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Wet Finishing - Cold Nights, Warm Blankets

There is nothing like a warm woolly blanket to curl up in on a cold winter night!

This sample was made from a variety of wools from my stash, most of it Condon's, some Briggs and Little with a little wool boucle and a mohair thrown in for good measure. Using 2 ply medium, the warp was set at 10 epi and woven in plain weave at 10 ppi.

As this cloth was being cut up for samples, it was treated as yardage and no fringe treatment was done.

After weaving, the web was cut in half, and the ends serged. The web was folded in half lengthwise, the selvedges whip stitched together, using cotton (or other yarn that won't full into the cloth), and the ends stitched together making a ring. Be sure the length isn't twisted when the ends are stitched.

Wet Finished Sample
The bottom image is the sample after wet finishing. Note that the scale is identical in both photos.

The washing machine was filled with warm water and a regular scoop of Cheer detergent was dissolved in it and agitated to make suds. Condon's and Briggs and Little yarns both have fairly high amounts of spin oil and need to be scoured well.

The web ring was placed into the washing machine around the spindle and allowed to agitate for 6 minutes. At that time the suds had completely disappeared, so it was spun out, the cloth removed and the tub refilled with about 1/3 of a scoop of Cheer detergent. The web was replaced in the machine and a further 4 minutes of agitation applied.

With the intention of brushing afterwards, I wanted the cloth to be quite stable without taking it to felt and losing drapability, so it was closely monitored during the final 4 minutes of agitation. When it was about "done", that is, the threads were not pulled out of the weave structure when a fingernail was run over them, the machine was spun out again, the fabric removed and the tub filled with clear water. A quick rinse, and the fabric was spun out and the stitching removed.

The cloth was draped on my ironing board, which is lightly padded. Clamping the fabric to the board with one arm, a pet brush was used to brush the cloth - three strokes, then move the brush over by the width of the brush, three strokes, etc. This was done twice across the width of the fabric before moving the cloth and brushing again. When one surface had been completely brushed in one direction, the cloth was turned end for end and the same surface brushed from the other direction. Both surfaces can be brushed for a very lofty and cozy fabric, but one side was left to show the unbrushed cloth.

The cloth was then left draped over the ironing board to air dry.

The web was 48 inches in the reed. Off loom measurements were 44 inches wide, 4 yards, 16 inches long. After wet finishing, the width was 38 inches, length was 4 yards, 2 inches long.

Thanks to Barb Rayment for brushing the sample and cutting them apart.


Laura Fry has been weaving for over 20 years and completed the Guild of Canadian Weavers' Master Certificate in 1997. Laura lives in Prince George, B.C., manages to weave enormous warps for fashion designers, write articles for weaving magazines, recently published a detailed book on wet finishing - Magic in the Water, and participates in exhibitions and craft shows. She teaches weaving from beginning to advance techniques in Western Canada and the United States.

Copyright © 1999 by Laura Fry. Please contact the author for permission to use any part of this article.

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PO Box 4, Stn. A
Prince George, BC V2L 4R9

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4