Hip to Be Square


So it all started with the gray Romney fleece that I got at last year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

That fleece then got spun into singles.

The result of all of that spinning was 10 skeins of singles that contained over 200 yards that were about 14 epi.

Now, I knew I wanted to make a throw, but I wasn’t sure on the design or the colors. I really wanted to dye the yarn to coordinate with the family room; but I am a rather inexperienced dyer, and I am not that secure in my color sense.

Well, I ordered some colors of Washfast acid dyes from Pro Chemical and Dye. They arrived, and they just sat there. I could not decide which colors to use, nor could I figure out how I was going to dye singles and not wind up with a kinky, curly mess. Oooh, kinky!

In the meantime, I started playing around with possible weave structures for the blanket. I already had the idea in my head to do a rib weave similar to this shawl that I wove for my mother a while ago.

After playing around with it, I decided that I wanted to weave squares into the fabric and use a broken twill inside the squares so that the diagonal that you see in the shawl doesn’t distract from the squares.

And then, still more procrastination about color. So much procrastination that is now April, and I need to get a warp on the loom if I want to get this blanket done in time for the festival. So, color problem solved, there will be no dyeing of the yarn because there is now no time for it and the complications that might ensue.

I divided up the ten skeins into groups that were consistent in thickness within the skein and from skein to skein. Those five skeins together would be the weft for the blanket, and the rest would be used for the warp, since it is easier to manipulate where warp threads fall to disguise inconsistencies in yarn.

It turns out that I was pretty consistent throughout most of my spinning, with only one skein that was more thick and thin than the rest. I wound the five warp skeins on my warping mill, and sleyed the thick and thin skein across the width of the blanket in the reed, and filled in the spaces with the other four warp skeins. Overall, the reed was sleyed at 10 epi. Then, I started threading heddles.

Notice that the sectional beam isn’t on my loom anymore. After about five years on the loom, I figured it was impeding my weaving rather than helping it. With the sectional beam off, I am no longer confined to having to have my weaving with being a multiple of two inches. Maybe someday when I am the production weaver that I have always imagined myself to be, the sectional beam will go back on the loom, but not until that day comes.

In threading the heddles, I also found that we have a little Rubbermaid stepstool that is just the right height for me to sit on and do the threading. I have never threaded so many heddles without having a backache after doing so. It was truly a great find.

Once the heddles were threaded, the warp was tied onto the back beam, wound on, then tensioned and tied onto the cloth beam. Weaving commenced, and went fairly quickly, when you consider the size of the weaving.

The only real problem that I had was the selvedges. The selvedge thread kept on getting pulled into the main body of the weaving, rather than staying as the outer most thread. I have an idea of how the solve this for the next time, but I didn’t think of it until I was through with the weaving on this blanket.

After weaving, I did a blanket twist on the fringe (which seemed to take forever), fulled the blanket, let it dry, and trimmed the fringe.

Here is a close up that shows the weave structure.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the way it came out. For a medium course wool (it is a Romney fleece), the blanket is soft and pretty lightweight for what it is.

At the festival, the blanket got a third place in its category and got a Best of Maryland Wool award. I was honestly a little disappointed to get a third place, but was assured that first through fourth place were extremely close in my category and were not decided until the last possible moment. This I believe, because I happened to be there to set up the display of entries, and they still hadn’t decided my category an hour after they were supposed to be done with the judging. That’s the way the ball bounces, sometimes.

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

4 thoughts on “Hip to Be Square

  1. Your spinning never ceases to impress me. I love the close-up shot on the bobbin. Thanks for the write-up!

  2. Didn’t your blanket also win the Maryland Wool prize? Your spinning and weaving are beautiful, I am in awe of all that heddle threading, incredible!

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