Monday, August 31, 2009

Loom Bench and Turned Taqueté

So many positive and fun things have happened since my last post – I’m still doing the Happy Dance!
When Lily Louet my 12 Shaft Spring loom arrived last fall I found I couldn’t reach the furthest treadles; so my husband Michael set to work and designed a loom bench customized to fit me and my vertical challenges. I have been using the prototype made from rough pine since last November, and this week I got the real deal! My bench is made out of Canadian maple and has every single screw plugged and hidden, the workmanship is exceptional! The front handles are perfect to pull the bench in place without me having to stretch to the ends of the bench.
Michael took the time to give it a wonderful satiny finish and added a bottom to the bench for storage. The heavy duty rollers glide back and forth beautifully and the tilted seat is the perfect angle to take the pressure off my legs and encourage me to sit straight. I’m such a lucky gal! As Michael plans to retire in June, he may take commissions, to customize a loom bench for you…. It really was a great week for the studio as my Louet Jane loom stand also arrived. Although this loom was purchased for workshops, I found that having it neatly folded up did me no good at all. I really wanted to have access to the loom without taking over the kitchen table….My only regret is that I didn’t order the stand when Michael bought me the loom in August 2008 as only 1 year later the price had increased by $100.00! Ahhhhh hindsight! Now this small loom has a place and will have a warp on it this week.
 My Turned Taqueté scarf is off the loom and finally finished. I’m still not totally enamored with my colour choices, but it is a very dignified scarf. The sett was 40 epi – the same as used for Echo Weave, but since it has short floats, it’s a bit less drappey than I’d like, so I’m resleying the second scarf to 36 epi.
Have a look at some of the lovely warp and weft patterns created in this weave, using alternating warp colours, quite fascinating!Since the scarf is very dignified, I kept the embellishments to a minimum, just using silver beads, freshwater pearls and these lovely silver leaves. Only 4 sequences per side seemed to be ample.
My final happy thing this week was learning to knit toe-up-socks. Holy cow, I’m never going back to the other way! First time ever, they really fit me well!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dyeing Woven Shibori Scarves with ProcionMX

Instead of weaving just one more woven shibori scarf, I decided to weave two! These scarves are so rewarding to weave that I plan to weave more, I love them! These scarves are the same pattern as the first one I did but they have been dyed using a different method, so these two scarves have a totally different look. I pulled the pattern threads very tightly on these scarves; I was amazed at how tight I could get them.

I used Procion MX dye to paint the scarves; unlike the first scarf which was dyed by using an immersion dye bath method with Procion MX. These scarves were soaked in a soda ash bath then painted with a sponge brush with concentrated dye mix. The scarf was then wrapped in cling film, don’t they look like palmiers, you know the little cookies? Then the scarf is set aside for 24 hours before rinsing. The first scarf was dyed jade green on one side and royal blue on the other. The effect I was looking for was green mountains and blue valley lakes, similar to the area that I live in.The second scarf was dyed fushia pink in the centre and royal blue on the edges, the same on both sides. The mixing of the two colours made for a dark purple secondary line. The green and blue scarf is very cool looking; I think it came out as is a lake effect instead of the valley look that was the starting idea. We live near one of the top five most beautiful lakes in the world according to NatGeo, Kalamalka Lake, which means lake of many colours. Kal Lake is a marl lake which means that there is a concentration of calcium carbonate which crystallizes when the lake warms. The crystals reflect the sun creating the beautiful jade colours in the lake. This scarf is a wonderful representation of the lake and totally unintentional! Because of the painting process there is more white showing than with immersion dyeing, the dye stayed more on the top of the peaks and also is more concentrated in colour. Here is a close up of the pink and blue scarf. The pink and blue scarf is bright and cheerful and totally different from the very first scarf which was dyed the same fuchsia colour.
The other difference from my very first scarf was that I ironed these scarves flat, OK Mum did! I was threading my loom with my next project when she called me over to look at the scarves after she ironed them. She was quite taken with the green/blue one so that has become hers. I am very tickled that she wants to wear my scarf, and I can’t think of a better compliment from a weaver, mentor, and a mother, can you?!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Choosing the Right Weft

Jeez….did I ever blow it! I wanted to make a couple of scarves using Turned Taqueté and I wanted them to stand apart from the other scarves that I had done lately. Basically I didn’t want any hint of purple, I wanted spring like colours. I chose this lovely yellow called lemon drop and silver, very classic I thought and they followed very loose ‘rule’ for Turned Taqueté – different hues but close in value. I like it! The weft was to be 2/20 black Tencel. It was awful…the effect was dotty and didn’t do the lovely warp justice. So my quest began. Still in keeping with my original plan I tried 2/8 Tencel in charcoal. A lot softer looking than the stark black, but it made the silver a bit dull and lifeless. So then I thought, why not bring in something to compliment the yellow. This dark orange 2/8 rayon, just made everything look dirty. Now I’m getting a bit anxious, so thinking of clearly defined contrasts I tried this 2/8 rayon slub in blue. It made the silver look grey and the yellow look washed out. Thinking that maybe I needed something not so contrasting I tried this 2/8 mercerized cotton in celery. No, no no! Blah… My blood pressure is rising and I reach for the Orlec 2/8.5 is a bit heavy, but the range of colours I have in Orlec made me want to try. This lovely blue/green just made the whole scarf look too sweet – rather candy ish – not for me. Why not try….2/8.5 Orlec again, this time pink! I’m blind…..OMG…. it’s the Valley Girl! I’m trying to be colour brave, but this just scared me. I caved…..yup its purple 2/8 Tencel. I feel a little defeated, but damn it’s lovely! This is my first Turned Taqueté scarf. The purple made the silver appear lavender, but it’s a lovely and subtle. This shows 2 pattern repeats, each repeat is just under 5 inches in length. I am using 8 shafts and 10 treadles for this weave, that gives me 8 pattern treadles and 2 tie down treadles, as Taqueté is a two tied weave.

I put on enough warp for two scarves, so now the hunt for my next weft begins. Today is a Procion MX dye day so I’m thinking maybe a painted weft?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hot Tamalé Tea Towels

Summer is such a busy time with family and friends visiting and around here fire scares! Weaving just has to be put on the back burner it seems. I have finally, whew, finished what I’m calling my Hot Tamalé tea towels. I used 2/8 cotton from my stash for the warp and used the last of the orange cotton from the warp to weave 3 towels; then onto a yellow/orange 2/22 cottolin for 3 more and finishing up with raspberry 2/22 cottolin for the last one…. I won’t talk about the blue one, yuk….that’s mine, but the rest are really vibrant! Thank goodness my daughter Ngaire helps by posting her weaving projects too or this blog would be very few and far between! These towels are in one of my favourite 8 shaft patterns and were supposed to be a quick weave to center myself. I’m sure you all have a weave structure or pattern that has rhythm and allows you to reaffirm good weaving habits, well, this is mine. Unfortunately I just couldn’t stay inside and weave….you know fruit to freeze, jam to make, tomatoes to pick! Today I got the towels washed and machine dried, now only hemming and entering them into my inventory is left. I keep my stock listed on an Excel spreadsheet which helps me price and track what sells and where it sells. I’ve started putting my next project on the loom today. I’m giving Turned Taqueté a go. I took a seminar from Bonnie Inouye in June at the ANWG in Spokane WA, and this is a weave of which she spoke enthusiastically. It is very similar in many ways to Echo Weave, but has different tie up and treadling. I’m using 2/8 tencel in maize and silver alternately with black borders. The weft will be black 2/20 tencel. I’ve put on enough warp for two scarves, so I’ll have fun with the treadling. Last week I met some lovely folks; retired production weavers in Penticton when I drove up to buy some of their stash. Mr. Barr was very generous and gifted me with this amazing Leclerc bobbin winder. It’s huge! The ratio is amazing and it seems that only a few turns fill the pirns. My husband just tightened the drive band and it works a treat!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Woven Shibori Part Two ~ Pretty As A Picture

I’ve finished weaving my shibori scarf; here it is looking lovely with the blue pattern threads in a diamond pattern. The scarf was 7 ¼ inches wide before the gathering.
On one side of the scarf the Shibori or pattern threads were gathered in small groups in an overhand knot. The scarf was compressed against the overhand knots as tightly as possible. I was able to get the scarf down to 1 ¼ inches. Dyeing was scary because I had no clear idea of what I was doing or what the finished product was going to look like. I chose to do an immersion bath with Procion MX dye in fuchsia. It took about an hour to dye, and I was worried that the scarf would just be hot pink and not show the diamonds I was planning on. It was really hard to wait for it to dry. OK, I peeked and it did nothing to alleviate my worries.
But after carefully cutting the knots and pulling the blue threads out, I pulled the scarf apart and . . . it is amazing! There is different saturation of the dye and it is really cool!
Instead of ironing the scarf flat I chose to block the scarf to 5 ½ inches and to allow texture. You can really see the variations now. You can also see the holes from the Shibori threads.
The scarf has a light and lovely drape. By blocking the scarf there is still a good amount of texture from the gathering process.
There are two very different sides to the scarf. One side is valleys and the other side is peaks of diamonds. The scarf is very touchable; everyone who sees it must touch!
I have enjoyed the entire process of making this scarf, the two shuttle weave, the gathering of the scarf, the nail biting (for me) dyeing process and the remarkable reveal of the scarf. I have enjoyed it so much, that before the scarf had dried I had dressed my loom with another one! The next one may be dyed in a different manner, maybe two different colours, one for each side.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Woven Shibori or Not Bead Leno Again!

I sampled! Yup, for the first time I actually sampled before leaping into a finished product. And I have to tell that I am glad that I did, although I am not saying that I will start sample everything, I just don’t have the patience and, really, in weaving there are no mistakes that can’t be fixed, or used in some way!

What I sampled was Woven Shibori. Shibori is a traditional Japanese technique for dyeing cloth with a pattern by stitching, folding and/or compressing the fabric. The method for Woven Shibori is that you weave the cloth (background) at the same time the Shibori threads are added. The Shibori threads are supplemental weft (or warp) threads, they can be added randomly or as a separate woven structure from the background weave. The Shibori threads (or loops) are left hanging off the sides of the piece; it looks very funny and a little messy. Once the fabric is off the loom the loops are knotted on one side, then the fabric is gathered against the knots, the tighter the better and knotted again.
The sample above is a natural coloured 2/20 Tencel/Cotton warp and the weft is a natural coloured 2/10 Cotton and the Shibori weft is blue 2/8 Orlec. The Shibori weft needs to be a very strong yarn as there is going to be lots of pressured applied to them when the threads are gathered. The background weft is woven as twill which makes a diamond pattern, the pattern weft or Shibori inlay half of the sample is also woven as twill. I tried two different placements for the Shibori wefts one set closely and one that is set two times further apart.
The sample was about 7 1/2 inches wide before I gathered the blue Shibori threads, a similar technique to smocking. The sample compressed down to 1 1/2 inches, with a lot of effort! For kitchen safe sampling I used apple cider vinegar to condition the piece and to make it take the dye; and two colours of Kool-Aid for dye. The sample was dipped half in orange and half in red. Then the sample was set out to dry before the blue threads could be taken out. It seemed to take a really long time to dry!
It was truly scary to cut the knots and pull the blue threads out to see what I had produced. And it is so cool! I love the little diamonds and the different saturation of the dyes. The sample should be pressed but I like the diamonds too much! But the scarf will have to be pressed because the variations will be more apparent. The above picture is the back side of the sample.

I can’t wait to see what the scarf is going to look like! I think that I am going to be brave and use Procion MX in a fuchsia colour. I am so excited!
As a side note, we would like to thank everyone for their kind thoughts during this scary summer. The fires are still raging, and in BC we have about 150 new fires every day! We had a fire in the Provincial Park just 2 km away, scary.