Keep on Learning

I do love to learn new things. I know that sometimes I’m resistant, but that’s usually only when someone else, or life, imposes that learning on me. When it’s my idea, I’m all over it.

rayon chenille ocean waves handwoven scarves

When I first learned to weave, taking a total of about 12 hours of classes from a man in his 80s who specialized in rag rugs, I knew that I wanted to weave with rayon chenille. He knew nothing about it. My naive self thought it would be just like weaving with any other fiber. Little did I know that rayon chenille presents its own unique challenges and gratifications.

Since then I’ve woven a LOT of rayon chenille scarves & shawls. But still, when I took a class with Su Butler, the goddess of rayon chenille, even though the class was on an entirely different topic, I had to pick her brain. That’s when I learned how Su finishes her rayon chenille.

I totally understand the importance of wet finishing, thanks in large part to Laura Fry. I do wash all my scarves after they come off the loom – generally by hand to save water – and after they’re dry, or almost dry, I give them a hard press. But you can’t do THAT with rayon chenille! A hard press would destroy that luxurious depth of the chenille. So I figured I simply had to let the heat part go.

Not so, said Su! Heat is a must! “Toss those scarves in the washer and the dryer,” she insisted. “But” I protested, “the dryer usually destroys my double-twisted fringes I took so long to make.” Su explained that she never fringes her rayon chenille any more. If I recall correctly, that’s partly in response to changes in what industry has used for core fibers over the years, and partly (I think) a personal preference of Su’s.

Ok, I thought, I’ll give it a shot. So I’ve recently woven a dozen rayon chenille scarves in 4 different warps. I fringed one of them and hand hemmed the others. I tossed them in the washer and dryer as directed.

And they’re all LOVELY! The photo is of Tammy‘s lovely hand painted colorways – Ocean Waves.

Plus, as an added bonus, hand hemming takes me less time than double-twisting. I’ll be interested to get customer’s reactions in October. I’m thinking that the hemmed scarves, particularly in the darker colors, will be more appealing to men. We’ll see.

3 comments to Keep on Learning

  • Alma

    Congratulations on having a learning experience!

  • Ellie

    What??!! Chenille in the dryer? Forget the twisting?! Do hem! You are a brave woman. I can’t wait to do the same. Thank you! Yours looks beautiful.

    • Peg Cherre

      I know – it’s a mind-shattering concept, isn’t it?! If anyone other than Su Butler had told me, I probably wouldn’t have tried it so quickly.

      I must say, you have to like to hand hem to do this. That’s not a problem for me; I learned to hem as an adolescent and don’t mind it at all. I’ve been told I do beautiful hand hems, too. Plus I gain time AND give up the squeak, squeak of the fringe twister. 🙂

      Let me know how you do with it.

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