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Wet Finishing - Worsted Wool

Although worsted wool does not require wet finishing to the same degree as woolen, I will sometimes full a worsted yarn in order to achieve a particular effect or quality of cloth. So it is with this sample.

The yarn is a soft worsted 2 ply which has a nice handle and drape. For this sample, however, I wanted a warm, cozy cloth suitable for a winter jacket. Where I live, winters can be cold (-40 C), so a cloth that can insulate against that cold is a must. As this yarn is a little on the heavier side in terms of grist, I felt that setting it at an appropriate number of ends per inch to provide a warm cloth would make it too stiff. Previous experiments with the yarn had shown it to full beautifully at about 16 to 18 ends per inch.

The addition of a mohair loop every inch also increases warmth as the loop holds air to provide insulation as well as giving an interesting surface texture.

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

The weave structure is a 1/3-3/1 twill. This structure also promotes the trapping of air between the warp and weft floats, but gives the cloth a nice handle even after fulling. Using a 9 dent reed, the yarn was set 2 per dent for the worsted, 1 per dent for the loop, and woven at 18 ppi.

After weaving, the cloth was removed from the loom, the ends serged, whip stitched together along the selvedges, then joined end to end to form a large doughnut of cloth. The tub of the washing machine was filled with warm water, and half a scoop of Cheer detergent. The yarn does not have a heavy application of spin oil, so this was enough to scour the fabric. The fabric was placed around the spindle of the machine, and agitated for a total of 12 minutes before sufficient stability in the weave structure occurred. It was then spun out, the tub refilled with warm water and the fabric rinsed and spun out again.

The whip stitching was removed and the cloth rolled around a large PVC pipe and covered with a large cloth. In order to compress the fibres, I sat on the pipe and rolled it back and forth, rotating the cloth and pipe till the entire cloth had been "pressed". It was then hard pressed with a hand iron and allowed to dry.

This cloth would also be very attractive if it were brushed to raise a nap.

The yarn is available from Jane Stafford Textiles.

Thanks Karena Lang for hard pressing the fabric and cutting up all the samples.


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