Monday, February 26, 2018

Weaving Handspun Silk Scarves

I finally got a loom! I got it a few months ago as a birthday present. So far I've woven two handspun wool scarves, twelve cotton kitchen towels, handspun wool fabric with which I made a skirt, and three handspun silk scarves. 

I just finished the scarves today. I spun up three types of silk to weave them with. In the picture below they are Red Eri, Tussah, and Muga.

I wound a little over seven yards of warp:

 The warp was so pretty before it went on the loom:

While weaving, I was sure I was going to mess everything up and ruin all of this expensive silk.

I wove two scarves in two different types of tabby, and one scarf in twill. Below you can see them just off the loom before wet finishing.

I didn't totally mess them up, but the twill scarf is the best. I wove the plain tabby intentionally very open. That one is the second-best. The third scarf I wove in a loose, but not open tabby - not a plain tabby, but I can't remember the name of it. It came out least-well of the three.

Here are they are, all dry after being wet-finished and pressed:

 A few things I learned: sampling is a good thing. I didn't do it with these and wish I had. Also, the warp with silk can be sett closer than you might think. And when tying the warp onto the front beam, I wouldn't recommend lashing it on, but rather tying it on - I think that would disrupt the weave of what you wind on a lot less (I had a problem with the lashing cord and knots pushing the weave structure apart when the cloth was wound around the beam). And if you are going to weave with silk for the first time, you should probably use less expensive silk than eri, tussah and muga.

You may be asking yourself why I would weave with expensive types of silk on my very first foray into silk weaving. The answer is that these are the only types of silk I had on hand. Now my supply has been exhausted, but I am eager to get more silk, probably mulberry this time, and weave some more!

Even though the scarves aren't perfect, they are still extremely beautiful, solely because of the beautiful nature of silk, and these types of silk in particular. I was hoping that they would be good enough to sell, but I think only the twill one is good enough, unless I explain the less-than-perfect nature of the others in their description and price them accordingly. They actually have a sort-of rustic-woven charm to them that some people might like.


Lynne said...

Question... suggestion? I learned to weave on large floor looms and we always used sticks, thin flat lathe type of sticks, for the first wrap around the cloth beam. It protects the cloth from being pushed apart by the ropes and knots, keeps the tension even.... apologies if I have misunderstood. Anyway, we also use sticks the first time around while warping on, for same reason, to protect the warp from uneven tension and then switch to paper to separate the warp, so the various threads do not fall of the edges so to speak as they are wound on. I have a Baby Wolf too and just realized it did not come with these sticks. I stole some from my big loom and cut them down. But any hardware store will have thin thin lathes to use, and likely able to cut them to the width of your beams, You need maybe... well, I prefer one per "face" of my beam, so I think six or so? Per beam. So 12. And thickness is about the size of a ruler or a little thinner, length is width of beam. Anyway, this may help and then stop any unevenness coming from the ropes and knots. :-) We use ropes at our local weaving studio too, find it gives better tension across the warp, but when we wind on, we place those sticks... ok end of babble! Hope I understood. If not, chuck all this! :-)

ICQB said...

Hi, Lynn! Thanks so much for the advice. I use paper and sometimes sticks in the back where the warp is wound, but not in the front on the take-up beam. I will give it a try.