After I finished the second part of the weaving (see next post), I cut the web off the loom. I washed it by hand in warm water with gentle soap, then spun it out and hung it up to dry. (Warp-weighted looms serve many useful purposes in the modern home; mine is also good for hanging string things up to dry.) I gently ironed it, and then I played with it a bit.
Because this structure is so weft-faced, the weft yarn exerts a lot of control over the handling of the cloth. The texture is supple, but thick and cushy owing to the soft weft yarn. It isn't exactly felted, but it fulled together very nicely.
After I played with it for a while, I carefully measured it.
Take-up and finishing gave me a 6% shrinkage rate in the warp and a 4% shrinkage rate in the weft. I had expected a little more shrinkage in the weft direction, maybe 7%-8%, but at 26 ends per inch I was pretty close to my target warp count of 27.5 ends per inch. As for my target weft count, it was 17.5 picks per inch. In most spots I exceeded my target by a bit, sometimes getting as much as 20 picks per finished inch, partly because I underestimated warp take-up and partly because I incompletely compensated for my linen weaving habit of a firm beat.
Next it was time for the photo session! With bright indirect sunlight and a grey background (yes, I know it looks blue, but it's grey), I got a pretty representative couple of photos. Here's the whole five feet of cloth.
|the two-yard piece|
Conclusions and Other Thoughts
I'm really happy with how well this turned out; given my inexpertness with a spindle, it could have gone much worse. I'm especially proud of how well my first foray into warp spinning succeeded; it's given me courage to reach for a larger project. But I'm even more happy about what I've learned about relative yarn sizes.
Many factors led to me choosing Jorvík 1307 as my target textile. One of those factors was definitely the size disparity between the yarns used in the two systems of this textile. I wanted to examine the common premise that Viking Age textiles are best recreated with yarns of similar grist in warp and weft. I already knew that most of the Jorvík wool textiles are woven with differently sized yarns in warp and weft. With Jorvík 1307 I would be working with an extreme example of that phenomenon.
Jorvik 1307 displays a warp yarn is among the very finest of the Jorvík, i.e., Viking Age York, wool finds. Of the 31 wool textiles from Viking Age York in Walton's catalogue, only four (1261, 1299, 1308, 1382) have warps as fine as Jorvík 1307. Only one textile has a finer warp, Jorvík 1300, which has warps in the 0.3mm size range but is an unevenly spun warp with other yarns up to the 0.7mm size.
Differences also come to light when considering the weft yarn. Among those 31 Jorvík textiles there are four (1257, 1258, 1296, 1297) coarse tabbies with thicker wefts than 1307; another (1379) with a thicker weft is a coarse 2/2 twill. The herringbone twills 1264 and 1302 have weft the same size as 1307 but their warps are not nearly as fine, making them more evenweave. Jorvík 1300 has wefts in the same size range as 1307, but again it is uneven, with the wefts varying between 1.0mm and 1.5mm.
In other words, Jorvík 1307 has a finer warp than about 83% of the Jorvík textiles, and a thicker weft than about 74% of them. The contrast between its warp and weft—with warp at the small end of the scale and weft at the large end—is remarkable even among its own peer textiles. And that doesn't even take into account the question of sett; I'll have to take that up with another project down the line.
I will use the shrinkage and take-up factors from this textile to inform future projects. I expect these factors depend to some extent on loom type, yarn diameter, and degree of spin. I think I'll change yarn diameter first in order to see how that affects the overall picture.
I will definitely be spinning another wool warp. Next time I'll pick a textile with a slightly heavier warp and less size disparity between warp and weft. That still gives me plenty of Jorvík textiles to choose from even if I stick to my favorite period.
I will definitely be separating and spinning þel for weft again, too. The uneven S-spun weft was, I think, the weakest part of this project; there's lots of room to improve that particular skill! The processing of fine undercoat wool is somewhat of a mystery to me, since my big combs didn't work with it. The cards I used are inappropriate tools for Viking Age textiles. While I did not use them in the way that would have been typical in the Middle Ages, to produce rolags of coiled fibers for woollen spinning, it still bothered me that I was using them at all. As an interim solution they worked pretty well to get the fibers straight, but I'd like to move to a less anachronistic tool. Next time I will try smaller combs. If need be, I will resort to hair combs to get the fibers straightened out a bit before I try spinning them.
I'll do at least one more piece on the table loom before trying my homespun on the warp-weighted loom. I'd rather not push my luck.
In the final installment: what I did with the rest of the warp.