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Everything’s Fine….or not

2 handwoven silk scarves on rack
Let’s start with the good news. I ordered and received some really lovely 60/2 silk. Like wire (I learned this when I was making jewelry), the higher the number the thinner the thread, so 60/2 is really fine. For comparison purposes, most of the rayon that I work with is 8/2 and has about 3,300 yards of thread/yarn per pound. The 60/2 silk has just under 14,000 yards of thread per pound. That’s not a typo. 14,000.

That meant that in order to make a stable fabric, instead of my usual 160-200 threads for a scarf, I had to use 520 threads. I sett the thread at 60 ends per inch, unlike the 18-21 I usually use.

You’re getting the idea about how thin this is, right? And how much more time it takes to wind the warp, thread the loom, and weave?

Then, when I went to weave, I had to take three times longer than usual to weave a bobbin. That’s because my weft thread was finer still, with at least 18,000 yards per pound. I had to wind thread from my cone onto bobbin 1. Then wind from the cone onto bobbin 2. Then put those two bobbins into shuttles and wind two strands at once onto bobbin 3. Trial & error – unfortunately – showed me that if I wound my final bobbin with 1 strand from the cone and 1 strand from a bobbin, the tension between those two threads was different enough that it make for sloppy selvedges when weaving. By having two bobbins – each wound with the same tension and each in a boat shuttle to maintain the same tension – to wind the third/final bobbin was definitely the way to go. (I was using the tram silk I bought at MAFA 2 years ago as weft. You may recall my earlier attempt at using it. I also attempted to get a local spinner to spin 2 strands into 1 thicker strand – no go.)

Ok, so I start weaving. Things move along smoothly, although slowly. First I use a burnt orange color called Bitter. It plays nicely with the rich, dark brown warp.
handwoven silk scarf, Bitter

Before I go further, I’ll tell you that I tried and tried and tried to get photos with relatively accurate colors. I tried outdoors and indoors, in the morning, midday, and afternoon. I tried in the sun and under cloudy skies, with flash and without flash. Most photos were completely unsuccessful. The shot at the top of this post is the most accurate for color.

Ok, for the next scarf I use a very pale yellow called Chablis. Interestingly, with the rich, dark brown warp it looks more silver than gold. Hunh.

handwoven silk scarf, chablis

I wasn’t as happy as I might have been with the color play in that first scarf, so instead of going forward with my original plan to weave the third with a soft, sagey green, I went back to that Bitter orange weft.

I got the scarves off the loom and spent a LONG time twisting that really fine fringe. I couldn’t use my handy dandy fringe twister – even with 10 threads in a bundle, the silk was too fine to stay in the teeth of that twister, so I had to do it all with my fingers.

Meanwhile I was still anxiously awaiting how stable this fabric will be. After weaving some inches I wished I’d chosen a different threading pattern so that I didn’t have an advancing twill. (I played with alternate treadlings on my computer but didn’t like any of them.) Advancing twills usually need to be sett closer than other twills. But I didn’t want to re-thread the reed even closer than 60 ends per inch, so continued and hoped the final fabric would work out well.

Finally got the fringe twisting done and got the scarves wet finished. They’re nice and stable – YAY!
2 handwoven silk scarves

That’s all good news. Now for the not-so-good news.

As a result of taking so long with these scarves, I lost ground again in building my weaving stock. At the end of March I was a whopping 24 scarves/shawls behind. I worked like a mad woman in April, closing out the month only 6 scarves/shawls behind. Now, at the end of May I’m up to 11 behind. Show season is approaching rapidly. I’ve got to get back to cranking.

Just to make sure life never gets boring, and that I don’t get much money in my bank account, it seems my MacBook will need to be replaced in the foreseeable future. If I open the lid too far – past 90 degrees, the screen goes completely black and won’t come back till I close the lid most of the way. According to my friend the Mac guru, the problem is caused by a solder connection coming loose and is basically not fixable. Poop.

That’s how life is – one step forward, two steps back.

Gonna go get a warp of 3 shawls on the loom now, ‘cuz I’m really down on them in my stock.

6 comments to Everything’s Fine….or not

  • Alma

    Oh, my goodness, the silks are beyond gorgeous!!!

  • Rhonda from Baddeck

    The silk scarves are beautiful! Since they took 2-3 times as long as your usual scarves (and the fiber was probably pricey), I hope you can sell them at a price that will make it worth your time. I only recently discovered your blog and have read most of the archives. You provide me with a lot of inspiration!

    • Peg Cherre

      Yep, I hope so too, Rhonda. I get so much inspiration from other weavers, it’s nice to be able to provide some now and then.

  • Wow! They remind me of butterfly and moth wings.

    • Peg Cherre

      Thanks, Amanda! If I could have gotten a decent shot of them outdoors, you would have seen how light they are, too, which would have enhanced that imagery. Not sheer, but you can certainly see colors behind them.

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