A Shawl or Table Runners?

Those of you who are weavers will groan, at my ________________ (stupidity, naiveté’, lunacy, you choose). Perhaps even those of you who don’t will understand why my latest weaving project was a recipe for disaster! 

The Greenville Center for Creative Arts where I volunteer and teach, has a members’ show each year. Last year I submitted a little framed quilt. This year, I decided I would like to submit a handwoven shawl; a lovely lacy one for Summer in the South. Much to my delight, in the May/June issue of Handwoven magazine (which I probably got in April…) I found a project that was perfect for my needs – a Swedish Lace shawl! (It’s what I call a recipe, with all the math and details spelled out.) When weaving was all I did, Swedish lace was one of my favorite pattern families.

Notice the date of said article – – – did I start the project back then? No, I did not. A few weeks passed and I decided that perhaps I should get going. (Part two of the fiasco begins here!) I have a lot of cones of yarn from decades ago that I keep moving around and I decided to use those. After all this time, the labels had fallen off and who knew what the ply was or the fiber content. I thought I’d use a smooth mystery fiber for the warp, it looked about the right size, and weave with the tiny boucle’ mystery fiber.

If you read my posts, you know that I have only woven rag runners for years and years. No threading issues with those; it’s one – two – three – four – repeat. There’s a lot more to a Swedish Lace weave. After the warp was wound on, I drew out the threading on a piece of graph paper. Then I began to thread. There were 330 ends to thread, and then I had to get them 2 per dent in a 10 dent reed. I was so careful!!! I really was.

Of course there were endless mistakes, despite the fact that I was so deliberate. I spent the better part of two days finding and correcting them. Finally everything was as it should have been and happily the tension seemed great and so I started to sample. The tiny boucle’ did not work! I was surprised and disappointed. It was just fuzzy enough that the pattern didn’t show. I tried an even teenier one with the same result. In eyeing the cone of the mystery smooth warp thread, I decided that I had enough of that to use…

Everything went smoothly for several days. And then (yippee!) I finished the first shawl. The deadline for my entry was looming so I decided that I should cut the first shawl off and re-tie the warp for the second shawl. I wanted to make sure that I was happy with the result. (Gizmo was!)

I was not. At first, when I tied the fringe and wrapped it around me, I was ever so happy.

Then I hand washed it several times to get the many years of dust off it and make sure that the fabric would be smooth.

I dried it. I pressed it. And then I wrapped it around the mannequin that I planned to display it on.

I wandered around it. I re-wrapped it. I tried draping it a different way. But still, the lovely lacy shawl of my dreams looked like a hand towel. Or a table runner. Or perhaps napkins? Cotton always blooms when washed and the feel of the fabric had completely changed.

The end of this tale is that I did not submit anything to the show and I am very sorry. The rest of the warp on the loom awaits my decision on how to proceed. The picture below shows what I thought this shawl should be like. It’s the 5 yards of Swedish Lace that I wove when I was a student at the Worcester Center for Crafts. It’s fabulous. The weave is perfect and the warp is a fine, crisp linen. It’s airy and light, wonderfully etherial and drapes beautifully. I can hardly believe that I wove it.

It’s the shawl of my dreams….

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