6 for June

I’ve gotten six silk scarves woven and finished so far for June. I still intend to warp my loom with that lovely blue-green tencel I hand painted, and believe I can get it woven off pretty easily before the end of the month.

First I put on a warp of plain blue silk, threading the loom in a huck lace pattern I’ve used before. I used a slightly lighter shade of blue silk for the weft, and wove away.

2 blues silk lace

After it came off the loom I decided that this was the scarf to add beads to in the fringe, and luckily found some that were perfect for it in my stash.

2 blues silk lace, beaded end

After this all blue scarf I decided to try and achieve some iridescence by using a red weft. I decided on a burgundy cashmere-silk blend, one that is so fine I had to use 2 strands together to approximately equal the weight of the 30/2 silk warp. It isn’t personally my favorite piece, but I hope it will call to someone else.

red & blue silk lace

In this closeup you can see the lace design, and how light and airy it is, better than in the all-blue version. You can also see a bit of not-so-nice selvedge.

blue & red silk lace, closeup

I obviously did something wrong in my calculations, because I thought I could get a short cowl out of this warp, too, but nope. I was at the end. So be it.

So then I put on that hand painted silk warp, the one that turned out very differently than expected.

As an aside, I asked my dye teacher about the difference in colors between the tencel and the silk, and she concurred, the two fibers dye very differently. It’s the difference between a plant fiber (tencel) and a protein fiber (silk). Still, when I showed her the photos of the two, she was shocked at just how dramatically different they were. She told me that cotton will turn out similar to tencel, as they are both cellulose based, but not the same. So, from here on, whenever I paint any fibers, I’ll make little butterflies of yarn of the other two fibers and paint them, too, to see the results. At least I’ll try to remember to do so. 😉

I decided to thread the loom with a huck lace draft that I spent HOURS working out a few months ago. I may have blogged about it; I can’t remember. Anyway, I had a few threading errors, which isn’t overly common for me, and had to tie some replacement heddles to fix them. I dislike tying those heddles and am far from quick at it, but it beats doing a ton of unthreading to correct errors in the middle of a piece, even when we’re only looking at about 240 threads.

I tried a medium purple silk weft that I hoped would bring out the purples I’d intended when I dyed the yarn. I had to weave several inches and then walk away from the loom to be certain, but when I came back a few hours later – YUCK! I really hated it. It made what I thought were garish colors even more so, adding to the overall unpleasant look with the dark weft. Since the weft and warp were both silk, I didn’t want to waste either, so I unwove those several inches to start again. I went with the rule: black brightens other colors, gray muddies them, and white mutes them. Muting what what I wanted, so I picked a natural cashmere-silk weft, again doubled to approximate the 30/2 silk warp. I was very pleased with it as I was weaving, and with the final result.

hand painted silk lace, natural weft

In fact, I like the scarf well enough that I decided to spend the extra time to add a bit of pizzaz to the fringe, this time twisting tiny pearlized seed beads into each bundle of fringe.

hand painted silk, natural weft, beaded fringe

I thought I’d planned enough warp length for one fringed scarf, one short cowl, and one long cowl. However after my experience with the blue warp (above), I figured I’d better approach the project a bit differently than usual. I wove the fringed scarf, then the short cowl so that the third piece would be as long as it could, whether that was a long or short cowl.

In my continuing desire to use up my stash, I only had a small amount of lavender cashmere-silk so decided to use that for the short cowl. This isn’t a great photo, but I’m happy with the piece.

hand painted silk lace, lavender weft

Time for the long cowl. I decided to stick with pale wefts, and chose some 60/2 pink silk. I knew I’d need to use it doubled, and the 2 partial cones of pink I had were different shades, but I figured they’d work fine together, 1 of each. And they do.

hand painted silk lace, pink weft

Surprisingly, I had enough warp left for another short cowl. This time I picked baby blue 60/2 silk. I only had one partial cone of it, so had to wind some onto a tube first so I could double it for weft. I really like this one, too, although again it’s not a great photo.

hand painted silk lace, blue weft

I just realized that none of those photos shows off the huck trellis pattern I am proud of, so here it is. Need a wif? Let me know.

huck lace trellis weave draft

So six down, three to go by the end of the month. I’ll be ahead of the game.

I love portable projects

Last week I had to spend 8 hours at the Weaving & Fiber Arts Center so that HVAC techs could fix a problem with our heating and cooling. I brought lots of things to do, some for the Center, some for me. As always, I didn’t get them all done — one of them was writing a blog post. 😉

I did bring lots of clean pillowcases and my sewing machine to make bags for the upcoming season. Got them all cut, but only about half of them sewn. So when we had a stunningly beautiful day on Thursday, moderate temperatures, pleasant breeze, I brought my things outside and finished the sewing in the shade in my backyard.

sewing outside

I was wishing my looms were so easy to move. Only the rigid heddle and the tapestry loom are. I generally only use the rigid heddle to demo at shows, and the tapestry thing is new to me and will likely never be for sale, so I am tied to my floor looms in my studio. Gorgeous though it is, isn’t not outside.

Several days ago, while I had a warp on the loom, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to dye two warps that would be woven in June – probably my last before the show season starts. So I prepared and dyed one warp in tencel and one in silk. The last few times I’ve dyed I not only made careful notes about the formulas I used to mix my colors, but also saved actual samples of the dyed yarn. It assured that I got what I’d planned for in my blue and green tencel warp.

dyed blues & greens in tencel

The silk? Not so much. I wanted blue-violet, red-violet, and periwinkle. Like the purple-blue half of the tencel in this photo (this is two chains wound together).

dyed chains-purples & yellows

What I got is COMPLETELY different! Not. Even. Close.

dyed silk - not purples & periwinkle

It started in the basement. I’d made note that when I painted on the blue-violet and red-violet on the tencel that they both looked quite gray. Not so on the silk; they both looked bright. But then after they were batched, rinsed and dried, there wasn’t a bit of blue in the violets, only fuschia, and the supposed periwinkle was a pale blue. Sigh.

Honestly, I think it’s as straightforward as the difference in the fibers, but only future dyeing will confirm that or blow holes through it. Double sigh.

So what did I have on the loom while I did the dyeing? A silk warp, transitioning from solid blue at one selvedge to solid green at the other. I threaded and tied up the loom for one of my favorite patterns, that I’ve called feathers. I also mix it up by treadling as zigs instead of feathers. That’s what I did for the first scarf, with a black warp.

black silk zigs

When I started weaving this scarf, I thought I was using black silk, but after I got several inches woven I realized it was tencel on my bobbin. Rather than unweave those several inches, I shrugged my shoulders and continued with the tencel, which is a bit heavier than the silk warp.

Interesting how the colors play differently with the pattern on the two sides of this scarf, isn’t it?

black silk zigs close

For the second scarf I wove with a very fine purple cashmere-silk blend. This scarf is SOOOOO lightweight.

silk & cashmere feathers

It is, as Mary Poppins would say, practically perfect in every way.

silk & cashmere feathers, close

Finally I wove a long cowl with a medium blue silk in the same weight as the warp.

blue &  green silk feathers cowl

I’ve gotten 2 more silk scarves woven, but am still working on finishing, so you’ll see them next time.

Another tiny tapestry

Although I still haven’t wet finished the silk scarves I wove, the 4-selvedge, tiny tapestry concept was pulling me in. I just cut this off the loom, and wet finishing needs to be done.

The color meanings are the same as the last one, and as the scarf for the exhibit, with the addition of green to represent money behind the power. The total size is approximately 5.5″ x 3.75″. Considering my inexperience with tapestry, I am proud of this piece. I understood more about tapestry techniques so made fewer weaving mistakes than last time, and was able to unweave and fix the ones I made.

2nd tiny tapestry

I’m pretty sure I’ll have to make more tiny tapestries.

6 + 2 does not equal 8

My grandson learned to add in kindergarten, so he would not be happy about the title of this post. The 6 are scarves toward my May monthly goal, the 2 are something entirely different. So let’s start with those different things.

The Rochester Central Library is collaborating with Rochester Technical Institute on an exhibit called Crafting Democracy. As the home of both Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, the area has a rich history to pull from. They put out a call for fiber pieces, and my interest was sparked. I decided I wanted to make a clasped weft piece with symbolism representing the work of these two historic figures. Here’s my finished piece, which I actually wove in April – one reason that the ‘2’ don’t get added to this month’s ‘6.’

Crafting Democracy piece #1

I do realize that all the colors don’t stand out well, especially in the photo, but it is what it is. White represents the people in power, generally white men. Black represents those without power, often people of color. Purple represents women’s struggles for gender equity; red stands for blood shed in the struggles; gold is for voting rights – or lack thereof. The title, “Will it Ever End?”, refers to the fact that gender equity, racial justice, and voting equality remain unresolved today.

If I were to weave it again, I would make some changes, but I don’t have much white rayon chenille left and didn’t really want to weave the scarf again anyway. So I got the ‘itch’ to weave a tiny tapestry that was more the look I had in mind. I wanted to try Sarah Swett’s 4 selvedge method. Like almost everything else in life, it was not as easy as Sarah, a very skillful tapestry weaver, made it look. Here’s my loom, warped up and ready to weave, after some number of hours. I’m sure it’ll go a bit quicker next time.

tiny tapestry loom

Now, bear in mind that this is only the 2nd tapestry I’ve ever woven, the first being done a few years ago in a class. That being true, I’m satisfied with the results.

1st tiny tapestry

It’s pretty wonky, but looks much better in a frame that doesn’t show the selvedges. Since this isn’t something I’d sell, this is the second reason why the ‘2’ doesn’t get added to the ‘6’.

tiny tapestry, framed

Still, I don’t know if I’ll submit it to the show. I’d really like to try again. So I need to get my May pieces woven to give myself time to play with tapestry again.

UPDATE: Oooooo…just got the thought that this would make more sense turned on its side. Shows more oppression and reaching for justice.

tiny tapestry turned

That being true, let’s not waste any more time, but get right to the 6!

First I went back to that deflected doubleweave structure I first wove in January. I used 2 hand painted warps again this time. Both warps were 8/2 tencel, with each layer sett at 24 EPI. Next time I’ll sett them further apart for a lighter scarf.

deflected doubleweave scarf

I wove the first scarf with a rather gentle beat, and then was a bit worried that my floats were too long, so wove the second scarf with a much firmer beat. After wet finishing, it’s now clear to me that the gentle beat was fine, at least at this sett. The 2 long, fringed scarves were woven with yellow and blue tencel wefts.

deflected doubleweave cowl

The cowl has a purple bamboo-cotton and a gold mercerized cotton weft, again with that firm beat.

Next up is the last of the painted warps I made in April. I went for twill blocks this time, moving from all terra cotta at one selvedge to all blue and green at the other. This time you’re getting my least favorite first. It’s a short cowl with a black weft. It’s fine, just not my fav.

terra cotta & blue cowl

I really can’t decide which of the next two pieces I prefer. I think they’re both very attractive. First I wove with a medium blue weft, organizing the weft block shifts in relation to the width of each block. Required a lot of thought and planning, and that may not have been worth it, but the colors are swell.

terra cotta & blue scarf

Then I wove a regular pattern of 24 picks each block with a sienna weft. Also yummy.

terra cotta & blue long cowl

I was planning for the next warp of three when I realized I’d really better see what I’ve already woven and how that compared to my sales last year. Learned that I really need to weave more silk scarves, so that’s the warp that’s on the loom now. I’ll get it done in the next few days so I can try another tiny tapestry before the month ends.

See why it takes me so long to do a blog post? I’m busy!

Not as planned

I think in my prior hand painting I pretty much always mixed colors. This time I decided to use a few straight. My goal with this 8/2 tencel warp was red and orange. I used mixing red and tangerine. What I got was a dark pink and a pale orange. A learning experience.

I also learned that I like the painting more when the colors are not as different as they are here. That is, when the eye doesn’t stop and start where the colors change, but rather shifts smoothly along the length. Another learning experience.

I threaded the loom for a twill weave I’ve used several times before, what I call feathers. For the first scarf I used a tencel burgundy weft, hoping to shift the whole look to more red. It did that, but didn’t excite me. I’m also disappointed that there’s a section of the ‘red’ that’s really pale where I clearly didn’t get quite enough dye on the yarn. (The colors are not as garish as they appear in this photo.)

hand painted tencel scarf - burgundy feathers

For the second scarf I decided to use a gold weft, and to change the treadling to create long zig zags. I prefer this color combo.

hand painted tencel scarf-golden zigs

This scarf told me it wanted some beads on the ends. In hindsight, I wish I’d secured the beads between the fringes instead of contained within them. Next time.

end of scarf with gold beads

I had only wound enough warp for these two long, fringed scarf and a short cowl. I debated quite a bit about what to use for the weft for the cowl. I really wanted to shift the colors to the orange that I’d tried to dye for, but I don’t have any orange tencel, and none of the browns, siennas, or red-oranges did what I wanted. Then I remembered that I had some orange mercerized cotton. I thought with its sheen, it would look good. When I opened that bin I saw that I had two oranges, one a 20/2 and the other a 16/2 (non-weavers: they’re both quite fine). One is a red-orange, the other more of a true orange.

two orange mercerized cottons

Neither would work alone, so I decided to try winding both onto a bobbin at the same time. I have no idea what weight the final yarn ended up being, but I love the way it worked with my warp colors, and it was still plenty fine to give the cowl a good hand. While I could easily see both colors on the bobbin and while I wove, once the scarf was wet finished those two oranges blended quite well into one. Interesting.

hand painted cowl-orange feathers

Like photographing red, the colors here aren’t accurate. But this is my favorite of the three.

These scarves were woven and finished in April, bringing my total for the month to 9. Yippee!

Unrelated – the spring weather is crazy. A wet, spring snow was falling on my walk on Sunday morning, yet the grass has been growing so rapidly that I had to do my first lawn mowing on Tuesday. Nuts!