Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dyeing Silk with ProcionMX

The Ponderosa Spinners and Weavers Guild had a warp dyeing day in the guild room and Ngaire and I decided to go. We brought along our wet silk warps and prepared to dye! We had soaked our warps in 500 ml of white vinegar to 2 litres of water the night before, so we were ready to get colouring!

The first thing we did was to roll out inexpensive plastic wrap the length of our wet warp; we lay the warp on the wrap and poured the prepared Lanaset dye onto it. Naturally, I forgot my camera, but I've recreated a few of the steps at home. Then with hands encased in gloves we smooshed…..I don’t know any other way to explain the process of working the dye in with your fingertips, making sure the dye went all the way through the warp! When the whole warp was dyed, we rolled it up jelly roll fashion and then overwrapped again. Then with trepidation, I popped it in the microwave on full power for 1-1/2 minutes per 100 grams….then turned it over and repeated.

My warp weighed in at 199 grams, so 3 minutes per side – I couldn’t believe the high pitched shriek that came out of the microwave. I’m sure dogs for miles came running! I was sure it was going to explode, but it didn’t and out came my warp. Within moments it started to shrink wrap and cool. After it was cool enough to handle I unwrapped it and rinsed under cool water. Amazingly no excess dye came off! The warps we dyed with Lanaset are purple and orange for me, and raspberry and orange for Ngaire.

We came home and dyed the weft for these two warps and another warp and weft scarf each. I don’t have Lanaset dyes so I fell back onto my preferred dye Procion MX. I soaked the warps and wefts in soda ash for 30 minutes. Meanwhile I mixed up the Procion, 1 teaspoon Procion, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon urea to 1/2 cup of warm water. We then painted the dye on with sponge brushes.
Then wrapped the warps up in the plastic wrap, slipped into a baggie and left for 24 hours.

I honestly can’t tell the difference in the dye colour intensity, so for silk, both Lanaset and Procion seem to work well. We are both thrilled with our 4 silk scarf warps and matching silk singles wefts although the orange weft I dyed for my purple and orange warp (above) looked much better with Ngaire’s raspberry and orange warp ( on the loom already!) and her rust weft looked better with mine!This is Ngaire's, moss, plum and steel blue warp with the moss weft.My periwinkle, turquoise,royal blue and purple warp with the royal blue and periwinkle weft.

We had a bit of extra dye, and of course not ones to be wasteful we quickly dropped in a few hanks of 2/8 cotton and had a smoosh! Not too sure what they are for yet.Now we've added a lovely soft plum, turqouise and navy and steel blue cotton to the stash!
All in all it was a really successful dye session.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weaving with Novelty Yarn Part Two

Every time I weave, I learn something new. It may be something about a weave structure or about a fibre; this time I learned that if your shuttle is three times larger than your project it is too large! I wasn’t letting the shuttle glide across the reed race; no it was more like I was passing a large and heavy block of wood hand to hand. I got a great arm work out though!
The finished scarf looks amazing! The interplay between the weft, a 2/16 mercerized cotton in ‘aubergine’ and the ladder ribbon is just remarkable. It takes a really simple weave structure and makes it into something special.
The bonus surprise from this scarf is the ikat look. This came out due to the fact that the ribbon yarn is dyed in a staggered manner. When I put the warp on the loom naturally some of these staggers line up and – instant ikat!
I twisted the fringe and it looks incredible. I was careful to not over twist because I wanted the blocks of colour from the ribbon to show through. The fringe looks like it has been studded with jewels.
The fringe twisting also went twice as fast because Mum just purchased a Leclerc quadruple fringe twister. It is totally the way to go, it is so versatile, two doubles, one triple or one quadruple – fantastic!
I love this scarf; I wish that it was mine! But I already have a similar one and I am sure that this scarf is going to find itself a nice new home at the Ponderosa Guild’s Christmas Sale which takes place at the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna November 13 and 14th.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weaving with Novelty Yarn

I was going through the stash looking for something to weave when I saw a cone of ladder ribbon and I knew what I wanted to weave . . .

My favorite scarf is one that Mum wove for me; it is a silk ladder ribbon in peacock colours, purple, lime green, and blue. It is crossed with a teal Orlec and every time it is worn I get a compliment.
The scarf looks like it is woven as undulating but that effect is from the interaction of the silk squares with the weft. And I am looking forward to experimenting with this effect, with the pink ladder ribbon.
Recently I have put back on the sectional warp beam and second back beam on the Minerva. So I had to remember how to beam a sectional again. I am using a modified version of the Louet method, because the ladder ribbon could be difficult in a tension box.
I placed a metal bar between the sectional sections to attach the extenders for the warp. The warp has been separated in a raddle at the top of the castle to help corral the ribbon and to place even tension on the warp. The warp is then pulled on slowly making sure that the ribbons stay in their designated sections.
In the very first photo is a pink cone of Orlec which I was going to use as weft, but it was too thick and obscured the ribbon. I don’t have a picture, of course, but I had to cut out about 5 inches because I was in denial. I do have one piece of advice about ladder ribbon which is when hemstitching do it during the day when you can see, I lost count of how many times I had to undo, lots of two steps forward, one step back!
I had to find a weft that was finer then 2/8. I spent a lot of time going through the stash looking for weft, the 2/20 black Tencel was too fine and looked like a spider web. The 2/20 pink cotton was too pale and too fine. The weft that worked turned out to be a purple 2/16 mercerized cotton!
It just disappears and lets the warp do its thing. I am being very careful to just tap the weft into position; I want the lumps and bumps. I really like the weaving of this scarf, in just a couple of hours this afternoon I have already woven 40 inches, only 30 inches left! I am really looking forward to seeing this scarf off the loom; I think that it is going to be amazing!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Taking The Show On The Road

Ngaire and I were given the opportunity to have a booth at the First Annual ‘Slow’ Fibre Festival last weekend. The intention was to revive, promote and perpetuate the intrinsic concept of locally sourced and created products. This would be our first foray out on our own, so with a little trepidation we decided to ‘take the show on the road’. The first thing we decided to do was do a mock up of how we wanted the booth to look. Michael dragged his sawhorses onto the deck and we had a chance to try everything out.
Thankfully our display racks from the studio are portable and they stood up by themselves.We got to the Youth Centre in Summerland and saw that we had been assigned two tables against the wall. This was wonderful, we could really go to town and give all the scarves room to glow! We made a mistake on the tea towels by having the hang tags showing in front – they were soon turned over and the tags were put at the back. Most of the vendors were selling fleeces, roving, and dyed locks with some end products knitted and woven. We were the only booth with only hand woven accessories.We dropped the four Chenille scarves onto the table and with a bit of creative rolling, I think they look wonderful! This was how we left the booth on Friday night after set up; I think it looks pretty good! On Saturday morning, after getting up at 5 a.m. and driving for 1-1/2 hours to make the 8 a.m. opening we moved the lights to the front of the table and everything came to life.
Since we had been given an additional table, we brought another mannequin and more props and played around with the set up on Saturday morning. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the improvements we made.

I’m so happy that we went to the “First Annual Slow Fibre Festival” as it was very profitable for us and it was such a nice first experience for Ngaire and me. The Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers Guild were our hosts and they were wonderfully organized and hopefully we will be there again next year!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Exciting Few Days

I have decided to abandon this project….it’s called Skip Plain Weave and it’s from Peter Collingwood’s’ book The Techniques of Rug Weaving. Sorry for the blurry image....
The weave structure is plain weave and the premise of the weave is that selected sections of warp are woven in plain weave in colour A and the weft skips behind the sections that are to be woven in colour B. I love the idea of this, but after 2 inches and masses of wool warp, the bell rung and I knew it was not the weave structure to use for my 4th “hand manipulated rug” sample! Well, more research is needed I guess. Lily Louet, my wonderful Spring loom has the old faithful spaced blocks on her. I’ve used a truly beautiful lavender 2/8 bamboo yarn for this scarf and so far, so good! My guild the Ponderosa Spinners and Weavers in Kelowna BC had our 15th annual Spinning Day on Saturday and we had a wonderful turnout. I managed to convince my friend Susan of Thrums fame to come for a visit at the same time. We had a wonderful day, although I didn’t get much spinning done, I did manage to keep the vendors busy. We were lucky enough to have 4 vendors at our Spinning day and I think that they all did well.Homespun Haven brought her Ashford looms and lots of yarn.
Aurelia Fibres brought stunning New Zealand roving.
Art of Yarn brought Louet Black Faced Leicester roving that was amazing as well as a great selection of Sweet Georgia BFL roving’s and Joybelee Farms came with a selection of natural dyes….it was wonderful! Susan and I managed to cram a lot into just 4 days and yesterday we drove up to her old stomping ground in The Shuswap. Don't you love the colour coordination? The Adams River Sockeye Salmon run is the biggest in a century, so we knew it was something not to be missed. This is Ngaire and Susan at the Interpretation Centre.To get to The Adams River the Sockeye have swum upriver some 350+ miles to get to their spawning grounds, to mate and die. They grow a wicked looking hump and beak and turn an amazingly brilliant red with a lime green head. Nature is astonishing in the colours she dresses her fellows – you just try getting the males in your life to wear that combination! The river breaks into slower running side streams and the salmon complete their four year life cycle by laying and fertilizing eggs only to then die by the millions. Yup, the smell is something special!The Department of Fisheries was busy checking for salmon that had been tagged in the Pacific Ocean and keeping a count of the run. They were hauling very full nets so it was quite a sight.

Susan's blog will have our very short but sweet visit from her perspective, so check it out at Thrums!