Guess what I was doing?

hand-painted hand

Yep, dyeing. Specifically hand painting. And I have yet to find rubber or latex gloves that fit my small hands, resulting in my inability to do some things with gloves on.

This time I actually wrote down the ‘formula’ of amount of dye to urea water so I will know how much to use to get a similar level of color.

I started by hand painting 3 narrow strips of 30/2 silk for a scarf, with the plan to separate those strips with narrow stripes of solid silk in a coordinating color. Then I moved to hand painting 5 bouts of a thick-ish 5/2 rayon for a shawl.

I intended to use the same technique for for both of these dye projects that I had when I dyed that cotton, but when I started with the silk, I was having quite a bit of difficulty moving the warp up to get to the next section, so decided I’d just paint each section individually with the same colors instead of doing some of the planning that I had with the cotton.

After I dyed the silk I thought I might as well do the same thing with the rayon. Same colors, no planning of where they’d land on the warp.

There was now quite a bit of yarn dyed. I had to steam the silk so steamed the rayon, too, although not as long. I decided that I’d keep all the yarn warm overnight to really set that dye by putting it all in the oven with the element from my dehydrator plugged in and set on the oven floor. It worked well and I’ll definitely do that again.

While I waited for the dye to batch overnight and rinse, I wove some simple Swedish lace cotton scarves with the plan of ombre dyeing them.

Ok, back to photos…and now there are lots.

First I beamed the rayon. You can see the sheen on it even in this state.

beaming HP rayon shawl

I threaded for an complex twill, using a draft Susan Harvey had shared on her blog a few years ago – thanks, Susan! I used an advancing twill treadling, and picked black Tencel for the first shawl.

hand painted rayon shawl on the loom with black weft

I really liked it. As usual for me, I wanted to weave the second shawl with a different color weft, and after trying a few options I settled on periwinkle Tencel. This looked nice, too.

hand painted rayon shawl on loom with periwinkle weft

Wove both off, removed from the loom, twisted the fringe, wet finished and pressed, and took some quick photos. The plan is that all this hand painted weaving will go to the professional photographer for photos for this year’s jurying, so I didn’t feel like I needed to spend lots of time on my photos.

shawls with black and periwinkle wefts

I honestly don’t know which one I prefer.

rayon shawl with black weft, draped

I think I’ll take both to the photographer since one may show better in his studio.

shawl with periwinkle weft, draped

Would I have preferred the color layout with the greater amount of planning while dyeing? Maybe, but I’m not unhappy with these and it was much easier to do.

Next up was the fine silk. I used a baby blue solid silk for those stripes.

beaming hand painted silk scarves

I found it interesting that the rayon and silk took the dyes differently. I used the exact same blue and red on both the rayon and the silk. In fact, I had intended for the rayon to be different colors, but I’d mixed up too much for the silk and didn’t want to waste it, so used it on the rayon.

Anyway, after trying out a few wefts I settled on a burgundy tram silk for the weft for the first scarf. Tram silk is VERY fine, and was used as weft for kimono, so it has a really high sheen and great hand (drape). I used 2 threads together as my weft to begin to approach the thickness of the 30/2 warp.

I had threaded the loom for Ms & Ws, but decided I liked a simpler treadling for this scarf.

burgundy weft on handpainted silk

For the second scarf I used a royal purple cashmere-silk blend, and went for the full Ms & Ws treadling. The weight of this yarn is pretty much the same as the warp.

purple weft on hand painted silk

Then I went with a gold 20/2 silk for the weft for the last scarf, and modified the treadling a bit. This weft is a bit heavier than the warp. I loved the impact it had on those warp colors.

gold weft on hand painted silk

Then I twisted those fringes – a much slower process since the threads are so fine – wet finished, and pressed. Again, simple photos because they’ll go to the professional photographer.

burgundy tram silk scarf finished

Look how different each scarf looks due to the weft color.

purple cashmere-silk scarf finished

I really don’t know which is my favorite now — do you have one? I’d love your input.

gold silk scarf finished

Okay, now to my less-than-successful ombre scarves. You might remember my first ombre dyeing experiment with Rit dyes. I dip dyed them. I liked them okay. My dye teacher suggested I paint the dye on for a different effect. So I did.

I have to say that although these scarves are okay, and I’m sure will appeal to some people, the effect was most definitely NOT what I wanted, and these scarves will not be used for jurying photos. I’m glad I tried the effect with cotton first.

With that said, here’s the first one: red to orange to yellow and back again.

red to yellow cotton scarf

Not great laid out like that, but it totally works on the mannequin. At least I think so.

red to yellow scarf wrapped

Next up is red to purple to blue. I didn’t reverse the color order on this one.

red to blue scarf

Again, I like it much better on the mannequin. But I’m not happy with the splotchy-ness of the blue.

red to blue cotton wrapped

And finally, blue to blue-green to green to yellow-green to yellow. The yellow-green looked too dark to me in the cup so I kept lightening it before I painted – maybe too much.

blue to yellow cotton

Again, better wrapped.

blue to yellow cotton wrapped

I’ve been playing full-time grandma all week, and only have some time mid-day on a few days when both kindergarten and daycare combine to run back home and work. Next week I need to take better photos of those cotton scarves for my Etsy shop.

Since the cotton is not what I wanted, I knew I had to get another piece woven for those photos. I decided on a 20/2 silk shawl, and wound 880 ends, beamed, and threaded. I’ll share more as I’m able to weave them. Sure hope they will look as beautiful in real life as they do in my mind!

880 end of silk beamed

Catsup, ketchup, catch up

Homonyms can be fun. While everyone wouldn’t pronounce catsup, ketchup, and catch up exactly the same, they sound pretty darn similar when they come out of my mouth. :-)

So this post is to catch up on some things that are a bit newer than Christmas, but not really new. And not necessarily in the order created.

In my most recent weaving-related post I said I was working on my last pending custom weaving order. I finished it, wet finished and hard pressed, and mailed it to the woman who was patiently waiting. Jack couldn’t resist photo bombing it. Good thing I let my customers know I have a dog-friendly home. :-)

red & black scarf done

I’ve been knitting myself socks for six years, so my oldest hand-knit socks have been worn MANY times. Socks are meant to be worn, not to look pretty in the drawer, so they wear out. Back in May, for the first time I tried darning socks that were wearing out. Although not pretty, it was reasonably successful. Swiss darning, also known as duplicate stitch, can only be used when the sock doesn’t yet have a hole in it.

Last month I had a sock with a hole in the bottom of the sole, right on that ‘ladder’ from when I was using 4 needles to knit my socks. (I use two 24″ circulars now, eliminating a ladder on the sole.)

I watched a Youtube video from Knitpicks on how to patch and tried it. But I clearly didn’t have the technique right, because I had a big lump in the bottom of my foot and the sock was unwearable. I simply set the socks on the top of my dresser for a few weeks until I got up the nerve to try the more radical fix of re-knitting the toe. I had to accept that they were unwearable the way they were, so even if I messed up with the re-knitting, I wasn’t really losing anything.

I bit the bullet and cut the top of the toe off that sock. Then I tried to unravel the knitting down to where the hole was. Hmmmmm….that wasn’t going as planned. Two reasons: the wool had done some felting in the time since I knit them, but more importantly, since I knit virtually all my socks from toe up, they could have been unraveled from the top down, not the other way around. I struggled for a while, then simply decided to pick up stitches past the hole, re-knit the toe, and deal with the rest of the problem later. After all, if I couldn’t re-knit the toe smoothly, I wouldn’t have to solve the issue of stitches I couldn’t un-do.

So I knit, moving down to the toe as opposed to my usual up. It looked, felt, and fit just fine. Then I took my little embroidery scissor and cut off more of the yarn from the original toe, getting close to where I started the new knitting. Then I struggled a bit, eventually having 3 or 4 long strands of yarn to deal with. I wove those ends into the new knitting, hoping it would feel smooth when I wore it.

And it did!

re-knit toe

A few weeks later I noticed a hole near the heel of another sock…amazingly the second pair of socks I ever knit! I did NOT want to re-knit the heel, so I thought more about that patching technique, and thought I knew where I went wrong. I watched the video again, and although I couldn’t really see if what I thought was my correction would work, I decided to give it a shot.

Woo hoo! That worked, too! Smooth wearing, not a lump or bump to be felt.

patched heel

The same spot on the other heel was weak but not a hole, so I wanted to go back to the Swiss darning method. I have to say, I am not good at this. I should practice using a very different color yarn on something that doesn’t really need fixing just so I can practice the technique.

other heel

Yeah, right. Some day when I have nothing else to do. (Can you hear the sarcasm dripping from that sentence?)

Christmas in February

No, I’m not celebrating Christmas now, I’m simply getting around to posting all the gifts I made for Christmas. Well, most of the gifts. I forgot to take pictures of a couple.

I had to mail the presents for my niece and her family. She got 4 wool dryer balls and 2 cotton potholders.

felted dryer balls and potholders 1

My nephew and his family also had their gifts mailed. Also 4 dryer balls and 2 potholders.

dryer balls & potholders 2

Also mailed were gifts to my dear friends in West-by-god-Virginia – 4 dryer balls and 2 pairs of hand knitted socks. They had dropped several not-so-subtle hints for socks. 😉

dryer balls and knitted socks

For all 26 dryer balls that I made, I started at the thrift stores. I bought 100% wool sweaters, cut the seams, and unraveled, and wound them into balls. Then I needle felted some really beautiful roving from Cindie onto the outside before doing the wet finishing.

Then I was able to give gifts in person on Christmas day. I forgot to take photos of the 6 dryer balls I gave my son or the knitted socks for my son-in-law, but did get other photos. My daughter had admired a Katniss-inspired cowl, so I crocheted one of those, from this pattern. I’m not that good at crochet, and using this super bulky yarn didn’t make it any easier, so I’m not particularly proud of it, but I got it done.

Katniss cowl

My daughter also got a pincushion I’d made from a felted wool sweater – CORRECTION: fulled, not felted.

felted pincushion

Then my grandson got a knitted superhero. This was BY FAR the most time consuming thing I made. Took me FOREVER, at least in part because the orange yarn I chose was fuzzy and hard to work with. I used this book, and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. The tiger’s body is about 11″ long, plus tail.

super tiger, front

super tiger, back

He liked it, and asked if I could make him a Domo Kun. I agreed, although I assured him it wouldn’t come quickly. He got it about a week ago. I used felt, hand stitched it together in just over 2 hours from start to finish. This pattern served me well. I put my remote in the picture for size.

small Domo Kun

I wasn’t able to get together with my sisters until mid-January. They each got 4 dryer balls and a pincushion, also made from old wool sweaters. The first dryer ball is in a tiny clay pot, the second in a little jelly jar.

dryer balls & pincushion 1

dryer balls & pincushion 2

So you see, I was busy!

Busy weekend

I was very busy this weekend. I finished those rayon chenille shawls, did the billing, took some finished photos and got them packaged up for mailing. I really struggled with the photos for these pieces. Either the purple was way off or the green was. Mostly the green looked like black in the photos, and it doesn’t in real life. This is the best I could do.

A-H shawl, wrapped

I love how when I just draped it on Dolly it looked like a shawl-collared swing coat. Wouldn’t you love to wear that coat? I sure would!

A-H shawl, draped, amthyst in front

A-H shawl, draped, hunter in front

Then I decided to get that other custom order woven. I needed to clear my brain, and my plate, so I could move onto more hand painting and weaving for my jury photos.

I decided to wind the warp just for the one ordered scarf, a very unusual thing for me since it is not time efficient. But I knew I wouldn’t use this piece for jurying and had to get those things done.

Here I am at the beginning of the weaving. Spice tencel for the warp, black tencel for the weft.

start of SM's scarf

All is going well, although my knee does not like weaving this pattern. I have one treadle that requires that I lift 7 harnesses – that’s heavy. If I reverse the tie up so I only lift 1 treadle, I pay for it with all the other treadles, having to lift 5 instead of 3. Not worth it.

So I’m weaving along, making good progress, feeling positive.

Then I notice that one of the hooks fell off the 7-lift treadle and it’s only lifting 6. My leg always knows and alerts me immediately if one falls off if it’s lifting 3 or 4 or 5 treadle, but apparently lifting 7 was heavy enough that it couldn’t tell the difference when it was ‘only’ lifting 6. And the visual for this difference only shows on the underside of the cloth, so I didn’t notice it when it happened. In the photo the orange drawn lines point to the last correct treadling and the first incorrect treadling. See the missing dark horizontals?

Ok, so I have to do some un-weaving. No big deal. Examine the cloth to see how much I have to remove.

I find the error

AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH! 27 inches?!?!? Really?!?!?

If I’d done my ‘usual’ and warped for 2 or 3 scarves I would have simply called the length I’d woven so far waste and started the custom weave anew. But I’d only warped for 1 scarf so that option was closed to me.

I wasn’t going to un-weave 27″, but I did have to cut and remove the weft from those 27″. Then re-weave that many inches again.

Anyway, being the stubborn person I am, I decided to just keep going, moving forward. You can bet I paid very careful attention to that 7-harness treadle. I also changed the tie-up so that my right leg lifted it instead of my left leg with the funky knee.

I also committed to not weaving this pattern again, or other weave structures that require such a lift. Re-confirmed for me that although I do have harness envy, loving weave patterns that require 12, 16, or more shafts, I will never purchase a loom with that many harnesses. Period.

So I finished the weaving last night.

end of SM scarf

Today I will cut it off the loom, twist the fringe, and do the wet finishing. If all goes well I’ll also have time to plan and wind a warp or two for hand painting.

2,500 picks

width of the shawl, on the loom

Every endeavor has its own language. In weaving, a pick has 3 components:

  1. Step on a treadle to open a shed (moving threads up and down – presumes a floor loom; table looms are a bit different);
  2. Throw the shuttle, sending the yarn through that shed ;
  3. Pull the beater bar forward, packing in the yarn.

According to my calculations, I wove about 2,500 picks yesterday. Whew! I could only do that because I did no volunteer work for the Weaving Center, no babysitting, no posting on blog or Facebook, no grocery buying, no cooking.

After I got the two shawls woven I had a bit of extra warp and decided to weave what I could for length and see if I could make a cowl. I got about 22″ woven, and this is how close I came to the end of the warp.

wnd of the warp

This morning I cut the woven fabric off the loom. Then there are several steps to be done. First is a visual inspection of both sides of the fabric, looking for any treadling errors or skipped threads. I only found a few, thank goodness, because I hate needle weaving. Here’s what it looks like when I have to do it.

needle weaving

Then I have to pull out my sewing machine and sew a line of stitching close to the edge of each piece to stabilize the threads before cutting them apart.

machine stitching

Although I machine hem my towels, I hand hem all of my wearables. First pin, then hem.

pinning the hem in place

hand hemming

After that it’s into the washer & dryer. Then, with most fabric (but not rayon chenille), a hard press finishes the weaving process.

I’ll try to get a few pix of the finished shawls in natural light tomorrow.