I'm planning to spin some cotton for weft for dishtowels, but I've never woven with handspun before. Does the energy in the singles affect the fabric? In knitting, it certainly does, but I don't know how it works for weaving. I plan to use a commercial yarn for warp.
Should I perhaps boil the cotton before weaving, to set the twist?
At some point, that energy is going to want to release, so while wet-finishing might release some, it might not release it all. A heavily overspun single is used to create collapse weaves, where the fabric crinkles up when the energy is released in the finishing after weaving.
You might want to sample to see how the thread behaves, and if you like how it's working with your warp.
I used singles as weft in a collapse project, and it worked great. The warp was Tofutsies, and the weft was shetland singles. I was going to post a photo here but am not sure how to do it. Anyway, if I stretch it to the full width, it is about 6" wide. Relaxed, it is less than 3" wide.
Photos in the forums can be slurped from Flickr (that's what I have, so I don't know about PhotoBucket or the other photo hosting sites).
1) Click on the button that looks like a picture
2) Copy the url of the photo into box labeled "URL." Don't worry about the other stuff.
3) Click OK.
I recently made something with an overactive merino tencel single as a pattern yarn. It tried to collapse a little bit but I was able to block it out when wet finishing. I think that the fact that there was a commercially spun tabby yarn, with a very stable twist, is what kept it from totally going wonky.
My experience with handspun cotton singles has been mixed. If you are a very consistent spinner, your cloth will collapse consistently. If not, you will get varying width throughout your cloth. I do fairly well as long as my cotton singles were spun on a wheel and I am careful to count my treadling.
I did an experiment with the spindle attachment for the Lendrum and spun a lot of cotton singles that were wrapped around a paper quill. Then, I slid the quill off of the spindle and used it like a bobbin in a shuttle. My spindle spinning wasn't consistent enough to make fabric that collapsed evenly. However, it was lots of fun and I got hooked with the spinning -- weaving -- spinning -- weaving. It actually seemed a bit like Saori Freestyle Weaving.
<< It tried to collapse a little bit but I was able to block it out when wet finishing. I think that the fact that there was a commercially spun tabby yarn, with a very stable twist, is what kept it from totally going wonky.>>
Collapse isn't "wonky" unless it's when/where you don't want it. Eileen Hallman is doing wonderful things with charka-spun cottons and collapse weaves incorporated into portions of the textile she's weaving. The results are "elasticized" cuffs on trousers and tops. Very cool--she calls it "Crepe & Shape."
It was wonky because it was uneven and where I didn't want it. If I had wanted it, it would have been neat.
I've both spun and woven cotton cloth and done some work with overtwist yarns, so here's my 2 cents.
It really depends on how much twist you put into the cotton and how closely you sett and beat it. Cotton singles for weft can be spun just tightly enough to hold together well. For towels, that's probably about perfect, since you want the absorbancy that comes from the yarn not being too dense.
As the singles get to be higher twist, they will have a tendency to cause a collapse fabric, given enough room in the web to do so (that's the sett and beat part of the equation). A singles which twists tightly enough on itself to form a decent 2-ply, would be appropriate to use for collapse.
If you sett and beat tightly enough, no amount of twist short of outright corkscrewing is too much. The native people of South America have proven that pretty definitively. That produces a pretty stiff cloth though, and is not what you are going to be looking for in towels.
Thanks for all your input. I don't want collapse fabric for my towels, so I'll try and spin a very loose cotton single (that will be a challenge!). And I'll do a sample, to see that I get what I want.
I experimented with commercial (so it was evenly and softly spun) singles cotton weft with a warp of non-mercerized cotton. It took about 5 inches of weaving to see that it didn't work for me. What happened was the softly spun singles would grab the warp in odd places (not the fell) resulting in loops of the singles yarn. At the same time the yarn did twist in on itself causing additional frustration. After wet finishing it did not collapse - but I did not intend to weave collapse fabric. I was weaving towels also.
I would ply the singles cotton before weaving with it.
Beryl, can you say a little more about spinning on the lendrum quill? I've had mine for years but never gotten anywhere with it. How do you sit? Do you have a double or single treadle? Any tips you can offer?