Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Showcasing Colour

I’m going to confess…..I’m an organizer! I feel most comfortable having everything in its place with few visual distractions; I like space around things so I can concentrate on each item. When I was planning my projects it seemed a good idea to pull out all the scarves Ngaire and I have for sale, have a good look at them and plan our new projects around them. Sales season cometh all too soon!

Generally my woven scarves have a warp of one colour and a contrasting weft, admittedly I’m a pattern person and I love to see the woven motifs clearly. Each scarf is beautiful by itself, but shown in close proximity to others, the colours can all blah out and you get a big eyeful of grey or beige or heaven forefend brown! Not what I want to achieve…So the game plan is to use solid or tone on tone warp and weft and weave foils for the scarves we have. These solid breaks would showcase the scarves around them as well as pull the eye toward the scarves ~ well that’s the plan anyway!Lace weaves seemed to be the best option for these solid or tone on tone scarves as the texture would provide interest that one colour patterned twill might not have. My new line of scarves is named for grape varieties (after all I do live in British Columbia’s biggest grape growing area), so this golden beauty is called Malbec. The weave structure is dropped tabby on eight shafts that I’ve turned and amended to weave vertically on ten shafts. I’ve woven the scarf using 2 tones of gold 2/8 tencel, one in the warp and the other in the weft. This weave structure has floats on one side that run vertically, in one tone of gold and horizontally on the other side in the second tone. Using the tone on tone gives amazing depth of colour. The foil for the unwoven areas is a 50/50 tabby, so the scarf has amazing structural integrity. In my enthusiasm to get going I forgot to change my reed, so wove this scarf at 28 epi…and it turned out stiff as a board off the loom. I must admit I was a tad worried.In the past I’ve always twisted my fringe before I wash the scarf, but for some reason I’ve found that my knots move around after washing. I’m sure it’s the miniscule differences in the take up while twisting. This has meant that I’ve had to fiddle with the fringes twice – not fun. This time I decided to lightly braid my fringes and wash the scarf, then twist the fringes when they were dry…..this really worked for me. I had no trouble undoing the loose braid when I hung the scarf to dry and twisting after washing was easy and the knots stayed where I put them! Thankfully Tencel is an extremely forgiving medium and after washing this scarf has beautiful drape and feel….whew!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Try, try again

When I first started weaving one of the first projects that I did was Bead Leno. I absolutely loved it! So when I found a ball of hand dyed yellow/orange/red 2/20 Cotton/Tencel I automatically thought Bead Leno.For some reason I didn’t like weaving it this time. I wove and unwove numerous times getting the same result and disliking it. I didn’t like my edges or the fact the scarf was getting narrower as I wove.The warp was threaded with a straight 4 shaft twill and I tried to find a pattern that I liked but nothing leaped off the computer screen. I like patterns that are busy and complicated and I wanted to keep to 4 shafts so the best weave structure to go to was Crackle. I love the shapes and colours that Crackle produces.The weft is black 2/20 Tencel and the pattern repeat is 180 picks. On the computer the centre motif looks like a honeycomb, all hexagonal. But when I was weaving the area where the pattern starts again came across the stronger image. Which I didn’t really like but the guild meeting was the next day and I only had a couple of hours until bedtime to start and finish the scarf! I didn’t want to bring the placemats as I was still upset by them, and by the way thank you for all the great comments. The placemats have made it into the remaking box instead of the trash.The scarf was almost finished by bedtime I had about 10 inches to finish weaving in the morning then twizzling, washing and pressing. I thought I was going to be OK because the meeting was at 7pm, until my Mum said that we were going in early to update the library and we were leaving after lunch. Yikes! I was rushing to the finish when I realized that my hemstitching looked funny. It was upside down.After doing it again, I added black threads to the fringe, to help transition the black; otherwise the yellow fringe looked jarring. Then I got the scarf washed and damp pressed, it would have to dry on the road. During the pressing I noticed the tension and beat issues that I had with the scarf. Ooops.From a distance the scarf looks great. I love all the little motifs that I can pick out, the pinecones on the edges, the circle in the centre and the bowties. I don’t usually do such a busy pattern with a variegated warp but the depth of colours and shine that this scarf has is amazing!I had put on enough warp for two scarves so I changed the treadling for the second scarf to get rid of the jarring transition between pattern repeats. I also picked a different weft. I went with the top choice which is orange 2/10 Tencel, the other two are hand dyed singles silk.I like what the larger grist weft does to the pattern; also I did an advancing repeat so the pattern was also elongated. The shapes that are made are incredible.I ran out of weft so the scarf is quite short but I love it. The warmth of the yellow and orange are just wonderful. I love the jigsaw effect of the Crackle, just stunning.Below is a picture of the two scarves side by side and the difference is just amazing. The pattern shows much better with the orange scarf and the shine is marvelous.I have learned a lot of lessons with this warp and I am glad that I didn’t do Bead Leno. I love Crackle!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Vines and Wines

I’m in love with this pattern! The scarf turned out beautifully and I know that I’ll definitely be using this pattern again! The pattern is a ten shaft, ten treadle advancing twill. It was woven as drawn in and has only a three thread float. The pattern repeat is 33 threads, so it goes on extremely easily and weaves quickly. The warp was 2/20 hand painted silk, and while the painted warp was lovely it really posed a huge set of problems. Every weft that I tried seemed to blend in with one of the colours or the other, so basic black was my best option. It wasn’t the option that I wanted because it masked and changed the values of the warp colours. The warp was very lively in colour when I dyed it, and now it’s very subdued….ah well, the best laid plans and all that! The great thing about this scarf is the optical illusions that the pattern produced. The scarf is totally flat, but appears to be a series of raised pillows – very cool. The reverse of the scarf is the essentially the same. After looking at the grapes on my arbour which are budding up nicely – Pinot Gris came to mind as a name for this scarf as it has all the same colours as the grape variety.Our weather has not been stellar this year, but my faithful clematis vines are almost all in bloom now, so I thought I’d share a few photos I took this morning. This clematis is pale pink with lilac stripes and has blossoms the size of dinner plates – really massive!This is a local native variety and soon the whole fence will be covered in these sweet yellow bells and then the seed heads give another great show in the autumn.This is one of my oldest vines, it was here when we bought the house twenty years ago and the flowers are a dark magenta, it will completely cover on side of my garden shed by fall. Not too many of these vibrant purple with pink stripes are in bloom right now, but soon they will put on a huge display.An electric red violet is the closest I can describe this one….so pretty.I used to have six or seven peony varieties, but it seemed as soon as they started to bloom we would get rain and then I’d be left with a huge mess – this pink peony is the last man standing!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What the Huck?!

The washing of the placemats was a bit of a process because the dye ran so I am thankful that the warp and weft were the same 2/8 cotton in teal. I washed the sets of placemats in groups of two so that they got the same treatment within the same set. I was also able to take my time to block the placemats.

The pressing sucked because of all the issues that I have with the placemats. The sets are all the same size within the pairs but there was shrinking issues with all the placemats. The areas of huck lace shrunk in width and length more than the areas of plain weave. So the placemats all have wrinkles in them that all the steam pressing in the world can’t get out. The size of the placemats after washing and pressing are 17” x 14” which are a very good size for placemats, if anything they are a little too big. The pattern on the above placemat is really pretty. I like the strong diagonals across the placemat yet when looking closer circles are the dominant structure. With the second set of placemats the centre panel is all over huck lace and had the greatest amount of shrinkage. The third set of placemats has more of a lattice appearance. And is a little boring when compared to the other sets. I wove these placemats for sale and I’m unable to sell them because of the wrinkles. Even if I was able to get the wrinkles out by pressing, once the placemats were washed the wrinkles would be back and that is not acceptable. So now I have to come up with an idea to use the placemats in a creative way. I don’t really want to add more material costs or time with these placemats as they are not a high cost item so if I can’t come up with something in the next couple weeks I will be throwing them out. And that is really hard to say but it is necessary in a business sense.
I'm still searching for a reliable placemat pattern, so far every one that Mom and I have tried have had issues....any ideas?