Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mohair Shawl or Throw Part 1

We came back from Croatia last week and I’m finally back in the groove.  It seems that every year older I get  a day is added to my recovery time!  We traveled to Croatia with a US based tour group called Road Scholar and I cannot say enough good things about them. We also traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, so I really feel we got a good view of the Balkans!  My general take on this area is ‘beautiful but troubled’.
When I left in September I was just putting a mohair warp on my loom, I had just picked up some lovely colours at a retiring weaver’s sale.
Don’t the yarns look lovely all wound onto the shuttles? This is my very first mohair warp and I would suggest that if it is your first time using this fibre that you ask lots and lots of questions as it can be quite a difficult fibre to use.
The first great piece of information that I got was to use a dummy warp if you are going to do multiple projects due to the cost of the mohair ~ it is a little spendy to waste.  Since multiple projects is my plan this meant pulling a 2/8 cotton warp of 180 ends, 1 yard long.  I pulled the dummy warp onto the loom, threaded it and sleyed it at 8 ends per inch. It is a bit hard to see the dummy warp but, it’s there!
I knew I wanted to do a plaid shawl/throw, so I pulled the mohair warp ends in very small bouts of 20 threads.  This really helped when I was tied onto the dummy warp.  Trying to handle huge groups of such sticky yarn would have been a nightmare.  I held the cross together with two pens that I bound together with elastic bands; these were small enough and light enough to hold in one had while tying on.
Here it is all tied on and pooling on the floor, next job is to pull it through the reed and heddles
Tying each knot on individually is time consuming, but oh so pretty when it’s done.

I did as much on line and in person research as I could and found that the general range for sett is 6 to 8 ends per inch.  I chose to sett at 8 ends per inch because 6 ends per inch was just too loose.  As soon a I had the mohair beamed I knew it was too close a sett, so I un-sleyed the reed and re-sleyed at 6 ends per inch.  Almost ready to weave!
I lashed onto the front beam, again to save the  warp length and to reduce loom waste.

We got back from holiday to find that out 4 year old Samsung dishwasher refused to start!  The new Bosch 800Plus is slipping into place right now.  We had bought all Samsung appliances when we bought this new house just 4 years ago and this is the third Samsung appliance we have replaced.  Really, really don’t recommend that brand.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Theo Moorman Twill Again ~ Four Shaft Scarf

The final project in my Theo Moorman journey was a real pleasure to weave, but yet again Windows 10 has eaten my data!  Yesterday’s forced update ate a bunch of my PCW files.......what the heck, they had nothing to do with Windows!   

This is what I can remember....
I decided to work with the same format as my previous Theo Moorman scarf, but to make a few small tweaks.  I changed the colour, the twill pattern edge and both the inlay fibre and how it was laid in.
I chose to weave the background cloth for this scarf using white 2/8 tencel.  I kept the silver lurex as the tie down thread and changed the inlay yarn to Filatura Di Crossa Gioiello in a slate grey colour.  This is a fine knitting yarn that is mohair, wool and a tiny silver sparkle bumps.
The warp was threaded with a simple broken twill pattern on the edges and 2/2 twill for the inlay portion.  The goal was to have plenty of interest on the reverse side of the scarf. The sparkle panel down the centre and the broken twill edges should take care of that.
I laid in the Theo Moorman design as large blocks down the centre of the scarf and I think it’s a winner.  I love the graphic look and because the inlay yarn is so fine and soft I’ve kept a beautiful drape.
Well off to see what I can salvage on this laptop....I swear to god Microsoft is doing this crap to make us all Apple users!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Theo Moorman Twill on Four Shafts ~ A Scarf

I have had quite a summer... full of computer angst and weaving!  My laptop which was running Windows 7 crashed and I bought a new laptop with Windows 10.  Recovering my photos and information has been an ongoing frustration.  I’m not a complete Luddite, but man, Windows 10 is very unfriendly towards older files and programs and tries to force you to keep your information on their cloud which they meter.  Hopefully, I’m back on track now, so back to weaving!

After completing my first Theo Moorman technique scarf on three shafts for the Qualicum Weavers study group (seen here) I immediately put on another scarf warp.  I was really happy with the first scarf, but the reverse side of the scarf was really plain Jane and boring.

The goal I set myself was to see if I could use the Theo Moorman technique to make a scarf that had nice drape and that also included some interest on the back side.  Usually all the fun stuff sits on the front and the back of the cloth is covered up if it’s a garment or by being placed up against a wall if it’s a hanging.

I threaded the loom using a 4 shaft 2/2 twill as the background cloth rather than the traditional plain weave.   My base warp is 2/8 tencel and the Theo Moorman tie down treads are silver lurex.

My weft is the same 2/8 tencel and the inlay section in the middle is hand spun, hand dyed silk singles. The soft spin of the silk really encourages the drape.

I was thrilled with the way the silver sparkled on the reverse side of the scarf and with the contrasting stripe of colour near the selvedge and the twill pattern, I’m calling this a winner!

I was so happy with this scarf that I contacted Handwoven Magazine and happily they asked me to send it to them.  Then the Canadian Postal strike in June made it impossible for me to make the submission deadline.  Then I had a horrible time trying to find a commercially made yarn that is the same as my hand just all became such a daunting task, I’m giving up and sharing with you instead.

This year my hardy hibiscus are all doing fantastically...Hibiscus Syriacus ‘Aphrodite’, look closely and you can see a bee inside.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Appropriate for Jun-uary and Febu-ly . . . It’s Raining Polka Dots Again!

This is a silk scarf warp that I dyed back in March 2015.  The scarf is dyed lengthwise in blue and turquoise.
The two colours can be seen up close but far away the colours blend into a pretty blue.
So I went through a lot of trouble finding a weft that would show the two different colours.  The first round starts with slate grey, navy blue from Webs, navy blue from Brassards, white, taupe and gold. The grey and blues are OK but the top three are a terrible and yes, the Webs tencel and the Brassards tencel are very, very different.
The second round of weft choices starts with pulling anything that could remotely work.  It starts with purple, azure, hunter green, pale green, black and red.  I hated everything.
The third round is the maybe’s from round one and some different choices in grist size.  It starts with 2/10 white, 2/20 blue bamboo, 2/8 white, 2/8 navy from Brassards and 2/8 slate grey.
And the final choice is the 2/20 navy blue bamboo!  It was the only weft that I felt didn’t hide the two colours of the warp.
Here are some beauty shots of the finish scarf in one of my favourite patterns.  For Sale.

Final Garden Shot is a stunning red Cardinal Meadowhawk Dragonfly sitting on a silver metal garden stake.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Burn Test on a Mystery Cone

Just before the summer break, the Qualicum Weavers Guild has a pot luck lunch and this year they included, a car boot sale (it maybe an annual thing I don’t know, I’ve only been a member since October).  We picked up some goodies, how can you resist?!

The first are two monographs.  One is Seven Projects in Rosepath by Berta Frey, it is a guided monthly program written for a Weaver’s guild.  The second is Handloom Weaves by Harriet Tidball, it is a reference book that defines all the different types of weave structures and gives some basic drafts as examples.  Both are absolutely amazing resources.
We got a few of cones of Mohair in pinks and ink blue.  This will allow us to use up some cones that we have kicking around that aren’t enough to do anything with.  Now we have enough to do some throws or blanket scarves.  The Mohair is a little frosty because we put it in the freezer for a week, then took it out for a couple of days and then put it back in the freezer for a week.  It is just a preventative measure to make sure that there aren’t any carpet beetles or moths in the cones; these were perfect.
I was gifted a large cone of mystery fibre by one of the guild ladies.  It is very fine, probably 2/30 in a creamy white colour.  The cone has a lovely silky feel to it.  The lady who gave it to me said that the cone was manufactured in Abbotsford, BC and that there was some wool fibre content.
So out comes the book The Key to Weaving by Mary E. Black.
In the back is a section called Burning Tests for Fibers.  We did a quick read through the descriptions of the flame, smoke and smell before starting the burn, just to know what to expect.
We did the first burn test using matches and that wasn’t a good idea.  The smell of the match overwhelmed the smell of the burning sample.  So we changed to a click lighter for the next sample.
The flame was orange yellow, blue/grey smoke, smell was of burnt paper and it ignited easily.  There is a black skeleton and no ash.  So we think that the sample is cotton.
If the sample was wool the smoke would have smelt like burnt hair and the skeleton would be swollen and irregular in length.  So now I have a lovely cone of fine cotton to use and I already have an idea!
Final Garden shot is Gooseneck Loosestrife (Lysmimachia clethroides) and Beardtongue (Penstemon ‘Garnet’), both growing lushly in the back garden!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Table Linen in Inlay and Goose Eye Twill

I’ve joined a study group with the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners.  The group is called Exploring More and we are study Inlay.  Mum has already done two projects with Theo Moorman, one with a plain weave ground cloth and the other with a twill ground cloth, that she hasn't blogged about yet.

I have chosen to do a table linen project with classic inlay.  Inlay is a finger manipulated supplementary weft that doesn’t weave selvedge to selvedge.  There are various techniques that create different patterns, examples of some can be found here from a Transparency workshop that I did.

The warp is 3/10 buttercup yellow from Dressew, a fabric supply store in Vancouver, which I have never used it before.
The pattern is four shaft goose eye twill blocks but I have extended it onto eight shafts as I didn’t have enough heddles on the first four shafts.  I’m amazed at how complicated the pattern is, with only four shafts.  The weft is the same buttercup yellow as the warp so that pattern has an embossed effect. Finding an ilay weft was a bit more problematic because I wanted the inlay colour to really pop.
I used Orlec for the Inlay thread because it doesn't shrink, which means that the squares wouldn't pucker.  I picked a bright blue Orlec for the inlay colour, and its way too bright!  You can also see that I wasn’t sure on how to secure the end of the inlay.  It was three layers deep at the end and looks very funny.  You can’t see it but I also didn’t make my inlay thread long enough!
I auditioned two shades of grey Orlec and I am going with the darker of the two.  You can’t really tell but my beat changed during the inlay into a heavier beat that I liked better.  So I unwove everything; all five inches so I could start again to get my beat perfect.
The grey Orlec is the right choice, the blocks are highlighted but don’t overwhelm that rest of the table linen.
The inlay technique that I picked was Ryss Weave with two picks of the ground twill between each inlay.  I like the offset stacking and the long three thread floats.  To secure the inlay I did a double pick at the beginning of the square and at the end.
Here is the finished table linen, sorry about the colour but it’s raining this afternoon.  The inlay squares add interest, and although you can’t see in the picture the goose eye and twill blocks really shows up.
This is a close up and you can see the goose eye and twill blocks a bit better.  You can also see that I didn’t quite get the inlay squares right.  They all have a section that is inside the goose eye portion. So I guess the table linen is mine now!
This picture is off the back piece.  The inlay just peeks through onto the back, which makes it a one sided weave structure.
The take away of Inlay for me is that it is a pretty but there is a big drawback.  I’m not sure that the inlay blocks are going to stay in place when the table linen is washed again; will the Orlec slowly work its way out?

I don’t know and it is something that worries me about the piece.  I thought about putting a little bit a Fray Check on each end, essentially gluing it into place, but it slightly changes the colour of the Orlec; or, I could sew some beads to anchor the ends but then how do you press flat?

I think that Inlay isn't suitable for items that I'm going to sell, there is too much of a question mark about how the Inlay will behave through use.  But I did discover how much I like the cotton from Dressew!

Final Garden Shot is Campanula Garganica 'Dickson's Gold'.  It really is lime green with pale blue flowers and it is just stunning.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Drall Scarf on 12 Shafts

I just finished this 12 shaft drall scarf a couple of days ago.
I used a tie up that I have used several times before, but this time I treadled it as drawn in.  This gave the boxes a more squared look than my previous scarves which are woven ‘free form and can be seen here’.
The warp is 20/2 silk that I hand painted using Procion MX.  I have shown this process a couple of time before here.  Tencel is my weft of choice on these scarves because frankly they have the most exciting colours available.
The warp is another colour combo that I’ve used before, fuschia and moss in a medium dye density painted randomly on a pulled warp…when woven with purple weft it gives an amazing iridescence which I think it looks like an oil slick on water.

I love weaving drall which is sometimes known as turned twill. Kerstin on her blog Kerstin’s Extra has a wonderful explanation of drall here.
Because I have 12 shafts I can weave 3 distinct blocks of twill, each containing a group of 4 threads on 4 shafts.  The first block is the horizontal stripe going from selvedge to selvedge.  The second block outlines the boxes and the third block is the centre of the boxes. So if you have 8 shafts you can weave 2 blocks and 16 shafts will give you 4 blocks.

When planning this scarf I had to work with the 208 ends I had in the warp and fiddled with my pattern until I found a sequence I liked.
The tie up for this 12 shaft drall pattern is really very time consuming on my countermarche loom, so I’ve already put another warp on so I can weave it again.  This time I’ve put on 6 yards to weave 3 table runners in 10/3 bottle green mercerized cotton.  I’m thinking I’ll try out some of the linen yarns I have in my stash as the weft.

The garden shot for today is Fremontodendron 'California Glory'.