Monday, April 25, 2011

Dyeing for A Plethora of Shibori

We dyed the woven shibori scarves and forgot to take any photos of us doing it, don’t know what we were thinking; but you can go here to see the dyeing process . Here is a photo of all the dyed scarves patiently waiting the 24 hours before we wash the Procion MX dye out. The basin is filled to overflowing because we also dyed a number of silk hanks to use up the residual dyes. On the top of the rack are the 8 scarves rinsed, we don’t take out the Shibori threads until the scarves are dried.
The middle rack has some 1/12 silk that we dyed to go with some silk previously dyed for a colour study group. The silk that we dyed this time is the solid colours to go with the thick painted hanks and Mum has a really neat idea for the silk.
On the bottom rack is some more silk and the skein to the front of the photo is 2/20 Tencel that I am going to use for some bead leno scarves.
But you really want to see the scarves and here they are. We each dyed one of our scarves the same colour way but they came out radically differently.
The first set of scarves are dyed jade on one side and robin egg’s blue on the other.
The second set are dyed red violet on one side and teal on the other, my personal favourite.
The third set are fuchsia down the centre and royal blue on the edges.
The last two are for us and I did another pink one and Mum did yellow on one side and royal blue on the other. There was some weird colour mixing on Mum’s scarf so it shows a lot of olive green!
The scarves are all so different in the dyeing and in the texture that they produced. The plain weave scarves are all about the dyeing patterns. The twill scarves have a lot more texture that even with a hard pressing doesn’t come out.

It was a truly fascinating experience to weave the same thing as my Mum, it is interesting to see how we do things differently even though she taught me to weave and we weave on the same type of loom! Then to have the product dyed the same yet come out so different.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Burn Testing an Unknown Fibre

Last fall when we purchase Ngaire’s Louet Spring I bought some great cotton and silk yarns and at the same time I got these very pretty shiny cones, now why is that not a surprise? I bought the whole stock of this yarn, because I'm a magpie and love shiny things! But what the heck is it? After a fruitless internet search, I decided that I’d better do a burn test to find out exactly what the fibre content is.I decided to run the test on known fibres to act as a base line and to ensure that I was doing the burn tests correctly. I chose to burn silk, linen, cotton and this unknown fibre. Armed with my Mary Blacks ‘Key to Weaving’ a box of matches and a plate I was ready for my burn tests. Silk was the first under the flame and it should burn with a sparkling orange yellow mantle. Silk should burn steadily with a slight sizzle then self extinguish. Linen was next in line and it should burn orange yellow and sparkle and crackle.Linen then smolders until self extinguishing. Cotton burns with yellow orange flame and leaves a delicate black or grey skeleton and emits wisps of bluish smoke. Cotton doesn’t self extinguish.Now it’s time for the Chyrsella, my mystery fibre. It exploded into flame and burned with a bright yellow flame and gave off black smoke. It burned so fast that I got of small speck of this napalm on my fingernail and OMG I hit the water pretty fast! The yarn ignites and burns very readily and is not self extinguishing and left a tarlike residue. I believe is Acrylic yarn. This is the result of my burn tests. It was a fun fibre exercise and I learned how to pay attention to details while you hold onto fire and ~ to always keep a bowl of water at hand! I had a bit of cotton warp left on my loom and I quickly wove up a sample with the red Chyrsella to see how it behaved. It stayed on the bobbin very nicely, unlike some rayon which can have a tendency to sproing off the bobbin. When I popped the sample in the water I was gob smacked by the smell! Weirdly, acridly, manmade is the only description that fits. The yarn was colour fast and when dried had no odour and a beautiful soft feel. The odour of the yarn when wet is something that I don’t think can be overcome, so this yarn will never be used in garments or table linens. I now have some very beautiful yarn that will be dedicated to weaving cards or wall hangings or whatever I can come up with…..but ohhhhh it’s so pretty!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Woven Shibori Duet

Mum and I did something that we have never done before . . . we wove the same thing at the same time! We were looking at the stash and noticed that we had a lot of natural cotton so woven Shibori was the perfect solution. I pulled both 10 yard warps in 2/8 natural cotton each with about 240 ends.Shibori is a traditional Japanese technique for dyeing cloth by stitching secondary threads into fabric and pulling the threads in a manner similar to smocking. After dyeing the secondary threads are pulled out. In woven Shibori the secondary threads are added during the weaving process instead of afterwards by hand. The weft for the scarves is natural cotton and the Shibori threads are Orlec. I learned that if you are doing a pattern with the Shibori picks it is best to use a colour that you can see; it helps to minimize mistakes as the pattern really shows clearly.The 10 yard warp is enough to do four scarves and two 12 inch samples. For each scarf I tried to do different 8 shaft twill treadling for the background in the natural cotton and a different twill pattern for the Shibori pattern picks. Mum was doing plain weave background with Monks’ Belt for the Shibori pattern on 4 shafts so it went really fast, so fast that by the time that I had done two scarves she had done four scarves! The finished scarves stretch from the living room to the dining room. Here is a closer look at two of the scarves, the one on the left is mine and the one of the right is Mum’s. The loops on the side are the Shibori picks and are used when gathering the scarves, like smocking. We had used the cotton before for dyeing and noticed that it had quite a bit of spinning oil that tended to discolour. So before we twizzled or gathered the Shibori picks we washed the scarves. We did this only because of the oiliness of the cotton. The samples on the top have not been washed and you can really see the difference. We wanted the fringe to also wash clean so we loosely braided them. After washing and drying we had to twizzle the fringes. Eight scarves and lots of little twists makes for a long two days of twizzling, thank goodness for a quadruple fringe twister! The scarves are now pulled and ready for dyeing. Before gathering they were five inches wide and now are about one inch wide. The next blog post is going to be about the exciting part, the dyeing and the reveal of the finished scarves.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Huck Lace Weave Butterflies

Isn’t the scarf stunning?! I haven’t done a lace weave in a long time so I went looking for an idea and saw this butterfly in Best of Weavers – Huck Lace. The original draft was done on a 16 shaft loom and needs 17 treadles but I modified it using PCW Fiberworks down to 14 treadles, just perfect for my 12 shaft loom. The butterfly motif looks similar to the one in the book, but by shaft switching and modifying I really simplified and tightened up the motif. I wanted to make these scarves for summer wear so I modified my width and length. I chose to weave the scarves 5 inches wide and 50 inches long, this is a full 20 inches shorter than my usual scarf length. The warp and weft for my first scarf is 2/8 Bamboo in Red Violet. The butterflies are the star of the scarf so I wanted to have the warp and weft the same so there was nothing to distract the eye. The butterflies are quite large at almost 4 inches so I had a hard time figuring out placement. Finally I decided that I needed a strong visual; so I cut out pieces of paper in the correct size and measured out the length of scarf I wanted and played until the spacing was right. The scarf I used is one my mother made me in Italian silk ribbon and Tencel – pretty eh? One thing with doing an image on a scarf is that at the half way point the image has to be flipped so that when the scarf is worn both sides have the motif going in the same direction and that they match perfectly. I ended up weaving five butterfly motifs going in one direction and four going the other. I finished my scarf with hemstitching in small increments and then did a plaited fringe treatment. I think it really adds that special touch to the scarf. For the second scarf on the warp I decided to change things up a bit and I used 2/8 Tencel in an almost matching Red Violet for the weft. Bamboo is lovely and smooth but it is slightly matte and I thought that the having the same colour but with added shine would be interesting. I wove the scarf with the same motif placement, but the Tencel makes the huck floats shimmer and catch the light. I finished this scarf with the same plaited fringe treatment. The Tencel and bamboo scarf is slightly darker then the all bamboo scarf. They both have a lovely drape. It was my first time working with bamboo and it was a joy! I love this pictorial type of weaving and I’ll be working on a few original ideas for my next designs.