Weaving Experiment No. 2: The Pillow Covers That May Be A Scarf

The idea for this project was to use the lovely Red Heart Collage yarn in the Landscape Green colourway. Yes, I bought this yarn because I loved it, and then had to think up a project. Since one of the things I have from my grandfather’s loom is a pillow, I thought a pillow cover would be nice.

And yes, I am stunned to make the statement, “I love this Red Heart yarn.” Most Red Heart is scratchy and awful. This is incredibly soft and flowy. It’s a two ply: one ply is green, and the other shades from a pale pink through pale blue through hyacinth blue-violet. It’s spectacular. I knew I wanted to see how it would transition in a woven piece.

I chose an ecru linen colour of South Maid crochet cotton as my warp, and never again. The Royale crochet cotton was bad enough because it stuck to itself and a bundle of it wouldn’t comb out or straighten, but apart from the sticking not-flowing behaviour previously exhibited by crochet cotton, a few of the the South Maid strands shredded before I even got them threaded through the heddles. It’s a good thing I decided to thread floating selvedges; I ended up using those as replacement warp threads. I threaded lengths of the Red Heart through the reed for floating selvedges instead. I know now to measure at least five to ten extra warp threads and have them in reserve on the edges in case of fraying or breakage. Also, I’m just going to stop using crochet cotton. I don’t like the finish on it.

There were one hundred and fifty-two warp threads on this project, threaded through four shafts in rotating order. Gah. Making sure everything was in the right place in the right order took a lot of focus and was really energy-consuming. The good thing is I only made one mistake and it involved threading two heddles in a row on shaft 4, which meant I could just pull one out and rethread it further on, leaving the extra heddle loose in the warp. (It’s not a crisis, like missing a heddle somewhere in the middle would have been. Gah. That would require undoing however many threads I’d gone on to do afterwards, and redoing them all in the correct order. I had a taste of that when I threaded the warp for the sample scarf last week, thank you.) It is a pity that the prep takes longer than the actual weaving. Books tell me to embrace it as part of the process, and I’m trying, but it’s not as much fun. I do find it interesting, just not as rewarding. Also, I can totally understand the whole ‘weavers have bad eyesight and backs’ thing.

The floating selvedges were a very successful experiment, and I shall do this again regularly. Floating selvedges are extra warp threads that threaded through the reed on the beater but not through heddles, so they aren’t raised at any time; they stay in a neutral position. You wrap your weft around them, and they stabilize the edges as well as theoretically reducing the pull-in problem.

Due to a not very thorough thinking-out of the warping process, this piece is much longer than I expected it to be. I’d originally planned for a 12″ x 12″ pillow cover, doubled to cover both sides, so a 12″ x 24″ piece of cloth. The first warp I started measuring on Friday night seemed way too short, what with loom waste, so I doubled it. In the end I realised that while I was measuring the warp I was thinking I’d doubled it, but I was also doubling the loom waste, which I’d overestimated to make sure I’d have enough room to begin with. Oops. If I measure carefully I might get two smaller pillow covers out of it, or I could do one side the woven fabric and the other side in a plain material and get three out of it. There are options.

Of course, because I really fell in love with the fabric when I took it off the loom (so soft! so drapey!) and immediately wrapped it around my neck like a big thick scarf, I may have to weave something else for throw pillows.

I am so pleased with this. I’m going to try a small sample square using the Red Heart for both warp and weft next, to see what happens to the lovely colour gradation. The crochet cotton was fine for test runs, but it’s not the look I’m going for now.

Project stats:

Warping: Nine hours
Weaving: Five hours
Finishing: One hour

Warp: about 300 yards
Weft: about 100 yards

Finished measurements: 11.5″ x 56″

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