New Weaves! Love ’em? Or Hate ’em?

closeup shot of Artisan Hand Made clothe

So…I told you guys that I was planning to KEEP WEAVING this winter, not stopping to process or finish the fabrics, but just continuing on weaving new pieces. And so I have! However, show season is just around the corner, and it’s time to get these lovely fabrics finished and sewn up.

Can we talk, for a brief moment, about the massive difference in handwoven fabrics between the fabric on the loom, and finished? We all KNOW it’s a huge thing. I KNOW that if I am really not digging the fabric on the loom, that I need to just give it a while, finish weaving it, set it aside for a bit then come back to it. And really finish it! I remember reading that fabric fresh off the loom isn’t really fabric yet…it’s a “web”. It’s kind of stiff, the threads seem like they oppose each other, and it really can be a bit disappointing right at first.

A few weeks ago, I wanted to try clasped warp. I figured I’d do a scarf. (Yes, I know. How creative, right? haha). I don’t usually weave scarves anymore…guess I’ve moved on to “bigger and better things”, but for a technique like this, it was a nice first-time project. It was a quick little weave; I didn’t even take any pics of the weaving process. There’s only one thing I don’t really “embrace” with any clasped technique, warp or weft; and that is the double-thread that results. Not a huge deal, but I feel that it gives that fabric a slightly different look and feel. I weaved the piece, and reeeaallly didn’t care for it. I set it aside for many days. Came back to it….still didn’t like it. Couple days ago, I bit the bullet and finished the fabric. I did my typical warm soapy water bath, massaging the fabric back and forth for ten-fifteen minutes, rinsed, spun dry, then used the Ironrite to press and dry.

Now let’s talk about compression. I did not know this was a “thing” with finishing fabrics until I read Peggy Osterkamp’s books. (which, BTW, if you don’t have them, PLEASE do yourself a favor and get them!) Apparently fabrics become their true “selves” after “compression”. Did she mean pressing? Ironing? Without steam? What exactly is “compression”? And how on earth would a fabric “bloom” after it’s been squashed (my interpretation of “compressing fabric”)? Well, I dunno all the ins and outs of “compression”, but holy smokes, after I ran this finished piece through the Ironrite, it became….BEAUTIFUL. SOFT. TOUCHABLE. And the DRAPE! Wow, just wow. I didn’t even mind some of the weird tracking.

So….more kudos to my beloved “Dort”, the Ironrite mangle iron from 1945-ish. It is now a handwoven fabric finishing tool. I’ll never curse a weave again….cuz it ain’t done until it’s DONE!