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Handwoven Shawls

I know it’s only August, but out here in the sticks our evenings are already getting chilly. Fall is in the air at night, and sometimes even during the day. So I figured it was time to weave some more shawls. Since summer will last another month, I didn’t want to make anything too heavy or dark.

handwoven cotton shawl, white windowpane
First I made this handwoven shawl from 100% cotton. It’s bright white and obviously woven in a very lacy pattern – a huck lace, in fact. Like most of my handwoven lace, I wove this shawl on my four-harness counterbalance loom. For this piece I used Cotton Tale 8, an 8/4 cotton yarn. It offers a nice weight without being too warm, and remains flexible.

handwoven rayon chenille shawl, blue & whiteI got inspired by the white, and decided to weave some rayon chenille. A bit warmer than the cotton lace shawl, the clarity of the the bright white still seemed summery to me. This one was fun to plan, going from 100% white to 100% blue across the width of the handwoven shawl. Like all rayon chenille, this has a great drape and lots of sheen.

I must say, however, that it wasn’t the most fun to weave. It was my first experience with yarn that had clearly been woven on the cone backwards. In fact, when people talked about it before, I didn’t really know what they meant. I do now! The yarn twisted on itself constantly. There’s lots of white rayon chenille left on this cone, but you can bet I’ll find it worth the time to wind it off into balls, effectively reversing the direction of the wind, before I use it again!

Because the white chenille is a tad thicker than the blue chenille, it was also a challenge to maintain even tension across the width of the weaving. In fact, when I was about 1/2 way through, I rolled it all forward and re-tied it on the back beam to even it out. I still ended up with a fair number of hanging weights by the time I was done. I’m sure glad I didn’t warp for more than one of these!

I don’t yet have either of these handwoven shawls on my website, but I will be bringing them to the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts this weekend.  Stop and visit me if you’re in the area – I’ll be near the corner of Elmwood & Auburn.   If I come home with them, they’ll go on the web next week.

Your turn: what have you learned the hard way?

3 comments to Handwoven Shawls

  • […] Down Cone Remember back in August when I said I was having trouble with the white rayon chenille yarn? I said it twisted […]

  • Carol Roddenberry

    I would like to learn to weave long shawls for gifts, etc. – size that could drape over shoulders for warmth. I don’t have a loom and don’t know what to look for. I don’t have a lot of room…and that is why I’ll be working long and narrow – with fringe on both ends. Probably a lightweight yarn, as I live in the South. Where do I begin?
    Thanks!

    • Peg Cherre

      Carol – I’d suggest trying a rigid heddle loom. They are very small, portable, and easy to use. There should be either a weaving store or a weaving guild in your area that can get you started, and hopefully allow you to use a loom to try and see if you’ll like it. Rigid heddle looms come in many sizes — you can definitely get one that allows you to weave something that’s 18-20″ wide, which should be fine for a shawl. You can also piece things together lengthwise after they’re woven by machine stitching, blind hand sewing/weaving, or decorative stitches. Or, you could consider a triangle loom – they are flat, but come in large sizes for weaving a triangle-shaped fabric, which works great for shawls.

      Let me know if I can be of more help, and good luck on your weaving adventures!

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