Saturday, February 3, 2018

February is here, and it has been a month since the colorful, earth-toned fabric came off the loom.  Here is a bit about my process:

I had the weaver make different color cloths using only one set of warp (long) yarns.  She changed the weft, or crossing yarn's color every few yards.  

My first step was to separate these different colored fabrics.  

The loose weave makes the fabric impossible to cut without immediate fraying, so the first thing I did was to sew a zig-zag stitch on either side of the transition between colors.

Then I cut between the rows of stitching, without causing any fraying. 

Fulling is the term for shrinking down a fabric - bringing  the fibers more tightly together. This makes a stronger, smoother fabric that will last longer, and repel dirt and water better. Once fulled, the cloth can be cut without fraying. 

In earlier posts I have shown pictures of old fashioned wooden hammers doing this job.  Now, many people experiment with their washing machines.  I like to process a few yards at a time by hand, using a natural soap solution, so that I can measure the shrinkage as I go. 

It took about 30 minutes to full these goods by18%. 

After rinsing in tap water, the cloth is dried - then teased and shorn, before being placed in a bath of hot water for a period of time. 

The hot, wet cloth is then pressed to finalize the finishing process I use.  Ideally I would have a calender  that both presses and wrings out the water from the hot cloth. As it is, I used a hot iron, linens and towels to do the job. 

The fabric is then hung once more to dry. No harsh chemicals were used in any stage of the process, so the wet fabric smells a bit of Alpaca and Sheep. 

Below, you can see the softer, smoother finished fabric. Because we used "knitting yarn" for this weaving project, the final result is more lofty, and bouncy than if we had used round yarns. Items made from this cloth will be very warm and cozy.