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.  

Thursday, March 2, 2017


I've been focusing more time on weaving things that aren't towels.  This gives me a chance to weave with some beautiful yarns typically used for knitting.  I've had this warp on my loom for several months - Malabrigo Arroyo in the Archangel color.  I had planned two scarves and wove the first one in October or November.  The warp languished a bit but the second scarf came off this week.

I decided to do an advancing twill with a 2-2-3-1 tie-up on 8 shafts.  The warp was sett at 8 epi.  I thought this would give the scarf texture but not too much since any other pattern would get lost in the variegation.

I decided to use Malabrigo Rios in the same color for the weft.  This is similar in size but not exactly the same as the Arroyo.  

Warp Yarn

The result had a nice hand and drape.  

Scarf 1 detail

Scarf 1

I wasn't totally happy with the way the floats fell, so I changed the tie-up for the second scarf.  The threading stayed the same.  The tie-up is a 2-1-1-1-2-1 twill.  This still had a 4 end weft float but otherwise seemed ok.  

Drawdown for Scarf 2

The weft for this scarf was Malabrigo Arroyo in the color Purpuras.  

Warp and Weft Yarns for Scarf 2

The scarf turned out nicely - different than the first scarf because of the tie-up and darker weft but pretty similar.  Both scarves have a twisted fringe.

Scarf 2 Detail

Scarf 2

Here are the two scarves together with the weft yarn used.

Malabrigo Scarves with weft yarns

Friday, February 10, 2017

Annual 24 Shaft Challenge

If it's February, it must be time to weave samples for the Complex Weavers 24 +/- Study Group.  For some reason, it's always a last minute thing for me.  This year was pretty last minute, although I have been later in past years.

For this round of samples, I played around a little with network drafting.  I use Fiberworks PCW software to help plan my designs.  One of the features of the program is that you can draw a shape in the threading area and convert it to a network draft.  This makes the process fairly easy although you still have to make sure the transition between the repeats works OK.  I honestly didn't spend too much time tweeting this design.  I wasn't entirely happy with it but the samples are a time to experiment.

For the tie-up, I decided I wanted to have the fabric be weft faced.  That way I was lifting fewer shafts that were left down and I would get something different on each face of the cloth.  I was able to "draw" diagonal lines in the tie-up box to create the tie-up.  I planned to weave it as threaded, (i.e. trop as writ).

Sample Design - one repeat

I picked 10/2 cotton for both the warp and weft,  since I have a lot of it and for a change pick colors I like.  (Normally, I use this exercise as a way to use up yarn colors I don't particularly care for.)  I selected two colors for the warp - UKI Crab (green) and Lt Turk (blue).  I alternated these colors across the warp.  I find that using two colors in the warp of similar value will often give added interest to the finished textile.

I wasn't sure what color weft I wanted to use, so I wove a couple inches of four colors.  From bottom to top they are:  UKI Spec Turk (blue), Hummingbird (purple), Ind Orange and Lt Orange.

Color sampling

I decided to go with the complementary color Ind Orange which would give some value contrast as well.

Final Project Colors

I like the resulting cloth.  It was a shame to cut it up because there was both iridescence and shine that I'm not sure the 3" x 3" squares have.  The warp- and weft-faced sides are nicely complementary.

Finished Textile - Back and Front

I need to go back to the design and work on it a little.  Also there was a threading error that kept me from using the total width of the cloth.  I have several more yards of this warp left to use for experimentation.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Warm Shawl for a Wintery Day

I'm working on reducing the bulk of my stash, so I looked in my bin of Mountain Colors yarns and found three skeins of Twizzle in the color Northern Lights.  In addition to reducing my stash, I'm trying to work with my nicest yarns.  I really love working with Mountain Colors yarns.  

Northern Lights Twizzle Warp

I also found a skein of Alpaca Blend in the Gold Rush.  It had some of the same colors as the Twizzle.  It also had a smoother texture which I thought would help it blend in rather than jump out versus the warp yarn.

Alpaca Blend - Gold Rush weft

Since the warp had lots of color variations, I thought that a simpler design would be better than something with a lot of pattern.  I thread the warp to a straight draw and tied up to a 2-2-1-1-1-1 twill.  I decided that this would be balanced and be a little more interesting than just plain weave or a 2-2 twill.  It will also give the shawl more drape that if I wove it in plain weave.

I was pleasantly surprised that the warp did a little self-striping with the yellow standing out.  It looked like I had planned it but it was all how the warp colors landed.

Shawl on the loom
The shawl turned out looking great.  It has a nice drape and feels substantial but not heavy.  I washed it by hand and laid it out to dry on our last clear day.  I twisted the fringes to finish the look.  

Finished Shawl 

Finished Shawl
 A nice way to use up some yarn.