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Handwoven Mohair Scarf

I’m a crazy woman, I know. I can’t seem to help myself.

At 4:30PM on Monday I drove to the post office to pick up a package I had to sign for – 6 cones of mohair I’d ordered. I figured I’d quickly warp up my rigid heddle loom for 1 scarf to try this new-to-me fiber, wet finish it, brush it, and bring it with me to Shea’s Shopping Soiree on Wednesday. What the heck, I had almost 36 hours before I had to leave the house!
handwoven mohair scarf

As anticipated, all that hair made it a bit of a challenge to work with, but on the rigid heddle loom it’s pretty easy to hand-separate the fibers with every pass of the shuttle. Which is what’s required. At least on this loom — there are techniques to make it a bit easier on my floor loom.

But for me, the real challenge was the wet finishing. I’ve never fulled wool before (making the fibers thicker and tighter through agitation), at least not on purpose. I do remember accidently washing a wool vest that ending up fitting my cat, but that’s another story.

Mohair is woven quite loosely (it would be impossible to work with it if woven tightly), so it’s essential to full the wool to make the scarf stable. There are a few methods of doing this. On a sample, I tried doing the “shock” method – repeatedly slamming the piece onto a hard surface, gathering it up, and doing it again. Well, I was tired just with doing the sample piece, and it was clear it wasn’t done enough. So I gathered my courage and went downstairs to my washing machine. In went the scarf and the water, turn it to agitation. Open the washer every minute or so to check how the scarf is doing. Sounds relatively easy, until you realize that as a fulling virgin, I had absolutely no idea what it should look like when it was done! I made a semi-informed guess, and took it out when I got too scared to leave it in longer.

Then I brought the scarf upstairs, rolled it in a towel to get rid of most of the moisture, and started brushing it to bring out those wonderful hairs. This step was also scary. Despite having watched a very helpful video by Laura Fry and getting written instructions from Evelyn Oldroyd when she sold me the mohair, it was quite frightening to take a stiff dog brush to a scarf I’d just woven!

I decided that it was a great first attempt. Next time I’ll full a bit more. And there will be a next time, with 6 cones of gorgeous mohair!

Your turn: what have you done that, while scary during the process, stretched your skills at something?

6 comments to Handwoven Mohair Scarf

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