Over and over and over again

I haven’t kept track of how many times I’ve started this warp over and I didn’t take pictures, but I THINK I can remember them all. Here’s the history.

At the Weavers’ Guild Holiday Sale – the 2018 one – I purchased several hand dyed cotton mini-skeins, ranging from 130 yards to 480 yards. The yarn was all a beautiful 10/2 cotton and the colors looked great together. I finally got to them a few weeks ago. Here are some bits of the skeins, with some duplication.

JR dyed mini skeins

I set up the swift near my warping mill and started winding a warp for three scarves directly from my swift, one skein at a time. I got about 2/3 of the way through the colors when I realized that I didn’t like the way the warp would look – totally striped and not good. I walked away and slept on it. The next morning I felt the same, so I began unwinding the warp.

Just as unweaving is much slower than weaving, unwinding is much slower than winding. Each color had to be wound into a ball as I went.

Once that was accomplished, I started over with the winding, but this time I held 3 strands of yarn together, winding them at the same time. As one color ran out I replaced it with another. Now I was happy, so I beamed the warp.

JR RD warp on the back beam

I threaded the loom for a 6H point twill with tabby selvedges and sett the warp at 24 EPI (ends per inch). I had a lovely brown 10/2 cotton for the weft and wove only about an inch before realizing there was a problem. The plain weave selvedges had a much different take-up than the twill center and had to be sett wider. So I unwove, untied the edges, and sett the plain weave selvedges at 20 EPI.

I wove about an inch again and saw that this still wasn’t working as planned. Again I unwove and untied those edges. This time I also re-threaded those selvedges to be the same 6H point twill.

I wove that first inch for the third time, now realizing that I wasn’t getting the overall look I wanted. The color of the weft was a bit overpowering. I loved the subtlety of the warp colors. I wanted a more warp-dominant look.

You can see the unweaving coming again, right? This time I re-sett the warp at 28 EPI, hoping that was close enough for the warp to shine.

Wove an inch of straight treadling again. Wanted to see still more warp, so decided I’d do some leno to show it off. Tried 2-2 and took it out. Tried 3-3 and took it out. Tried 6-6 – yeah that was the right scale. But going from twill to leno and back to twill was problemmatic. So I tried some basket weave after. That seemed better, so I had to take out the basket weave and the leno, put in a few rows of basket weave, and re-do the leno.

Did I want just one row of leno or two? Wove about 1/2″ of twill with point treadling, put in a few more picks of basket weave, and another row of leno. A few more picks of basket weave and another inch of twill with straight treadling. Then I had to walk away for the night and come back and look at it later.

Not happy. Not happy at all. It all needed to come out. But instead of unweaving I decided I’d just cut it all out. Still time consuming, but not as bad as unweaving. As I was doing so I realized that I was having tension issues, with one side of the warp much tighter than the other. So instead of re-tying to fix this issue, I decided to switch to lashing on.

Finally I’m moving forward. I have about 25″ woven. Here’s the top…

JR-RD scarf 1, top

…and the bottom, which I prefer.

JR-RD scarf 1, bottom

The overall look is still not exactly what I had in mind. I’ve auditioned a few other wefts, and will definitely try a soft green for scarf #2, but I don’t think I’ll be starting over (re-threading or re-setting) again. Then again, who knows?

Honey Berries

That silk warp that I dyed, shown in the last post, was definitely much more pink than I intended. No idea what happened to the purple. Although I was inspired by the Honey Pie photo I showed, the pink in mine had me change the name to Honey & Berries. Still I liked it well enough, so beamed it and started weaving. I used draft 22076 from

After auditioning a few different weft colors, I set off with a tan-ish color that I’m calling cafe latte. It worked well with all the warp colors, creating a more subtle overall look.

hand dyed and handwoven silk scarf, honey berries with tan

Next, in keeping with my ‘must-use-stash’ mantra, I went to the shelf where I had a few small cones of very fine cashmere-silk blend – roughly 9,000 yards per pound. I knew from experience that I couldn’t use this as warp, so weft it would be. I used double strands of this yarn, and at 4,500 yards per pound it was still thinner than the 20/2 silk. First I used a natural weft. Definitely toned everything down, but in a way I liked.

hand dyed and hand woven silk and cashmere scarf, natural weft

Back to that shelf of cashmere & silk, I chose black for the third scarf. As it always does, the black both popped the colors and darkened the overall look.

hand dyed and hand woven silk and cashmere scarf, black weft

I usually have a definite favorite when I weave 3 pieces with different wefts. This time it’s a toss up for me between the natural and the black.

After I finished weaving with the black I had more warp left than I usually do, more than I wanted to just cut off and toss. So I used 2 strands of undyed 30/2 silk for the weft. This made the fabric a bit stiffer, and while I was weaving I could see this as a back yoke for a yet-to-be-planned garment. I’m not sure this will ever happen. Maybe it’ll turn into something else, maybe it will simply hang around and not get a ‘purpose.’

hand dyed and hand woven piece of fabric

Planning ahead

I usually plan ahead, mentally working on the next warp while I’m still at the loom on the last one. This planning and activity wasn’t really anything like that. I was looking 11 months out. But it wasn’t my weaving.

After I’d made a bunch of Christmas presents (oh yeah, you still need to see them; next time…if I remember) I was very much in the Christmas spirit. I’d recently been to an evening meeting of the Weavers’ Guild, one where we all were quilling, something I haven’t done for 40 years or so. I got inspired to make a bunch of cards for Christmas 2020. I’m showing them here, figuring by next year the intended recipients will have forgotten about them.

I started by quilling 240 little ‘light bulbs’ while I watched TV.

240 quilled paper lights

Then I ordered the card stock and envelopes I needed, and set them up on my kitchen table, gluing lengths of green cotton to the cards to represent wire.

preparing cards with cotton as wire

Still working at the table, I glued on the lights, and decided I had to make little ‘plugs’ of black. Although the plugs look sort of like little cat heads, it was the best I could do. I made 20 cards; here’s a sampling of them.

completed quilled holiday cards

Simultaneously to quilling those light bulbs in the evening, I was also working in the studio during the day, setting up triaxial ribbon weaving for a different kind of card. The totally traditional Christmas colors of pink and black 😉 uses 3/8″ ribbon, the rest is 1/4″ ribbon.

triaxial ribbon weaving begun

After it was all woven and pinned to the bulletin board, I taped the segments off with craft tape and took it to my sewing machine to stabilize all the places where I would cut.

triaxial weaving sewn in preparation for cutting

In addition to ordering the cardstock and envelopes for the quilled cards, I also ordered window cards for the triaxial weaving. I have 6 of the pink and black and 3 each of the green/white/red and blue/white/red.

3 cards with triaxial ribbon weaving

So next year I can send out 32 handmade cards. Wonder who will get these versus some store-bought ones.

I haven’t woven anything since mid-December, giving my thumb tendonitis a rest. I wondered why I wasn’t dyeing fibers like mad so I’d have plenty to do once I was back at weaving, but somehow I just wasn’t inspired to do so. Then the other day on Facebook I saw this posting. The dyeing was done by Blazing Shuttles, the work of Kathrin Weber, whose work I admire.

Blazing Shuttles handwoven warp

I loved the look of that warp and wanted to do my own version, adding substantially more purples. I wound 3 narrow bouts of 20/2 silk and went down to the basement. Here’s what I ended up with.

silk honey pie hand painted warp

The purples are more pink than I’d had in mind, but I’m happy with the way it turned out. Now I have to decide on the weave structure, whether I’ll offset these bouts with some solids, and then what I’ll use for weft to keep the loveliness of the colors.

Now, because Kathrin called her colorway Honey Pie I’ve had this earworm for days. Here you go.

You’re welcome.

Same but different

There’s no reason why you’d remember a post of mine from February 2019. Instead of sending you back there, I’ll just re-post one of the photos from that post. I had just finished this open-front cardigan. Dyed the tencel, wove it, sewed it.

handwoven coral & turquoise open front cardigan

Well, I still have that piece. I’ve had it at shows and it always attracts attention, but never sold. And I’m sort of glad, because it didn’t make me proud. I liked the dye job a lot, and was pleased with the weaving, so what’s the problem?

It’s that rolled hem on the front edge. Because the drape shows you both sides of that edge, you see both the right and wrong sides of the hem. It’s been cringe-worthy to me for almost an entire year. I’d purchased some bias tape at Joann Fabrics, but I knew if I used it I wouldn’t be happy with that, either. It would be far too stiff.

Then last month I got some private instruction from a seamstress about how I could fix it. She advised that I buy some dupioni silk and make my own bias tape. I did. Wish I’d taken some process photos of that.

I can’t tell you how much time I spent making that tape! I got the bias measured, but for the life of me couldn’t manage to fold the fabric correctly to make continuous strip bias. Eventually I cut the strips and individually pieced them.

I had one yard of 45″-wide silk. I wanted to make double-fold tape, so knew I needed to make each strip 2″ wide. Without using any strips shorter than about two feet, I was totally amazed at the amount of tape I got. Want to guess? No? I’ll just tell you – 20 yards! That was a lot of piecing and pressing!

Then I basted it by hand all the way around the edge of the open-front cardigan. I’d estimated that it was 4-5 yards, so was surprised when it turned out to be roughly 7 yards. (Still, I have roughly 13 yards of silk bias tape left for another project.) After that, I stitched it on my machine and then removed the basting.

black silk bias tape on open front cardigan

The bias taped edge is still a bit stiffer than the rolled hem, but I’m definitely happier with the piece than I was before. We’ll see if it sells this year.

Tangentially related, I did finally go to the doctor for the tendonitis in my thumb. “Yep,” she confirmed, “that’s what you’ve got.” What to do about it? She gave me a few options, none of which had guarantees of success. So I chose the least invasive option. Rest it, treat it well. I knew that both knitting and weaving could aggravate my thumb, and haven’t done either since finishing the Christmas weaving on December 18. (I’ll be able to show you soon.)

I didn’t think the rest had made much of an improvement and was disappointed. However after doing all that basting and then removing the basting, some of which had been machine stitched over, I realized that the rest had, in fact, been a good thing, because now my thumb reminded me of what it feels like when it aches.

So what does this mean going forward? I’m not sure. But I do know I’ll have to take it easy, easier than I’d thought. 🙁

Moving on…

I November I used similar colors as above – coral & turquoise – to dye some 20/2 silk for a few shawls. The colors are far less intense than the tencel, which is what I wanted. I threaded the loom for huck lace and used a salmon/coral 20/2 silk to weave the first piece. The silk is so light and airy, it’s easy to wear the piece in different ways.

handwoven fringed silk warp in coral & turquoise

handwoven silk wrap in coral & turquoise, worn as scarf

I planned to make a mobius wrap for the second piece, so didn’t make fringe for it. For weft, I used a pale brown very fine silk. I’d thought it was 60/2, but it turned out to be much finer than that – I needed to use 3 strands to make a decent weight. Didn’t put it on my McMorran balance to get a weight for it.

Anyway, after it came off the loom I did make it into a mobi, but sort of hated it. The fabric is wide, and that made the point in the back WAY too long. So I took it apart and the fabric sat there for a while as I waited for it to speak to me and tell me what to make with it. It never did. So I just hemmed it for an unfringed shawl.

handwoven silk wrap with taupe

With the lighter weft, this piece is even more airy than the fringed shawl. Light as a feather.

handwoven silk wrap, coral, turquoise and brown

After another good pressing, I’m planning to send this one to the Copper Shop Gallery on the Roycroft campus, along with a few other things, before the end of the month. They sold several of my pieces in December, and they’ll continue to have visitors throughout the season. I’m hoping Valentine’s Day will be a good time for me there.

Some new things

Here’s what I’ve accomplished since my last post:

I got a cold. Or maybe it’s a touch of the flu, lessened by the fact that I got a flu shot. In any case, I spent only one day feeling totally crappy, and since then several days feeling pretty good but staying away from people because I’m quite stuffy and my cough sounds really awful. I fear the cough will hang on for a time, despite the fact that I’m taking all of the following: raw garlic, elderberry, echinacea, herbal teas designed specifically for this, goldenseal, Airborne, vitamin C. I’m also using my neti pot twice a day and Vicks-ing up at night. I must say it’s been rather a joy to simply stay home. I’d forgotten how much more free my schedule is when I don’t go to the gym for an exercise class in the morning. I didn’t think cardio would be a good idea, likely causing coughing, and I don’t want to spread this nasty. I am going to try my soul line dance class this evening and see how it goes.

sick old woman

I read a book I really liked. 350 pages in 24 hours. One of the benefits of having a cold.

book - Call Your Daughter Home

I did all my year-end paperwork. This means counting shelves and bins of raw materials as well as inventorying finished pieces. I also entered months of expenses into Quickbooks and prepared everything for my accountant.

shelf of yarn to be inventoried

I submitted an online application for a small, local show for my jewelry only. No idea if I’ll be accepted.

And I FINALLY took photos of the scarves I wove with the green tea/modal yarn from Finger Lakes Yarn. I showed you the dyed warp and 2 possible wefts here more than a month ago. I really like the 2 thin gold stripes down the middle of this warp, and the black edges.

First I used a 8/2 black tencel weft. It shows the weave structure well and really made those purples pop. But somehow it looks sort of like a bruise to me.

handpainted scarf with green tea & modal warp and tencel weft

I wanted the weave structure to show up but didn’t want the second scarf to be that dark. I tried the dark teal I’d dyed for weft, but didn’t like the way it worked with the warp colors. So I went for the sort of periwinkle yarn I’d dyed in the green tea/modal yarn. The colors are all ‘prettier’ here, but you can barely see the weave structure.

handpainted scarf, all green tea & modal yarn

So for the third scarf I chose a red-violet bamboo weft. This yarn is 5/2, so the scarf is a bit thicker than the others, and the pattern a bit elongated. The overall look is SO purple; I’m a purple lover, but maybe not as much as this. Too….magenta.

handpainted scarf with green tea & modal warp & bamboo weft

I had my rigid heddle loom warped up for demonstration at the Weavers’ Guild Holiday Sale and the Shop Hop at the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center. So I finished that off. I like the colors, but the yarn is a bit scratchy. And the fiber content is unknown, since I just pulled cones off the Center’s donated-yarn shelves. Not sure what I’ll do with the scarf itself. Likely donate it.

handwoven scarf, stripes

I also got some private instruction in some sewing techniques since I want to make more garments, and even improve at least one of my already ‘finished’ pieces. Looking forward to trying some of those things.