Sunday, July 27, 2014

Nevada County Inspired

There is a category in the "Wool Division" at the Nevada County Fair that is called "Nevada County Inspired".  (The Wool Division is for hand woven piece, skeins of handspun yarn, felted items or items knitted or crocheted with handspun.) Entries for this category are woven pieces or knitted etc. with handspun and the idea of the piece is something about the county.  For the last couple of years, I've woven pieces that use colors inspired by the area.  This year, I decided to use local alpaca yarn and have that be my inspiration.  The yarn I wanted to use was purchased when we were at a garage sale several years ago.  The people who were having the sale also had an alpaca ranch.  They had their animals' fleece spun for a sales tax break on the feed.  For a while one of the owners said they just gave the yarn away.  Well, she didn't give it to me free but as I remember, it wasn't a bad price. 

The alpaca yarn I bought from her were the dark and medium colored skeins above.  I decided that I might not have enough of the medium color for the warp, so I added another local alpaca yarn, the natural color on the left, that I purchased from a guild member. 

I wanted to have a nice flowing design but that didn't have too many floats.  I chose an M & W pattern on 8 shafts.  (Not as flowing as I would have liked, but it is a pleasing pattern.) The warp was the natural and medium yarns alternated and sett at 8 epi. 

I was pretty pleased with how it wove but I realized that I probably should have sett it a little closer.  Even at 10 epi, it wouldn't have seemed so loose.  In the picture below, you can see how the weft threads were moving around some - especially at the front beam.

So, after I cut it off the loom, I decided to use the washer and dryer to help "snuggle up" the threads.  This worked to a point.  I washed the shawl in my front load washing machine with warm water on a gentle cycle.  When I took it out, it still looked a little loose.  So, I decided to try a little time in the dryer.  I dried it on low for a few minutes and pulled it out.  It looked much better. It probably fulled a little more than I really wanted but it was an alpaca shawl after all and should be nice for a chilly day.  

I have been putting the fringe of the scarves I've been weaving in a sock to protect from tangling during the washing process.  I did that with this piece and that's where the Oops moment happened.  One end had cotton muslin strips woven in to separate the warp.  The other end did not.  (I was so ready to have the shawl off the loom...)  Well, the end without the cotton filler got tangled and started to felt.  Also where I had tied the sock to keep it on, it was especially fuzzy. 

I didn't have anything to lose, so I carefully combed out the fringe on both ends and twisted it using my hair twister.  (This 'braider" has two prongs that twist the yarn one direction and than the opposite direction together.)  It sort of worked. 

End without cotton strips
End with cotton strips
I have another week before this has to be turned in to the Fair so I am going to try to see if I can trim off the fuzz.  If it works, great, if not, it was certainly a lesson in working with alpaca. 
The shawl itself is very nice and I'm happy with it. 

Shawl detail
I have more alpaca yarn from these skeins so I am sure I will be weaving either a scarf or shawl with it.  when I do, I will definitely sett it more closely, perhaps even at 12 epi.  I haven't worked a lot with animal fibers and need to do more so that I can get better.  My first thought during the repair work was that cotton is a much nicer fiber to work with. 

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