Thursday, August 26, 2010

More scarves

OK, it's been a while, and I'm overdue for a post, but I don't feel wordy tonight. I've been using the creative side of my brain A LOT in the last few weeks, and that makes language not so much. But that's ok. Look at da pretties!!! (Gotta iron them for their shop photos, 'cause these pretties are gonna be for sale, but I had to share.)

Explorations in Fibonacci - 72"x10.5" 100% silk

Absorbed by Color: 82"x 10.5" with Czech glass beads, 100% silk

It's magic, that's what it is. Thank you, Red Fish Dyeworks, for dyeing up some great colors!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Scarfing it up

Before I head off to my week of fiber-y goodness at GGFI, I went in to a weaving frenzy. The goal was to make scarves for Morgaine and Judith, the organizers and some of my favorite fiber people in the world. These were fun, and I learned a lot from both scarves. Both incorporated swedish lace weave structures, as part of my "homework" from Judith back in March.

The blue scarf is a pure linen scarf with beads every 2 inches. This was a learning experience in a bunch of ways - the incorporation of beads was a first for me, and inspired by the Weavezine article on beads. The use of pure linen was also a first, and made for some interesting challenges in the project. And the large columns of lace, while not a exactly a first, added some issues I hadn't really had to deal with much before hand.

The beads were actually fairly easy, but meant I had to figure out how to deal with a BUNCH of ends. The beads are on the weft, so for each line of beads, I cut the weft so that there were only 2 more passes worth of weft yarn, put the beads in place with a heddle threading hook, and then put that final pass in there to lock things in place. So, not too difficult.

The lace columns, next time I do this, will require a supplemental warp beam to help control tension issues. The tight plain weave adds a lot more tension to the warp than the lace weave does (makes sense if you think about it) but that means over time, the lace warp is kinda like spaghetti and the plain weave warp is as tight as it's going to get. I would have made this scarf longer (it's 72" now) but for that tensioning problem.

As for the linen, it is not exactly the most forgiving of fibers. The edges of the scarf are a little bumpy, since I was having a difficult time controlling where I wanted the yarn to bend and slide against itself. It is also not a soft scarf, no not at all. Linen needs a lot of time and attention to soften up, and while it will over time, it's going to take a bunch more washings to do so. Still, I think the recipient (this one is for Morgaine) will appreciate the effort even if it's not quite wearable yet!

The orange scarf is pure silk, with two lace columns (different type of lace than the linen scarf) was a lot easier to weave, and in fact I found myself having gotten so efficient with tying on the warp and making the samples that the yardage was way longer than I had planned for! The scarf is about 82" long. I had no problem with the tension of the lace part, and the multi-colored warp turned out just perfect with the orange weft. I think Judith is going to like this one. I spent a bit of time making the fringe just right, too. I am pleased and will have to do something like this for my etsy shop.

I think my weaving mojo is solidly in place and ready for my class next week. Between that and the spindle spinning class, my fiber life will be just about perfect!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Be-weave it, or not

When last we left this humble explorer, I'd mostly finished the Master Spinner Level 2 workbook. All that was left was a 25 hour project, using yarn I spun and dyed from fiber I (mostly) processed myself. Anything we learned in Levels 1 and 2 were applicable. So, I decided a name badge holder for next year's Fibre Week at Olds College would be just the thing! Creative, small, and people would get a kick out of it. Little did I know...

So, my first attempt, using Border Leicester and Cormo dyed with yellow onion (for warp) and cochineal (for weft), made the cats laugh. I mean, seriously, they looked and their mouths hung open and they fell over. It was just that bad. I did not take pictures for you - I probably should, as a shared learning experience, but I have some pride.

My second attempt, I decided to play a bit more and instead went with mohair (which I hadn't scoured myself before, so wanted to see how it differed) which I blended with some tussah silk (to lighten it up while still leaving it shiny). I used some teeswater (an excuse to work with that wool, which was new to me) for the braid (which I just learned how to do for Level 2). I decided to use sage (another new thing here for me) for the natural dye, and onion skin with a post-dye iron bath for the braid.

So, structurally, this one works. It is the size I wanted, the luster is still there, and I learned a bit. It is also the most 1970's looking thing I have ever had the dubious fortune to make! I mean, wow, it needs straw flowers or something to complete this look.

The point is to learn something and show your applied knowledge. This covered the goals. And as a totally out-of-my-head design, it could have been worse. Actually, it was worse - that first attempt ... *shudder*. I am not going to try for a third attempt for the homework assignment, mostly because this is a 25 hour project, and I don't want to do this again with the same limitations that resulted from the homework requirements and the tools I had available. I will do it again, however, under my own rules. I'll do it on a rigid heddle loom, which I'll hopefully be acquiring next week, instead of a tapestry loom. I'll be aiming for a tabby weave instead of weft-faced weave. And, I'll not have to worry about ONLY using something I scoured myself. I'll probably do pure-silk for the braid, and maybe try llama for the body. I have to do this at least one more time to see if I can't get it to look like what's in my head.

So, enough of the Master Spinner stuff for a while. I've taken a break from spinning to get some weaving time in before my weaving class with Judith MacKenzie McCuin at the Golden Gate Fiber Institute which is NEXT WEEK!!! WOOHOO! Ahem. Anywho, I've got a painted warp class with her, and a spindle spinning class with Abby Franquemont, and I've been practicing a bit for both. For the weaving, I decided to do some towels. Judith had given me a homework assignment back in March to dive in to lace weaves, so this explored one of the lace weave possibilities as described in Marguerite Porter Davison's A Handweaver's Pattern Book. Three of the towels were directly from that book, and the fourth was something I made up based on what was there. I have to admit being tickled that the fourth one turned out to be my favorite - it's the yellow-on-yellow one below. These are all 8/2 unmercerized cotton, and I kept samples (washed and unwashed) for all 4.

Here's a close up of my favorite one:

And that's been about it. I've been doing a bit more gardening, planted some green beans and have been amazed at my 8' tall Hopi Black Dye sunflower. I wish I had more than one!

Also planted, kitchen sage and pineapple sage, both for dye experiments, and bronze fennel, again for dyeing. The dyer's chamomile is doing ok - I just wish I had more and that I could find the blasted seeds to plant it! The weld I planted is just little green plants, no flowers. I'm thinking they aren't getting as much sun as I'd hoped. I'm not sure where I'll try them next year, but where they are now just isn't going to work. What dye plants will be happy in partial shade?

And to close out the post, thanks for keeping up with my infrequent missives, and I hope you all are having as good a summer as I am!