffs, as seen in fabrics woven by Lotte Dalgaard.
Front, showing copper wire weft
Back, showing magenta 16/2 bamboo weft
Thanks for reading!
So would you like me to bring my samples I did in Ann Richards class at Convergence 1998? I had silk "s" and "z" crepe yarn on my loom in 2 blocks. Not Double weave though.
Yes! Please bring along your samples! Thanks for offering, Pam.
The contours and undulations of the backs of the 8 shaft double weave and 16/2turqoise cotton is gorgeous. Your sampling hits the spot for inspiration. In some ways it looks like knitting.
I finally bought a serger and in my rush to get some yarns at SewGreen picked up Japanese "Woolly Nylon Extra" by mistake. Now, I might use it just for fun.
"Ziraleet" (a/k/a) Leslie M from Weavers Guild
Thanks, Leslie! The wooly nylon might work as weft that collapses, you're right. Just remember to give it lots of space to relax -- that is, using it as a supplemental weft, with floats, or using it as a weft in Deflected Double Weave, or using it as one of the wefts in double weave. Plain weave (not double weave) will work as a "resist" to any collapse effects from energized yarn.
By the way, if you bought a serger, woolly nylon can work well for a three-thread rolled hem, which is a great finish for handwovens, giving you a lettuce edge, ruffled, without the need to hem a scarf or a garment.
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