Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Theo Moorman Technique Part Two

The Theo Moorman inlay scarf is finished, and it wove up very quickly considering that it was finger manipulated. The scarf looks like tiles of brilliant colour, separated by big airy spaces.
The coral blocks are medium sized silk singles produced by Debbie Bliss, the green blocks are hand dyed silk slub from The Silk Tree.
Here it is just off the loom, draped over the back of the loom, with the Venetian blind slat place holders still woven in. The pattern that I chose for the inlay blocks was based on an X of the coral silk with the centre square of the green. I wanted to achieve a strong graphic pattern that really showcased the inlay blocks and I think I succeeded. The colours I chose all have the same value, so it’s the shape that really stands front and centre.
When the scarf is shown with the full pattern, the pattern looks more like diamonds than an x cross; although not what I had envisioned I’m more than happy with the graphic look.
The scarf has a very unique drape. The blocks of plain weave are very firm and have little movement, but there is plenty of movement in the unwoven blocks and the open work. The overall feel is very soft and silky; the stainless steel doesn’t seem to be affecting the drape at all and adds so much shine!
The edges of blocks are a little loose, but the stainless steel and the inlay really hold the warp threads in place nicely, so there isn’t much migration between blocks at all.
It is a very different style of scarf to what I have done before and I’m completely taken with the bold blocks of colour.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Silk Fusion Cards

Yesterday was a Monashee Group meeting and JoAnne did a demo of Silk Fusion. The Group is a gathering of spinners, knitters and weavers who meet weekly at one another’s homes on a rotating basis, usually just to visit and show and tell; but, yesterday was something special.The session began with the tools needed to make a card insert. For each card, you will need 2 screens the same size as the card. Generic fly screen is used in this case, but toile or other fine mesh fabric can also be used. Silk fibre is a given. It’s a great use of those wee bits of very special silk roving.Acrylic medium to set the fusion is important and can be found here along with complete fusion instructions. On a large stack of towels, (this is a messy business!) you lay your first screen down and using a very fine film of silk fibre, you cover the screen horizontally. Leave the overhangs in place as you will need them later in the process.Here the screen is covered with the first layer. Gently pulling the fibre vertically you again cover the screen – remembering ‘less is more’. You can do another horizontal layer if you like at this time. JoAnne uses these purchased embellishment bags to garner small amounts of ribbons and yarns for the decorations. A few sequins are added too. Placed in a random pattern, it’s very pretty. If you like additional wisps of fibre can be laid over the embellishment. An old card is placed over the finished product to ensure that the placement is in exactly the right place visually. The second screen is placed on top of the silk. Using a 2” brush and some water with a splash of soft soap, you drench the silk completely. You will have to apply lots of water and turn the silk over a couple of times. Now with a mixture of half water and half Acrylic medium you again drench to silk on both sides. Amazingly it’s done! Now with a couple of clothes pins you hang the screens to dry. The next day you carefully pull the screens away (the overhanging wisps help here); now trim away the excess.
Here are a two more of JoAnne's finished cards.
The card stock is from Cardblanks.com and the cards come already pre glued and are of very high quality.
Overall it was a very informative afternoon and I think I may be hooked!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Theo Moorman Technique

Now that I’m in my second year of weaving, I’m finally tackling my first piece of plain weave…..well sort of plain weave. I am doing a spaced and crammed scarf with an added inlay technique called Theo Moorman. Theo Moorman technique is based on groups of three warp ends. One thread is very fine and is used to anchor the supplemental inlay weft thread. The other two threads are thicker and are the primary structure threads; they are woven as plain weave. In each dent there are three threads, one thin thread and two thicker threads.In my case I am using 2/20 silk that has been hand dyed a variegated royal blue for the structure threads. For the fine thread I was going to use sewing thread in a slightly darker blue, but lucky for me it ran out, before my warp was finished. So instead I am using a stainless steel thread encased in black merino wool, it is very shiny and makes me very happy! Thanks to Susan at Thrums for sharing a sample of this yarn with us. I think that the scarf is going to be much better; it really adds a depth to the scarf.
For the spaced and crammed part of the scarf, there are five warp blocks 1” across and ½” space between them. So I put 3 threads per dent in a 12 dent reed that equals 1” and left 6 dents empty.
The main weft I am used is the same blue silk as the warp and for the Theo Moorman inlay squares I am using 2 ply green silk with soft slubs and purple 2/20 silk. 1” squares are woven then a 1” space is left, I’m using Venetian blind slats for the spaces. To add even more interest to the scarf, I’m only adding inlay on specific blocks to make a larger design.
Theo Moorman inlay is a very simple technique yet it has such a great impact. First step is to do one pick in plain weave with the main weft, in my case the blue silk. It goes all the way across and where there is no inlay, it weaves a block made up of plain weave.
Second step is to open a shed that only has the stainless steel and throw a pick of the supplemental weft, green silk. Here is a close up of one of the inlay squares. The blue weft can barely be seen, further away it can’t be seen at all. The inlay is done in a brick method; it can also be done as perfectly straight rows, called the Dukagang method. Beside is a block of just plain weave however with variegation of warp and weft with the shine of the stainless steel it is also very special. A cool thing about Theo Moorman technique is that the back of the cloth doesn’t show any of the inlay weft. It is truly a surface design. Here is the sample so far, exciting isn’t it, and yet another addition to Mum's workshop!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Anatomy of a Test Piece

These socks are addictive! Once I learned to knit them from the toe up, using a short row toe and heel, I was away. So much fun!
This is the other thing keeping me occupied during the long Canadian winter nights. I purchased a bag of Louet fibre 50% merino and 50% soy silk in June. The colour way was called Karioke and it's big and bright and bold to say the least.
I'm now at the plying stage and I didn't want to get the barber pole effect, or to bland all the bright colours out, so I'm plying it with 2/120 cashmere. I've gone for a spiral ply effect, and at this point have no idea what the heck I'll do with it!

My Shadow Weave piece came off the loom last week. To be an acceptable GCW test piece it had to meet a few criteria.

the piece must be woven 50/50 unless stated otherwise
the piece must be a minimum of 12”x18” finished
the piece must be squared

I put on only 2 yards for this project and I sett my Shadow Weave at 24 ends per inch, so to achieve a 50/50 woven piece after wet finishing it must have between 23-24 picks per inch .
To ensure that my piece is 12” wide, I put on 17.6” of warp. As I was weaving I measured the piece on the loom and it was 16”wide with take up and it remained 16” after the piece was off the loom.
I need the piece to be 18” long after finishing, so I planned on 3” for the hem; half for turn under and half to frame the pattern. To make sure that the turn under wasn’t too heavy I wove an extra 1 inch with sewing thread. I wove two full pattern repeats and measured the piece and found it was only 14”, so I wove a third pattern repeat. With the 3” hem allowances at each end my piece was 28” on the loom when I cut it off. After it was off the loom and had a few minutes to sit, it measured 25-1/2”.

Since floating selvedges, tape selvedges or doubled selvedges are not allowed on the Shadow Weave question, it was important to maintain a good looking selvedge. To help with this I started by first throwing my dark weft from the right and placing the shuttle on the cloth, I then followed with my light weft again from the right. Now with both shuttles on the left I ensured that I put the light shuttle down on the cloth closest to the fell line and repeated this throughout the piece. This mostly ensured that both wefts were caught at the selvedge to give the feather stitch look that is a characteristic of Shadow Weave. When necessary due to the patterning I would manipulate the wefts to make sure the selvedge threads were caught.

Squaring the piece is partly done on the loom and partly done with pressing. If you have not tied your warp evenly you may get a smile (edge too tight) or a frown (edge too loose), both of these will make your piece appear long in the centre.

The overall look of the piece is important so that’s why I put a border around the pattern. I did the easiest of borders and added several twill repeats at each selvedge and repeated the same twill repeat 14 times to give my hem. After vigorous washing, my piece had only 22 ppi. – not enough picks per inch……so back to the loom. I had a good look at what warp was left on the loom and with only 32 inches left I decided that I had better look at re treadling the piece. The pattern I had originally chosen had a 7” repeat, much too long for the warp that remained, so I shortened the treadling to a 4” repeat. I then resleyed to 20 epi since there wasn't enough warp to do my regular tie on, I lashed the warp to the front beam. I then proceeded to weave a perfectly balance piece – but only just had enough warp to weave it 24”. I haven't even washed the piece and I know it's too short. This bummed me out….I know there will be 20% shrinkage and I need to hem the piece, so 18” just won’t be there. Today I pulled another warp of 3 yards – sett at 20 epi and using the same small pattern, third time lucky!
Book Review

200 Patterns for Multiple Harness Looms, by Russell E. Groff. The layout of this book is excellent going from the least number of shafts needed to the most. Each page has a black and white photo of the pattern, a threading draft, a tie up draft and one or more of the possible treadlings. There are also very good notes about the warp and weft used and about the resulting fabric and often it's eventual use. Sometimes size constraints make finding all the information a bit difficult, but with perserverance you can find all you need to weave the pattern. The patterns are for looms having 5 to 12 shafts and I find this small book a real treasure to own.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cost of Weaving a Handspun Silk Scarf

In yet another attempt to get everything caught up, so I can start fresh in the New Year; I finally worked on finishing my last Network Twill Scarf. This scarf used my handspun silk as the warp and 2/8 Tencel as the weft. The scarf is beautiful, but as I looked at it and started to figure out the cost, I became weak in the knees and felt somewhat faint…..if I pay myself just $10.00 per hour, this scarf, lovely though it is, came in at around $300.00 to make! Frankly I don't think that the silk shows up at all well, what a mistaka to maka!I thought I’d share my cost breakdown with you…so you can share my pain!

I hand spun the silk warp way back in the spring. The cost of the silk to spin was $25.00
The cost of my time to spin $50.00
I plied the silk using 2/120 silk thread $135.00 per lb $ 9.00
The plying time was another $50.00
Niddy Noddying it off the bobbin added another $10.00
Washing, drying and skeining $10.00
Pulling the warp $10.00
I tied on the warp, so saved money there $20.00
Actual weaving time, with hem stitiching $40.00
Twisting the fringe the first time $15.00
Cableing the fringe $15.00
Beading costs and time $20.00
Washing, drying and pressing $10.00
This is the fringe twisted once on the right - way too much variation and it tended to bridge and clump. On the left it is cabled and now it looks much better, but what a waste of time!
Amazing isn’t it? I’m pretty sure it really cost more than that, but I just lie to myself and stick my fingers in my ears….la..la..la..la Now onto something that makes me happy…..my Singer Steam Press. It’s wonderful! I’m finally getting that lovely hard pressed finish I wanted and McSteamy (his new name) is so easy to use! I must admit to getting all carried away and pressing my guest room pillowcases, and then standing back and feeling very Martha Stewart!

I’ve taken on the job as Guild Librarian for my local guild and the first task I set myself was to catalogue the books and enter them on librarything. I’ve spent a number of hours photographing the covers that were missing and now I want to have short reviews to add to make it perfect. To that end I’ll be reviewing my library on this blog.
The Key To Weaving A Textbook of Hand Weaving for the Beginning Weaver by Mary E. Black. This is the weaving Bible! Here’s a book which provides concise, clear information on virtually every weave structure out there. In most cases Mrs. Black provides you with a draft or step by step instructions so that you too can weave it perfectly. This is the book that I use most to get the basic weave structure information and background. This is also the text book that the Guild of Canadian Weavers uses for the Master Weaver Program. If Mary Black says it, you can take it to the bank! I highly recommend this book.