I’m Weaving for a Nice Christmas

Like lots of folks around the country and around the world, I don’t have much expendable income this year. I’m struggling to pay my bills each month. So it was simply not an option for me to do my usual Christmas buying. Admittedly, I generally overspend, buying lots more than is reasonable, but not this year.

Although I don’t have lots of time, I do have lots of yarn. So I’ve been weaving, and weaving, and weaving. And weaving. I did make some other, much quicker presents as well, and several people will be getting a Sticks calendar from Margaret, but mostly I’ll be given my handwoven scarves and throws. Like Janet of Scarf-A-Day, on several days I did weave a scarf as a present. I’d love to show you pictures of them here, but since the recipients are likely to see it, I’m not going to share them with you until after the gifts are given.

rayon-chenille-warpI do have some dear friends that don’t use the internet, however, so I can tell you about their present. I’m making a rayon chenille throw for this lovely couple. Since my Macomber loom is still in the process of being set up, I wanted to weave it on the borrowed Harrisville Designs before I return it.

Because rayon chenille is pretty much always done in tabby, I could do it in doubleweave on my counterbalance loom. But rayon chenille presents its own challenges when weaving. It’s really smooth and silky in a finished piece, leading you to think that the problem would be that it was too slippery to be easy. In fact, the opposite is true. The chenille is very “sticky” with the threads tending to clump together. I think doubleweave would leave me with too many long, unwoven strands of warp or weft that would need to be fixed after the throw came off the loom.

So the Harrisville Designs seemed the way to go. But wait? Are there enough heddles? To weave 36″ wide at 16 ends per inch, I’d need 576 heddles. The Harrisville has 400. I have extra Texsolv heddles that I’d ordered for my counterbalance and could put on the Harrisville temporarily, but of course, they’re too short. I could temporarily move heddles from the Macomber to the Harrisville, but of course they’re too long.

I’m left with putting the extra heddles on my counterbalance and doing a doubleweave rayon chenille. I’ll get to it as soon as I have the other presents done, since I won’t see these friends till a few days after Christmas. Earlier this week I spent a few hours installing the heddles in preparation.

Today I finished the last present that will be given on Christmas day, woven with a very bulky organic cotton yarn (550 yards per pound). And while I was weaving it, I had a brainstorm. Or maybe it’s a crazy idea. Only time will tell.

What about using two strands of my 1500 yards-per-pound rayon chenille for both warp and weft? Instead of warping at 16 ends per inch, I could safely warp at 9 or 10 ends per inch, and the Harrisville would have plenty of heddles. Plus the finished throw will be thicker than single strands would be, making it warmer for my friends. If it wasn’t already December 19, with my son arriving home in a mere 50 hours, I would have sought the advice of Su Butler, the country’s foremost authority on rayon chenille.

I just finished preparing the warp on my warping board. I’ll start dressing the loom after dinner. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed the whole time that this wasn’t a totally stupid idea, and that it won’t take me lots more time and energy to make it work. I’ll let you know when it’s done.

I have the rayon chenille warp wound on the back beam. Time consuming, tedious, and now my back aches. I’m going to go take a bath with rosemary epsom salts, then off to bed.

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