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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No Sheep Shawl - Camel, Alpaca, Cashmere and Silk

I thought I'd end up knitting with my handspun cashmere laceweight but I was wrong.  I had almost 2200 yds of handspun baby camel/alpaca/silk (my own blend) stuffed away in a plastic bag with no purpose in life, and it had high enough twist to use as warp.  I found a Huck Lace draft I liked, did my calculations, and measured the warp.

Then I sized the warp with Good Old Rabbit Skin Glue, let it dry overnight, and warped my loom.

Halfway through dressing the loom I just had to take a photo of the sheer orderliness of it all.  I had no idea I could get excited about the fiddly, perfectionist activity of dressing a loom.  It is nice to discover unknown things about oneself!

The weaving itself was quick.  I only had two delays.  First, I ran out of weft yarn when I was 14" from the end.  Oops.  I guess my calculations were off.  So much for my newly discovered inner perfectionist.  Fortunately I had more of the fiber on hand so I spun another 400 yds of the cashmere and left it to set on the bobbin while I went on a cruise with my daughter.  That was the other delay.  Here I am, not spinning or weaving.  And yes, it is a full-body swim suit.  You can buy one here if you hate sunburn and naked legs as much as I do.

 When I returned the cashmere was ready to ply.  Once the yarn was finished I got back to weaving, and it took only an hour or so to finish. Because of the rabbit skin sizing, the piece of cloth was a little on the stiff side.  I reminded myself that sizing rinses out.  That kept me from panicking.  Who wants a STIFF cashmere shawl?

I tied all the fringe and trimmed it.  Then I soaked the shawl in hot water with a little Woolite, spun off the water, rolled it in a towel, and laid it flat to dry.

The sizing washed out.  The shawl is To Die For soft.  I am please with the results and now I need an entire new outfit to wear with it.

1. I love rabbit skin sizing even more than ever.  I broke exactly NO warp ends during weaving.
2. Make enough weft to start with.  Plan to use more than calculated.
3. Huck usually has a plain weave selvedge.  I did make a plain weave selvedge but I doubled the last four ends and did NOT like the results.  I will just use PLAIN plain weave next time.
4. I tend to stretch my left selvedge.  Next time I will probably weight the last two selvedges separately.
5.  The most painful thing about weaving with handspun is all the loom waste.  It was VERY PAINFUL to cut the thrums from the loom at the end.
6. There is a reason cashmere is so expensive.  This is THE softest garment I have ever owned.
7. There is a reason most weavers buy commercial yarn.  Spinning the fiber adds weeks of time to a project.
8.  There is a reason some of us are crazy enough to spin some of our weaving yarn.  S-A-T-I-S-F-A-C-T-I-O-N.


  1. Absolutely amazing and it looks so lovely! I can only imagine how it must feel.

  2. Your right it is beautiful. Amazing work, you should pat yourself on the back.