A Novel(ty) Scarf

A while back I wrote about being so inspired by Tom Knisely’s video Weaving with Novelty Yarns that I decided to weave myself up a fancy scarf using some beautiful rayon slub combined with a merino/Tencel. At the time of the original post the warp was still on the board. I have since finished weaving, but I wanted to wait for the right opportunity to tell you the saga of my scarf.


First of all, my scarf came out pretty wonderful. The rayon slub worked fine in both warp and weft with next to no pulling in the heddles or reed—which is even more impressive due to the fact that I use flat-steel heddles rather than the inserted-eye heddles normally recommended for this kind of yarn. There may have been some gentle coaxing while winding on the warp, but on the whole it was smooth sailing.


The finished scarf is beautiful. I love how the colors interplay and the bumps from the rayon. It was a terrifically fun scarf to both weave and wear. I think it's a great example of what can be done with novelty yarns not just because it turned out just fine, but because it turned out just fine despite all the mistakes I made in planning it.

In his video, Tom explains how he carefully planned his scarf, making sure he had enough yarn for both warp and weft to create his project. He has a wonderful, color-coded plan for warping that very clearly presented the draft, the precise threading order, warp length, width in the reed, and pretty much everything else you’d need to know to warp up a successful scarf. I begin with this information to encourage you to follow Tom’s example and not mine.

 

Christina's Scarf on the Loom Spacer 15x15 pixels  Christina's scarf on Christina
Christina's novelty yarn scarf on loom and on Christina.   


First, I was so meticulous about figuring out sett for both yarns and making sure the width of the warp stripes was just right I did not think about making sure my warp yarns added up in such a way that the diamond twill I had planned on using would be balanced. At least, not until I had the warp measured and sleyed through the reed. At that point I figured out there was no good way to balance the pattern without having to pretty much completely re-sley the reed. To that I said, "No thank you, I think I'll just weave a straight twill so I don't have to worry about balancing the pattern." This worked perfectly. Now that I think about it, diamonds probably would have distracted would have probably made the scarf too busy; the straight twill gave the scarf drape without distracting from the yarn.


Second, I didn't plan the length correctly. I don't know what I was thinking, but I added on about 20 more inches than I really needed. I did not realize this until I was getting close to my 5-foot target length and I still had plenty more to weave. Normally this would not be a bad thing as I could just make the scarf extra-long or use the rest to sample. Except I was primarily using the novelty yarn from the warp in the weft. And I was coming to the end not just of my bobbin, but of the cone. (Also the color had been discontinued years ago so ordering more and patiently waiting to finish the scarf was not an option.) I made it to just under the intended length which I figured would still be plenty long. I then used the merino/Tencel from the warp as the weft for the rest of the warp and weave myself up a nice little dresser scarf/mini runner. 


Last, when I finally cut my scarf off the loom I did not think about what I was doing and cut it off the front apron rod instead of untying the knots which meant my fringe was short. Really short. Short enough to just barely tie in knots. (I had enough forethought to hemstitch the dresser scarf so fringe wasn't an issue on that one.)


Somehow I wet-finished my scarf without a problem.The fringe is a bit wild, but I like it so I'm thinking of it as an unintended design element. Despite all of my silly mistakes the scarf turned out just fine. In fact, I absolutely loved the finished scarf. I wove it checked both because I wanted the slub yarn to go further, and because it reminded me a bit of a wild tweedy yarn. The selvedges were a bit weird (in a good way) because sometimes a slub would end up right at the turn of the cloth leaving a big and beautiful bump. The scarf was exactly the right length to loop once around the neck and have a bit hanging down.

 

Perhaps you are now wondering about my use of past tense when referring to my scarf. Well, as of this past weekend I made one more mistake, and it was a biggie. My washer and dryer are in the hallway that leads to my bedroom. Often when I wear a scarf I’ll put it on top of the washer to hang up later. (I’m sure most of you can see where this is going.) While overzealously doing some laundry my beautiful scarf got mixed in the bunch and went through both washer and dryer. My scarf is now very short with big lumps from differential shrinkage. I’m going to keep it though, as a reminder of how much fun it is to weave with novelty yarns (I'm already planning project #2) and that it’s always best to carefully think through each weaving, just like Tom does.

Happy Weaving!

 

Christina Garton

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