Shadow Weave #4 (& my experience weaving with chenille)

I have worked with chenille in the past but was never quite satisfied with the results because I encountered problems with the finished fabric such as worming (tiny loops of the yarn appear on the fabric), the fabric shed too much when I shook it, and the fringes became partially untwisted.

So I asked other weavers how they solved these problems.  Su Butler recommended that I use a closer sett that was very helpful.  I also read Ruth Blau’s article (Rayon Chenille: A Primer) in issue #41 of Weaver’s magazine that I highly recommend.  The article also includes step-by-step instructions on how to weave a beautiful rayon chenille “Snowflake Shadow Shawl.”

Ruth gave me permission to quote from her article and here are some points to keep in mind:

“A rayon chenille of 1450 yds/lb, for example, should be sett at 15 or 16 epi for plain weave and as close as 20 epi for twills.”

“Because chenille has a tendency to ‘worm’ (little loops of the fiber migrate to the surface of the finished fabric), choose structures with no floats or very short ones.  Plain weave is the safest choice.  Shadow weave, a plain-weave structure with occasional 2-thread floats, can also be used….”

“There may be as many ways to finish chenille as there are weavers who use the fiber….” Ruth goes on to describe three ways of wet finishing that work well.

I recently wove some rayon chenille scarves and I’m happy with the results.  Below are images of one of the scarves, the weaving draft and a description of the finishing techniques I used.  The weaving draft is from a pattern I tweaked (#8-8-11) from Marian Powell’s book, 1,000 (+) Patterns in 4, 6, and 8 Harness Shadow Weaves.

Shadow Weave #4 Chenille Scarf

Shadow Weave #4 Chenille Scarf (detail)

Shadow Weave #4 draft

Shadow Weave #4 draft showing structure

  1. I used rayon chenille (1450 yds/lb) sett 18 epi and a floating selvedge on each side.
  2. After removing the woven scarf from the loom, using a fringe twister I tightly twisted the fringes (2 ends with 2 ends).
  3. I then washed it and rinsed it by hand in lukewarm water, placed it in the washing machine on the spin cycle only and stopped it every now and then to make sure it doesn’t crease too much.
  4. Next, it went into the dryer with a couple of towels on low heat and I alternated between heat and air dry (my dryer is temperamental) being careful it doesn’t get too hot and removed it when it was completely dry.
  5. I trimmed the fringes and put a little bit of anti-fray fabric glue on the bottom of the knots.

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