Dungeon but no dragon

I spent 5+ hours in my basement today. With its concrete floor and unfinished nature, my basement is a very functional space, especially for dyeing. But comfortable, bright, or cheery it is not. Rather dungeon-like, actually.

hand painting yellow and orange

2 yellows and an orange

Warp painting is a many-day process for me. On Monday spent several hours planning warps for 3 runs of 3 scarves each, all in 8/2 Tencel. I had to decide on a weave structure for each, and if I would make fringed scarves, long or short cowls, or some combination of the three for each warp. Then I had to determine sett (threads per inch in the warp) and decide if I would wind all the threads in one bout (group of warp threads; winding more than one bout allows for more variety in the painting of the colors, but also takes more time to both make the bouts and paint them).

hand painting blue and purple

2 blues and a purple

Next is to actually wind those warps. For me that was 7 bouts for the 3 warps (2 bouts for 2 warps, 3 bouts for the other). Each warp was a different length based on what I plan to weave, and each had a different number of threads. So I had to use a system to know which bout was which. I used different sizes, fibers, and textures of threads for my ties so I could differentiate them at every step of the process.

I wound 2 warps Monday night, the other 5 this morning. Then I had to scour and presoak the warps while I mixed dyes and prepared the work surface. (I forgot to take photos of some of the warps after painting.)

After carefully laying out each prepared warp I had to paint on the dyes, being sure to get all of the threads without wasting lots of dye by using too much. Then wrap them up in saran wrap like snakes, and steam each of the 7 bouts individually for 1/2 hour while I was painting the next warp.

hand painting light and dark terracotta

light and dark terracotta

The 7 bouts are now sitting in my oven, with the oven light on for a bit of warmth. They’ll sit there overnight. Tomorrow morning, after my Guild meeting, I’ll carefully unwrap each bout and set it to soak in a basin of water until Thursday morning. This helps minimize both water usage and time in rinsing. On Thursday morning I’ll rinse each bout separately until the rinse water is clear.

Then I’ll hang up the bouts to dry. Given our cold spring, they’ll be hanging in my house – maybe in the basement, and will likely take more than 24 hours to dry. During that time I’ll need to fondle each bout some to make sure it’s spread apart enough so that it dries completely, and give it a good snap at several places along its length to separate and straighten the threads.

hand painting light and dark blue

light and dark blue

So perhaps sometime this weekend I can actually put the first warp on my loom – a whole week from the beginning of this process. Meanwhile I’ll wet finish those ‘springtime’ scarves from the last post, and put another warp on the loom to weave with commercially-dyed yarn. Maybe it’ll be silk. Maybe not.

6 comments to Dungeon but no dragon

  • Some lovely weaving is in your future and we’ll be right here waiting to see it all!

  • Here’s a hint on marking warps for both different projects and number of warp ends. I cut up plastic milk jugs to make tags, punch holes in them and tie them at the end of each warp with a letter on them that I’ve written in a sharpie marker, such as ‘A’ and put the same letter on my sheet with all the info. If there is more than one warp per project I add a number to it like ‘A-1’, ‘A-2’, etc. It works really well and after the project is woven I save all those pieces of milk jug for the next dyeing session, after several I may have to write over the letters again. I do round the edges of my tag so there’s no snagging.

    • Peg Cherre

      As Mary Clancy (played by Haley Mills) would have said in The Trouble with Angels, that’s a scathingly brilliant idea, Cindie – thanks!

  • Alma

    You had me at Hello with the yellow and orange! Looking at the terracotta one, it looks as if there are two small lumps to the left of the long string. What are they?

    I can’t believe you remember the “scathingly brilliant” line.

    • Peg Cherre

      Thanks, Alma. The two small lumps are my dye pots, one for the dark color, one for the light. And I really liked watching Haley Mills movies!

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