Starting strong

October started really strong for meeting my 6-7 finished pieces per month. That’s mostly true because I don’t count scarves as done until they are fringed and wet finished. The 3 scarves I’ll show you were off the loom at the end of September, but not fringed or wet finished till early October. Way to start!

I had a dark royal purple warp on the loom, threaded for a complex twill. First I used a green that is almost chartreuse, longing for that iridescence that comes with complementary – or in this case split complementary colors. I much prefer the side that’s more purple.

purple chartreuse silk

I auditioned a salmon weft for the second scarf, again going for that split complementary color, but really hated it. So I used a very pale blue-green. I was tired of the treadling pattern for the first scarf, so changed it for the second. My overall reaction? Meh. It’s okay.

purple sax silk

I really wanted something that would send me for the third. I tried out a few things and settled on a gold silk that I’d immersion dyed a few years ago with natural dyes. It’s a bit thicker than the 20/2 of the warp, so the hand isn’t quite as nice, but I really like the colors. I also changed the treadling pattern again, and this one is my favorite weave pattern as well as favorite color combo.

purple and gold silk

Since October was starting off so strong with numbers, I wanted to spend a bit of time in my basement, hand painting some warps. I did three warps, and decided in advance that I’d (a) make decisions in advance, (b) take better notes, and (c) not use up any leftover dyes, mixing up new so I knew what I’d get.

First up is 5/2 bamboo. I dyed in a blue->green->blue->purple pattern, using a 3% dye solution. I also immersion dyed 2 skeins for weft. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough containers to give them each a vat with sufficient space, and then I was so involved in the hand painting that I failed to stir them. So the skeins aren’t a good solid color. That’s fine for warp use for a future project, but not the weft for this one. Live and learn, as usual.

blue, green & purple bamboo with skeins

Next I painted some 10/2 tencel. This time I used a red->orange->yellow->orange pattern to my painting, and a 2% dye solution. (These colors aren’t particularly accurate, but the best I could do.)

red, orange, and yellow dyed tencel

The third warp is also 10/2 tencel. This time it’s a 1% solution, in red->orange->yellow->green->blue->purple that then doubles back on itself, going purple->blue->green, and so on. In an ideal world I would have had just one ROYGBV run per scarf, but I couldn’t exactly make that work in my calculations, so I think each scarf with probably be more like 1-1/3 of that rainbow. I hope it looks okay woven. I also hope that the patch of white, where I obviously failed to saturate the yarn with color, doesn’t land in the middle of a scarf. 🙁 I can wish that it’ll be where I would normally cut for fringes, and just cut it out. A girl can hope, right?

rainbow hand painted tencel

While I was waiting for the yarns to batch and dry, a process that takes a few days, I decided to put on a warp for some towels. Although they don’t sell particularly well in my booth at shows, towels tend to sell at the Weavers’ Guild Holiday Sale, and I don’t have very many. I opted for more bumberet.

beaming October bumberet

I learned in the process that I prefer it when I have more of the predominating color, in this case intended to be blue or green. The towels, which won’t count toward my monthly goal, are in the finishing process, so you’ll see them later.

I’m always eager to see how my hand painted warps turn out in the weaving, so am looking forward to that adventure.

Oh, yeah. Meanwhile I also made some Christmas gifts. In my canner. No peeks at what’s inside!

canning for Christmas

Closing out September

I finished the month with 12 completed pieces – 6 shawls and 6 scarves; all in rayon chenille.

As always, reds are very hard to photograph. I struggled to get pix that I thought were reasonably accurate in color. I did a run of 3 scarves I’m calling Pop of Red.

red chenille scarf, draped

There are 3 different solids and 1 variegated red in the warp. Each of the scarves has a different solid weft.

3 red chenille scarves

Like all rayon chenille, these scarves have a marvelous drape and sheen.

red chenille scarf, tied

They’ll keep you warm when the cold winds blow. And if life slows down enough, I’ll put them up in my Etsy store.

red chenille scarf, keyhole

The blue scarves, which I’m calling My Favorite Jeans, use the same variegated yarn for both warp and weft.

favorite jeans scarf, flat

Surprisingly, these were even harder to photograph than the reds. No matter what I did when they were draped on Dolly they turned black and basically disappeared. So unless I can figure something else out for pictures, these will not go up on Etsy.

favorite jeans scarf, tied

I mentioned last time that I was working on a final run of 2 rayon chenille shawls. These go from a blue-ish silver to deep royal purple. I’m calling them Midnight Moon.

midnight moon shawl, front

I purposely made this quite a lot longer than usual so that I could do that center back angled seam and still have enough in the front to drape it over your shoulder.

midnight moon shawl, front, drape

Before I sewed the seam I spent hours with some inexpensive doubleknit fabric I bought so I could try out different seaming and draping styles. I had decided that I didn’t really like the pointiness that came with the dart-like structure I’d used in the first two. After much playing I decided I’d take a tuck at the bottom; even though I knew that the chenille was much thicker than the doubleknit, I also knew it was better than the point.

midnight moon shawl, tuck

Here’s the back of the shawl. I’m happy with it.

midnight moon shawl, back

I didn’t remember to take a photo of the rayon chenille Midnight Moon piece that I sent to the Roycroft campus. It was an unusual length because I made a mistake I haven’t made in years – I forgot to allow for takeup in my measurement, so ran out of warp. My piece ended up roughly 21″ wide and 54″ long. I sewed it into something that I called a versatile cowl-wrap. I made a separate little card for it outlining some of the ways it could be worn: a single drape around the neck; include your shoulders for added warmth; bring it up over your neck for a hood; use a brooch to wrap it closer around your neck; wrap twice around your neck for lots of thickness.

UPDATE: I found a bunch of photos of that cowl-wrap on my phone. Here you go.

cowl-wrap single drape

cowl-wrap with shoulders 1

cowl-wrap with shoulders 2

cowl-wrap with brooch

cowl-wrap doubled

I’m moving on to other fibers now, and returning to some hand painting. I hope I can hit my monthly goal for October.

squirrel-eaten canteloupe

More rayon chenille shawls

You saw the blue & green rayon chenille shawl that I’d sewn in the back for that V shape, but I never posted photos of the one that I left straight.

bllue green shawl, flat

I like the clarity of the colors without that variegated weft. I also like the fact that since there’s no seam, it can be woven with either the blue predominating…

blue-green shawl, blue in front

…or the green.

blue-green shawl, green in front

Of course, once you toss an end over your shoulder you see both colors well.

blue-green shawl, draped

After those spring-like colors I went for more saturated, rich colors. I think I’m going to call these 2 royal gems. Here’s the one I sewed.

royal gems shaped shawl, front

You can see that I made it a bit longer than that first one. Much better, I think, although #3 will be longer still.

And here’s the back.

royal gems shaped shawl, back

Yesterday I finally made it to Joanns and bought a few yards of a cheap doubleknit so I can play a bit with the correct angle of that seam. I want to avoid the pointy-ness that a long dart creates, and instead round that bottom seam a bit, I’m just not sure how to do it. I didn’t think muslin would drape enough to show me, ergo the knit fabric.

Here’s the wrap I didn’t stitch.

royal gems shawl, on rod

I really like these colors. A lot. And rayon chenille never fails to thrill me with its drape, sheen, and luxury. I’m confident both of these will sell.

royal gems shawl, draped

I’ve also woven 3 each of red and blue rayon chenille scarves, but haven’t photographed them yet. I’m working on one more run of 2 rayon chenille shawls, and then I will move on to other fibers. I just wanted to get these done ASAP so I can send one of each to the Copper Shop, and they are needed there before 9/29.

Learn by doing

Laura Fry, who I follow both through her blog and via Facebook, reposted this from Sophie LaBelle. I never heard of Sophie before, but google her and you’ll find her great cartoons.

Anyway, regardless of what you do, either creatively or repetitively, I found this story worthwhile enough to post again here.

quantity versus quality

While I always try to do my best at my weaving, and I am rather OCD, I know that I am nowhere near the perfectionist that some others are.

Unrelated – or at least mostly unrelated – I recently traded out some of my weaving at the Copper Shop on the Roycroft Campus. I was feeling a bit, um, disheartened that I only get 60% of the sale price of each item. Then one night when I couldn’t sleep I did the math in my head. I knew what my total sales were at my recent wonderful show at Chautauqua. And since I’d just entered the data into QuickBooks, I had a pretty solid idea of my expenses, too. So, if I count only my direct costs – jury fee, booth fee, van rental, meals, and the like – what percentage of my total sales did I actually end up with? 70%. That’s right…without counting a penny for the time of my three days at the show, my actual expenses were 30% of my total sales. And this was at a really great show. (FYI the next day I confirmed the actual numbers when I was in front of the computer, and I was dead on with my figures.)

It made the 40% that the Copper Shop takes seem totally reasonable. After all, they have to maintain a staff and has all the overhead of a permanent bricks and mortar store. Put my head back in a good place, and makes me want to send them more of my new work before the end of September when there’s a show on the Campus.

Next time you’ll see photos of my weaving, I promise. If you’re dying for a weaving fix, go visit my Etsy shop…I’ve put up two rayon chenille shawls in the past few days.

Mary Poppins and me

One of Mary’s sayings is “Well begun is half done.” With that in mind I began my year of 6-7 good finished pieces every month.

A common strategy for me is to do what I don’t want to do first, using what I do want to do as a reward, if you will.

So I started by sewing 51 bags.

51 bags sewn

Here they are sewn, in a pile, inside out. I have subsequently turned them right side out, ordered the needed ribbon and printed the needed tags, and threaded the ribbon and tagged them all.

Then I beamed a shawl warp. I’ve learned that for me, with rayon chenille I’m better off warping for just 2 shawls. Much less frustration in the beaming process, and much more consistent tension across the warp throughout the weaving. So here’s my first warp, very pale green to rich blue.

beaming green to blue shawl warp

I’ve since woven both shawls, but one is still awaiting hemming. I finished the other so I could bring it to a gallery that has some of my pieces. This shawl has a commercial variegated weft, which wasn’t my favorite so I made it into what is for me, a new design to add interest. Here’s the front.

shawl drape front

And the back.

shawl drape back

It’s not perfect, and I’ll make improvements in the next round…the front should be a little longer and the back a little shorter. The center back seam should be more tapered to improve the drape at the bottom. And I may add a few beads or something to enhance the front. But I’m happy with it, and the young women at the gallery really liked it, so I’m onto something.

This design made me much happier than the moebius shawl I tried. That shawl did sell at the August show, but unfortunately I was getting lunch at the time, so didn’t get to see the woman who tried it on and loved it. I couldn’t manage to make it look right on me. Glad she did.

Anyway, I have already beamed and threaded the next rayon chenille shawl. Really saturated gem colors. I am loving it.

beaming saturated gems shawls