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.

6 comments to I love portable projects

  • What a great idea to take your sewing outside – looks perfect.

    Love the scarves – those are colors I’m partial to when weaving and I love any kind of twill for scarves.

    • Peg Cherre

      Thanks, Cindie. They are not my typical colors, but I am COMMITTED to using stash, and stretching my color choices is a good thing.

  • I never thought about bringing my boat anchors, er… I mean sewing machines outside, but I do have a couple portable looms and a spinning wheel. The weather has been kind of cool though and blustery. Rain today which I never complain about in the summer season. How’s Mr. Jack doing?

    • Peg Cherre

      My little Janome is very lightweight. And limited in function, but does do everything I seem to need. We’ve not had enough rain so far this season, so I’m hoping for more, but at least thankful that it’s no longer 85+ degrees. Jack is doing well…he seems to have settled down some in the last 6 months or so…took 2+ years with me, but he’s finally a bit less anxious.

  • Alma

    Well, that last piece – the long cowl – IS practically perfect!

    That’s the little man in the first picture, isn’t it? I can’t imagine that if you’re at home he’d let you get too far out of his sight!

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