Weaving and knitting and dyeing, oh my

Fair warning – this is a long post with lots of both words and images. Proceed at your own risk.

I’ve been busy. And enjoying being busy, so it’s all good. As faithful readers know, I have determined through experience that I need to make my Christmas cards in February for the holiday that will arrive 10 months later. It’s February or never. So I had to make some decisions…will I weave them? If so, what? Will I make more paper and use that? Will I embroider or…? Although I am open to creativity that may arrive later in the year, I settled on weaving, using established designs (from the Strickler book of 8 shaft patterns). I’d chosen 5 different patterns, knowing that meant I’d have to change the tie ups on my floor loom 5 times; not the world’s most fun nor the most onerous task.

I decided I’d make the warp wide enough to get 4 cards across the width, and I’d weave a minimum of 10 motifs, 40 cards. I selected 10/2 cotton in bright white, as my card blanks were bright white. I did all the math needed, measured the warp, beamed and threaded the loom. Did my first tie up for a sort of snowflake design and set off.

The plan was use the 10/2 for tabby weft and 8/2 rayon, doubled for the pattern. Wove the first motif. (Strickler #128) Um, nope. The cloth wasn’t solid enough and the motif was too elongated. For attempt #2 I double-beat that same 10/2 weft and the same 8/2 rayon, doubled. Better, but not ideal, IMHO.

2023 cards, attempts 1 & 2

For the 3rd attempt I added a metallic thread to that rayon and liked that look. I stuck with the 10/2 for the solid white area, double beating it. I went with sewing thread for the tabby picks in the pattern area. Meh. It was kind of a pain in the butt and didn’t move me. Attempt #4 I used 20/2 for the white thread throughout, single beating it. Again, better but still not quite right.

#5 I used 10/2 for the plain white areas, double beat. 20/2 for the tabby weft in the pattern areas, and 8/2 rayon plus a metallic thread for the pattern picks. This was clearly the best and what I’d stick with. I stuck with the first motif for all of these, plus one more set, so now I had 24 of the snowflakes, some of which may or may not be usable.

Now was the time to change the tie up. I switched to a pine tree motif, (Strickler #119) using green 8/2 rayon, still doubled, still with a metallic thread.

2023 cards, attempts 6 & 7

Whew. I liked them. I wove 2 or maybe 3 of these, and switched to a different tree design. Wove the motif and didn’t like it, so took it back out and went back to the original trees. Ended up weaving a total of 4 of these tree motifs, so 16 cards. Based on what did and did not happen with the other trees, I had some insight into which of my other chosen designs I’d like.

I switched tie up to a star-like design (Strickler #134). This enabled me to use different colors of the rayon. I ended up with enough length on my loom for 5 of these motifs, each row a bit different.

2023 cards 12 & 13

So I ended up with 15 motifs for a potential total of 60 cards. We’ll see how many I actually need and how many are usable. Here’s the whole warp fresh off the loom.

2023 cards off the loom

Once they came off the loom, a bunch of machine stitching needed to be done. Horizontally and vertically to provide cutting lines. With careful measurements and stitching. I divided the length in two so I could more accurately do the measuring and sewing.

2023 cards with machine stitching

Then, because they would be easier to store for 10 months without fold lines getting pressed in, I cut them into lengths.

2023 cards cut in  widths

The last step — for February — was to roll those lengths and store them in a ziplock bag.

2023 cards on a roll

Meanwhile, in the evenings in front of the TV, I was knitting myself another pair of socks. No surprise there. I chose a new-to-me lace-like pattern on Ravelry, called Soda Water and applied it to my tried-and-true sock pattern. I found it both easy to knit and pleasing, and will definitely use it again. This is a commercially-dyed yarn.

soda water socks

I’m actually about 3/4 of the way through another pair of socks, again with commercially-dyed yarn, using a different lace structure. No pics, sorry.

Because I am about 3/4 through that pair of socks, I got motivated to dye another sock blank. I’ve had 2 blanks hanging out for probably a year waiting for me. I decided to do the painting in a diagonal fashion on the blank, just to see how it would knit up. Previously all my sock blanks have been dyed width-wise, which makes for longer-or-shorter stripes of color. This method will, I think, give me shorter runs of color that will be more like a commercial variegation. Time will tell on that.

diagonal-painted sock blank, wet

So down to the basement. Soak the sock blank with 2 TBSP of white vinegar in the water bath. I mixed up 5 colors of dye. As soon as I started painting I realized the red was too jarring, so I overpainted with a blue as soon as the red was on. That had moderate success, as the red dye struck pretty quickly.

I wrapped the blank, steamed it for about 1/2 hour, then let it cool in the steamer for a few hours until it was cool to the touch. Back downstairs at that point to rinse, wash, and rinse.

I am always amazed at how little color rinses or washes out of the sock wool. SOOOOO much less than rinses or washes out of plant fibers, regardless of how long I’ve let the dye batch. I’m sure it’s all about chemistry. Here’s the sock blank dried.

diagonal-painted sock blank, dry

And here it is rolled into 2 balls, waiting for me to finish the socks currently on my needles. It’s a real motivator for me to finish them up, as I want to see how the color plays out.

diagonal-painted sock blank, rolled into balls

When I finished weaving those cards, I knew that next up on my loom would be my February hugs. For reasons I don’t understand, my rayon chenille scarves and shawls aren’t selling well, so I’d weave another batch of rayon chenille hugs to use up more of that yummy yarn. Here is is going on the back beam.

beaming February hugs

Another bin empty – YAY!!

In between all of that we had a major cold snap here in Rochester. Highs in the 20s with wind chills of almost 20 below. Jack needed something for his feet. So I took an old wool sweater that my daughter had shrunk at least two years ago – it’s been sitting in my house waiting for me to get inspired to make something with it. I sewed them into simple tubes. Then I took the outside off some waterproof pads and sewed slightly bigger tubes. Wool next to the little guy’s legs and feet, waterproof pads on the outside, held on with some very classy rubber bands.

sewing boots for Jack

Poor Jack looked like he had duck feet.

Jack in duck feet

If I thought we’d have lots more cold that deep I’d make him an actual pair of boots that were shaped. But these only had to work for 2 days. And they did.

4 comments to Weaving and knitting and dyeing, oh my

  • Judy Tutuska

    You never fail to impress me Peg!

  • Good for you weaving for your holiday cards early in the year. I strive to get mine figured out/made during the summer but occasionally I’m working on them in the fall.
    You’re making me want to dye a couple sock blocks I have.
    Jack looks cute wearing his booties – I’m sure he appreciated them.

    • Peg Cherre

      Thanks, Cindie. I love to knit socks. I bet I have a dozen pair in my drawer now, all in rotation. And I’m sure I’ve thrown out a similar number when they get holes in them…I’ve tried darning and it’s definitely not in my skill set.

      I think Jack did appreciate the booties, AND is glad it was just for a few days.

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