A Thermal Scarf with Drape
By: Melissa Ludden Hankens / November 09
Do you ever have those moments where you look in your closet and your drawers, and you just can’t get excited about any of your clothes? I had one of those moments the other day when looking at my yarn stash. I will say that I have a pretty decent yarn stash, though certainly not as large as some. I would also consider it a nice yarn stash. But on this occasion it just wasn’t cuttin’ the mustard.
I had a project in mind, but nothing in my wall of yarn was calling my name. This got me thinking about all of the yarn choices out there, and how on earth anyone ever manages to choose. For me, it comes down to how I want my finished project to both look and feel. Just because something looks nice doesn’t mean it will feel nice and vice versa. It also seems to me that sometimes it’s a challenge to hold a hank or a cone of yarn in your hand and know how it’s going to transform once woven. All together now – SAMPLE!
Perhaps you don’t want to sample. If not, well you have to go to educated-guess land. This is where I went when choosing the material for this scarf project.
My textural inspiration came from my childhood. When I was growing up in Maine, everyone had long johns as they were an essential component to the layering system one employed when preparing for a long day out playing in the snow. The lovely box-weave texture held little pockets of warm air in and the cold air out. I wanted to weave myself a long-johns scarf, but without the long-johns look.
Back to educated-guess land. Wool seemed like a good idea for warmth, but I wanted a nicely defined surface texture which meant avoiding material that might bloom too much. I also didn’t want a rustic look, but rather a fairly sophisticated one. This meant looking for a yarn with a sleeker finish which I found in a yarn by Green Mountain Spinnery called Sylvan Spirit. It’s a 50/50 blend of fine wool and Tencel that comes in 2 oz, 180 yard skeins. I guessed that the Tencel would give this DK weight wool a nice drape and allow my pattern to show, while the wool would provide the warmth I was looking for.
On to choosing a pattern: I consulted Betty Linn Davenport’s book Textures and Patterns for the Rigid
Heddle Loom. I knew that I would need a pattern that included both warp and weft floats, but didn’t want something as extreme as a waffle weave. The windowpane pattern on page 36 of the revised edition did the trick. This would give me a pattern of squares without too much pucker.
I want to talk a bit about pick-up sticks again. I have covered them before, but I find new ways of talking about them every time I use them. The windowpane pattern uses a combination of warp and weft floats. A warp float is simply a warp thread that floats above two or more weft threads, and a weft float is a weft thread that floats above two or more warp threads. This means that there are a lot of patterns that can be created from combinations of warp and/or weft floats.
So how do you get one or the other when weaving on a rigid heddle loom? Let’s take a quick step back to how to insert the pick-up stick in the first place. You’ll want to put your rigid heddle in the down position. What this does is lower all of the ends that are threaded through the holes so that they’re out of your way. You’re left with the slot threads hanging out on top.
If you are reading a rigid heddle pattern, it will give you pick-up stick, also called pattern stick, instructions. For the windowpane pattern, the instruction is one up, one down, repeated across. This means that you insert your pick up stick behind the rigid heddle over one warp thread, under the next and so on until your pick-up stick is either over or under each of the warp threads in the slots.
When not in use, the pick-up stick should be slid to the back of your loom, still in position, but out of the way.