Shadow Weave … Thing

Is done… maybe.

The idea behind this project was to try making a woven fabric version of a knitting pattern I modified for the Bond Sweater Machine a few years back. Here’s the jacket I made then:

It’s essentially a rectangle with cuts in from the two shorter sides. The middle sections are sewn together to make the sleeves, the outer becomes a collar and the body.

But woven fabric doesn’t have the stretch or drape of knit, so I made a calico test version and immediately confirmed that the upper arms/armpit would be too tight. I widened the middle section to compensate. As for drape… there was really no way to know if there would be enough. To test it, I’d have to make a sampler so big I’d have no yarn left for the jacket.

The shadow weave draft is #277 from A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns. I picked it because the treadling is easy to memorise – something I was grateful for because handling six shuttles for the split sections of weaving was more than enough for my brain to wrangle.

Draw in was a bit of a problem, so I used a temple on the middle section (the bit to be the arms, where you really don’t want shrinkage) and on the whole width when I was weaving the part where the sections were joined into one. It certainly wove much faster during the joined part, where it only needed two shuttles!

Once off the loom I tied the fringe and sewed up the arms and tried it on. It fit but… it didn’t look good. The yarn – 8ply Bendigo Cotton – did drape well, but was really too slippery to retain integrity where the seams pulled, creating two big holes at the point where the ends of the slits were sewn together.

I draped it over my dress form and slept on the problem. By the next day I thought I had a solution, but it, too, did not work. Back onto the dress form it went, and I began playing. Eventually I had completely unpicked the stitching and abandoned all possibility of having arms. The arm sections became the fronts and one of the slits was sewn halfway together on both sides, leaving openings for my arms, and it became a sort of vest-ruanna with a scarf-collar. As pictured above.

So not a complete waste of weaving time. My experiment proved that the design wouldn’t translate to woven fabric and yet I still have a garment I like. I may even weave some sleeves for it at a later date. I used up some stash and tried shadow weave for the first time, too.

I think, if I try another loom-shaped garment I will stick to plain weave. While the shadow weave pattern looks good, it did make what was a test garment very slow to weave, and that would have made it more annoying if the design had been completely unusable.

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