Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pinwheels maybe but maybe not !!

Hi there folks ! This post is the story of my latest weaving project ! 

Back in June I bought some yarn from Helen of Ripples Yarns She is based away up in the north of Scotland near a place called Lochinver and she hand dyes a beautiful selection of yarns. The yarn I used for this project was 70% alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere in lace weight with 1200 metres to 100gms. From the Interweave yarn chart that equates to a 24/2 yarn. You can see the colours below and they were chosen by my friend Joan who kindly took care of us last winter when we were stranded in the snow. This is going to be a scarf for her to wear while walking to work this coming winter.

I asked Joan to choose a design from a selection of books and drafts. The one she decided on was the Twill Stars by Vicki Tardy in the Handwoven Scarves book, page 96. A nice pinwheel draft which I had often thought of trying. Here is the picture from the book..................

Setting up the loom was uneventful, straight draw threading and an easy tie up for eight shafts. The warp was 8 grey alternating with 8 purple with doubled floating selvedges.

So the first thing to do is sample and the picture below shows the result. Not a pinwheel in sight just some rather dainty squares. Not what I wanted. Would it improve with washing ? No, this was after washing so no 'magic in my water ' !!

So, what do you do next ! Consult with two experienced weavers !! I knew Ellen on Ravelry had already used this draft so we Skyped and she showed me how it should look  and I thought I must have the tie up wrong so down I went to check but no nothing untoward there, and I checked at least three times !!

I also new that Susan of Thrums had woven this draft so I asked her what she thought might be wrong. 
She suggested that I try another tie up for pinwheels from the Carol Strickler book of 8 shaft patterns. I had sleyed at 28epi but decided to re-sley at 24epi just in case it was a bit too tight. Then I tied up as for the draft on page 20 number 61. This is what I got............................

Still not a pinwheel in sight ! I made this picture extra large so that those of you with experienced and keen eyes can maybe explain why I can't have pin wheels. This tie up did give me more pronounced floats in the corners but sadly no wheels !!

I didn't have enough warp left to play around anymore so this was how it was going to be. Weaving went well and not a broken thread in all 2 metres of it ! The usual fringe twisting took place on my trusty board !

It washed nicely but no pinwheels appeared. The finished scarf looks like this.................

I am sure Joan will like it but she won't get the nice pinwheels she thought she was getting !!

If anybody out there has had a similar experience I would love to know the answer. Was the yarn too fine or was the sett too tight or was it both ? Please add your thoughts in the comments section.
Hopefully I will try this again sometime as it is a very striking design and seems to be popular.

'Til next time, happy weaving !


  1. If I squint, I can see the pinwheels a little in the first sample. I think that perhaps it is the low contrast between the two colours that doesn't show the design as well as the example that you showed in black and cream. Your finished scarf is lovely, even if not exactly what you were expecting!

  2. Hi there... I think Cynthia might be right. There is low contrast between the two colours.This is also a colour and weave effect draft as well. Certain weave structures (log cabin, shadow weave etc) are at their best when there is a sharp contrast of light and dark. So maybe try again with bolder colours?

    This scarf looks lovely and soft. Perfect for around the neck on a cold winters day....


  3. I just love this scarf, with pinwheels or without them! It's a absolutely gorgeous! Sadly, I don't have the loom for this draft, so I can't give an advice.

  4. The number of threads per Inch in warp and weft should be equal to get nice pinwheels. Yours look a bit compressed. Maybe you have beaten the weft a little too hard?

  5. Hi Dorothy! I'm thinking the beat was too hard? I've struggled with houndstooth, with which unless I measured carefully with each treadling sequence, tended to lose its pattern if beaten too hard. If you still have the warp in the heddles, tie on a practice warp and see if you don't achieve your pattern with a lighter beat. Having said that, it's still quite lovely, and must be delicious to the touch with that fiber. Your friend is going to love it, and her walks to work that much warmer for your lovely scarf!

  6. I'm in agreement with everyone above! I think you might have been able to see the pattern in the first sample had the yarns been more contrasting - or, if the pinwheels hadn't appeared, it would have been easier to diagnose any problems.

    It is a slightly tricky pattern to beat as you have a mix of plain weave and long floats so you do need to be careful not to beat it in too hard. For this reason the closer sett looks as though it was more successful for this yarn. In the second sample you've got rectangles rather than squares which suggests the weft is packed in too much.

    You're so close that I'd definitely give it another shot. Use black or navy as your neutral colour and the pattern will show up a treat.

  7. I wish I could add something clever to the comments you have already got, but I can only agree, that there do seem to appear a somewhat flattened, well not exactly pinwheel, but wavy pattern, especially in the last not so close-up photo.
    I am sure your friend is going to love this, the yarns sounds just wonderful and the colours do suit each other very well.

  8. for this sort of color-and-weave effect two things are important: a good contrast in light and dark and the same number of warp and weft threads per inch!
    Nevertheless: your scarf looks wonderful!