Monday, November 24, 2014

PVC Weaving Tool and Plain Weave Stripes

I had a student at the studio this week.  She is a new weaver and ran into some trouble warping her rigid heddle loom with a pre-wound warp chain.  I wanted her to see how a warp chain was made on a warping board, but I use a warping reel.  This pvc warping "board" was put together from pieces of my pvc niddy noddy/yarn skeiner.   It's one yard long.  Aside from the straight pipe, it uses some T's and one X connector.  PVC is flexible enough that I'm not confident using is as a real warping board, but it worked great to show how a cross is made and how weavers tend to tie the cross in a warp.

The next pretty little piece is on my 8", 4-harness Structo loom.  It's plain weave with a cotton warp of stripes from commercial 8/2 and handspun yarns.  I planned this warp and had to re-do my calculations about three times.  The first issue was one of sett.  My handspun cotton was 18 WPI.  I usually sett plain weave at 1/2 the WPI.  Sara Lamb in her book Spin to Weave describes using a closer sett with a weft that is finer than the warp.  She says that this helps create good drape in a plain weave fabric.  I decided to try it, and recalculated the warp stripes at a closer sett (I ended up using 20 epi, threaded 1-1-2 in a 15-dent reed.)  The next re-calculation was due to concerns with the accent stripes at the edges of the plain weave stripes.  
Theoretically, when plain weave is being woven, a warp thread becomes a dashed line as the weft covers it every other pick.  I didn't want one side of my stripes to have a dash-dot-dash pattern and the other side to have a dot-dash-dot pattern!  I hate to tell you how much I worried about this!  Finally I realized that if my blue stripes were all odd numbers of threads, the purple accent warps would be on the same shed and would always lift together.  Whew!  There was one more related recalculation when I realized that I needed to have the white background in odd numbers of threads as well, otherwise one group would have a pair of dash-dot-dash accents and the next stripe would have a pair of dot-dash-dot accents.  Woo boy!  Well and good, I finally got it all worked out and am happily weaving at the loom.

Guess what I discovered today?!  I made an error winding the warp.  There is one group of white background threads that is an EVEN number of threads.  But check out the woven fabric: it doesn't make a difference in the way the stripes look!  I guess I got all worked up about nothing.  I wonder if it would make a difference in a different piece....maybe if the weft were thicker??

Friday, November 14, 2014


This olive green scarf was woven on my 8" Structo loom as an introduction to weaving for my daaughter's third grade class.  The kids all got to work the loom and weave a bit and then I brought the loom home and finished weaving.  The yarns are a combination of handspun and Cascade 220 that I dyed.  In the warp the two yarns alternate irregularly, but in the weft each yarn was used for about 2" before switching to the other yarn.  The scarf was wet finished following suggestions from Laura Fry's video "Wet-Finishing for Weavers".  The scarf was washed with a bit of detergent and rinsed.  The water was squeezed out and the scarf rolled up in a towel to remove any excess water.  Then, the fun began!  The scarf was repeatedly thrown onto a table multiple times to felt it slightly.  The felting didn't take long and the scarf drapes well!

This little piece is the end of a sample warp.  I took a double weave class from Jennifer Moore and used these 5/2 cottons for the class.  Unfortunately, after I finished my sampler, I didn't want to do more double weave on this warp.  So, I re-threaded the loom with this little flower pattern (I don't remember the name of the pattern. It was a 6-harness design with plain weave and floats to make the flower petals).  I wove with the bobbins filled from the workshop and just changed colors as the yarns ran out.  Then I had to decide what to do with this small piece of handwoven fabric.  My friends at the Conner Prairie weaving studio suggested a mobius scarf....and so, here it is:

The scarf is too short to wrap a second time, but it is a nice accent (my oldest tried it on for me this week and may be keeping it!).  If I were to make this again, I would aim to make it a little longer and maybe even make it out of something silky--either tencel or silk.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Quilt Top #2 and Knit Socks

A few years ago, I started a major Christmas Quilt project.  For years my family has snuggled under a Christmas Quilt and read advent stories during the month of December.  At some point I noticed that we were outgrowing our quilt.  We didn't all fit under it, or on the couch!  So, I dug out the instructions for the family Christmas Quilt and began making squares for three more quilts. I finished one last year and gave it to my oldest daughter.  As of today, quilt #2 is on the frame and is being quilted.  Whew!  I have one more top to finish piecing and then I'll quilt that one and call the project done.  This year's top is for my son's quilt and I invited him to decide how to place the blocks.  He was thrilled about the assignment and talked to himself as he made decisions about where should this block go and what about these two...  It was fun to watch!

It turns out that this pair of socks are also for my son.  His favorite color is yellow.  Check out how well the stripes matched on the cuffs!  I was impressed!  Unfortunately, the yarn had four or five knots (yikes!) after I hit the heel on the second sock.  But, as my son says, "that's ok, Mom".

The socks are a simple knit 2, purl 2 rib from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks.  They are knit from the top down on double pointed needles.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Introduction to Immersion Dyeing

Linda Adamson at Tabby Tree Weaver hosted a class on Immersion Dyeing of Protein Fibers and I was the instructor!  Three students took the class and we were able to get lots of samples dyed--the first set showed depth of shade, or the range of color (light, medium, and dark), from a single dye color.  The second set of samples were color blends.  We started with yellow, magenta, and blue dye solutions and blended them to make new colors.  Jean Marie added drops of magenta and yellow to the blue to make a "smokey" blue.  Ellen added yellow to the blue in search of the perfect teal for her rugs.  Cindi mixed different amounts of the blue and magenta to make some lovely violets!  We ran out of time and didn't get to dye any of the fibers the students brought--it's amazing how fast time flies when you are busy! Thank you to all who came and dyed!  It's a wonderful, addictive fiber art!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Color Work--Photo as Inspiration

The new hat in use with the brim turned up.
 This past spring I taught a color blending class at "The Fiber Event" in Greencastle, IN.  The first part of the class was mixing a 12-color color wheel from three primary colored wools (red, blue, & yellow).  The second part was blending colors taken from a printed/photo source.

My inspiration was a postcard from Kenai Fjords, Alaska.    After identifying the various colors in the photo (I ignored the text colors), I discovered that there were too many colors and narrowed my focus on the seals and the rock where they are sunbathing.

At this point, my notes become extremely sketchy!  The basic process is that I used the colors I saw in the photo to choose my rovings, blended the rovings into rolags and spun them into the yarns I used.  My choice of knitting patterns (this is based on the "Golden Pear" baby hat from ravelry) adds some extra blending as two colors are used to knit a transition area between the single color segments.

Going mostly by memory and what I see in the yarn, the rocks at the bottom of the photo are represented by the dark brown at the band of the hat. They are a combination of a natural brown wool, Romney wool dyed black, and maybe some grey wool. The mossy rocks above the seals were interpreted by blending the same natural brown wool used for the previous rocks, but blended with some green dyed wools (and maybe other colors...I really don't remember the details as well as I would like!).  The seals in the sun are represented by the copper and cream band of the hat.  I blended copper colored mohair top with cream colored fibers, probably undyed Romney.  I intentionally limited the amount of blending so that the resulting yarn has lots of color variation, mimicking the dappled effects of the light on the seals

For me, letting go of the literal imagery of the photo was a challenge.  I wanted to create seals and rocks!  It was hard to let go of that and I know that no one else will see the seals on the rock in this hat, but when I look at it, I remember the source for the color combination and I can see the seals. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Polymer Clay, Reenactment Costumes, and Weaving

Here's a hodge-podge of photos from this month:

My friend at Needles and Knots here in town hosted an Altoid Tin Decoration Contest.  It was lots of fun trying to come up with a way to use the tin and then to decorate it.  The end result is basketweave in polymer clay baked on the tin.

 I started and finished a corded petticoat.  I've found that they did a great job of keeping long skirts from winding around my legs when I wore them at Conner Prairie.  This one is for the 1700's costume I'll wear at the Feast of the Hunters' Moon in October.  I'm not sure if it is period, but I don't intend to show it to anyone while I'm wearing it!
This is my latest set of handwoven towels.  They are woven on a 20/2 cotton warp, use a 20/2 cotton tabby weft and a very fine, handspun cotton weft.  The purple/blue towel uses three strands of the handspun together to create a thicker yarn.  The multicolored wefts are all single strands.  There are three towels missing from this photograph.  They were woven on the same warp, with the same tabby weft, but used a brilliant blue, handspun cotton.  Much to my dismay, the blue cotton bled and discolored the towels.  It was so disappointing!

Working with the fine (to me--I usually use 10/2 cotton) cotton was, well...fine.  The biggest challenge was that I put on a longer warp than usual and tied on to the previous warp, making for more weaving to be done.  I was very happy when these knots came back up over the back beam!  Whew!

And lastly, a very sad farewell to an old pair of potholders.  I got these through an exchange at the Wabash Weavers' Guild---years ago!  They were well used and well loved.  I've replaced them with some wool ones I made, also quite some time ago, but these old ones that I think were made by Helen will have a special place in my memories!

Monday, August 25, 2014

18th Century Bed-Jacket

The Feast of the Hunters' Moon is going to be here soon (Oct. 4th) and I needed a bedjacket as part of my costume.  So, I made one!

The pattern is available for free (here's the link) and is straight forward to follow.  The fabric is handwoven.  It's a bit of yardage that I wove with a network drafting design I made.  The warp is 10/2 cotton and the weft is a dark blue bamboo. I had just enough yardage to make this short bedjacket.  If I had more yardage, I would have extended the length another 4-6 inches.

The arm construction includes gussets.  Look at the mess of threads unravelling on this gusset.  It was awful!

I used one of Daryl Lancaster's finishing techniques from her monograph "Seams and Edge Finishes", and the edges covered in tricot binding not only look better, but feel more sturdy too!