Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Pressing Matter

This afternoon I went up to the annex for a binge of pressing. The wet finishing mountain avalanched on Mizz B last time she came over so it was past time to start dealing with it. Besides which I haven't been feeling well so hemming seems about the right speed these days. :(

I'm still weaving as much as I can, but it's going very slowly. The specialist did say it was important to exercise plus I still need to weave as physiotherapy for my ankle so I've been weaving at half speed and only winding one bobbin at a time so that I have to take a little rest while I wind the next bobbin. I'm hoping to get the date for my medical test when I see him again on June 9 and find out where we go from there.

One of the things that many weavers don't understand is the function of a hard press or compression in terms of adding stability to their fabric. When I'm pressing I press side A then side B then side A again as my minimum press. This helps the threads to lock into each other and hold the structure just a little more firmly.

Not that I compress everything. Blankets or other textiles where one wants trapped air in the cloth for insulation for example may not get compressed. But certainly any cloth that will be used for garments does.

In the photo you can see my industrial steam press and just visible in the background is the boiler that runs it. There's a box behind the drying rack full of place mats that have had their finishing press after hemming. Tomorrow Mizz B can label and price them.

The scarves will have their fringes trimmed. I don't like the look of the frayed tips so those get cut off. The fringe then looks like it has been finished with beads - without the weight. :)

Yes I press the fringe too which leads to interesting discussions at times. At a show a couple of years ago a man was looking extremely closely at my fringes while his wife waited patiently for him. Obviously not customers!

When I went to talk to him he asked me how I made my fringes so I explained about fringe twisting. He professed amazement - he was an engineer - and commented that he had been trying to figure out the construction of the fringe - it looked twisted but it was flat!!!!

I laughed and fessed up that I pressed the you know what out of them. Then we both laughed and he and his wife walked away, mystery solved.

Currently reading Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman


Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

just some thoughts:
don't you think even blankets would benefit from being kompressed once in their lives? It would (might?) help the stabilisation of the web - and they could then be brushed some (I agree, too much work/time), or be re-wetted, perhaps with a short trip in the dryer (or just the dryer w/o heat, but with a tennis ball or something) to get them fluffy again?

Re flattened fringes: I've done that once, but got lots of comments from customers, or rather: from non-customers :-) - so I stopped doing that. Should I try again?

Laura said...

I expect that, depending on the fibre and weave structure, compression would help blankets. When we toured Pendleton Blanket Mill, I noticed all of their blankets are compressed. But it's a completely different quality of cloth. For most handweavers I think that a blanket or throw is generally perceived as something soft and lofty...weavers need to understand how compression works, why it's done and when they want (need?) to do it.

At least more weavers have become aware that they *do* need to wet finish - not a situation that existed when I first got on to the internet in the mid-90's...


Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

...and I remember the Hemslöjd rep who said wet finishing made (in this case) napkins "look used"... and that was just (oops - "just"???) 15 years ago...
So we've come a long way!

Cynthia said...

I was ironing yesterday with my very lightweight iron, thinking longingly of your lovely big steam press! Don't know where I'd put it, though -- I had a rotary ironer but had to give it away as we kept tripping on it.