Bungees and dyeing

Bungee cords and dyeing are not related to each other. At least not in my life, not right now. In the future – who knows? Stranger things have probably happened. To me.

Let’s start with the bungees. We had A LOT of wind earlier this week. A LOT. Like consistent 30-40 mph with 70 mph gusts. On Monday morning my little dog Jack woke me up at 4AM. Howling wind is not his favorite thing. So I decided to go lay down on the couch so he could be closer to me. Well. The wind was making the awning over my front door bang repeatedly, threatening to rip off the house and surely cause damage in the process. So there I was at 4AM, in my pajamas and bathrobe, on a step stool on my tiny front porch, attaching bungee cords between the awning and the wrought iron railings. Two on each side. Adds some real class to my house, don’t you think? Anyway, this worked for the duration of the storm. I’ll have someone come and determine a permanent solution soon.

bungeed awning

Weather related, in early February the temperatures were perfect for creating ice on the sidewalks. 🙁 One morning I fell twice before I ever left the corner my house sits on. The very next morning I was walking on a nearby slanted piece of grass to avoid the icy sidewalk. Down I went, in the mud this time. Nothing beyond my pride was particularly hurt in any of those falls. A few days later I fell on the ice again. Again I wasn’t even bruised.

But a few days after that my right leg – the side I’d landed on each time – started hurting. I couldn’t figure out what it was, and didn’t connect it to the falls since it didn’t start immediately. So I continued to do my regular activities: daily walking and assorted gym classes at least 3 days/week.

When things were getting worse, not better, I decided I’d pulled a ligament behind my knee. All those activities were only aggravating the injury. And since I was walking and moving funny, I subsequently involved my sciatic nerve and piriformis muscle, and probably more. So weaving hasn’t been great on my leg. I have a chiropractor appointment on Tuesday, but meanwhile haven’t been able to weave much – only for short spurts and not a lot of those in one day. Instead I’ve been dyeing.

I started by dyeing some weft yarn to coordinate with warps I’d dyed and put on the loom.

Hand painted warp yarns

Warp yarns dyed in grape and strong red – 8/2 tencel

beaming grape and red tencel

The warp was handpainted, the weft was immersion dyed: some 8/2 tencel and some 10/2 cotton. I found it interesting that the tencel was noticeably darker in the dye bath. After drying the colors are almost identical.

Immersion dyeing grape yarn

Weft yarns in grape immersion bath – cotton and tencel

Then, since we had a major snowfall, I figured I’d take advantage of the snow and did a bunch of snow dyeing. Socks and scarves, assuming I’ll get accepted into that show this summer where they will be appropriate. Here are process photos; I haven’t taken any of the finished pieces yet.

snow dyeing silk scarf

Silk scarf under snow, turquoise and avocado dyes

snow dyeing silk scarf

silk scarf under snow with grape and fuschia dyes

silk scarf dyeing under snow

silk scarf under snow, turquoise and grape dyes

snow dyeing silk scarf

silk scarf under snow, with avocado and intense blue dyes

snow dyeing socks

socks under snow, strong red & strongest orange dyes

snow dyeing socks

socks under snow, golden oak & chocolate brown dyes

snow dyeing socks

socks under snow, forest and intense blue dyes

snow dyeing silk scarf

silk scarf under snow, strong red and strongest orange dyes

snow dyeing silk scarf

silk scarf under snow, forest and golden yellow dyes

snow dyeing socks

socks under snow, turquoise and intense blue

Sticking with the color

When I painted the first warp bouts in living coral & turquoise, I had intended to combine them with the skeins I painted in the same colors. I later changed my mind, thinking it was just too much.

Then I found this great draft on – it’s draft #22076. If you’re not a member of, you should be – it’s an amazing resource.

There’s no way to really look at how a draft will look with handpainted yarn, as the colors shift in ways the program can’t duplicate, but I did my best estimate, and decided I loved the way the colors interacted if I just added some black and white. With a black weft I got strong hits of zebra.

closeup of coral & turquoise cardi

So I wove enough length to make another open front cardigan, planning for this to be one of my new jury photos. I’m quite happy with the overall look, and with the improvements I made from the first one, and will take it to the photographer either today or tomorrow.

handwoven coral & turquoise open front cardigan

Lady Jane shows more of the width nicely.

handwoven coral & turquoise open front cardigan, width

The second piece on the loom, a mobius, is probably my favorite because of the weft color. If I’d had enough of this sienna, I would have made the cardi with it. This combo strikes me as very southwest.

handwoven coral & turquoise mobius

Finally, I had little warp length left, and used a bright blue to weave a wide, if short, cowl.

handwoven coral & turquoise cowl

If you look at these photos, and those from the last post with similar warp colors, it’s pretty amazing how different the looks are, isn’t it?!

So I still have the coral & turquoise painted skeins. You’d think I might weave with them next, wouldn’t you? But no. I painted some more skeins in new colors – they’re drying now. And while I wait I’m going to put another mixed warp on – cotton, rayon, and chenille – which I’ll weave with a chenille weft. Probably another open front cardigan and a mobius.

Unrelated, I think I forgot to show you this mobi. It’s a cotton warp – the end of the warp from that skirt (which I’m still working on) and tencel wefts. Not my fav, but I think it will float someone’s boat.

handwoven striped mobius

Still woefully behind.

3 finished scarves

I’ve had these three tencel scarves, woven with some of my handpainted yarn, finished for a while, but somehow still don’t have them tagged. Ditto with those towels I wove more than a month ago. I told myself I wouldn’t let this happen again, that I’d tag things immediately. Clearly I lie to myself all the time. Sigh.

Anyway, I showed them to you on the loom. Interesting how different some things look when they’re off the loom and you can see the whole piece at once.

I’m not fond of the scarf with the black weft, even though I usually love this weave structure. It’s just too dark overall.

handwoven coral & turquoise scarf with black

Honestly, I can’t decide which of these two cowls I prefer. The shorter cowl with the sienna weft in a simple zig zag weave pattern…
handwoven coral & turquoise cowl, sienna weft

…or the longer cowl in a diamond weave pattern, with an orange weft and a few bands of gold.

handwoven coral & turquoise cowl, orange weft, down

handwoven coral & turquoise cowl, orange weft, doubled

I have a few more things complete – or almost – for next time. I’ve also been working on that skirt I mentioned in an earlier post. I have so many ideas! If only I had as much time and energy a I had thoughts. 😉

Several steps to leggings I like

Way back in August I tried some ice dyeing, just for fun. Then I opened my big mouth one day at a meeting, suggesting that as a topic for a Guild Evening Meeting. Little did I know at the time that this would turn into me teaching it!

So obviously I had to do a lot more practice. And with all the safety precautions that they require I didn’t want to use chemical dyes at an evening meeting, so I needed to do a bunch of samples with koolaid.

Two friends came over one evening and we played around. We tried old Tshirts, wool yarn, wool fabric, and I don’t even remember what else. We learned some stuff, the take away for me being that this was more complex than I’d thought, and if I wanted to teach it, I had to do more experimenting in a structured way.

So I bought some small silk scarves from Dharma Trading, some koolaid, and set to work. I was happy with the results.

koolaid ice-dyed silk scarves

On the left I carefully pleat-folded the scarf, and used orange and lemonade koolaid.
In the middle I twisted the scarf and used blue raspberry lemonade and lemonade koolaid.
On the right I randomly scrunched the scarf and used the 2 packets of lemonade I had left: blue raspberry and orange. I was sure it would turn out an ugly brown mess, and was shocked that I got some great fall colors.

So I got more supplies and in January taught the class to 16 people. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and although only a few of them sent me a photo of their finished scarves, they all turned out well, if not necessarily as planned.

Some months ago, when I bought the onesies and T-shirts for dyeing I also bought myself a pair of mostly cotton leggings. They sat and sat, waiting for me to get to them. Well the polar vortex got me moving! I scoured and then soaked the leggings, gathered some snow, and got the whole shebang set up in my utility tub in the basement.

From top to bottom shows the dyeing sequence:

  • immediately after piling on the snow and sprinkling on the dye (OMG is THAT what I wanted?)
  • after a bunch of the snow has melted (yes, that IS what I wanted), and
  • after all the snow is gone but prior to rinsing (they turned out good!)
  • .

    snow dye legging sequence 1

    Then I rinsed out the excess dye, washed and dried the leggings. OH NO! I did not want to look like I walked out of a rainbow festival in 1967! When will I learn that less is more when it comes to color?!?!

    1960s leggings

    After thinking about it for a day, I decided to overdye the leggings. Sure, I could have done this with immersion dyeing, but why do it the simple way? Do more snow dyeing!

    So I presoaked again, gathered more snow, and set up shop. Again.

    I used only red dye, but 3 different shades of red. The top picture looks pretty ugly, and I wasn’t at all sure how they’d turn out, but figure I could always immersion dye later if I needed to. Even after a bunch of the snow had melted, in the bottom photo, I wasn’t at all sure that this was a good idea.

    snow dye legging sequence 2

    After batching, rinsing (a LOT, since red dye is notoriously hard to set), washing and drying, I got leggings I really like!

    snow dyed leggings 2

    I wore them to the gym for my exercise class today and got a compliment. And it wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t, because I like them.

I’m feeling better

Feeling better both physically and mentally.

Physically, I got a nasty cold that came with a low grade fever. Although not high, it had me down for the count. I slept for about 32 hours with minor breaks for short walks with Jack, making easy chicken soup (took a nap in between steps), eating a bowl of that and taking lots of meds. After that I felt infinitely better. I still have a stuffy nose, but I feel ok.

Mentally I feel better, too. I made progress on a few fronts and they all feel good.

beaming coral & turquoise scarf

First, I beamed and wove that living coral & turquoise scarf – the second batch of dyeing I’d done in these colors.

I wove the first piece with black weft and an advancing twill treadling.
weaving coral & turquoise scarf

At that point I honestly couldn’t remember how much length I had left on the loom, or find my paperwork that told me what I had planned for. I knew there would be at least one short cowl and one something else, but since I didn’t know what the ‘something else’ was, it was most sensible to weave the short cowl first.

I picked a sienna tencel and a single straight treadling that would create zig zags. I like the look. I decidedly do not like the treadling error that’s so obvious in the photo but which I didn’t see on the loom. Sigh. It will be close to, if not part of, the hemming of the cowl, so probably won’t show. I hope there are no other errors!

coral & turquoise scarves 2 & 3

For the ‘something else’ I picked an orange weft I created by using 1 strand of 16/2 bright orange and 1 strand of 20/2 medium orange, both mercerized cotton. I used a simple dance ‘up and down the treadles’ for this one. I used some stripes of gold with metallic cotton for interspersed stripes. It might be my favorite.

Once all 3 pieces were off the loom, they sat for a bit before I got to doing a some necessary needle weaving (an error in tie up for the first third of the first scarf – UGH!!) and then fringe twisting, so I can’t show them to you yet.

While they were waiting for my attention I did something just for me. Sarah Swett, a woman with crazy talents for tapestry, spinning, weaving, painting, and more, posted directions for a skirt made of a combination of weaving and knitting. I’d seen her blog posts where she showed the ones she’d made herself months ago and really admired them, so when she posted a PDF with directions, I was on it! A friend wanted to join me in this adventure, and I was so excited I set to planning immediately.

After a few false starts, I settled on a cotton warp (10/2 cotton, 1 strand light gray, 1 strand bright turquoise) sett at 24 ends per inch. For weft I used an alpaca-silk blend in periwinkle and a mystery fiber in a bright-ish blue, woven in clasped weft.

skirt fabric on the loom

I purposely showed you the photo in this orientation because the width of the weaving will be the length of the skirt. I can’t wait to take the next steps on this project!

I was feeling guilty doing something just for myself as I was struggling with whether or not I could weave enough to do both of my desired summer shows. Then I had an AHA moment!

The first show, at Chautauqua Institution, required very high class items – my handwoven scarves, shawls, and now garments. The second show, in an artsy section of Buffalo, will be open to other options. I believe that as long as I jury in with the range of work, I can bring both some of my handwoven items and some pieces I’d dyed but not woven. For example my shibori-dyed socks. And some ice-dyed scarves or similar. I even think a photo I took this winter will work for the jury shot of my dyeing.

shibori-dyed socks

Dyeing clothing someone else made is SO much quicker than weaving, and I think it will fit for the second show. That decision made me feel infinitely better mentally.

So now I need to finish the 3 coral & turquoise scarves, work on the next step for the skirt, re-plan the project for that first coral & turquoise yarn I dyed and get it on the loom. And keep moving forward.