I am a subscriber to Jane Stafford Textiles newsletter, and each newsletter if filled with photos of beautiful and tempting projects. Normally I am not tempted by kits (weaving, knitting or otherwise), but in May’s newsletter, a Lavender Lace Scarf kit woven in linen was featured. I had not yet woven with linen, and the thought of weaving a lightweight scarf for summer was appealing. I ordered the kit.
Linen has a notorious reputation for being difficult to weave with, and thought I should do a bit of research first before even warping a loom. Reading other weaving blogs, there were a lot of opinions, and now I will add my own. Don’t read too much into what other people say, just do it and see what happens. But, if you are like me and want more information than that, here are my thoughts:
- Some say to mist your linen while warping. Why. I tried it, it didn’t help, and I ended up with a water stain on my loom.
- Weave with an end-feed shuttle and pirns for nicer selvedges. That gave me a nice edge on one side and a loopy mess on the other. I went back to using a regular shuttle and wound tight even bobbins.
- Keep your wound bobbins damp by storing in something like a plastic bag with a damp cloth. We had a hot humid summer where we live, so I don’t know if that would have made a difference or not.
- Linen is inelastic, and firm even tension is important when warping and weaving. Yes, yes, yes. Although the draft for the scarf requires only four harnesses, I decided to use my 16-harness AVL with its sectional beam, this allowed me to wind smaller, more even bouts using my warping wheel. The AVL also maintains an even tension throughout the project (you do not release a brake and advance the warp as needed). Despite all of that, I still ended up with one errant thread (fixed by hanging a metal ring off it).
- Keep your fell line closer to your front beam and do not weave too close to your reed, keep a large open shed to lay your weft in at about a 30 degree angle for nicer selvedges.
After doing my “research” the loom was quickly warped and threaded, then weaving began. After a bit of a false start (which led to the comments above), I started to weave again. Unfortunately, I found this to be a very boring project which, combined with our ridiculously hot and humid summer, took all summer to weave (for the record it was two scarves, not one). I also struggled trying to keep the loose weave structure required for this drape-y scarf.
I will weave with linen again, maybe towels next time, but for now I am back to working with wool and cotton.