I absolutely love linen. It is by far my favorite fabric with which to work. My BF and I go through mass quantities of it every couple of years (all purchased from Fabrics-store.com). Did I mention that I LOVE it?
So of course, I now want to weave it myself. Years of research warned me that weaving linen singles is a very daunting and complex task, but I have to say I was still surprised with some of the bizarre things that have happened so far with this weaving.
I mentioned this previously, and you cannot tell from the picture above, but the singles tend to twist. The wool singles I have used, I have had no issue with because they were blocked or perhaps had sizing applied to them to keep them under control. The linen, however, actually coiled around itself the minute I hung them on the loom. And I do not mean single threads were twisting, but rather the entire warp chains were coiling when hanging from the beam.
I know now that I could have dipped the chains in a starch solution or a solution made from boiled flaxseeds (more on that later). I knew about painting on sizing once the warp was on the loom, but I did not actually know at the time that I could apply something to the entire warp before beaming that would help control the frisky fibres.
The twisting fibres meant that I had to rethread 40 heddles. Not too bad in retrospect, but it was annoying at the time.
Below you can see the Vaxbo linen yarn that I used (purchased from the Woolgatherers). My warp is 8/1 and the weft for the first portion is the same and halfway through I switched to a 12/1 weft, just to see the difference.
Even after weaving just a few picks, my selvages (and a few random other threads) started getting woogly (yes, that is a technical term!). I actually unwove the entire thing and retied the warp to the apron rod and I still had issues with a few of the strands. And the most bizarre thing is that it was not always the same threads acting up. It was nothing so great that it was preventing me from weaving it decently, but I was worried about what it would look like after several inches so I opted to make some homemade sizing by boiling flaxseeds.
I had no recipe with me at the Cabin while I was working on this so I added two tablespoons of flaxseeds to a quart of water and boiled it until it started to get slimy. As it cooled, it gelatinized further and was very hard to brush on (getting it into the brush or sponge - I tried both - was hard, getting it off of the brush onto the warp was even more difficult). I managed to make it work, but next time I think I will try only one tablespoon of seeds per quart of water.
Above you can see the jar of goo (which I considered labeling "Elephant Snot" before I stuck it in the refrigerator for later use).
After I got it on the warp, the difference was rather impressive. I still had selvage threads that did not want to behave, but the weaving itself changed drastically after I applied the goop.
Look below at the right hand side of the weaving (that is what is closest to the breast beam) compared to the left. The right is the weaving I did before applying the flaxseed slime. I could not pack the weft any tighter. After applying the goop, you can see that I was getting a much closer weave.
The image above shows the 8/1 weft below the red line and the 12/1 weft above it. Not a whole lot of difference. I wish that I had an even finer single in my stash to use for further contrast. I guess I will try that with the next experimental linen warp ;-)