Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Good Cloth Goes Bad

I would love to show you some finished towels from the last post, but they are still in the process of being hemmed. I decided to hand sew as I much prefer no heavy 'stitch ditch' line. I don't mind doing this and its a nice way to spend time in the evenings while Hub watches hockey play off games. So next post they should be front and centre for you!

We had six house viewings here in seven days and then had some out of town company for three days. Happily the viewings conveniently ceased for the company time period but something told me to get cleaned up real fast and so we blitzed the house and mowed lawns. Sure enough, we had three viewings this past weekend!  Pays to trust that intuition!

Lynnette and hubby were over our way and stopped in as they were heading home. We had a lovely visit and we did some tourist type stuff here where we live and enjoyed a great roast prime rib dinner at home. The best part? When the men folk went to bed and she and I had a late night jammie party and chatted up a storm. They brought gifts!

They had toured a meadery (is that a real word?) and gifted us a bottle, plus two lovely fluted glasses!  Yum! Its been years since I last had mead so I'm really looking forward to this!  Then, I got this !

I'm a lucky lady as its one of Lynnette's Shibori scarves! I'm just thrilled with it!  I was cheeky and sent Lynnette home with a new kitchen towel that she was going to have to hem herself before she could use it! 
So a very busy week as you can see. One thing that Lynnette and I discussed was a small runner or tray cloth I got many years ago. It has a bit of a story to it : I was new to a weavers guild and still very new to weaving when I met Donna.  She was bright, very easy to talk with and also the guild's teacher for beginner weaving classes. She was wearing an elegant turban style head scarf and reclining in the shade of a tree at a guild pot luck.    
And then she was gone.
You see, she was battling cancer and I didn't know at the time. She made an impression on me and so when I was offered one of her little tray cloths I was very happy to take it home. Now these are not items that will be washed very often; maybe one or twice a year. So now some years have gone by and I have an interesting problem and one I'm sure that Donna would be chuckling at if she was still here. Take a look!

Now isn't that strange?! This 'problem' took years to get to this point and its such a lovely undulating twill too.

A seismic shift! So what happened? The two of us took a very close look at the warp threads and noticed that the yarn about three inches in starts to be blended with another yarn until it becomes 100% the new yarn. The shrinkage occurs where the new yarn is blended in. So one day long ago, Donna ran short of her warp yarn and substituted another that was either from a different supplier, a different fibre make up, or a different twist. What ever the reason, this is what happens when yarn from two different cones are used!  So be sure to either alternate end for end across the entire warp if you are short, or, keep known batch codes of yarns together so you know exactly what you have on hand. Blending end for end means it will do what ever it will do evenly across the warp. I can recall my first project, where money and yarns were a tight commodity, using one end of orlec and one end natural cotton. It was a soft and more wash and wear towel that had great looks but not very absorbant! Hey, I was learning! Meanwhile I'm not sure how to re-hem this tray cloth and I suspect that shrinkage rates will continue at different rates regardless. Your suggestions are welcome!

Then I recalled another sad towel I have and showed Lynnette a perfect example of seer sucker. It was a kitchen towel I bought at a sale back in 2004. Its woven in fine 16/2 cottons and in a turned twill. I have two and the second one looks as good as it did when I bought it. The other? not so much!

and the reverse:

From what I can see all the warp threads are 100% cotton. The problem lies with the white weft used before and after that green stripe. It was used evenly from one end of the towel to the other so it looks planned! This rippling took time to produce and it appears to be a combination of a mystery weft yarn PLUS heat in the dryer. Lets take a closer look at the mystery yarn in the cloth and what has happened over the past seven years (don't you just love how long hand woven towels last?!)  Click on any pictures to enlarge:

It's gone very fuzzy so I suspect its not cotton but maybe a synthetic. A burn test will confirm this but it means cutting the towel and I'm not ready to do that.

It has also tightened up and distorts the other areas that are all cotton and creates seer sucker. This I think is a combination of heat on the white imposter!  You know weavers try to achieve this on purpose and it's hard to do. 

In both cases, the effects took time to occur so put yourself in your customer's shoes wondering what the heck happened! So be sure to keep your yarns labeled, try doing a burn test with known yarns to prepare for the day when you get a great bargain at the right price... and don't know what the heck it is!

Meanwhile, Calli tells me to sew those hems faster and no slacking off! Oh, and another cookie please?
Edit: I think the white fuzzy yarn might be an ultra fine wool! Now that would make sense!


Lynnette said...

It's quite amazing what havoc a mystery yarn can do!
I try to keep all my yarn types segregated, but no matter how hard I try there is always one or two odd balls mixed in there....I'll definately be more vigilant now!

dorothylochmaben said...

What a busy time you have had with all the viewings ! Interesting to see some examples of weaving after 'normal' usage' ! You forget how things might look a few years down the line. Good tips on how to prevent these happening ! Thank you.

Bruce said...

With everything that's been going on in your household, I'm amazed that it's only a bit of cloth that's "gone bad". Most people don't try to sell their house, try to buy a house, take a new dog into the family, deal with retirement as a "lifestyle", learn to function with joint issues and put up with an unemployed husband ... all at the same time!

You amaze me... Hub.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, although I don't think the cloth went bad - it has a tale to tell now. Miss Callie looks so sweet, there is no way she is a slave driver! Sounds like things are looking up in the house selling department - I am so happy for you guys - it won't be long now. I agree with Bruce, you are amazing - in fact you both are amazing! Lots of hugs are sent your way - hugs for all three of you.

Benita said...

I am totally in love with that Shibori scarf! Those green and purple stripes are stunning!

Why would anyone use wool in a towel, though? I wonder if the cone had been mismarked?