Thursday, March 11, 2010

Handwoven's Not Just for Socks Contest

A few months ago, Handwoven magazine announced the details of a new contest for weavers.  The idea was to use sock yarn (the label had to indicate that it was sock yarn) in a woven project.  Sounded intriguing to me and off I went to my local yarn store.  I found a great magenta/moss superwash wool  with long  color repeats.  The brand is Ty-Dy Socks and each ball contained approximately 436 yards.  I thought that two balls would be just fine for a scarf. (more about that later).  I brought the yarn home and agonized about what would be a cool scarf.  Orignally I thought that I would use another yarn for the weft, but the contest details said that the primary yarn should be the sock yarn.  I remembered some great scarves that one of my online friends (J. Shubert Designs) had woven using stripes of wool that would shrink leaving the body of the scarf all ruffles and this seemed to be just the ticket for this yarn.  Maybe I would use sock yarn in both warp and weft; my calculations showed that I would  should have enough yarn.

I put together a draft using a six shaft crepe from Oelsner and added some plain weave stripes for the shrinking wool.   Directions for similar scarves from past Handwoven magazines, suggested that the warp be long because after the shrinking took place, a lot of length would be lost.  So I followed that advice and made my warp about 3.3 yards long, sett at 12 epi and 13" wide.  Warp on loom and  weaving away, I soon realized that I wasn't going to have enough yarn.   Back to the yarn store and all of the rest of this color was gone.  But, they assured me that they could get some through the magic of the internet.  About a week later, I had my third ball (this was getting expensive) and finished up the weaving in short order.  Off the loom the scarf measured 11.5" x 92"

I had made sure that my shrinking wool really did shrink by knitting up a small swatch and felting it, so I secured my fringe without twisting it and off to the sink to start the fulling process.  Well, let me tell you, I spent a good amount of time trying to get those long stripes to felt.  Finally, I thought the job had been done.  I let the scarf dry in the dryer for a short while and laid it out to get completely dry.  It was very disappointing because instead of ruffles, the scarf looked lanky with not a lot of shrinkage.  Back in the hot water, but this time I didn't felt by rubbing the scarf with my hands. I just got it totally wet, squeezed out the excess moisture and threw it in the dryer for about 20 minutes. This did the trick -- in fact the finished scarf is 10" x 58" plus the fringe.

I photographed it, and sent in my entry.  Only then did I see that Tien Chiu had made a shawl using the same technique for the contest.  My Complex Weaver's Journal arrived full of similar projects!  Yikes.  Differential shrinkage must have been in the wind and we all caught it at the same time.  And, no -- I didn't win:-(


  1. I love this!!! The 100% wool area felting and creating the ruffles is awesome!!!! It adds so much more texture and interest to this scarf. You're a winner in my book. I'd love to see more of these in more colors this year!!!

  2. It is absolutely gorgeous. And the story of its creation is also fun to read.

  3. It wins with me! Tien is a weaving celebrity - tough break.

  4. I love this!! How would I do it with 4 shafts?

  5. Patty Anne - You could just weave the scarf in plain weave. As long as you get some wool that will shrink and weave the rest of the scarf in superwash wool - or something else that doesn't shrink, you would get a similar result.