Monday, April 22, 2019

Towels are Still Being Woven

I realized that is has been quite a while since I posted on this blog.  I have been weaving, but since what I'm weaving is similar, I haven't thought there was much to say.  But I am still weaving towels.  A friend ask me if I wasn't tired of towels yet, and I guess I'm not. 

Since the last published towels, I have woven several sets of towels, still exploring color as I go along.  I took a short break from color to weave some 4-shaft twill towels using 12/2 unmercerized cotton in a natural color.  The pattern is a fancy twill and the resulting towels are soft and subtle.  I also wove a few of these with 10/2 cotton. 

All of the other towels have been various combinations of colors.  They are all woven using 10/2 mercerized cotton in warp and weft, sett at 30 epi.  They are threaded to a variety of 8-shaft point twills and the tie-up is a 2-2-1-1-1-1 twill. 

It is fun to combine different colors for these towels.  I typically use a picture as inspiration, but not always.

The next set of towels on the loom are in shades of blue.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Self Striping Scarves

Some time ago, I was tempted by dyed yarn from Vice Yarns.  They were selling some interesting color combinations in long color runs.  It is an 80/20 merino nylon blend.  Not knowing how I would use it, I bought yarn in two different colorways – Into the Whorl and Middle Earth.  A while went by and I pulled out Into the Whorl.  Other friends who had bought this yarn had mostly used it as weft yarn.  One friend did use it as warp, which appealed to me, since the striping would be in the long or vertical direction.  I decided to use the yarn to weave a scarf.  

The next problem was what weft to use.  The colors were of a similar value but the hues were distinct and bold.  I found several yarns of a similar grist where the colors looked like they might work out.  I left them sitting to the side in the studio for a while (a long while actually) and I would look at them trying to see which one I liked.  

Possible weft yarns - Into the Whorl, Vice yarn is in the middle

In the meanwhile, I decided to use a fancy twill.  I picked an undulating twill from Sharon Alderman’s book “Mastering Weave Structures”, page 59.  This is an 8-shaft twill.  

I wasn’t really excited about any of the weft yarns, so I dug some more through the stash and found a blue Madeline Tosh sock yarn in 100% merino.  

The Vice yarn was sett at 24 epi and there was enough for a 7 1/2 inch warp, in the reed.  The threading was a bit tricky since this yarn, I believe, was dyed in a knitted blank and then unknitted.  It was curly and springy and was a bit like threading cooked Ramen noodles.  Because I was using every inch of the yarn, I realized when I was preparing to weave that I didn’t have any yarn available for a floating selvedge.  I unsleyed the outer two threads and used those as floating selvedge threads, even though they were wound with the rest of the warp.  I know that others do this routinely, but I hadn’t done so in the past.  This worked out all right, although I did have to weight these threads separately.

The resulting scarf turned out pretty well.  I washed it in my front loader machine on gentle and lay it out flat to dry.  The fringe was protected with socks during the washing.  I trimmed and twisted the fringe with an electric hair twister.  

Because of how curly this yarn was during threading, I thought I would have to find some other project to use the second ball.  But the actual weaving and finishing went so well and I liked the result, I decided to weave the second ball into a scarf as well.  I spent a little less time picking the weft yarn, starting out with two similar yarns - one in brown and the other in blue.  The brown would have been the safe choice, also giving a more subdued scarf.  I picked the blue in the end because I only had one skein and I had two of the brown, giving me more options for later projects.  (Sometimes decisions are that simple.)  

Middle Earth Vice yarn with blue and brown options for weft

Everything was the same as before and I used the same structure.  I did have a big hiccup with this warp.  While I was weaving, one of the treads came unraveled.  I decided to use some Fray-Check on it just to hold it together while I was weaving.  Six or seven inches later, I discovered the other end that had unraveled and the fact that this thread had become loose and hadn’t been weaving in for that much distance.  I pinned it up and went on weaving making sure to incorporate this thread.  When I finished waving and took the scarf off the loom, I wasn’t sure what to do.  There was no extra yarn of any color, let alone the specific color of this area to do repairs.  Also the Fray-Checked area was too stiff and would also have to be replaced.  I finally decided to “bite the bullet” and found a similar colored yarn of similar grist and yarn content and replaced the thread along the entire length of the scarf.  This was tedious but was the best solution to the problem.  

The scarf was wet finished as the other one and fringed.  Both scarves turned out well.

It was a good experience but I’m glad that I only bought two of these yarns.   

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Right Fiber for the Job

I belong to a group who make shawls and lap robes for people who might need one.  We recently sent one to an acquaintance of mine who lives across the country.  She loved the gift but unfortunately it was made with wool and she is allergic to wool.  I was so sad that the gift had brought irritation - literally.  Since we didn't have another shawl in our collection that was appropriate, I thought that I would just weave one.  Easy - right??

I thought I should have lots of yarn that would work.  After looking through bin after bin, I did have yarns that would be suitable, but there wasn't enough.  Or I had yarns that would be perfect, except for that 20% wool content.  

Finally, I found two skeins of Misti Alpaca cotton/silk mix - "Pima Silk Hand Paint".  It was perfect, except I didn't have enough. Fortunately, 3/2 perle cotton was just about the same grist as this yarn.  I had some in the color "duck" from UKI that would look great.  Now, what to use for the weft.  I didn't want to use something too similar to this warp because I wanted a cozier final textile than would result from using say, the same 3/2 cotton as weft.  I settled on an acrylic yarn that was probably twice the grist of the warp.  I was a little concerned about this but thought that because it was a spongier yarn, it would fill in the spaces fine.  

For the warp, I alternated the cotton/silk yarn with the 3/2 cotton.  It was sett at 15 epi.  The warp was threaded to an 8-shaft point and the tie-up was a 2-2-1-1-1-1 twill. I had just enough of the cotton/silk yarn to wind on 28 inches of the warp, in the reed.  The acrylic weft was woven at about 5 ppi.  

I was pleasantly surprised at the results.  The weft yarn filled in and the color variations of the painted warp showed through nicely.  The warp floats, although no longer than three thread lengths were a bit longer than I would have liked because the weft ppi.

I washed the resulting shawl in my front-loader washing machine on a relatively gentle setting.  I also put it in the drier on a low setting and dried to dampness.  A twisted fringe was then created using a hair twirler.  

The shawl turned out to be snuggly with lots of colors interest.  I'm hoping it will suit the bill.

Finished Shawl

Shawl Detail

This was an interesting exercise to figure out how to make a shawl given constraints of fiber content and a desire to use yarn that I had in my stash.  I'm very happy with the result.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Orange Scarves

I have a lot of sock yarn I acquired with the idea of weaving scarves.  Although I have woven quite a few scarves, the yarn pile doesn't seem to be dented.  So as I contemplated this year's County Fair, I decided to make a scarf for the category of Nevada County Inspiration.  After reviewing the colors of yarns I had, I picked several orange/red variegated yarns to use in creating a scarf that was inspired by fire.

The warp yarn was Pagewood Farms Denali sock yarn in Orange Spice and the weft was Tough Love Sock in Blood Orange.  I added a narrow stripe of the Tough Love Sock in the warp to give me the width I was looking for.   

Fire Scarf Weft and Warp Yarns 

I picked an extended point twill as the design.  The tie-up almost a 2-2 twill, with some plain weave bits thrown in.  

Fire Scarf Drawdown 
I dressed the loom with enough yarn for two scarves.  I initially sett the scarves at 10 epi.  After finishing the first scarf, I realized it was sett too widely.  So I cut it off and resleyed the warp at 15 epi.  The second scarf was woven using Tosh Sock in a medium red for the weft.

Both scarves were wet finished in my front loader washing machine on a gentle settling and dried flat.  The fringes were finished by twisting and I added some beads.  

Fringing in Progress

Fire Scarf Fringe Detail

Even though the scarf sett at 10 epi was fine, the second scarf had a much better hand.  

The scarves are different widths, because of the different sett.

Both Scarves
Scarf Submitted to the Fair

In the spirit of using up yarn and having yarn left over from these two scarves, decided to create a warp from left over orange and red yarns from this and previous projects.  These were also sock weight yarns.  

The warp was wound with two yarns at a time so that the different colors could be spread across the warp rather than having stripes of the different orange or red variations.  I decided to use a different point twill.  The tie-up was a 1-1-1-1-2-2 twill.  It was sett at 15 epi. The scarf was woven with the Tosh Sock used in the second scarf above tromp as writ.

Although the variegations in the yarn obscured the pattern in spots, there is a definite pattern that can be seen across the scarf.

The scarf was wet finished and then fringe was twisted as above, although I didn't add any beads.  This scarf is a little more dramatic that the two others and I like the pattern design that comes through.  I am planning to use the draft or something like it again.  

There's more sock yarn in my stash that will be transformed to scarves, hopefully soon.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Mother Nature Towels

I'm still weaving towels, but just not as much recently.  I got inspired by this magazine ad in colors that are definitely not my colors.  Working with colors that I don't particularly appeal to me is a good challenge.

Color Inspiration

I played around with what colors to use and decided on six.  I didn't have just the right orange, so I decided on a red and a couple of olivey greens to go with the navy and melon.  

Yarn Colors

This is 10/2 mercerized cotton, sett at 30 epi.  These were threaded as an 8-shaft variable point and treadled with a 2-2-1-1-1-1 twill tie-up.  

Full Drawdown

Drawdown Detail

I wove ten towels with weft colors that were the same as the warp colors.  The treadling was mostly an 8-point twill but I used other variations of point twills.

Finished Towels

Details with Yellow Weft

Because I named these Mother Nature Towels, to match the ad information, I kept hearing the Beatle's song, "Mother Nature's Son" so I'll leave you a link so that you can hear it too...  

A Shawl from the Stash

I haven't been weaving as much recently but I have been working to reduce the volume of my stash.  What better way to do that than making a shawl?  I have been buying Mountain Colors yarns for several years and just admiring them.  I decided to actually use the yarn - novel concept, I know.  The nice thing about Mountain Colors yarn is that many of the yarns have colors in them that are found in other colorways or are complementary to other colorways.  

I wasn't sure I had enough of any one yarn for the warp so I picked Ruby River 4/8's wool as the main body of the shawl warp and Goldrush 4/8's wool for two outer stripes of warp.  



The warp was sett at 8 epi and threaded to a long point twill on 8 shafts.  The tie-up is a 1-1-1-1-2-2 twill.


The weft was mainly Alpaca Blend in Goldrush with Alpaca Blend (50% alpaca and 50% wool) in Ruby River.  The shawl turned out to look pretty good.  The large "point" and different color selvedges and large "point" design give it interest in addition to the color variegation.  

Finished Shawl

The shawl was machine washed on gentle cycle and laid flat to dry.  When dry, the fringe was twisted with a hair twister.

The color of these pictures is pretty true, although these colors are very challenging for me to photograph.  They often come out very orange.

I am planning to keep looking for ways to reduce my stockpile of yarn.  This does seem to be a great way.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Poker Challenge Turns to Twills

My weaving discussion group took on a challenge last year called Weaver's Poker.  In our version of the game, we came up with options for five different attributes of a handwoven project:  Structure, Yarn Fiber Type, Color, Color Relationship and Design Element.  We drew cards from grab bags containing the five different aspects.  Each person had the flexibility of discarding one of the attribute cards.  Here's my hand:  Color – Orange; Color Relationship – Split Complement; Yarn – Linen; Structure – M's and O's; Design Element Large Checks.

Even though we could throw out one of the attributes, I decided to use all of the cards.  I selected 22/2 cottolin in Autumn red, Light Green and Aqua for the orange and the split complements - blue and green.  

After thinking about M's and O's, I developed a three block design with the help of Fiberworks-PCW.  The software allows you to draw a profile draft and then convert it to a threading.  This design used three colors in the warp, each in a different blocks.  Those colors (and blocks) would then be used in the weft to create the large checks.  (The area between the black "threads" was repeated a total of three times.)

Weaver's Poker Challenge Drawdown

The warp was sett at 24 epi, two threads per dent in a 12 dent reed.  The resulting fabric was a towel.

The color and texture of the final piece was nice but there was some puckering and draw in because of the M's and O's.

M's and O's Towel Detail

Based on that, I decided to just do the one towel in the M's and O's design.  I rethread the warp to weave a turned twill instead.  This design used a 3/1 twill versus a 1/3 twill.  The 8-shaft design changed blocks when the warp color changed.  

Turned Twill Drawdown
I wove three whole towels plus a half piece.  

Turned Twill Towels

These towels were also sett at 24 epi.  I think they could have been sett a bit more densely.  They feel nice but perhaps slightly loose.  

The blue weft towel was woven with eight picks of one block and twelve of the other.  The green weft towels were woven with block changes that matched the color changes in the warp.  It is kind of a plaid in texture.  The third towel used all of the warp colors in the weft and changed blocks to match the warp.  

Blue Weft

Green Weft

Three Colored Weft
It was an interesting challenge.  I played around with colors I hadn't in the past.  It also forced me to work on designing with M's and O's on 8 shafts and with blocks.