Rayon chenille warp

I have a cone of rayon chenille, 1500 ypp, and am considering using it in a narrowish warp (7.5" in the reed) for a scarf.  I plan to use a 8/2 cotton variegated weft.  I have never used chenille in the warp, only weft and never had any problems.  What do I need to know?  Keep the tension high to prevent worming?  What about sett?  I am planning a point twill pattern, and was figuring on a sett of 15-18.

What should I know about rayon chenille as a warp before I start winding it?

Thanks in advance for help with this project.


Posted on Tue, 08/17/2010 - 14:59

I typically use a sett of 16 epi for 1350 ypp rayon chenille.  That would probably work fine, or you could go a bit closer to 18epi.

As for worming, it won't worm under normal tension on the loom.  My personal preference is a fairly tight warp tension, but it's not excessive.

However, worming may be a problem if there is more than a 3-end float in your threading.  Personally, I keep my floats to no more than 2 ends, although I know others who have used 3-end floats.  With a point twill threading, you are going to have longer floats at the point.

Otherwise, I don't take any special precautions when winding a warp in rayon chenille. 

Hope this helps.

Posted on Tue, 08/17/2010 - 17:38

Rayon chenille can sometimes give you problems no matter what. We found the WEBS product was *very* reliable, but members of our guild were also using some mill ends, and these cones presented problems no matter what. They also shredded in the reed. We ended up throwing some cones away because we didn't want any other weavers to be frustrated by them!

A quick test is to run your fingernail down the shaft of the chenille. The core fiber should hold the cut fibers securely when you do this. If not, that could be a problem later. And the "bad" mill-end chenille seemed to be very fluffy, dense, and shiny, compared to the Web's stuff. So that could also be a warning sign if you do not know the source of your chenille. (Sample first in this case! And even then, unless it is a longer, generously-sized sample, the problems may not show up until you are half-way through a scarf, yikes!)

Su Butler wrote the book on using chenille, and one of our guildmates tried her tip of using sewing thread in the weft to prevent worming. The end result was that the sewing thread did not shrink, but the rest of the scarf did (width-wise), leaving tails of sewing thread sticking out on each side of the scarf at every pic. So she had to go back and cut/pull out all the sewing threads. I am not sure if she missed some aspect of the instructions for this technique, and/or was using mill-end chenille that may have acted unpredictably.

I have not personally had any chenille disasters and wove with a variety of weights (1350-1800 ypp), setts, and lengths (I made several blankets). The rule is to sett it tighter than you think (like tencel), and keep the floats small. When washed, the drape will magically appear!

Posted on Fri, 11/29/2019 - 22:30

I am so confused as to exactly how to use the supplementary binding picks in my plain weave rayon chenille weaving.  Do you use this supplementary binding pick after EVERY weft throw of plain weave?  Is it completely separate - like using a separate spool of sewing thread?  So you would throw one pick of chenille, then in the same shed, a pick of the sewing thread --after every single pick of chenille?  Is there a YouTube video of this anywhere that I could watch?  Thanks for clarification.  (I have your book, Su, and have read all I can about it but am still confused.)  Thank you!


Sherry K

Posted on Tue, 08/17/2010 - 21:48

Heading downstairs to do the thumbnail test!  I can always give it to my knitting friend if it fails.

Thanks for all the words of wisdom.


Posted on Thu, 08/19/2010 - 12:23

Rayon chenille, no matter what quality, (and there are NOT that many different ones out there as it is manufactured in a very limited number of places in the world) should *always* be sett as if it was the size of the core yarn. The core yarn IS the yarn, the pile is simply fluff that rises to the surfaces of the cloth when wove and adds nothing to the integrity or stability of the weave structure. The core on most chenille ranging from 1200-1900 ypp is equivalent to about an 8/2 or 10/2 cotton. Since you would not likely sett either of those yarns at 16 epi for a twill, you should not sett rayon chenille that openly either. A sett of 20-24 epi will yield a lovely finished product.
When you weave a twill with a chenille warp, it is critical that you include a supplementary binding pick of plain weave after each pattern pick to help anchor the wefts in place. It is critical that pick be the same FIBER content as the chenille, that is rayon, so it will shrink equally with the body of the fabric in wet finishing. If you use polyester sewing thread or cotton wrapped poly, you can expect it to shrink at a different rate and you will likely have problems. I have been utilizing the supplementary binding pick for over 20 years with my rayon chenille items and have NEVER had the issue that Sally mentions her friend encountered, and I am certain that is because I took the time to make sure the FIBER content of the supplementary yarn exhibited the same properties as the yarn in the body of the fabric.
You do NOT want high tension on a rayon chenille warp. Rayon elongates under tension, and will continue to do so after the tension is removed. If your chenille is not already in a elongated state when you dress the loom, you may be in for a surprise after wet finishing. Instead use only the tension necessary to beat the pick in place properly. While it is easier to beat in a pick with a very high tension, the price is possible worming after the item is finished, or many months down the road.....keeping the tension even and as light as possible (this does not mean soggy tension, just adeuquate as opposed to excessive), will make the end product all the better.
The rest is written in my book, which is still available as a CD.


Posted on Thu, 08/19/2010 - 20:36

Hi Su,

Thank you for explaining everything so clearly for me.  I now understand why you wrote the book and how valuable it is.  I will have to keep my eyes out for a printed copy, reading on the computer is tough for me due to visual impairment.  Please give us the link to buy your CD and see your website.

I am looking forward to using the rayon chenille now that I have a better understanding.  I am seriously thinking about weaving on the rigid heddle loom with it because my tension is easier to keep light.


Posted on Wed, 12/22/2010 - 22:16

I recently saw a beautiful scarf handwoven in bronson lace with rayon chenille as the warp and the weft. I was under the impression that this would not work - that the threads would eventually worm out.  The scarf was lovely, though. So is it ok to use bronson lace?

Posted on Wed, 12/22/2010 - 22:25

Hi Nona,

If you are considering giving it a try, I suggest you do a sample first and be certain to finish it the same way you plan on finishing the completed scarf.  I wove the above referenced scarf in plain weave and washed my sample in warm water and gave it a hard press.  Follow the instructions for rayon is you are using rayon chenille to weave with.  

Please post pictures of your sample and let us know how it goes.  I'm very curious because I had the same impression about doing lace weaves with chenille.


Posted on Fri, 02/11/2011 - 13:59

Greetings! I'm so delighted to have found this forum.  I've learned to weave as part of the process of dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome (too much sculptural knitting with bamboo and copper wire) and becoming the coordinator for "Arts Street Textile Studio: handmade with the homeless", a special community arts project in Philadelphia; we teach all manner of fiber arts to the community and neighbors who are homeless, in recovery, or otherwise in transition, but mostly folks learn to weave scarves and sell them to the community.  We have a handful of multi-harness floor looms and a couple of rigid heddle looms we use for outreach in shelters and day programs.  Much of my work calls for learning to work with donated materials, so that I can teach the participants.  Chenille has been on many of the looms of late.

My first questions concern worming - we use 600 ypp (warped 8-10 epi), 1450 ypp (warped 16 epi) and 2000 ypp (warped 18-20) rayon chenilles, and whatever acrylic chenille we can obtain inexpensively; we have worming in the lighter weights, sometimes in warp, sometimes in weft.  We seem to have the plainweave setts using the heavier fibers right, but our twills worm.  We were especially surprised by the weft-worms in the 2000 ypp pinwheel twills we tried to make for Valentine's Day.  Any ideas what we are doing wrong?

We also need information about combining chenille with other fibers.  We receive donations of yarns from all quarters - the kind and quality of the fibers vary greatly.  We are typically short of warp-able fiber, and have been experimenting with acrylic chenille in warp, since mill end cones are available cheaply.  Is it blasphemous to use these warps with any/all of the knitting yarns (acrylics, wools, etc) as weft?  Any advice?  Many of our homeless weavers don't have the dexterity to twist the fringes of the acrylic chenille warp - how else might we help them to finish their scarves to avoid degradation of the warp at these edges?

Thanks in advance for any and all assistance!

Posted on Fri, 02/11/2011 - 21:21

It sounds as though your sett is too open for rayon chenille and twill.  That is usually the cause for worming.  THe other problem can be too light a beat.  Check that you are getting equal epi and ppi in the plain weave scarves.  

I have used rayon chenille with cotton weft and it was lovely.  I have also used rayon chenille with wool with good results.  Those are the only two fibers I can address.


Posted on Sat, 02/12/2011 - 03:08

Hi, say hello to Kathryn P. for me, I think she is in the background there somewhere.  Ask her if she can get you in contact with the Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers.  You have a vast resource of knowledge in that guild locally.  Here is their link. http://www.pghw.org/   Maybe you could have a volunteer work day with them and they can help you do some warp wraps to figure out sett and also give you some pointers on what wefts to use with what warps.  Regards  Deb McClintock

Posted on Fri, 03/11/2011 - 22:26

I'm a chenille newby ...I researched and found that for a 1450ypp rayon chenille the warp sett should be 16epi with a weft of 16ppi. Everything I read said use a high tension warp, so I did. And I have what could pass for a fine carpet if the size were right! Is this the result of the high tension?


Posted on Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:27

Anyone have experience with this? Thinking of 8/2 black tencel warp with seagreen 1450chenille for pattern picks and a dark teal for the tabby picks. Anything I should be aware of or avoid? Thanks! This is a "leaves" pattern with long float of 3.

Posted on Fri, 02/08/2013 - 02:37

I would avoid any design which has the chenille floating over the tencel. You risk having the chenille worm rather than pass over those warp threads. If the chenille is the ground weft and you are using something else for the pattern weft.

Posted on Tue, 05/21/2013 - 18:07

Hi,  my first attempt at weaving a chenille scraf was a disaster.  When I took it off the loom it wormed up terrible; shrunk when washed;  and the fringe shed.  My question is was my tension too tight and how do you correctly finish a scraf, just wet spray or wash gently?  I've not found any websites that address this.  Thank you.

Posted on Tue, 05/21/2013 - 18:42

The 'expert' on rayon chenille is Su Butler.  You don't say what size rayon chenille you used or what your epi was.

Generally if you are using 1450 to 1300 yard/pound rayon chenille you need to set it at at least 16 epi and beat the you know what out of it.  When it comes off the loom it should be stiff as a board.  The magic happens in the wet finishing.  My preferred method to wet finish is to put it into the washing machine on warm water wash/rinse.  Spin only until the majority of the water has been spun out, remove from the washing machine and pop into the dryer until completely dry, removing immediately.

Fringe twist the ends to ensure that they do not fray.



Posted on Mon, 05/27/2013 - 00:58

I've had a lot of trouble twisting the fringe on rayon chenille.  It will often (but not always) worm on me.  But I've never had a problem braiding the fringes.  It does take longer, but I've never had braided fringe worm.

Posted on Tue, 05/28/2013 - 20:20

Hey Tina....fringing chenille is getting harder all the time.  Some of the newer chenille includes a core yarn that is part polyester, and that really causes a problem when twising fringes.  You can test the core for fiber content by burning....if you get a hard black bead, you have some synthetic content and likely your fringes are going to be problematic.  If that is the case, braiding or just cutting the ends and hemming are the best options.