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More Rigid Heddle Weaving

Marcy Petrini

February 2019

With my first two warps on the Flip loom, described in the January 2019 blog, I learned a bit about tension on the rigid heddle. Given that the warp cannot be tensioned very tightly, I thought that warping with a woolen handspun should work.

Recently I had spun a 3.5 oz braid of 65% super-wash merino and 35% silk called Starry Night, a gift from a friend; the colors ranged from blue-black to yellow and gold. I spun it with no project in mind, split in half for a two-ply, letting the colors fall where they may. The yarn wrapped at 24 epi, so it was perfect for my 12-dent rigid heddle.

I calculated that for a scarf about 7” wide and 100” long on the loom (allowing for 16” loom waste), I would have enough for warp and weft. And here is the scarf!

 

 

But when I was spinning the fiber and then weaving with the yarn, I was reminded that I usually don’t use super-wash merino; combined with the silk, the scarf has a good hand and drape, but there is an underlying slickness that reminds me of synthetic yarns.

When it was first introduced, I was very enthusiastic about super-wash merino, as were many people, but when it came to buy it, I always seemed to choose something else. I sometimes thought that super-wash really didn’t feel like merino, but I dismissed the thought.

Just as I was finishing weaving the scarf, I read the December 2018 issue of Ply magazine and I discovered that I am not the only who is not crazy about super-wash merino. Furthermore, in a great article, Julie-Anne Gandier discusses the processes resulting in super-wash and, totally new to me, the environmental impact of those processes – of course! Depending on the process, there can be lots of water used, chlorinated waste, and a plastic-like coating to the fiber itself (no wonder it reminds of synthetic yarns!). She does say that alternatives are being developed to counteract the environmental impact. Whether you like super-wash wool or not, I highly recommend her article.

Other fibers and handspuns are in my stash, so they will have to find their way to my rigid heddle.

  Happy weaving!

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