Monday, January 25, 2010

Talkin' bout Towels

I'm really pleased with how the current warp is weaving up - subtle!

Some people wonder why I don't promote linen more as a towel yarn. Why do I promote cotton?

Well, actually, what I promote is a very specific yarn combination, one that includes linen.

Why do I call this combination of 2/16 cotton set at 32 epi and 22/2 cottolin weft the 'perfect' towel rather than some other combination?

Check the absorbency comparison I did - click on the absorbency label below.

Linen is a wonderful fibre. Unfortunately it has special needs. The most important of those needs is the requirement of higher humidity than I live in. Trying to weave with a linen warp, especially in a grist and twist appropriate for towels becomes a nightmare of tangles, snarls and snapped threads.

I am not going to recommend to inexperienced weavers that linen is the only appropriate choice for towels - especially if they also live in an area of low humidity.

Neither do I recommend Perle cottons, no matter how pretty and strong they may be. Perle cottons, as I understand it, were originally spun by DMC for embroidery yarns. They are combed, very dense, and very very strong. Beginning weavers love this yarn because it gives them very little difficulty as warp and their strength, luster and rich colours are very attractive.

But they aren't terribly absorbent because of their density.

Many new weavers do not understand that the construction of the yarn is what causes the yarn to be less absorbent than another cotton yarn. The only difference they see is that Perle yarns are mercerized. They then assume that the mercerization process has reduced the absorbency instead of how densely the yarns are engineered.

Likewise I don't recommend 100% 2/20 mercerized cotton (not a Perle cotton, just mercerized) because the yarn is so absorbent it becomes saturated very quickly.

(Just like not all tissues are Kleenex, not all mercerized yarns are Perle.)

I love linen. It makes a wonderful textile, suitable for many things - anything from household linens to garments.

I just don't love weaving 100% linen here where I live. Even as weft this doubled 24 nm linen is pesky - but well worth the trouble of using it to make what I believe are going to be really lovely towels.


weaveblah said...

Hi Laura; can you explain the difference between "mercerised" cotton and "perle" cotton. I have been told they are the same, but your comments suggest there is a difference. Thank-you.

Laura said...

Just because a yarn is mercerized does not make it understanding is that Perle is the brand name for a yarn manufactured by DMC for embroidery.


weaveblah said...

Thanks Laura; it looks like a need to read more about yarn types. Regards.

weaveblah said...

Oops! It looks like I need to read more about yarn types (plus, check what I type). Cheers.