The Coco Cowl // a handwoven cowl inspired by colour

I was inspired by this knitting blog post, especially the quote below:

“I am a generally safe knitter (or colourist). That means I choose colours I know well, and KNOW for sure will look good with each other. It is very rare I would put two different variegated yarns in the same project. It would be too much for my eyes, and make the piece too busy looking. But this time I left my comfort zone.” – Charlotte

When I read these words from this post, it felt familiar. I too am usually pretty “safe” with my colour choices. When I saw that Charlotte carried several yarns including two variegated yarns, I was interested to see how that concept would translate to weaving and I was surprised at the results. It reminded me of a woven fabric that Chanel would use, multiple colours crossing multiple colours. I worked with four strands of yarn: Tough Love Sock in Fast Forward, Panda Sock in Daydream, Merino Silk Lace in Orchid, and Silk Mist in Pomegranate. The variegated colours Fast Forward and Daydream have pinkish colours in common, but also have complementary colours in the yellow in the Daydream and blue in the Fast Forward. Merino Silk Lace and Silk Mist are both in hot pink, the Lace in a lighter shade and the Mist in a darker shade. The Silk Mist is 60% fine kid mohair and 40% cultivated silk and adds a halo of texture as well as colour.

Warp threads tied on to rigid heddle loom

Warp bows tied on to rigid heddle loom

Schacht Flip Loom warped up and ready to go!

Schacht Flip Loom warped up and ready to go!

These are all fine yarns, but since they are bundled together, I put them in a 5-dent reed. I carried all of them together when I warped the loom, making sure the strings were not drooping, but also not tight. If the warp strings are tight and they stretch at different rates and under tension. When they are not under tension, it could distort the fabric from being straight and smooth to lumpy and irregular. After weaving a sample, I thought it would be better in an 8-dent reed so I actually rethreaded the reed from a 5-dent to an 8-dent. When I tried it out, I realized that I forgot about the Mohair factor. Mohair needs lots of space for it not to stick together while changing sheds. So I re rethreaded back to a 5-dent reed. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it didn’t take too long. It is kind of like ripping back in knitting. Sometimes it must be done. The 5-dent reed will make the weave very loose, but it will come together in the finishing process.

Uneven weft threads

step 1: Uneven and offset weft threads need to be straightened out first

Uneven weft threads, evened out

step 2: Uneven weft threads, evened out and pulled taught for next pick

Uneven weft threads being re-tensioned

Make sure the slack yarn is pulled straight in the shed before beating

The same tension idea used in warping also applies for loading the weft on the shuttle. I found that stick shuttles are the best shuttles for this particular multiple weft application. Carrying all four yarns at the same time, lightly lay the yarn on a stick shuttle in a figure-8 pattern on one side and then load the other side of the shuttle, but don’t put any tension on the yarn. Even without tension, sometimes towards the middle or end of the shuttle, one or a couple of the yarns may be slack. That is fine, just work with it. Make sure the slack yarn is pulled straight in the shed before beating. The weave will be loose, but don’t worry when it looks really far apart. The basketweave look won’t be accurate unless the weave is balanced, which means all of the spaces in between the threads are squares (not horizontal or vertical rectangles). Weave about 62 inches or a little more. The weft can always be taken out if need be, but it can’t really be woven after it is off the loom.

Cut the weaving off with as much fringe as possible to assist in the knotting process. Measure 55″ of woven fabric, or longer fabric if you want a larger fabric. Fold the fabric in half so the fringe from the top is directly over the fringe on the bottom. Take 5 warp bundles on the top right edge and 5 bundles on the bottom right edge and knot them all together in an overhand knot. Go all the way across tying overhand knots the same way using 5 bundles from the top and 5 from the bottom. Leave the fringe long during the washing process. Wash (or more appropriately soak) by hand, putting the cowl in a pale of hot water with about 1 teaspoon of dish soap, not agitating it at all, but letting it soak for 15 min. Squeeze out soapy water out and soak again in hot water for another 15 min. At this point, I put mine in the spin cycle of washer to get out all the water. Lay flat to dry overnight. Tighten the knots and cut the fringes of each knot with about 1/2″ to 3/4″ fringe left. Put in dryer on medium for 5 minutes. Check and put in for another 5 minutes if it needs to fluff a little more.

Thanks Charlotte for being adventurous! I would encourage others to be adventurous with colours too, especially the people who like to play it “safe”. For a project like this or the knitted cowl with multiple strands, twist four yarns together to see if they look good together. Try different colour combinations to see what strikes your fancy, and above all, have fun!

Coco Cowl, handwoven by Denise Renee Grace

Coco Cowl, handwoven by Denise Renee Grace

Coco Cowl, handwoven by Denise Renee Grace

Coco Cowl, handwoven by Denise Renee Grace

The Coco Cowl

Pattern: Plain weave

Warp Yarn:

Carry them all together while direct warping.

Weft Yarn: Same as warp yarn

Reed (ends per inch / EPI): 5-Dent reed

Total ends: 75

Width in reed: 15”

Warp Length: 90” (this offers about 25” for loom waste and 10” for tying fringes)

Picks per inch (PPI): Beat until balanced (square spaces in between the warp and weft), approximately 5 PPI

Shuttle: stick shuttle

Woven Length: 62”

Finishing: Knot together 5 bundles from top and 5 bundles from bottom to join the fabric to make a cowl

Wash and finish: Soak in warm water and dish soap for 15 min. Soak in warm clean water for 15 min. Lay flat to dry. After dry, put in dryer on low for 5-10 minutes. Cut fringes on knots to ½” fringes.

Loom: Rigid heddle loom 15” wide (Schacht Flip or Cricket recommended)



About Denise Renee Grace

Denise Renee is fiber junkie whose first love is fiber tools and what she can make with them. She works as a product specialist for Schacht Spindle Co. helping people get their equipment up and running again and answering general questions. As promised on the SweetGeorgia podcast, Denise is getting her work out there by creating a line of products that she sells at local Kansas shows and through Etsy . You can also find her on Instagram and her web site https://filamentfiberart.com/

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