It's been awhile since I've blogged about weaving. This is partly because a lot of other things have popped up, but also because I've had my last weaving project off the loom for awhile and have been wondering what to do about it.
About a month ago, I posted about preparing to weave some placemats (that post here). Weaving went well, but once the fabric was off the loom and machine washed and dried, I discovered that it looked like this:
This is plain weave with 8/2 unmercerized, unbleached cotton. The diagonal geometric textured effect was totally unplanned and not exactly what I was looking for. As I puzzled over it and whether or not I liked it, I vaguely recalled that this phenomenon is called "tracking."
Finally I decided to see what pressing would do. This is what it looked like after that....
As you can see, this did not completely eliminate the effect. I admit that I wondered whether I might have gotten better results if I had put more time and effort into pressing. On the other hand, my plan for this fabric was easy care placemats as a gift. I doubted that the intended recipient would be willing to go to very much trouble to keep them smoothed out.
Still, I puzzled over what had caused it and how to prevent it in the future. At first I figured that it must have something to do with the type of yarn I'd used. So I googled, "weaving tracking" (without the quote marks). From that I found Holly Shaltz's web page, in particular an article entitled "Plying a Balanced Yarn". From this article I learned that tracking is related to unbalanced yarn.
To be honest, I don't know a lot about commercial weaving yarns. I took a closer look at the yarn I'd used .....
..... and observed some inconsistencies in the twist. I never would have thought to check that out first, but it does confirm the wisdom of that well-worn (if not somewhat dreaded) phrase, "Sample, sample, sample."
So. I will definitely make a sample the next time I use this yarn, which will probably be mixed with other colors and brands of 8/2 unmercerized cottons. As to the placemats? I'm not sure. I reckon I'll move on to Plan B, as soon as I figure out what Plan B is.
What I've Learned About Tracking