Fulling candidates

In just a few weeks my wool traveling club and I will go on our 2024 wool journey to a fulling mill. We have all woven fabrics to full and today I’m presenting my fulling candidates.

I love planning our wool journeys. We have planned this one for over two years. On the 2022 wool journey we learned påsöm embroidery by Anna-Karin Jobs Arnberg in beautiful Dala-Floda. She also teaches fulling at the nearby fulling mill (one of perhaps five working fulling mills in Sweden), and we decided to spend the upcoming year and the 2023 wool journey weaving projects to full in the 2024 wool journey.

What to full

The fabric to full needs to be woven in a wool that actually will felt. The Scandinavian breeds usually felt very well. The wool needs to be evenly blended, spun and woven, and the sett needs to be loose. It is a good idea to add extra twist to the warp yarn to hold, and let the weft yarn be looser spun to enhance the fulling process.

Fulling mill

The Dala-Floda fulling mill is situated in Kvarna, a 17th century industrial site with several different types of mills. It is operated on courses and workshops, and by people who have the knowledge to use it.

The inside of a fulling mill. Large beams above water troughs, ready to full woven wool fabric.
The Dala-Floda fulling mill, photo by Dan Waltin in 2018.

Fulling candidates

I have woven five fabrics during the past four years, two of which are woven with my handspun yarns. If I’m lucky, a sixth weave (handspun) will be finished in time. All the weaves are different and I hope at least one of them will turn into something I can use. I have woven them all on my 60 cm wide rigid heddle loom.

Rough Gute

When I first learned about fulling fabrics and saw a weekend course in fulling at a fulling mill I started to plan for a weave to full. I had bought a lovely rough gute fleece back in 2018 and made a few woven swatches. It turned out that they fulled beautifully and very evenly. I had just spun a woolen 2-ply yarn that I used as both warp and weft and it was quite a fast weave. The finished weave has been waiting in my yarn closet for the past four years.

A greay weave in a loose sett, a skein of grey yarn on top of it.
Plain Gute wool in warp and weft. Hand-carded woolen spun and 2-plied.

I think this weave might be the most straightforward of the weaves. It has the same fleece and the same yarn in both weft and warp. I’m sure I can make something out of it, perhaps a vest.

Raw weave size: 56 x 275 centimeters.

3 x 3 x 3 pillow cases

Pillow cases are one of my favourite test projects for weaving. They are small enough to finish, large enough to actually become something, and quite swift to sew. Usually I weave with my handspun yarn, but in this case (pun intended) I had lots of skeins of Shetland wool from a clearance sale a few years ago, and I thought I might as well weave something out of them. I used the same three colours in three different checquered patterns in three different weaves.

A woman weaving a checquered fabric on a rigid heddle loom. Sheep outside are grazing.
I wove the first commercial yarn pillow case at the 2023 wool journey at Boel’s house.

The yarns are quite old and brittle, and there is a risk that they will tear in the fulling process. There is also a risk that the colours will full differently, one of the yarns turned out to be finer than the others. If the fulling shrinks the fabrics too much, I can either get smaller pillows or weave bands (from a failed first warping) to join in the sides.

Three weaves in different checquered fabrics in navy, blue and teal.
Three weaves in three colours and three patterns.

Raw weave size

  • Teal main colour: 54 x 128 centimeters
  • Fawn main colour: 55 x 128 centimeters
  • Navy main colour: 54 x 132 centimeters.

Icelandic twill

Mmm… my beauty. I think this is the weave I’m the most excited about. Last year I bought two Icelandic fleeces from Uppspuni mini mill in Iceland, one light and one dark. I separated tog and thel (outercoat and undercoat in Icelandic fleece) and colours. To enhance the characteristics of the fiber types I spun the tog worsted and the thel woolen, both as singles yarns and in different directions. To ease the energy of the warp singles I wound them up on tennis balls a couple of months before I warped. I set my rigid heddle loom up for twill and wove 2.25 meters. This may be my best twill project so far, it’s also my best singles warp project so far.

I expect the weft to full more than the warp, so that the finished fabric will be a lot narrower and just a little bit shorter. The twill construction might also add to the sideways shrinkage. The fabric will have two different sides – the weft facing side will be soft and warm and the warp facing side will be strong and shiny. I have no specific plans for this fabric, the result will point me in the right direction.

Raw weave size: 54 x 209 centimeters.

Gute/Icelandic/sari silk

I finished the twill just a week ago, took a breath and warped for the final project. The warp yarn is a 2-ply woolen spun Gute lamb’s wool with recycled sari silk in it, and the warp is woolen spun Icelandic thel, also with recycled sari silk. I have no idea what will happen here, with one plied yarn and one singles, and with two different breeds. I expect the silk to full a little, but still leave some eye-catching colour specks in the fabric.

The warping went so well, the warp behaved and I managed to roll it onto the warp beam very evenly. Once I had threaded the heddle I realized I had warped backwards, though. I tied the ends on the warp beam, rolled the whole warp out again, fiddled, cut the cloth beam ends and tied them to the apron rod. I was very grateful that this wasn’t a singles warp. As I wove I looked at the thousand sari silk stars that lit underneath my hands and felt the warmth of the lanolin. I also noticed large quantities of Gute yarn kemp all over my top.

If I finish this weave in time I hope to be able to full it just slightly. I swatched a similar weave a few years ago and found that a lightly fulled fabric was just perfect, with both the fulling qualities and some drape.

Things I can’t control

There are endless factors that can go wrong here and that I can’t control. And that’s the beauty of fulling. I have no idea how much the fabrics will shrink. I have no idea if I can ask to stop the fulling for one of the fabrics or if they all need to go the same length of time. Perhaps my dyed commercial yarns will be banned if there is a risk of bleeding. Perhaps my gute fabrics will be banned because their kemp fibers may contaminate the other fabrics. One or more of the fabrics may have been woven in too loose a sett. I will find all this out sooner or later.

The fabrics will probably shrink in different amounts, and I am also quite certain that something will go wrong. I am convinced that I will learn a lot and that I will take another weekend further down the line to full some more.

I am so excited about the fulling mill wool journey and my weaves. My wool traveling club friends have woven a lot too, I’m particularly excited about Boel’s 5 meter twill woven on a grown up floor loom.

Happy spinning!

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3 Replies to “Fulling candidates”

  1. People used to be so experienced in this. I was told by a woman, how she wove something and then sent it up to Dalarna. I felt so lucky that I was given something her children had no interest in.
    May all go well Josefin!!

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