Friday, May 1, 2009

A whole new kind of steeking

Last weekend, we took this off the loom:

6 skeins of Paton's Merino, roughly 30 oz of 3/2 pearle cotton, and a few weeks of spare moments. 19 feet and 4 inches of 16 inch wide fabric came off the loom, and after a rigorous bath in hot water, the final measurements are 18 feet, 2.5 inches by 15 inches wide.

I have to say that there was a little corner of my brain screaming "what are you doing with hot water? That's wool!" throughout the entire bathing process, but dramatic hot-cold transitions and agitation are the prescription for "finishing" a weave. And it worked beautifully. The fabric went into the bath slightly "tender"; I could still separate the weft threads a little bit, and it was pretty easy to make small holes in the fabric. It came out of the bath nice and stable, with all of the weft threads packed tight against one another.

I was surprised that it shrunk more in the long direction than in the width; I had expected the opposite from what I've read, and because the weft was the wool. I assumed that felting the wool slightly would pull in the sides, but it didn't.

So, I now have one very long, narrow piece of fabric that's destined to become a blanket. For that to happen, it needs to turn into four long pieces of fabric. This takes steeking to a whole new level. Thick, knit wool is one thing...wool woven with slippery cotton is quite another. It will be fun to see if it works.