Purple Woven Scarf

Singles Warp and Weft from Commercial Top

This isn't a finished project yet, but I'm getting there. I promised The Boyfriend a handspun scarf now that he's admitted he's not really allergic to wool. I'm tired of knitting, so I wanted to weave something. Also, since it's a pretty small project, I thought I'd pick some commercial wool top. I much prefer spinning hand-prepared fiber but there are some nice colors available in commercially prepared Merino top. Mill top isn't as nice as that by hand, but it does save you a lot of prep time.

Plenty of people are frightened by singles for warp, but it really is just a matter of spinning the right yarn. It's not like it's impossible, almost all woven fabrics from the earliest Neolithic to modern textile factories, are made with single ply yarns. It's faster to spin and makes finer fabric. The yarn has to be smooth and even so it won't abrade and strong so it won't fall apart under tension. The perfect use for a classic worsted yarn.

I picked a multicolor Merino top from Ashland Bay called "Endicott." It has bits of purples, blues, greens and a little white. There are a few neps and the fiber is shorter than the Merino fleeces I work with. But for mill prepared, it's pretty good. And I'm not about to do all that color blending when something is available ready to buy.

I broke off lengths of top and split it lengthwise into four sections. Then I pulled each into a long, skinny top for spinning about four times as long as the original. Some people call this "pre-drafting." I spun it fairly fine by drawing out fibers and then letting them twist, worsted style. I kept a little bit of folded 2-ply nearby to check the size once in a while.

The skein is about 100g and 600m. I skeined it from the bobbin and sprayed it with water and let it dry right on the skein winder. This sets the twist without washing, which would change the smooth surface texture a little. When I wash the finished fabric, it will shrink and fluff up but I don't want it to before it's woven. As long as you set the twist, for weaving it doesn't have to be washed yet.

You can see how much the color changed from the original. That is normal and the result of the colors mixing together during the spinning process. Part of it is physical blending, the fibers do combine in the process of drawing and drafting, and part of it is optical. A thicker yarn would show larger blocks of color just because there is more fiber in one place. This thin yarn spreads it out across a much longer distance.

Next is the weft, a similar single in black. I'm going to spin it in the opposite direction so the finished fabric has a smoother surface. That's something you can't do with commercial yarn, and a very typical historic technique.