Saturday, September 13, 2014


A few months ago I spun a bobbin of merino wool in a colour-way called ‘Teddy Bear’.  The colours seemed to be really lovely so I plied with a very fine cashmina yarn to keep the colour transitions clear and to avoid the dreaded candy cane effect.
I wanted to get a nice spiral yarn, so I held the cashmina yarn tighter than the merino and I got a really lovely textured yarn as you can see on the niddy-noddy below.
Last week I decided to knit the skein into a short scarf and found a pattern in A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker on page 220 called Scroll Pattern I have to say it is a truly lovely pattern.
As I was knitting along I discovered that the hand spun wasn't quite working out colour-wise.  Instead of having the lovely smooth transition from colour to colour that I was hoping for I got clearly distinct bands of colour and not in a good way. The pink and brown are great together but every once in a while a random yellow appears all by itself.
Ngaire is holding the scarf taut while I take this photo so you can see the pattern and the colours ~ this is pre wash and just off the needles so it's really sproingy.
One of the amazing things about this pattern is the reverse side ~ for a weaver this basket weave appearance is just a bonus!
Here is the scarf finished but not washed or blocked.  I’m really not happy with the colour transitions and so before I go any further with it I think a quick dunk in a dye bath is in order.  

Well, it's been a few weeks and a few changes....You can see on the photo above of the scarf, that my cast on edge and my cast off edge are really different; one frilled outward and the other curved inward ~ not a good look, so I made it a circular scarf!  And I dyed the scarf; I chose to use a blue dye bath and watered the dye down so it was just a pale wash.  My goal was to even out, but not completely obliterated the colours.
I 'frogged' the cast off edge and put the stitches on a straight needle and then did the same with my cast on edge.  Then I cast off following the pattern taking one stitch from each needle.  I think the join looks very subtle!
Here is the scarf after it was blocked and the curved edges and the pattern really show up nicely.
I'm really please with this scarf now!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Immersion Dyeing Method for Cotton

I’ve had some mercerized cotton yarn kicking around in my stash for what seems like forever, that I just could not find a use for.  Why….colour of course.
The yarn is all 16/2 mercerized cotton in baby pink and bone….the pink is much too sweet and the bone was much too, well, old bone looking!  A perfect reason to haul out the dyes and have a dye day.
The first task was making skeins of about between 2-4 ounces each.  I love my little cheap and cheerful Lacis  Skein Holder.  I’ve had it for about 25 years and it just keeps on going!
After making all of the skeins I soaked them overnight in plain water ~ it took overnight because the bone coloured cotton was very hydrophobic.
We decided to dye using the Immersion Dye bath Method for ProcionMx, which entailed dissolving the dye in a small amount of water and adding it to a large container of 105 F water.
Then immerse the fibre you are dyeing and add salt, then stir continuously for 15 minutes and then occasionally for another 15 minutes.
After 30 minutes you dissolve Soda Ash in a small amount of warm water and add to the bath; stir continuously for 5 minutes and then occasionally for another 30 minutes.
Take the fibre out and rinse first in cold water, then raise the temperature to hot.  Unlike heat dyeing of wool, not all of the dye is absorbed into the cotton, there will be some dye bleed. Add synthrapol to the final rinse to remove every last speck of loose dye.
Because we were dyeing 9 skeins, we did it in two separate batches; there was a lot of stirring when we did 5 at a time!
This fabric was the inspiration for my dye choices; it’s called Big Blue Poppy!
Here are the final colours drying in the shade…..finally, colours I can use!

This is the formula that I used to dye these cotton skeins:

For 4 ounces ½ heaping teaspoon of procion dye, 2 ¼ tablespoons salt, 10 cups water, ¾ tablespoon soda ash.
For 2 ounces ¼ heaping teaspoon of procion dye, 1 1/8 tablespoon salt, 5 cups water, 2 ¼ teaspoons soda ash.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Scarlet and Old Gold Silk Scarf Part 2

The weft auditioning process was really hard for this scarf.  The first round I went with purples because they are complementary to the coral/orange.  The top color is amethyst, middle is iris (a blue/purple) and the bottom one is red violet.  The amethyst and iris don't seem to show enough of the colour variations in the scarlet warp.
The second round the choices for weft are gold, white and the red violet from the first round.  The clear winner for me is the red violet!
Now this is something that I rarely do . . . weight things!  I know that I should but it never really crosses my mind.  I think it is because I fill out all the project information on the computer before I pull the warp.  Anyway, the reason why I did this time was because I wanted to see if I had enough red violet Tencel to use for the weft. I used Moms scarf which has the same length/width as my base line.
The pattern for this scarf has the same tie up as the Turquoise Silk scarf but I made simple changes to the threading and the treadling.  It looks like a blooming flower don't you agree and is really very lovely.
The beauty shots

The two colours of the silk warp, scarlet and old gold, make highlights in the pattern making iridescence!  

For Sale.
The closing shot of the garden is Hydrangea serrata 'Bluebird' which is just opening.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Scarlet and Old Gold Silk Scarf

The dye colours that were used with this warp are Scarlet and Old Gold Procion MX Dye.  The scarlet dye comes out more pink than red but on the cotton ties that I used to hold the warp threads in place, it is redder.  I don’t know if you can see the difference in this photo.
This silk warp was made up from the last bits from the 4 skeins that we used to make the warps from last summer’s dye day so it was a little short of the number of ends needed for a scarf.  So I made another warp and added about 40 orange Tencel threads to be interspersed with the silk.
To add the Tencel warp I tied on a second rod to the warp beam apron and then layered a second set of lease sticks on top of the lease sticks that held the silk warp.  In the raddle on top of the castle I placed the threads in the order I wanted so they could be pulled onto the warp beam correctly.
The orange Tencel really blends well with both of the silk warp colours, you can't even notice them!  What these threads did do however is blend everything together. The subtly painted silk warp looks like a single colour Salmon when viewed from a distance.  The scarlet and old gold of the silk warp are very similar in tone and when I painted it I did it fairly closely so there isn’t a lot of separation between the colours, maybe two or three inches at most.  Can't wait to see how the scarf turns out!
Pretty picture to end the post is a dragonfly that hung out on the bedroom screen for a couple of hours.  She was big about the size of my hand.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Turquoise Silk Scarf ~ 8 Shaft Networked Twill

Mum and I have started to work on the painted silk warps that we did last summer.  The dyeing idea for this warp was to do an ombrĂ© effect, which means moving from dark to light shades of one colour.  So when I was dying this warp I kept adding water to dilute to dye every three to four inches.  Well it didn’t work but I got a nice even turquoise colour warp so that OK!
For the weft I went with white silk.  There was a choice of two, which never happens around here!  The one on the cone is a little bluer and the one in the ball a little creamier.
I did a test run of the weft choices and the blue/white silk on the cone won (the bottom of the picture).  I was afraid that the creamier silk would look dirty against the clear turquoise. 
The colour of the warp reminds me of the summer sky so I went with that inspiration and found a pattern that looks like clouds.  It is networked twill that I am really partial to, and have used several times before; a real fav!
I have been taking new pictures of the scarves for WovenBeauty our Etsy store to update everything.  The scarf is shown in its 'natural habitat' ~ around the neck of a jean jacket and it looks great!  For Sale.
Garden shot to end the post is Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Sun' commonly called a Blanket Flower.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cream Wedding Shawls Part 2

I have finished weaving the natural Tencel/Cotton shawls.  They came out really well, but they are identical because I even though I tried changing wefts I wasn't able to find another weft that looked radically different.  So, the new plan is for one shawl to stay the natural creamy colour.  And the other one is going to be dyed, I think.  Right now it is sitting in a pile waiting for me.  I have an idea for it but we will see!

To finish the cream shawl I beaded the fringe.  It is something that I do for all the shawls.  I like to see what the finished beadwork is going to look like before I bead so I place the beads on quilting pins and place them within the fringe.
I also use the quilting pins to make up both sides of the fringe so that I am sure that there are enough beads and that they have big enough holes to fit on the beading needle, oh yeah....I've been caught out!
The shawl is done and I think that it's a real beauty.  Simple, elegant and versatile, what more could you ask?
Every time that I pick up the shawl I am surprised at how light and airy it is.  The Tencel/Cotton is so fine and delicate.  It is also incredibly soft and is For Sale in my Etsy Shop.
The garden picture to end the post is a cryptomeria japonica ‘Rasen’ with its little pine cone that looks like a dragon breathing fire.  The needles wrap around the branches to form spirals.

Friday, July 18, 2014

8 Shaft Advancing Networked Twill Scarf

This was such a great silk scarf to weave!  I used some of my own hand spun silk that I dyed medium blue with purple and red patches. 
The silk is about the same thickness as 2/6 cotton, so the sett was 20 epi; so needless to say with a sett like that it wove up very quickly.
As usual for me, I had to try several wefts before I was sure that navy 2/8 tencel was the right one.  This makes the scarf essentially warp faced, but with hand painted silk, that’s a good thing.  I just noticed that my shoe in the picture matches the warp!
The pattern is on that I’ve woven before and loved….8 shaft 10 treadle, advancing networked twill.   This pattern is treadled very similarly to summer and winter or overshot because you treadle a tabby pick between each of the pattern picks.  This gives the fabric really lovely structure.
This is ‘freeform weaving’ in that as long as you make sure to put in the tabby and to run the sequences in order ~ advancing or declining~ you can treadle it however you like.  I love to have the ability to make each scarf completely unique.  I have enough shafts that I could turn the draft to make treadling easier, but then I wouldn't have the ability to free weave as easily ~ a conundrum to say the least.
My Tour de France socks are progressing nicely and I will probably finish them tonight on Stage 13….the first thing in my Christmas Present stash!
I bought a 100 gram skein of sock yarn and split it into 2x50 gram balls and before I started to knit I lined up the sequence so my socks would match. I'm trying something new for me ~ I knit the instep of the socks in ribbing to help keep them in place and not bunch up in's hoping it works!

Just a pretty garden shot to finish up ~ this is Masterwort (Astrantia major ), don't you love the little native bee!