Weaving with Organic Cotton

I’ve tried making handwoven scarves with organic cotton before, and wasn’t happy with the results. I know now that some of that was due to my (lack of) weaving skills, that I wasn’t using the colorgrown organic cotton to its best advantage. I also know that some of it was simply the materials, and the fact that they weren’t the most suitable fiber for my planned finished product.

So when I got an email from a woman with multiple chemical sensitivities who wanted me to weave her an organic cotton scarf, I was a bit apprehensive. I didn’t think the colorgrown cotton would be soft & warm, no matter what weave structure I used. But then I had a brainstorm!
bulky organic cotton yarn
Hiding in a box (out of sight, out of mind) was a lovely bulky organic cotton I’d purchased at least 18 months ago. That would make a wonderfully warm scarf! You can see the different in yarn size in this picture — the colorgrown cotton looks like sewing thread in comparison to the bulky cotton.

I had two colors of bulky organic cotton – pecan and a creamy white. I had no idea how the cotton had been dyed, I mailed samples to my potential customer to see if it would work next to her skin. We were both very happy that it was fine.

Next up was determining weave structure. Since cold weather was coming, she wanted something as soon as possible. Because I was really busy, I wanted something that fit into my schedule. I met both criteria by deciding to use the organic cotton on my rigid heddle loom to demonstrate weaving at the next show. I didn’t want to do log cabin, stripes, or a plaid, so I suggested a simple houndstooth pattern, which was fine with the woman. I was really happy with the results — the scarf was thick, warm, and soft, providing a great balance between being flexible enough to make it easy to wear and being substantial enough to keep her neck warm. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the scarf before I mailed it out to her, but here’s the weave pattern.
organic cotton houndstooth
It’s a very simple plain weave, with great effect. In fact, I used the same weave pattern on my rigid heddle within a few weeks with the lovely alpaca. So what is it? Two strand of white, alternated with two strands of pecan, in both warp and weft, woven in a simple plain weave. The end result looks much more complex, at least to my eye. I used a 6.5 DPI (dents per inch) heddle for the bulky organic cotton, and an 11.5 DPI heddle for the much finer alpaca.

The woman liked the scarf well enough that she wanted me to make her a hat. Well, I don’t have the skill to weave something that would easily make a hat, so I suggested knitting her one, instead. She agreed. I wasn’t particularly happy with the results of the hat – not very elegant, but it would keep her head warm.
organic cotton knit hat

Stay tuned to see what I’ve subsequently woven with that bulky organic cotton.

Your turn: I have a bunch of yarn I’d love to use, so this Your Turn is completely self-serving. Have you ever used colorgrown organic cotton? What were your successful projects with it?

Hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving, spending it just as you wished to.

3 comments to Weaving with Organic Cotton

  • […] most weavers that I know, I am happy to do custom weaving for people. Last year I made a very bulky organic cotton scarf for a woman with multiple chemical sensitivities. This year she wanted to order a few more scarves, […]

  • Grace

    Hi Peg,

    I was just browsing your website and came across this post and realized it was the scarf and hat you made for me! I am extremely grateful & happy with the end products. It is almost impossible to find these items in a store for people with MCS(multiple chemical sensitivities). I have them in storage but will take a picture of the scarf when the weather turns chilly again. Thanks again!

    P.S. I was warm & toasty and my husband said i looked cute all bundled up in my hat and scarf 🙂

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