Yesterday I consigned a dozen yards of handwoven fabric to the wash.

There were some disappointments: the 3/2 cotton pattern threads in the Kubla Khan fabric puffed up and the text became less readable.  I nearly fainted, but my friend Selah stepped in and ironed pressed the heck out of the fabric and said the legibility came back.  It did, but not as much as I’d hoped.  Lesson: sometime wet-finishing samples lie.

But there were also some delightful surprises.  Several fabrics developed tracking.  What do I mean by tracking?  Take a look at the image below.

tracking in fabric

See that wonderfully complex and subtle patterning?  The way the design is organic and non-repeating?  Want the weave draft?

It’s plain weave.

Sometimes when you wash a fabric, you get tracking.  I’m not exactly sure what causes it, but I think it’s that the twist in the warp and weft yarn interact to create random patterns that look like very complex twills.  I love the way the colors and tracking in this fabric create something reminiscent of tree bark.

There’s not enough here to make a jacket, alas.  So, I’m scheming ways to make a garment out of this.  The warp was sock yarn from Creekside fibers, the weft a silk noil from a weaver’s garage sale.  Would a different silk noil work if I bought more yarn from Creekside?  I’m not sure.  Of course, I could always weave something coordinating and subdued and let the tracked fabric be an accent fabric.m

Here’s another, even more dramatic example of tracking.  I was sampling several wefts and the orange produced this lovely effect.

more tracking
Have you experienced tracking in your fabrics?  Is it something you welcome, or do you see it as a flaw in the fabric?

Have you been able to induce tracking in your fabric?  If so, how?  I love the look of tracking, and would like to play with it more.

Please share your thoughts: I enjoy your comments and feedback!