Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Last of the Calendar Towels

After only 2+ years, I have worked through all of the pictures from the 2010 Calendar that caught my attention as a color inspiration.  I honestly didn't think it would take so long, but life and other weaving projects intervened.  I figured that I have woven around 140 of these towels.  Ten towels were woven for each month (except August's) and several were woven a second time.

The last month was May.  This posed a bit of a challenge, mainly because of all of the bright green and yellow color in the picture.  Lots of primary brightness. 

I was able to find colors in the flowers that weren't as bright - browns, melon and red colors.  In addition to the bright Kelly green there were darker greens in the background. 

These towels, like the others were woven with 10/2 perle cotton sett at 24 epi.  The threading was an 8 point twill and woven with a 2-2-1-1-1 8-shaft pattern.  One towel in each weft color was treadled as threaded, i.e., treadled as an 8-point twill, resulting in regular diamonds.  The second towel in each color was treadled as something else, e.g., irregular point twill, M's & W's, extended point twill, etc.

It has been a great experience and I've learned a lot about how to use color effectively.  I'm sure there will be more colorful towels in the future.

green weft
brown weft

red weft
melon weft
yellow weft

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Fair Entry That Didn't Make It

I was ambitious when I thought about what to enter in the County Fair this year.  I entered 5 items but only 4 were finished by the deadline.  I almost had a good reason.

The last piece was a shawl that I did finish after the Fair was over.  I found some interesting yarn that I had to have.  It had several different textures: chenille, a sleek nylon cord, a couple of different slubby yarns, etc.  I thought it would be fantastic. 

Of course I didn't think about the fact that these were just different yarns tied together.  As I was winding the warp, I quickly found that the yarns were tied with BIG knots that couldn't be left in the warp.  The length of each type of yarn was only long enough for 4 warp threads, with almost another whole (but not quite) warp thread length left.  So there was lots of waste. 

I didn't have enough yarn for the warp I had planned, so I supplemented it with Tahki Cotton Classic in a very close shade of light blue.  I set the warp at 8 epi. I might have sett it at 6 epi. if I had had a six-dent reed.  I wove it in plain weave.  I found that some of the larger slubs in one of the yarn textures was almost too big to fit through the 8 dent reed and they hung up a little in the heddle eyes.  Fortunately there was only one broken thread due to the slubs and that was at the very beginning.  The weaving was slower than it might ordinarily - due to these fat slubs.

Here is a picture of the shawl on the loom.  The color isn't quite as dramatic as in the picture, although there was color differences between the different yarn types.

The shawl did turn out very nicely.  I twisted the fringe with a hair twister since with the different kinds of yarn, the fringe looked pretty messy.  The twisted fringe was a bit heavy, but it looks nice.

It didn't make it to the Fair, but it was a learning experience.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Monochromatic Towels

The second to last picture in my project to capture calendar colors in towels is November.  It is all blues from icy white blue to greenish blue. 

These were threaded in an M & W twill pattern and treadled using the same 2-2-1-1-1 twill sequence as the others.  I thought I was winding on enough warp for 12 towels however, as I was weaving towels 13-15, I realized I must have made a mistake in the original measurement.  Fortunately they turned out looking really nice. 

I haven't included detailed pictures of all of the colors since the values were generally close.  Here is a selection of the more dramatic results.  The weft colors are dark green, crab (light yellow green), light silver and medium silver. 

In the course of this exploration into color, I've found that the greys and silvers have been a great addition to the other colors in the pallet. 

I bought a set of gray 10/2 cotton from Lunatic Fringe a while back.  I'm interested in doing some towels in gradations of gray some day.

I have one more picture to use as inspiration.  It's pretty exciting to think about being finished with this project, but it will be a challenging set of colors to work with. 

Then I'm not sure what will be next...


Monday, July 29, 2013

Finished in a Day

Procrastination is one of the things I seem to do the best.  As County Fair time rolls around, I spend a little time thinking of the different things I'd like  to enter.  I love the fact that we have a very nice, air conditioned room to display woven and handspun entries.  Unfortunately when I thought about what I wanted to enter, there were two things that weren't yet made. No problem, I thought - I have plenty of time.  Well time is running out. 

So I got myself together and wove a scarf yesterday.  It's not quite finished - I still have to decide what to do with the fringe and then finish the fringe - but it's close. 

The scarf is entered in a category that requires the pieces to be inspired by some aspect of our County.  I chose to use yarn colors that reminded me of the Manzanita.  We have lots of this plant on our property.  It has a beautiful dark bark and in the spring, tiny pink flowers.  But I decided to concentrate on the leaf colors.

The yarn is a blend of merino wool, llama, silk and linen.  I used two colors - the darker green for the warp and the lighter for the weft. 

The structure was a point twill with uneven sides (i.e., 16 threads on the up side and 24 threads on the down side).  The yarn was sett at 12 epi. 

Because of the variation in the yarns colors and the irregular point twill, the scarf looks more complicated that it is.  Not bad for about a days work.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

November Towels - Only One More Month to Go

I'm on the home stretch with the Calendar Towel project.  I've been leaving the "harder" months to last, although November shouldn't be that hard.  Perhaps because it was a monochromatic picture, I was afraid that it would be boring or something and left it to the end. 

Again, I've been pleasantly surprised at how the warp colors have turned out.  I've only gotten as far as threading the heddles, but I think these will be nice towels.

These are the original colors I picked for the warp. 

Instead of just using these, I pulled out all of the possible colors from my 10/2 perle cotton "pallet".   I found that the light blue, stone and white made a too blah color combination.  So I added a dark green and a light yellow-green. 

I like these colors much better. 

I decided to put on enough warp for 12 towels instead of just 10.  This of course caused problems since I guess I can't keep straight which peg on the warping board I'm supposed to use.  So they might be slightly narrower than others, but I think it will turn out all right. 

I'm threading these to a "M and W" pattern and will weave the towels with the 1-1-1-1-2-2 treadling.  I used the random stipe generator and selected "Fibonacci" width stripes - only up to 13 threads wide, i.e., there won't be any of the wider 21 thread stripes. 

I'm thinking they will look nice once they're finished.

The Space in Between

I really like that moment when the weaving is finished and the scissors come out to release the textile from the warp.  My first weaving teacher called it a "birth", which is pretty apt.  It is also a moment when one can take a breath and admire the almost finished work - and perhaps see things that didn't go exactly right that hopefully the wet finishing will help smooth out.

It's also a good time to see how good my calculations were regarding the warp length.  Did I put on too much and waste the yarn - or put on not quite enough and have to squeeze out the last few weft shots or inches. 

It's also a good time to start thinking of the next project...


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lap Robes for the Shawl Group

I joined a knitting group about a year ago.  The idea is to knit shawls for people who need one.  It could be for a happy reason - like a new baby or to celebrate something, but more often than not, it is to bring comfort and a warm hug during a difficult time.  In the year, I knit one shawl.  It's really not my thing as much as weaving, so I volunteered to take some donated llama or alpaca yarn and make something out of it. 

This was a good challenge for me since I haven't woven with camelid fiber at all and really haven't even used wool in a long time.  There were a variety of colors of the yarn.  I didn't have a clue how much there was - other than I had about 5 pounds.  So I pulled out my McMorran yarn balance.  (I've had this for probably 20 years and I don't think I've ever used it.)

I figured out the yards per pound (see http://www.allfiberarts.com/2011/aa022800.htm for instructions, if you want to learn how).  I decided to do a 3/1 : 3/1 twill, changing the twill every other stripe as well as the colors.  I varied the widths - 8 threads/16 threads/8 threads/16 threads, etc., except the middle where it was 24 threads wide.

The yarn was set at 8 epi in an 8-dent reed.  I had a couple of threads break early on and I was afraid that the yarn was too loosely spun to be effect warp.  But fortunately those were the only breaks.  I used a medium and a very light natural yarn for the wefts of the two lap robes.  They turned out very nicely.

Here are some details of the pieces being woven and the finished products.  The reverse side of the lap robe with medium brown weft doesn't show up as dramatically as the one where the light natural yarn was used.


The lap robes were washed in a front loader washing machine on the hand wash cycle with warm wash and rinse. They were put on a rack to dry.  I didn't notice any felting at all.

This was a good experience.  It gave me some practice with camelid fiber and I hope these lap robes will provide an uplifting or comforting hug to someone.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scarf with Sock Yarn

I've woven several scarves with sock yarn.  I slightly miscalculated with the latest one.  I thought I had enough yarn with one skein (a pink to orange variegated) for the warp.  Unfortunately, I didn't.  So back to the drawing board.  I decided to use some of the second skein (an orangy solid) - intended for weft - as an accent stripe and find something else for weft.  I found a hank of different sock yarn in my stash - an orange variegated - and used that for weft.  This way I could have a skinny scarf instead of an overly skinny scarf.

The yarn was sett at 10 epi, with 7 inches in the reed and wove it as plain weave.  Everything seemed to be going well until I notice the yarn in the accent stripe had a different tension and I wove.  It seemed to be slightly tighter as I went along.  I persevered and ooched it along but was concerned that it wouldn't look right after I took it off the loom.

Fortunately once off the loom and washed, the scarf looked fine.


Friday, May 10, 2013

One Color Challenge Tackled

When I started my "Calendar Towel" Challenge, I knew there would be a couple of pictures in the set that would be difficult to translate to pleasing towel color combinations.  The August picture was pure Halloween - all orange and black.  I really wasn't interested in weaving Halloween towels.  So I spent time looking at the picture and found a few more colors that would tone down and or complement the bold, obvious ones.  I found purple in the clouds and some yellow and gold in the sunset.

By not using colors as the appear proportionately in the picture, I found that the resulting warp was something I liked.  When it came to picking weft colors, I knew the purple would tone down the bold colors slightly and complement the oranges.  I wanted to use both the yellow and gold colors from the warp colors as well for weft.  For the last weft colors, I chose a red that was slightly on the blue side.  These turned out to be the ones I like the best.

The warp was threaded to an 8-point twill.  The yarn is 10/2 perle cotton sett at 24 epi in a 12 dent reed.  The different treadlings for the towels were - straight so that little carats were produced; regular 8-point tromp as writ and irregular point lengths in a somewhat random fashion.  The treadles were tied up to a 2-2-1-1-1 treadling.
I found that the black yarn I used for a few places on the warp was very weak.  I had several threads break as I was lashing on. This was not a very encouraging way to start the project.  I also had one thread that kept breaking even when I entirely changed the piece of yarn in that particular heddle.  I know that black yarn can be less robust than other, but this was ridiculous...
In spite of my fears for this color combination, I am happy with the results.  I only put on enough warp for six towel so I wish I had planned to do more.  Although the trouble with the black yarn was enough for me to be happy that there were only six.
Purple weft
Yellow (left) Gold (right)

Red weft

Saturday, April 13, 2013

March is Finished - and the Towels are Too

This set of towels were a challenge from a color perspective.  The inspiration picture had two prominent colors - bright green and blue.   There weren't too many other colors present.  This picture shows all of the yarns I originally thought about using to weave these. In the end, I didn't use the beige/tan in the front and the natural in the back was replaced by a very light blue.  I often have used colors in approximately the same proportion as in the picture, but because of the dominance of these two colors, that wouldn't really work.  However, I did use a lot of the bright springy green.

As with the other towel in this study, I used the Random Stripe Generator http://www.biscuitsandjam.com/stripe_maker.php to create the striping sequence.  I did adjust the amount of each color to fit the rough color proportion I wanted in the piece. When deciding on the width of the stripes, I chose to use Fibonacci numbered widths from 2-21, (i.e., 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21) but used very few of the 21 width stripes so that there weren't as many large areas of any of the very strong colors.   Other than that, the design was fairly random.  It is interesting to see now that one half of the warp has smaller stripes and the other has more wider stripes. 

These towels were woven with 10/2 perle cotton sett at 24 epi and probably 20-22 ppi.  The warp was threaded to a regular 8-point twill and tied-up as a 2-2-1-1-1 twill that I have been using for all of these towels.  I made two of each using the following warp colors:  green, brown, silver, light blue and yellow.  I wove one towel in each color as a regular 8-pt twill.  The companion towel was either wove as a straight treadling (1 --> 8, 1-->8 ) or with irregular sized points - depending on how I felt that day. 

All Ten Towels

Here are the five separate color combinations:

Light blue weft
Silver weft
Yellow weft
Green weft
Brown weft

I have to say that although I am not a big fan of green, I love all of the towels and their color combinations.  My first weaving teacher suggested that if you pick colors from a picture that you like, you will like the resulting colors together in your woven piece.  I have certainly found this to be true as I work through this calendar towel project.

The next set of towels will be a real challenge.  It is August and is a sunset picture.  The colors represented are roughly:  orange, brown and black.  We'll see how that turns out.

Friday, April 12, 2013

February Towels - Finished

I realized that although I posted pictures of the February towels "in progress", I didn't post the finished ones.  I like the way they turned out.

Here's a detail picture of a gold weft towel woven with an irregular point treadling.  It's a little bold, but fun. 


Sunday, February 17, 2013

February Towels

Now that the holidays are over and my 24 +/- samples are finished, I can get back to the loom and perhaps finished the 12 sets of towels from the Calendar project.  I decided to work on the February picture.  After considering the colors I chose originally, I changed a few. 

 The original set of colors is on the left.  I changed the blue to a lighter shade and got rid of the pink and added a very light blue.  The orangey color was swapped for a bright gold. 

The old combination might have worked but these do look good together.

                                           The warp before any weaving has been done.

The yarn is 10/2 perle cotton sett at 24 epi and woven around 24 ppi.  These towels are threaded to a regular 8-shaft point and woven with a 1-1-1-1-2-2 twill pattern. 

Here is the first towel woven - with rust weft. 

Here is the towel using the silver from the warp.