Winning technique

Wow, wow, WOW!!

A reader who chose to email me instead of commenting suggested that I look at a website who’s owner had a long entry all about removing stray dye, although it’s specific to quilts.

I read the post, and the PDF document with the detailed directions, and honestly, I thought, “that can’t work.”

But today I decided to try it, since it seemed easier than almost anything else. Besides, what did I have to lose?

I modified Vicki’s process just slightly, using a dishpan instead of the tub and soaking the scarf only 4 hours instead of 12. I pulled the scarf out of the water and was amazed. No stray dye! No aura on the stripes! No blobs of dye left from previous!

striped scarf, wrapped

So I dried the scarf outside and pressed it. It will come to the show with me this weekend.

Think I might be hiding them there in the wrapping? Nope.

striped scarf, flat

Although it’s sort of impossible to show a whole cowl at once, I assure you that the white is clear white and the colors are all exactly where they belong.

Thanks, Margaret and Vicki!!

Bumming around with bumberet

I am just really in love with the bumberet multi-colored towels. I only have 1 left in the blues and greens of the first batch, and 5 of the orange and red ones. I had hoped to get more blue ones done for my show this weekend, but life has intervened so that won’t happen. They will definitely be ready for my second show, 2-1/2 weeks from now.

First I got all sorts of colors of thread out and put them on the bottom cross bars of my warping mill. I loved the way they looked here.

bumberet #3, colors

I liked them all, and used most of them plus a bit more, so this run of towels has even more than the 14 colors used in the first batch. Although measuring the warp is very time consuming, I like the results so much that it makes it all worth it for me. This time I warped for eight towels instead of the six I’d done in my first two runs.

Got the warp beamed and the heddles threaded.

3rd bumberet warp threaded

The first towel has a medium blue weft.

 bumberet #3, medium blue weft

Number two has a peacock weft.
bumberet #3, peacock weft

The third towel has a baby blue weft.

bumberet #3, baby blue weft

And the fourth, and as far as I’ve gotten, has a turquoise weft.

bumberet #3, turquoise weft

Dye don’ts

Live and learn. And then learn some more. Repeat.

Some of what I learned on this go-round is new to me, some not so much, although a different context.

Back in April I hand painted some warps, one of which was based on a painting of a wood duck. (See it here.) I was looking forward to that warp, and wove it in May.

On the loom, I was happy. For a while.

Because I was inspired by the wood duck, I wanted to use a weave pattern that was reminiscent of feathers. And I knew I wanted to use a dark weft to create more of the look of the painting. Apparently I forgot to take a photo of the first scarf, using black weft, while it was on the loom. Suffice it to say that after about a foot I knew it was going to be too dark. I should have simply stopped then, started with a new color weft, and not looked back, but I didn’t. I wove the whole thing with the black weft. Ugh.

wood duck 1 scarf complete

So for the next weft I chose a brownish red. I liked how it was looking on the loom, enjoying both the colors and the weave structure.

wood duck 2 on the loom

I tried a few different wefts for scarf number 3, settling on a sage-y green. You can see here that the painted warp was a bit blotchy. Too many color changes that were too different – not smooth transitions.

wood duck 3 on the loom

That was my new learning with this warp. Think more about how and when the colors shift. I am not proud of this run of scarves, and don’t expect them to sell well.

wood duck 2 scarf done

Nothing I can do about it now.

wood duck 3 scarf done

So in my desire to weave more scarves for my upcoming shows, I decided to adapt a pattern I’d looked at several times before, from a Handwoven book, Best of Handwoven Scarves on Eight Shafts.

As my readers know, I usually warp my loom for 3 scarves, but this time I didn’t. I warped for only 1, because I only had enough of the yarn for the stripes for 1 scarf. Boy am I glad that’s what I did.

I wasn’t crazy about the pattern on the loom, but was hoping I’d like it better after wet finishing. Hah!

I was using some professionally hand painted yarns designed for cross stitch, which the web tells me is also used by quilters. Well, as soon as they hit the water those colors ran like mad. I might have been able to predict that, but these were, like I said, professionally dyed yarns – Watercolours by Caron – and I expected professional results. Nothing on the tag about running.

Look at the aura of dye around these yarns after the scarf had dried.

dye seepage

And if that weren’t bad enough, the two sides of the scarf apparently touched each other while they were drying, and one side got a big blotch of pink dye on the white area.

dye blob

I’m holding off on ironing, as the heat will set those colors as is. I’m going to try another hand wash, this time using those magic Color Catcher sheets. I don’t know that they’ll help, but they sure won’t hurt. But this scarf may just be for the scrap bin.

9, 10, but no big fat hen

After my success with my handmade semi-rigid heddle, I thought I was set for the real thing. Yes, the yarns were slightly different, but that shouldn’t present a particular problem. So I measured out the warp I intended to use, beamed it, and threaded it through my new ‘equipment.’

Then the trouble started. I couldn’t get decent sheds. Every single time I was fussing with the threads to get them to separate. Then I realized what the problem was…yarn fuzz.

homemade raddle failing

See the fuzz my arrow is pointing to? It was caused by the simple friction of the yarn, and it caused my string heddles to stick together. The yarns could not move up and down as needed, especially those that weren’t actually in the heddles but rather between them.

I pulled the fuzz out the best I could, but within a few passes of my shuttle they were all fuzzed up again. Clearly another fail. So I cut out the small amount of weaving I’d done and removed that homemade heddle.

There was only one possibility left: clamp together 2 rigid heddles so my threads would be sett closer together. If this didn’t work, I’d have to give up on the idea. I’ve only clamped 2 heddles together like this a few times before, and threading 2 rigid heddles is a bit tricky. Especially since for this weaving it isn’t a standard threading. But I went slowly and got it done.

double heddle threaded

Next was to weave up another logo.

logo attempt 9

I’d put painters tape on my front beam to keep the weaving at the width I believed I needed. But now since I was using 10/2 instead of 8/2 yarn, that 1.5″ was too wide. You can see that I narrowed the width as I wove. That was on purpose to see if I could make it more narrow, and if so, if it would look good. I thought it would work, but wanted to make one good logo before I fully committed to this demo. Allow me to present logo #10.

logo attempt 10

FINALLY!!! Now I can get back to weaving things for my upcoming shows!

I did realize that there are some things you haven’t seen. So here are the finished pansies scarves. (Scroll down to see the pansies warp) First up is woven with fine dark purple weft, and I changed the direction of the curves at random along its length.

pansies scarf 1

Same weft for the second scarf, but the treadling is all advancing, no curves.

pansies scarf 2

Last I used a black weft. I only had enough length left for a cowl, but it’s plenty long for that. I used a regular repeat for the curves on this one.

pansies cowl

I am happy with them and have gotten compliments, but I wonder if I would have liked them better if I’d left them in stripes instead of doing parallel threading, so that the colors would have stood on their own more. What do you think?

3 pansies stripes on loom

Four more attempts

I am nothing if not persistent. After 4 attempts with the RALA logo I was not about to give up.

First I tried the same method as for attempt #4 – using my rigid heddle – this time paying very close attention to the width of the weaving and pulling each pick very tight. I don’t think attempt #5 is any better than #4.

pickup attempt 5

So I had to try a different method. I got rid of my rigid heddle and made continuous string heddles, because then I could make the threads be closer together. Never having done it before, I fumbled several times before I got this right.

continuous string heddles

Finally in place I set about weaving with the continuous string heddles. It was not easy, and it was not good. WAY too close together. The spaces were basically invisible.

logo attempt 6

The new weaving was about 1″ wide, the old weaving about 2″ wide. So clearly I needed to aim for 1.5″ wide. I spread my string heddles farther apart and tried again. Still not acceptable.

logo attempt 7

More thinking, more exploration, more decision making. Finally decided I’d make a rigid heddle with strings. I got an old 3×5″ picture frame, made myself a jig with some wood and wire brads, and tied 50 string heddles around the frame. Here they are all shoved together.

homemade rigid heddle

I marked the frame for about 3.5″ wide and threaded the heddles, spreading them apart to that width, tied onto the front apron and started again.

homemade rigid heddle in action

Although I made a few errors in the pickup, I am FINALLY happy with the design!

logo attempt 8

So now I have to measure out my ‘real’ threads and start again. They are not exactly the same size as the trial strings, so I may have to make more adjustments. Stay tuned!

In addition to all this obsessive-compulsive behavior, I’ve spent a lot of time at the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center helping to move from one storefront to another in the same strip mall. The new space is bigger and newer and looks great.