Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Weaving Five Bookmarks At The Same Time

Last year a lovely member of the GCW Scarf Exchange popped a couple of hand woven book marks into the parcels she sent with her exchange scarf. A few months later I noticed that my husband was marking the page in his library book with a bit of ‘poopy paper’ and decided that I’d better address that situation post haste!

I guess it will come as no surprise to those who know me; but warping up any of my looms for such a small project didn’t get me very excited. Sooooo, instead of a single book mark warp I decided to put on five…. instead of finishing with four book marks, I made twenty for essentially the same weaving time! Yup I'm an overachiever!I was sure that I could put the five individual warps, with five individual threadings on my loom and weave them at the same time as long as the grist of the warp threads was the same or at least very close. That would ensure that I would keep the fell line level as I wove. Once I had decided on 2/20 as my warp grist it was a quick task to make all five 2 inch wide warps. The warps were only 2 yards long and had an average 96 ends. I decided to weave the book marks as a 12 shaft Twill Gamp.Figuring out what shuttle to use on these tiny warps was my most challenging problem. Then I remembered the E-Z Bobs that I bought to use with my Kumihimo plates and Lucet.These worked fantastically; they held enough weft to complete a single book mark, held the weft in place with the snap feature and they were light enough so that if they fell off the loom they didn’t yank the weft out! Perfect in every way…I found that the five book mark warps with two inches between them worked out to be exactly 22 inches in the reed, so that was a great workable width for me, I'm pretty small and I wanted this project to be fun, not a arm stretching workout!Tadaaaa, here they are in all their glory! These book marks worked up so fast and they were so much fun to weave, hemstitching each one is what took the longest! Some of my first weft choices didn't show the patterns as well as I'd have liked; I had hoped to use all singles silk, but the slight slubs in my silk blurred the pattern, so I changed to 2/8 tencel in strongly contrasting colours and found this much more successful. I planned enough warp for four 8 inch book marks with 2-1/2 inch fringes, plus loom waste. I treadled two book marks Advancing, one Rosepath and one M’s & W’s. Here’s a selection of my favourites from each warp.The gold 2/20 mercerized cotton was threaded Advancing Twill.The peach 2/20 mercerized cotton was threaded Networked Twill.The pink 2/20 linen was threaded Rosepath.The green 2/22 mercerized cotton was threaded Point Twill. The 2/16 mercerized purple cotton was threaded M’s & W’s and this one was the widest of all the book marks by 1/2 inch.

This project was fast and fun, fun, fun! I plan on doing another set for the GCW 2011 Exchange.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Using Wool Combs

A number of years ago my husband Michael bought me a set of English Wool Combs for Christmas. I must admit that they’ve sat in their sweet little carry bag ever since!
My Spinning Study Group came to the part in Deb Menz’s book about combining colour on wool combs, so out came the combs….. I had been given 50 grams of Ashford Rainbow Dyed BFL locks that were perfect for this purpose. I sorted these locks into two colour ways, red/orange/yellow and blue/green/purple and fanned out the tips a bit as they were matted. For this tutorial I've used the best photos from both batches, so sometimes I'm working the red batch and sometimes the blue!
I weighed out the wool locks, my aim was to use only 20 grams at a time.
My combs are Four Pitch English Combs as they have four rows of hackles (these hackles are deadly sharp bronze pins). This particular set came with two combs, a protective sleeve, the base plate with C clamp and locking tool, a tubular straightening tool, a hook and a diz. To start either one of the combs is placed in the holder, hackles upward and locked into position.The locks are loaded onto the stationary comb; this is called ‘lashing on’ and each lock is placed on the upright comb, with about ½ inch of the lock in the hackles. Insert each wool lock with the cut end into the combs every time. Load the comb evenly about 2/3 full. The comb is now turned on its side, again locked in place on the base plate. Spray lightly with water to keep the static down before you begin and throughout this process as necessary. Take the second comb and using the very tip of the comb swing downward in a chopping motion through the tips of the locks on the secured comb, this is called ‘jigging’. Make sure you carry this motion through and don’t remove the comb until it has passed thought the locks, so that you don’t loop the fibres into a knot or force the fibre too far back into the hackles. Each time you do this motion you will only go through the very tip of the bundle on the combs and the second comb will pick up a small amount of wool from the stationary comb, you can see the fibres straightening out. Eventually most of the fibre will have been moved from one comb to the other. With my system I can then just trade the combs and repeat the process. I will comb these fibres 3 times because my goal is not only to create ‘sliver’ but to colour blend as well.
When I’m happy with the look of my combed fibre I shape the bundle with my hands into a tear drop shape then I start the ‘planking’ process. The idea behind ‘planking’ is to ensure that every part of the ‘sliver’ has the same quality of fibre, a nice mixture of lengths of fibre throughout, because the combs tend to pull off the longest fibres first. Put the stationary comb in the upright position to start this process. Then with your thumb and forefinger pinch a group of fibres and gently pull the wool away in a smooth motion. Leapfrogging with your fingers continue this until you have a length about 2 feet long. This sounds easier than it is; but if you don’t pull hard and pull really slowly, it does come off in a fairly neat long rope. Mine still have a thick and thin tendency, but in time I’ll get better! As the sliver comes off the comb lay them down, always laying them in the same direction.What’s left on the comb is all the noils, dirt and short fibres. I toss this away, but have heard of people adding this waste to carded batts and spinning it for novelty yarn. Really not my thing but there is quite a bit of waste (about 5%) and the frugal will despair! Now each of the lengths of sliver is lashed back onto an upright stationary comb by holding halfway down and swinging it down onto the comb and letting it run through your hands. Aim for long tails about 6-7 inches long. This is your last jigging and it’s really quick and easy at this stage. You can stop when you have equal amounts of fibre on each comb. Smooth the fibres into a beard shape pull the tip of the beard through the diz. I have a diz hook and it really helps. Gently draw off the fibre through the diz. I do the finger pinch leapfrog and pull the beard to the left then to the right as I pull off the sliver. I’ve found that if I keep pulling straight on I get grid lock! When it eventually thins out and breaks off I take each sliver and giving it a little twist as I wrap it around my hand to make a neat bundle. When you get to the end of the sliver, pop two fingers up and catch the end pulling it inside a bit. Just start spinning from this tip.
Here is my sliver all ready to spin! This is definately work for a process person!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Silk Pleated Scarf

This post is about the second scarf that I made from the grey and white striped warp. It is also a pleated scarf.
When I was pulling the warp I noticed that the grey silk was a little sticky because of the texture of the yarn from the flecks of black and white. It was enough of a problem that I decided to keep the lease sticks in, I have never woven with the lease sticks in so I wasn’t sure how it would affect the shed. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I didn’t really notice a difference. I think because I use a countermarche loom that the double movement of the shafts really limited any affect that the lease sticks could have produced.
During the weaving of the first scarf, having the lease sticks in didn’t seem to be really needed and I was thinking about taking them off. I am really glad that I didn’t because by the time I was half through the second scarf I really needed those lease sticks. The far right stripe was the problem stripe, it was really sticky. But a quick thrumming and the warp was good to go.
For the second scarf, I used the grey silk as the weft. It was difficult to use because the yarn kept twisting on itself. I had to be really careful and watch each pick to make sure that the weft was straight. The grey weft really darkens the scarf. The weave structure in the grey stripes disappears but with the white stripes the twill is clearly showing. I don’t know why the end-feed shuttle is in the picture but it is the best photo I have showing the top of the scarf!
The bottom of the scarf is really dark. The texture of the grey silk is really showing up with the scarf and it makes for a really interesting scarf.
I wove up to the very last inch of the warp that I could. I was a little short because when I measured for loom waste with this loom I measured from the back of the reed in the resting position to the back of the heddles but that isn’t right. The shuttle can’t weave all the way to the reed, there is just no way so I have to add those couple of inches to my loom waste calculation. Because in the below photo you can see that I was really trying to get the couple of inches that I needed so the warping bar was pushing into the heddles!
This scarf is heavier then the scarf with the rayon weft. It also had a lot more texture; it is really reminiscent of a pebbled stream bed.
The two sides of this scarf are very different and that makes for a striking look.
I like making this style of scarf, it is easy weaving and yet so effective. They look really unusual and eye catching when displayed. These scarves in grey and white are monochromatic yet have a depth and texture to them that makes them an interesting addition to any wardrobe.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Networked Twill Free Form Weaving Part Two

I loved weaving the first Free Form scarf I did in February and so I searched through my stash and found some 2/20 silk that I had dyed sometime last year. I dyed this silk by immersing it in a dye bath. Quite different from my ‘smooshing’ method on Free Form One where I work splashes of colour into the wet silk with my hands.I decided to use a tone on tone colour way with this scarf and it didn’t take me long to see that the single, slubby silk in bronze was not going to work!This was the wrong weft to use on two fronts, colour and texture! The colour masks the pattern and the slubby texture just made it look sloppy! With no remorse at all, I cut it out.I changed my weft to 2/10 black Tencel and was immediately much happier!Although you can’t see it, I tried to tame the frilling on my selvedges by adding 6 extra warp threads in tabby on each edge. Although it was a good idea, it still didn’t quite tame the tendency of the selvedges to torque as the pattern threads came close to the selvedge.I’d better tell you that I steered you wrong in my last post about this pattern. I said that it was treadled network twill; what was I thinking? I just didn’t look at my paperwork I guess! In fact these scarves are both treadled Taqueté or in other words in Turned Summer and Winter. Taqueté is typically treadled using repeating shafts alternating with tabby picks (41424142 51525152 for example, with tabby being 1 and 2). Mea Culpa! Thanks Ngaire for seeing my mistake, seems the apprentice has learned very well indeed!As I wove this scarf I again took liberties with my treadling pattern and went with repetitions of the parts of the pattern that please me at the time, so although there is continuity, the scarf has no pattern repeat. What a wonderful way to weave!I’ve accepted and enhanced the frilling edges and I’m more than happy with the results. I would weave this again in a heartbeat! I love the way the slight variations in the rust colour come through randomly in the warp, and the pattern pops these variations to the surface without showing streaks of colour.
I can't wait to do it again!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Twill Pleats ~ Silk Ruffles

Last year I made two pleated scarves, one in black and white and the other in shades of pink. They both sold in the first sale that they were shown in so Mum and I decided that the style of scarf should be redone.

I am trying to be smarter this year about pulling enough warp for two scarves, not only is it more economical but it is a time saver also. Although it can be hard because I want to make the scarves different so finding two wefts for the scarves can be difficult. I am going to be talking about only one scarf in this post and a different scarf from the same warp in another post in a couple of days.

The woven structure of this style of scarf makes pleats; colour is used to accentuate the pleats. Going through the stash a matte grey silk with flecks of white and black was really calling to me, it is a slightly textured yarn. I added a very smooth white rayon to add shine to the scarves. In the photo you can see my new tape measure that I got for Christmas, it’s pink!
Each stripe is one inch wide and there are nine stripes total. I started and ended with the white rayon because the grey silk has a lot of texture and it could have made for messy edges. Even before weaving, you can see pleats forming.
The humps are made from the tension between two different twills. The white stripes are 3/1 twill and the grey stripes are 1/3 twill. In the picture the slight cupping can be seen.
For the first scarf the weft is the white rayon. On the top of the scarf the white weft really made the grey stripes subdued and a lot of the texture and the flecks of colour was lost. I was really worried out my choice of weft.
But when I could see the back of the scarf I was happy. The grey silk was prominent and showy. I like how it pops against the white.
After washing, the scarves needed to lay flat. They need to be pulled lengthwise to even out the pleats. Halfway through that drying process they need to be flipped so the pleats can be rounded on both sides. To help make to pleats even, the handle of a wooden spoon was used to run up and down the furrows of the pleats.
The finished scarf measures 3” across, which is amazing since it started out at 9”! The pleats give the scarf an amazing draping affect. The scarf has a lovely movement and it just seems to fall into place.
I can’t wait to show the next scarf, it is the same but different!