Mistakes Leading to Bright Ideas

My blankets are woven and being washed. Because of their size and my limitations in space, I have to wash the blankets one at a time in my bathtub and hang it over the shower curtain rod. To eliminate having a completed flooded bathroom floor from the dripping water I first roll the blankets in a towel to soak up the excess water.

Blankets, fresh off the loom, before being washed.
Blankets, fresh off the loom, before being washed.

The first two blankets I washed in this manner worked out well. Although the blankets did shrink up more then I had expected, they are still beautiful. The third blanket I picked up from the tub and laid it out on the towel then I stepped back I noticed something really surprising: my blanket collapsed and formed perfect pleats.

Not what I wanted to see at that exact moment. But after doing some yarn analysis and digging through my archives of weaving knowledge, I am more surprised that all the blankets didn’t pleat in this way.

Pleats!
Pleats!

This is how I came to this conclusion: The warp yarn was like a loaded spring. It was a fine, highly overspun yarn. This yarn was overspun to compensate for going through the rigmarole of the loom. When this yarn hits hot water it immediately shrinks up. The weft yarn was also a fine single spun yarn, but it was not spun at the same rate as the warp. So, after being washed, the warp yarn overpowered the weft yarn. So the pleats ended up along the length of the warp, not in the weft.

Why would pleats form and not just little bumps? The structure I used was a herringbone pattern. The angle of the twill reverses every couple of inches. This reversal changes whether the cloth is warp faced or weft faced. These differences caused not only visual stripes, but structural stripes.

When I lifted up the blanket, it must have been at fringe end, which encouraged the stripes to lengthen and crinkle at the same time. It caused the yarns to relax and form beautiful but unwanted pleats.

The blanket forming a wonderful textural landscape.
The blanket forming a wonderful textural landscape.

The blanket has now been pressed and the pleats are not as visible anymore. But it sparked an idea for future works. Now that I know how easy it is to create a dimensional fabric, I will try to replicate this occurrence by using two colors of Jaggerspun, in order to see if I can make the pleats from one side of the blanket be a different color then the back. Or to create a type of blanket that can hang in a narrow space and then be expanded or stretched out to wrap around the user. I have been wanting to try collapse weave in a controlled weaving to see what are the possibilities for this type of material. I was not excited that this happened on a blanket, but I’m excited that I was able to do it with such ease.

The other blankets in this series have not produced the same effect, due to, in part, I have been paying much closer attention to how the blankets are lifted up out of the water.

My professor would call this “a happy accident”. How have you been inspired by accidents that you have had? How do you overcome them? Or, how do take the accident and make it into a reproducible result? I’d love to hear your stories!

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