During the summer the lovely Estelle at Midwinter Yarns got in touch with me to ask if I could weave a sample for them for their stand at shows using their Lithuanian Linen. This was very good timing as I had that day just been drooling over their linen Sweet Peas packs that they had started to stock in their shop and thinking how I could create little rainbows with them.
I first met Midwinter Yarns at this years Edinburgh Yarn Fest and since then I’ve been using their yarns to create my Rainbow Scarves and Sun Through The Clouds cowls as well as knitting with it for myself. I’ve got lots more of their yarn which will be turned into other fun things soon and Estelle is really good at convincing me to buy more yarn.
Unfortunately, the package containing the first lot of linen got lost in the post and with the first of the September shows for Midwinter yarns coming up they managed to resend me another set of linen yarn.
I got it the same weekend as the Prestwick Air Show, which my husband and son went too armed with my camera. They saw the always brilliant Red Arrows display and got some great photos including this one.
As a weaver you can’t get much easier inspiration than smoke trails across the sky, so when I opened the Linen and saw these colours then I immediately warped the loom trying to get an idea of the planes and their smoke trails.
I’ve woven with linen a bit in the past and knew that tension is really important, really really important. So I wound the warp on tightly and tied the knots on tight too. I also wetted the knots with water to help the linen to stick and not slip. I’ve had issues in the past with the knots slipping and wetting them did help.
I then went on to weave the piece and found it was hard to beat and wove up a bit looser than I wanted it too.
It looked fine though and so having rechecked up on how to finish linen I read it needs a hot wash and is fine to go into the washing machine, especially as it helps it to soften up. In it went but this is where it went wrong.
As it was loose in structure in the weaving it all went wrong in the wash and gathered and puckered up. THIS WAS NOT THE YARNS FAULT AND WAS TOTALLY MY FAULT!!
So, after kicking myself several times and checking up again on weaving with linen I re-warped the loom for Red Arrows Linen scarf Mark 2.
This time, as well as dampening the knots I also had a small bowl of water and dampened the cloth each time at the part I’d just woven when I would it on. This made a big difference and made it easier to beat the linen in and gave a more balanced weave.
This time I washed the cloth in the sink and left it overnight in very hot water with detergent, and then in another sink full of boiling water and detergent (totally the opposite to what you would do with wool) before rolling it in a towel to get the excess water out and ironing it.
This you’ll agree looks lot better than the original version and does hark bark to the original idea of the Red Arrows in the sky. The linen has softened up as well from it’s very crisp feel off the loom and will get softer each time it’s washed.
Having woven with it I definitely want to weave with this linen again and I can’t wait to play with the rainbow Sweet Peas pack I got from Midwinter Yarns and I’m thinking of weaving it with their Ullcentrum yarns to create some really textural pieces.
If you want to weave with Midwinter Yarns linen I’d recommend using a 12.5 dpi reed on a rigid heddle loom or possibly a bit tighter sett on a table loom. Always check your yarn and sett before weaving. As I mentioned make sure you tightly and evenly wind on the warp onto the loom and when tying up dampen the knots once tied to stop them slipping. Then when weaving just keep dampening the cloth every now and then to help keep tension even and beat heavily. It does look a bit wiggly when you beat the weft but it then evens out after the next row/pick is woven.
It’s great stuff to weave with and with such a fab colour palette you’ve got lots of choices to create your own handwoven linen scarves, wraps, or whatever takes your fancy.
You’ll be able to see the finished scarf at Yarndale this weekend on the Midwinter Yarns stall, although by the looks of it I think Estelle might be wearing it all weekend too for display purposes. Do pop by and see them as their yarns are great for weaving as well as knitting and the colours are fab.
UPDATE JANUARY 2021 - Lithuanian Linen is now available to buy from our website.