Monday, February 14, 2011

Learned something new - Tracking

As I was pondering my next weaving tips and tricks post, I found myself entirely distracted on one side by a massive pruning effort of some old apple trees in my back yard and on the other side by what I thought would be a quick, mostly harmless scarf woven on a rigid heddle loom while I was helping out with a beginner weaving class.

Some of you may be more interested in the pruning than the weaving, which is totally fair. I am pretty interested in the pruning, too, particularly since we're talking some serious pain and effort on my part to start the repair job on a REALLY BAD tree topping job someone did on those trees a few years ago, and then left them to go wild. However, we'll get to that later.

For now, I wanted to show you a thing I hadn't actually encountered before in my weaving, and that's a thing called tracking. This is what can happen when you work with a yarn that is more tightly twisted than the fiber itself would prefer. I'm not going to just say "a high-twist yarn" 'cause I could have sworn the mohair I was working with wasn't particularly high-twist. But, you know what? It was twisted more than mohair wanted, and so when it was woven up and washed, it did this wiggle thing in the fabric, like it was finally trying to get comfortable along with all its other thready friends.

So, what started as a simple plain weave fabric which looked kinda like this (but not this exact one - the "before" picture for the scarf that did the tracking did not come out)...


came out looking like this after wet finishing...


It looks interesting! Complex! Fascinating! And it's just plain weave with a worsted-weight mohair yarn. I can see an exploration of tracking in my future. If you have a piece that did something like this, and you didn't know why, it's the yarn, the fiber, and the amount of twist that does the deed.

And as for pruning, please. If you love the tree, do NOT do this to it:


See all those stubby limbs, like someone decided the tree should only be So Tall and just lopped off the top? Yeah. Don't do that. And the only reason you can even see that is because I spent 4 hours trimming all the emergency sprouts and leaders the tree sent up to try and recover from the event.

Anywho, that's all I've got for today! This week is the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat in Tacoma, WA and I'm there helping Morgaine of Carolina Homespun fame and Judith MacKenzie. I'll also be hosting a Weavolution Meet-up on Friday. It's going to be a Very Busy Week, but fun! So much to learn and do, it's a great problem to have.