Starting May Strong

It’s May 7th and I have 6 scarves woven, wet finished, and complete! First up, I started with some hand painted 20/2 silk. I dyed this yarn in late April, using a photo I found online from Blue Brick Dyeworks, as inspiration. They called it Prairie Storm, which works for me.

prairie storm inspiration photo

Here’s the yarn I ended up with from that inspiration image.

hand painted prairie storm warp

I chose a weave structure I’ve used many times and really like, and wove the first scarf with a 20/2 gold weft. Looks like that storm at dawn.

hand painted silk scarf, gold weft

Then I used 2 strands of a textured green & white silk singles I’ve had for a long time. I also changed the treadling, turning the pattern into leaves. So different! The colors are more spring-like, and the texture adds a strong element.

hand painted silk scarf, green weft

Here’s a close up so you can see both weave structure and texture.

hand painted silk scarf, green weft, closeup

For the last scarf I wanted a strong color, so used 2 strands of 60/2 chocolate silk. Now that prairie storm is really threatening.

hand painted silk scarf, chocolate weft

I went back to the treadling of the gold scarf, which you can’t really see there, but you can in this close up.

hand painted silk scarf, chocolate weft, closeup

Then, sticking with my must-use-stash mantra, I pulled out a rayon seed yarn, something I’ve never used before. Sett at only 15 ends per inch, I had to remove my go-to 12-dent reed and go up to the attic to get my 6-dent to accommodate this ‘lumpy’ yarn. I wasn’t at all sure how I’d like it. Turns out I love it! I used a different supplemental weft for each of the 3 scarves.

First is a wide ribbon with a gold metallic center. This one, like the other 2, has a regular old 8/2 rayon weft.

handwoven rayon seed scarf, gold supplement

You can’t really appreciate that ribbon or the texture at that distance, so here’s a close up.

closeup of rayon seed scarf with gold

That wide ribbon didn’t look at all good on the loom, and I wasn’t at all sure how the whole thing would wet finish, so I cut it off and wet finished scarf number 1 before proceeding. Decided I didn’t want to use such a wide supplement, so re-threaded the reed for the next 2 scarves.

This one is uses a soy silk flat ribbon-like yarn in purples and pinks.

handwoven rayon seed scarf with soy silk supplement

And the last one has a hand painted rayon yarn in greens and blues.

handwoven rayon seed scarf, green  & blue supplement

The only downside to these scarves is that there was no way I could twist that fringe, nor did I think they would make a nice hem. So I tried a few different simple knotting techniques, but neither is as neat a look as I prefer.

Today I got the next scarf warp on the loom. This one is dominated by this interested rayon boucle yarn that has metallic interest. Looking forward to seeing this one weave.

rayon boucle yarn with gold

Finished with 15

I got 3 more pieces finished in March, bringing my completed total to 15 – YAY!!! That dropped my weaving deficit by 8 or 9. I’m sure I can make up a few more in May, so I’m feeling much more comfortable.

These 3 pieces have a rather lengthy story, so I made it a point to combine several photos into a collage, and I’ll do my best to moderate my verbiage as well.

After my last two disappointments with my silk dyeing, with so much color rinsing out, I spoke to my dye teacher. She suggested perhaps I hadn’t scoured sufficiently, so I committed to more scouring. And it’s a darned good thing I did, too. I did these 4 scour baths on one day, each with the hottest tap water possible, a combination of soda ash and blue Dawn, and a soak of at least 1/2 hour per bath.

scouring silk progression

You can see the water getting progressively cleaner with each scour. After these four I dried the skeins, as I wasn’t quite ready to dye them. On dye day, I did one more scour bath, and the water was pretty clear.

I dyed the skeins with light and dark blue, and a medium green. Here you see them going from dripping wet to almost dry, then dry and wound into balls, and finally the warp chains.

blue & green dyed skeins progression

Pretty amazing how much the color lightened from wet to dry, isn’t it? These are 30/2 silk skeins, so it’s very lightweight and fine – more than 7,400 yards per pound. I had 720 ends to make a warp that was about 24″ wide in the reed. Because the warp was variegated and I thought it would be busy, I decided to keep the weave structure simple, and used and all-over huck lace.

For the first piece I used a sort of unusual yarn that’s been in my cupboard for a while, a 20/2 rayon in a beautiful red-violet. This has even more yards/pound than the 30/2 silk. In this photo look at how much light passes through the shawl and you get an idea of just how airy it is. A featherweight for sure.

handwoven silk and rayon lace shawl with purple

I wove the second piece with 20/2 twilight silk, so it’s a bit heavier than the purple shawl. Still light and lovely.

handwoven blue silk mobius

I took a closeup of this one so you can see the structure better, and see how different the two sides look.

handwoven blue & green silk mobius, closeup

I chose the green 30/2 silk I’d dyed earlier this month for the weft for the last piece. Again it’s a very lightweight piece, woven and sewn into an airy cowl. Here it is long.

handwoven silk lace cowl, long

Although it is both wide and long, it’s so light that it’s easy to wrap it twice for a different look.

handwoven silk cowl, wrapped twice

I’ve already got 2-1/2 more scarves woven to start May out right. It’s another hand painted silk warp that I’m happy with.

The goose drank wine

Readers of a certain age will remember this song.

So what’s the relationship to my weaving? Well, I’ve finished 3, 6, 9 scarves since my last post! That brings my total for the month to 12, and it’s only the 18th. Woo Hoo! That makes a nice dent in my shortage (somewhere between 8 and 17), although there’s still a long way to go. I just received my acceptance emails to the 2 big shows I applied to, so work, work, work!

First I hand painted some silk in blues. Like the greens, I was disappointed with how much of the dye rinsed out, so the scarves are much more subtle in color than I was planning. Pretty, but not what I had in mind. I’m calling the first two faded jeans.

handwoven silk scarf - faded jeans lace

I had to show you a shot of one of them on a hanger so you can see how the light and airy the lace looks. The actual color of this scarf is much like the first one, not gray like it looks here.

handwoven silk scarf, faded jeans lace on hanger

This scarf has a dark blue weft, giving it a different look – stonewashed jeans. Interesting how different the 2 sides look, isn’t it?
handwoven silk lace scarf - stonewashed jeans

For the one above, I added some of the dark blue to the fringe, as I don’t like the look when the warp color (and the fringe) is so different from the weft color. It jars my eyeballs.

Then I wove 3 rayon chenille scarves with ladder ribbon supplemental/supplementary warp. Two of them have the same color weft, which is a taupe/gold color.

handwoven rayon chenille scarf with supplemental warp

For the third I used a much lighter weft, creating an overall camel look. It surprised me that I liked this one best.

handwoven rayon chenille scarf, camel

Here’s a closeup so you can see the ladder ribbon supplement.

closeup of scarf with ladder ribbon

Those three went so quickly that I had to weave 3 more rayon chenille with ribbon. This time I chose a color called chili – think deep, dark chili that’s been simmering for hours. Same weft as warp on all 3.

The first scarf has ladder ribbon, which looks all white in this photo but is more silver and gold in real life.

handwoven rayon chenille scarf chili, with silver & gold accent ribbon

Then I used a flat ribbon in variegated colors. Interestingly, on the loom this one looked rather dull to me. After finishing it’s my favorite for sure.

handwoven rayon chenille scarf with ribbon accents

Here’s a close up of that one for you.

closeup of scarf with ribbon

Because it looked dull on the loom, I didn’t want to use it for the third scarf, so I went with another ladder ribbon, this one in reds, pinks, and white.

handwoven rayon chenille scarf with red accents

And a close up. Somehow the bits of color seemed closer together on the ribbon to me than the silver and gold. In reality, those distances are the same.

handwoven scarf with accents, close

I’m putting on another hand painted silk warp on the loom right now. For wider pieces. Nice color on the silk this time. 🙂

It’s another long story

This one is about dyeing goofs, repeats, and surprises.

My brain starts thinking about and planning the next warp while I’m working on the one currently on the loom. I knew I needed to weave with silk, and I needed scarves, so I figured I’d do some silk dyeing. I wanted to use my shower curtains as my inspiration – they are dark to light teal.

So I measured out some 30/2 silk the warp for 3 fringed scarves, and also decided to dye a skein in a darker shade for weft. Then down to the basement with my notes from earlier dyeing.

I hand painted the warp. It was clear that the blue-ness was virtually all gone, even while I was painting. This natural silk had quite a yellow cast, so it reacted with the dye and everything was shades of green. Ok, I can live with that.

hand painted silk in greens

I decided that instead of immersion dyeing the skein, I’d paint it, all the same color. Much quicker.

dyed green silk for weft

I wrapped them up and brought them upstairs to batch overnight. The next morning it was back down to the basement for rinsing and soaking.

Wait – what?! I unwrapped the skein first, and the color was POURING off it. Why?? Oh crap! I hadn’t dyed silk in quite a while, and forgot that silk MUST be steamed. So. What to do now? How to resolve this?

I set the skein in a soda ash presoak (which I later had to dump as so much dye came off the skein), mixed up more dye, re-painted and re-wrapped it. Then I took the skein and the warp upstairs and steamed them both. Now for another day and night of batching.

The following morning it was back down to the basement to unwrap and soak. After soaking for several hours and more rinsing, I was surprised at how much dye STILL left both the warp and weft yarns. Here they are hung in the basement, dripping wet.

hand dyed yarns, newly hung to drip

Once they’d stopped dripping, I brought them upstairs to finish drying, as it takes too long in my unheated basement. Although much paler than anticipated, I liked the fresh, spring green.

hand painted green silk warp

dyed green silk weft

Once both warp and weft were dry, however, they were both MUCH lighter still. Oh well, I wasn’t going to dye them both again. So I warped the loom and started weaving.

The weft color was so similar to the warp colors that the weave pattern was almost indistinguishable. I went with an easier treadling for most of the scarf, with just the complex pattern near the ends of the scarf.

pale spring green hand dyed silk scarf

I sure didn’t want to use that weft for another scarf and don’t have more 30/2 silk, so I switched to 20/2 blue silk for the second scarf.

hand painted silk scarf with blue weft

For the last scarf I used some green cashmere-silk I’ve had for quite a while. It’s so fine I used it doubled.

hand painted silk scarf with green

Unrelated…I also wove 8 towels this month. Sticking with my ‘must use stash’ mantra, I warped the loom with lots of mini-cones of vintage cotton rick rack yarn for bumberet. This yarn was roughly the size of 3/2 cotton. Because I didn’t want a warp-faced fabric, I gave some thought to what my choices were for weft. For the first 2 towels I used aquamarine 8/2 cotton, doubled.

handwoven aquamarine towels

I wove the next 2 with peacock cotton, again 8/2 doubled.

2 handwoven peacock towels

I looked around at my bins. What else did I have hanging around that might work? I picked some Sugar & Cream yarn, first in a dark-ish blue, then in a light aqua. These towels are definitely thick, but I believe they’ll be nice and thirsty.

2 handwoven thick towels

Then I picked an odd green 8/2 cotton, again doubled. It’s not my favorite combo, but it’s okay. Finally I used a pale blue, going with plain weave for this last towel.

2 more handwoven towels

I have another handpainted silk warp on the loom now, but that’s another story for next time.

Finishing March

I got 2 more scarves woven and finished in March. The warp and weft are both 8/2 tencel with a rather wild supplemental warp. The supplemental warp (or is it more correctly supplementary?) is sort of like tinsel, with lots of 3-dimensionality. You can get some idea how it looks at a distance…

handwoven scarf with sparkles

…and get a better idea with a closeup.

closeup of sparkly handwoven scarf

I usually warp for 3 scarves, but this time I just did 2…I had no idea how this novelty yarn would work. Would its metallic ‘hairs’ be completely caught in the warp and weft and not show? Would they stick out too much? Would it shrink at a rate much different from the rayon and pull it out of shape?

As it turned out, it worked rather well. I have 2 balls of the novelty yarn and will use it again in the future.

After I got these scarves done and recorded in my spreadsheet, I gathered my courage and looked at the number of pieces I’ve finished since July. I’ve spent a bunch of time not weaving due to other commitments, injuries, and a choice to make some time-consuming garments, so was afraid what these numbers would look like. As a reminder, my estimates are that I have to complete 6-7 quality pieces each month. So for July through March I should have finished 54-63 pieces.

I was pleased with my total of 46. Although that’s between 8 and 17 pieces short, I thought it would be worse than that. Do I think I can make up 17? Probably not. But I think I can make up 8 in the next 3 months. Especially since I’ve woven very few scarves so need more, and they take LOTS less time than bigger pieces.

I’ll be putting a warp on for 3 silk scarves tomorrow for a strong start to April.