Weaving Swedish linen yarn into a table runner came about from a visit to Sweden a few years ago when I visited a linen mill and brought a few spools of linen home. I wasn’t sure initially what I was going to do with the yarn, I just knew it was so beautiful I had to have some.
Once I started weaving and learning more about the process I decided to use the linen yarn to make a table runner. To keep the colour palette simple I dyed some of the yarn with woad for a light blue, and some with indigo for a deeper blue. These worked well with the plain white undyed yarn and I was really pleased with the cool colours.
Weaving with linen turned out to be a bit of a challenge as the threads were so fine, completely different to handling wool. To start with I produced a set of samples using some spare linen dyed a plummy colour (which I wasn’t keen on) looking at huck lace and huck spot, a patterning achieved by grouping threads together in the warp and weft to give small gaps. It’s a very interesting technique and I had fun trying out different combinations and learning how to draw up drafts for the threadings.
Once I had decided which patterning I was going to use in the runner I then had to set about calculating the number of threads or ‘ends’ in the warp to give the desired finished width and how to set out the pattern for the weft using the three colours I had available. The warp was plain indigo across the runner to simplify the patterning.
The weft was worked in stripes of colour with the huck lace worked in the woad blue and white stripes with thinner strips of plain weave in indigo blue in between and at each end of the runner. Calculating this and drawing up the draft for threading and weaving took me a long time but was a good learning experience!
Once the weaving was completed I turned a small double hem at each end, pressed and machine stitched them in place. Then I ‘finished’ the linen fabric, a process that brings out the lustre and softens the fabric. The linen is soaked for several hours in water with a few drops of washing up liquid dissolved in it, then blotted dry with a towel and smoothed out. Using a rolling pin and applying as even a pressure as possible the surface is ‘polished’ along the grain of the fabric before washing, rinsing and ironing dry.
So, all in all a lot of work, but I am so pleased with the result!