It is not true that projects have to “age” before they’re finished. It’s also not true that yarn and fiber have to age before they’re used. But for me they generally do, just the same, if there’s no deadline (and sometimes even if there is).
I come by my stashing and ageing habits honestly – my stash is nothing compared to my mother’s. But then she had more room for her stash – she had a barn!
A few years ago, I helped my mom downsize when she moved into a retirement community. There was quite a lot of yarn in the stash, mostly worsted weight acrylic. That went to the thrift store. But there was some good stuff too, like several skeins of pink mohair. From the wrappers, I could tell that they were probably bought in the 1950’s and it was clear that they were intended for a fuzzy pink sweater.
The fuzzy pink sweater yarn became the basis for the design of two shawls that I started back in November. Because the first shawl was to be a donation to a charity auction, I didn’t want to spend anything out of pocket - at least not out of today’s pocket - so everything else came out of my stash:
- A good size hank of a two strand yarn, one cream colored mohair and one pink slubby rayon, purchased in the mid-90’s;
- Two skeins of handspun wool/angora blend that were given to me around 1990;
- One ball of rayon ribbon also from my mother’s stash;
- Enough 20/2 unbleached silk to fill out the warp and for the weft, purchased early 2000’s.
In November I warped up the two shawls and wove one. I cut it off for the charity auction, and then didn’t re-tie the warp to the front apron – I don’t know why, I just didn’t. Then I decided to weave the liturgical stoles – a project with a deadline, thank you very much, and that meant finishing the project already on the loom first.
I sleyed the warp in my 12-dent reed, somewhat irregularly. All of the yarns except the silk and the pink mohair were a bit bulky, so I left empty dents if two of those were side by side. My goal was to spread each type of yarn relatively evenly across the width of the warp, not too densely, as I wanted the shawl to be light and drapey. At each edge I added several ends of the 20/2 silk, double sleyed, so that I would have a good firm selvedge.
The threading was plain weave. Plain weave is like eating popcorn – it doesn’t take much thought and can be very satisfying, or at least filling. On the other hand a mohair warp requires constant vigilance. The mohair is inclined to make friends with its neighbors, and then you don’t get a clear shed. Keeping the warp really tight helps, but the handspun wool/angora didn’t like that very much, so I ended up with quite a lot of broken warps.
Even so, checking to see if the shed was clear, and sometimes manually separating the mohairs from their neighbors, became part of the rhythm of the weaving. This slowed things down quite a bit, so it took about 8 hours to weave the whole thing.
I'm calling this my “Fuzzy Pink Sweater Stole” in memory of the sweater that might have been. The finished size is a generous 24” by 82”.