This took HOW long?

an old tag

I haven’t liked my hang tags for a long time. A. Long. Time. I can document 3 years, because that’s when I posted a question on Weavolution in the Professional Weavers group. I’ve tried to remember to look at the tags of other weavers at shows, sometimes forgetting, other times unimpressed with what I saw.

As shown above, my old tags were printed on card stock. Federal law requires that every item is marked with fiber content and care instructions. I had to create tags specifically for every fiber and fiber combo that I used. Invariably I didn’t have the tags I needed when I was preparing for a show and had to make new ones. Then I’d write the size and some kind of title on the tag so that when the item was purchased I might have some clue for my records what it was.

The tags were marginally acceptable on day one, but when the piece got rolled and packed up for the night, the odds that the tag would be wrinkled were high, so it didn’t take long for them to look ratty.

A few months ago I decided I couldn’t wait any longer to upgrade my tags. I talked to a local printer and was pleased that they had a somewhat flexible, durable, non-rippable stock they could print on.

Then I set about designing the new tag. The new stock (called Poli Print) couldn’t be folded well (a good thing) to make a tiny booklet, which was my original vision, so I had to re-design a few times. The tag had to be small enough to look good, have all the information I needed on it for various fibers and care instructions, plus my branding and contact info.

I got them back early this week, and although not perfect, I figure after 3 years they are just fine.

a new tag

I will check the appropriate lines for fiber content and care instructions. I’m betting it won’t be long before I use some fiber that isn’t listed, but I tried to include all the ones I use. Then I’ll still have to hand write the size and title, which I wish I didn’t have to do since I think it detracts from the professional look, but typing that info on small labels (like return address label size) and then sticking them on seems problematic, too, although I may try a few.

People have to be able to see both sides of the tag, so I can’t simply pin them to the piece as I did with the old tags. I spent last night cutting strings for hanging, knotting and trimming, and inserting them in the hole, and got 125 tags done. I cut the strings for another 300 tags, and may do some more knotting, trimming, and inserting tonight. My obsessive nature likes to get things like that done in advance.

Three years — can you believe it?!

Not exactly as planned

hand painted magenta 'snake'

I got those last 2 rayon chenille shawls woven and finished, but I don’t have pix yet, so you’ll see them later. Meanwhile, I did some more hand painting. My goal was a very deep magenta, a pale magenta, and undyed. After a bit of painting I decided to add some yellow to the warp. My quick calculations about where a scarf would end may or may not have been accurate — time will tell. I had a friend helping me, so went back to the process of having the three sections of warp lying next to each other while I painted for more control; that’s why there’s a ‘snake’ of dyed warp. This is silk, and it’s already been steamed and batched overnight at this point.

After taking all the saran wrap off, which is always a messy endeavor for me, it looked like this. Looking good.

hand painted silk, unwrapped

My process is to then give it a fairly quick rinse, followed by an overnight soak. Here it is after that rinse. I can still see 2 distinct shades of the magenta, so I’m feeling good.

magenta silk, rinsed

Hmmmmmm…after drying, there is very little difference between the dark and light magenta. As a result, my warp will have some fairly long sections of the same color. Not the effect I wanted. Dyeing is still quite an experimental activity for me.

I did keep records of the proportions of dyes I used, and that can inform future efforts. I spoke to my dye teacher and asked about over-painting sections of the warp to achieve my desired effect. She assured me I could do it. I thought about it for a few hours, and decided to leave well enough alone. After all, it was possible I’d end up with something I liked even less.

So I paired it with some narrow stripes of pale, spring green 16/2 cotton and started beaming it. I would have used silk if I’d had anything in colors that spoke to me.

beaming hand painted magenta silk

I figured with less differentiation in the warp, it would allow me to do both a more complex weave pattern and bolder weft colors. We’ll see how that turns out.

Four luscious shawls

into the blue rayon chenille shawl, draped

I am very fortunate that I was not one of the 90,000+ people in Rochester who lost power last week. Both by kids and some friends weren’t so lucky. They were without electricity – and heat – from mid-day Wednesday till about 5PM yesterday. There are still about 8,000 people awaiting their power back, even though crews have been working around the clock in single digit temperatures. And with a winter storm starting tonight, dropping up to 18″ of snow in 24 hours, everyone wants the problem completely solved today. I’m hoping they can do that, and that the snow isn’t heavy enough to cause more damage.

Because I never lost power I have been playing host to my kids and friends periodically. Glad to do it, and to reduce my work output for a while.

into the blue rayon chenille shawl on a rod

I did get all four rayon chenille shawls hemmed and wet finished. One day I got myself set up and took about a million photos of them. I want to get one of the blue and one of the red up on my Etsy page – maybe later today. I will hold one of each back from Etsy for that show in Cazenovia in April. So I posed them in ways I’ve never done before just to add some interest to the pix.

Shawl as toga.

into the blue rayon chenille toga

Shawl as skirt.

fire coals rayon chenille skirt

Having seen them in person, Jennifer suggested a great name for those red shawls – fire coals. I’m sticking with that.

fire coals rayon chenille shawl draped

Here’s how the one with the stripes on the ends looked. This is something I don’t often do, and I”m quite happy with it.

fire coals rayon chenille shawl with stripes

I’m putting a third set of shawls on the loom now. Then I’m going to move away from rayon chenille shawls for a while.


Falling into rayon chenille

I got a warp for 2 rayon chenille shawls onto and off of the loom. I’m calling them Into the Blue. You can see why.

Into the Blue rayon chenille shawls

From left to right, I used up a bit of leftover handpainted Navy Black and then a bunch of handpainted Ocean Waves from Yarntopia Treasures. Then I did a gradient into Valley Yarns aquamarine. For the first weft I used that same very bright aquamarine. The second shawl is just a bit more subtle, since I used Valley Yarns Grayed Teal for weft. Both shawls are now off the loom, but I haven’t yet hemmed or wet finished, so don’t have those pix yet.

As I was planning this warp, something bad happened. I’ve been working really hard at using up my stash. But I realized that I needed to order some colors of rayon chenille to coordinate with what I had if I wanted to make more shawls. I prepared my order, which ended up being 15 one-pound cones! Clearly I couldn’t help myself. Isn’t it beautiful?

rayon chenille yarn arrived

While I was waiting for the yarn to arrive I put another warp on the loom, this time in reds. I don’t have a name for this warp, so if feel free to suggest one. From left to right it’s Valley Yarns ruby, leftover Poinsettia from Yarntopia Treasures, followed by a paprika and burnt orange from who knows where. Instead of doing gradients I simply wound 1-1 thread repeats for a bit at each color change.

red to orange rayon chenile shawl

For the first shawl, which I’m about halfway through at the moment, I’m using burgundy weft with some narrow stripes of that burnt orange at each end. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I’d like that orange, and was thinking I should have waited until I got the delivery and gone with purple, but I’m actually liking it. Not sure what I’ll use for the second shawl…I’ll try out a few things when I get there and decide.

How does this happen?

How does time pass so quickly and deadlines that were far away suddenly loom?

making double twisted fringe

Here I’m twisting fringes. 72 double-twisted fringes on each end of each shawl. Time consuming.

After busting my butt I got my pieces to the professional photographer, Tim at Pixelwave, on Thursday. Now I just have to put together the applications – time consuming but not too challenging. “Whew!” I said, “I have some time now, I can play. I can dye, or weave a few more pieces for the COE, or weave a piece for the Color Study Group at Weavolution.”

I started planning that last thing, when it suddenly struck me – it’s virtually March. And I committed to a show with the Cazenovia Artisans starting April 1! Because many of my best pieces are at The Copper Shop, I needed to weave more, and not waste much time doing so. Sigh. So let go of the planning I’d done and begin again. I wanted to have at least a few rayon chenille shawls for Cazenovia – I think they should be a good fit in April in central New York. And if they don’t sell I’ll need them for upcoming shows anyway – I sell them almost all summer long.

Anyhow, here’s what I worked on most recently. Those 880 ends of undyed silk that I was working on in my last weaverly post turned into two shawls, the first with a twilight blue weft, the second with a tarragon weft.

stars started upside down

I started great….until I realized I was reading the printout backwards. I’d woven about 5″ upside down. If you look at the photo above, you can see how the angles are facing in the early warp-spreading, threading-checking section, and that it’s opposite in the larger actually-woven section. Well, I’d initially woven those 5 or so inches just like the test section. WRONG!!! Because it’s silk and I was afraid I was cutting it close with how much of the twilight I had, I actually unwove all of that instead of simply cutting it out. Time consuming for sure.

With 440+ picks in a single pattern repeat, I had to pay LOTS of attention to my treadling, and figure out ways to mark the printout that would help me very quickly identify where I was if I got lost. I did good, as long as I didn’t listen to podcasts, audio books, or even music that might entice me to sing along. All my focus had to be on the weaving. Here I’d just finished the first pattern repeat.

first star pattern repeat

I’d love to tell you that I designed the pattern, but I didn’t. It’s from David Xenakis, on page 56 in the Twill Thrills book. I did change the threading at the selvedges to straight twill, and I found what I think was a typo in the center of the star that resulted in a 9-thread float that I fixed, but really, the heavy lifting was David’s, not mine.

I knew I was taking these babies to Tim so didn’t spend much time on my own photos.

blue stars

I thought that with more contrast the blue would make the better photo, but I was wrong. Both in person and in the image, the green is far superior. Here you can almost see how the design looks on both sides of the shawl.

green stars

I also made the green one an entire pattern repetition longer. I find the blue a bit too short and the green a bit too long, but hey, they are what they are.

Gotta run back to the loom and thread up that rayon chenille!