Weaving with Superwash

December 4, 2009

The reason I haven’t continued with my to-be-continued band weaving post is that I am waiting on photographs. The way I sit to use my home made heddle involves me, a chair, the newel post, my right knee, my left thigh, and several hands–but I make do with two. I would need a fourth to hold the camera. I could ask Der Mann to take a picture of me, but it is dark when he comes home, and he will make me look fat, and anyway, there isn’t enough daylight in the house in winter, even when the sun is out.

Excuses, excuses! Mostly I just hate taking pictures. I have made three scarves on the rigid heddle loom in the last month and there are no pictures of those either.

Here is a preview of the most recent:

It is ugly. The only way to describe it is “clueless in 1982.”  This is the first thing I’ve woven that I simply thought: Yuck!

Ugly begins with good intentions. I received some nice superwash wool, enough for a scarf of generous proportions.  It is a beigey pink. For weft, I looked in a sack of some other gift yarn and found that it paired well with a skein of mystery natural fiber yarn in silvery white, a little pale primrose, and earthy tints. I had not been able to find anything else to go with it, so I was quite pleased.

By the time I saw that I was making an ugly scarf out of pretty yarns, it was too late to change wefts and still get the length I wanted. I decided to think of it as a chance to practice Danish medallions and inlay.  I hoped that after wet finishing it would not look so bad.

This was my first experience superwash wool. I thought it would just shrink less than normal wool. I put it through a warm handwash cycle in the machine, with an extra warm rinse. No shrinkage. Damp-dry in cool dryer. Nothing. Low heat dryer for 10 minutes. Nothing. Another 15 minutes and it did plump up a little, getting springy without actually shrinking. Planning for warp shrinkage, I had woven way too few picks per inch.

There’s more. Last night I began having horrible allergic nose runnings and itchings and hackings and sneezings that I finally traced to the scarf. Wool doesn’t bother me, nor any other animal fiber. Here’s what I think happened: when I heated the scarf in the dryer, and cleaned out the lint trap–and afterwards handled it quite a bit–I simultaneously activated whatever was used to treat the yarn and released bits of superwash fluff into the air. It happens every time I go back to it, too, though not quite as severely.

Is that totally weird? Is anyone else allergic to machine washable wool yarn? The treatment process uses chlorine compounds and/or plastic resins which are non-toxic in the finished yarn. It is even a hypoallergenic alternative for many people with wool allergies. I would suspect the mystery yarn, but messing with the superwash fringe is what really seems to get to me. (I am messing with it quite a lot because the plies of superwash yarn don’t grip one another, and I am having to re-ply a bunch of yarn that came untwisted in the wash.)

Der Mann likes the scarf. He called it “substantial.” I threatened to make him wear it. Now I am trying to decide whether to give it to a relative who who can’t tell the difference between knitting and weaving–and would like it simply because I made it–or whether that is too much of a dig to my pride. It’s silly, but I have this picture of people telling her with a fixed smile, “Oh. My. Isn’t that . . . substantial. She must be a very . . . creative young lady.”–mentally adding twenty years to my age. What do you think? Have you ever made a gift of a project you thought was ugly?


7 Responses to “Weaving with Superwash”

  1. ladyoftheloom Says:

    Yes, I gave it to my MIL. She never looked twice at it and that was one gift I didn’t have to “buy” so it was all good.

  2. Dot Says:

    What a weird and unpleasant experience! The only superwash I’ve used is sock yarn in weft in the scarves I wove last spring, no problems, but it was high quality yarn.

  3. deborahbee Says:

    I have not blogged for weeks and when suffering from ‘bloggers block’ don’t read other peoples So I have just caught up with where you are at. HI!
    great to read you again . And you ask about mistakes. Many, in all crafts…I have bags of half knitted garments and dressmaking I wanted to sew but looked hideous on! Recently I wove 3 wool scarves with the warp getting saggier by the minute, Unwearable even as gifts to least favourite relative. Why ddddddddddo you weave on a rigid heddle? Is it just more accessible than foot power loom? Just curious

  4. trapunto Says:

    Hi Deborah, I just checked over at your site and discovered a nice long post. Hooray! Yes the rigid heddle loom is a way to keep weaving without immersing myself in a big multi-stage project I may have to abandon for health reasons, namely two: First, I have been going through a bad patch in my long term physical illness (which I don’t blog about) ever since house and yard reno pressure let up a bit for the winter, and second, my sacroIlial joint pain. The pain is directly related to treadling the Bergman, and I don’t want to go back to the point where I’m wandering around all day unable to sit or lie down because there’s no position that doesn’t hurt my SI joint–especially when I’m feeling poorly.

  5. deborahbee Says:

    Thank you so much for that immediate message I understand what you are saying I worry about back pain, stiffness and crawling around under the Bergman and my physical state is fairly static.Looking at this another way (for me) its wonderful that weaving doesn’t have to cease if treadles etc become too much and creativity still works on a rigid heddle.Look after yourself

  6. Oh no, No, NO, NOOOOOOOOO!!! Please tell me it isn’t THAT wool! The only experience I’ve had with superwash is spinning it from roving. I’m so sorry you’ve had a horrible reaction to it.

    • trapunto Says:

      Yes, it was, and it was fantastically educational, and the finished scarf spared me a christmas shopping trip for someone who is impossible to buy for! And it will keep her warm! Muchas Gracias!

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