Sunday, 1 April 2012

April spools day

I missed April spools day! I'm a bad blogger. My only excuse can be that I worked all weekend.

Even though it's a few hours late, here are my bobbins:



I'm fairly disciplined about not having too much on bobbins. There are a couple of projects worth of handspun silk cap there, to get them off my spinning bobbins and a few odds and ends of handspun silk and wool awaiting the right moment. I normally use my leftovers as the header for a new project to use them up. These are in an old chocolate tin, and a biscuit tin serves as storage for empty bobbins.

Here are the shuttles I'm using for my current project, lined up in order on the loom bench:



Weaving one pick each with eight shuttles is sloooooooooow......

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Just short

Is it really two months since my last post? I'm a bad blogger. I guess I've been so busy doing, I've not got around to typing about it. But I've been busy, with a pile of things I should post. Here's today's effort though: a 16-inch wide warp of 60/2 silk, natural-dyed. There are alternating threads of silk dyed with eucalyptus chordata and a blend of henna and madder. Hands up those who see the problem with the below picture though.


See the bout still taped to the lease stick in the left of the photo? And the distinct lack of heddles left on the loom? I've owned this loom for what must be six years now, and I've never bothered to calculate how many heddles I had. There were always (sometimes just) enough. It turns out it had 100 on each shaft, for a total of 800 heddles. This warp is 16 inches wide at 60 epi - 960 ends. Toss in the "emergency" hundred heddles I had set aside and I'm still an inch short.

I know I could make some, but it's Sunday evening. Off to buy heddles and hope they're here for next weekend!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A day in the life of a loom - 2012

A day in the life of a loom is something that Meg has had going for many years. Each year, on New Year's Day, weavers post a picture of their loom. Here's mine, my trusty 8-shaft Glimakra Ideal.

My poor loom has been sadly neglected for much of this year as work was a bit all-consuming and often had me away. After I finished my P2P2 challenge (itself still unfinished and in the condition it came off the loom), the loom spent months undressed with the thrums still on the back beam, while I went off to sea and travelled the world.

When I got back at the end of November, I warped up this warp. It's 2/10 Lunatic Fringe cotton in spectrum colours, making a block twill tea-towel project. Completely in contrast to my normal modus operandi, this is someone else's project, the towels seen on the front cover of Handwoven's Fabrics That Go Bump. I fell in love with them when the book was first published and have finally decided to make them. I bought the cottons back in May and have only just now had the time to weave them. It's true joy-weaving, nice brainless 1-2-3-4.

I'm hoping to finish weaving off this warp today or tomorrow. I'm moving house next week and need to break down my well-travelled loom!

I haven't been neglecting fibres completely. There's been quite a bit of spinning, knitting and warp dyeing going on, the results of which shall be posted soon!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

P2P2: FO

I've been a bit quiet on the weaving front lately because I've either been really busy with work, away with work or away on holiday - speaking of which, greetings from Wales where I've spent the day cycling!


Here's what came of my P2P2 response. My initial thoughts on this project can be found here. Here is the completed weaving, straight off the loom.



I didn't aim to make a literal copy of the heron image, but I wanted to try to use an interplay of structure, clasped weft, variegation and colour to capture the essence of the image, and to make a faux-tapestry wallhanging. I feel fairly happy that I've achieved those aims and taken this method as far as it can be taken with this approach.

Warp: 10/1 rayon flake singles, in alternate threads of dark and light green to give an echo weave effect
Weft: hand-dyed, handspun silk cap in a variety of colours, supplemental weft of thickly spun silk cap and some 60/2 commercial silk. These were chosen to give texture to the main part of the weaving and a smoother texture for the 'sky'.

Draft: a network drafted progressive 8-shaft twill, similar to the one I was working on here. Clasped weft used on top of this to add subtlety and intrigue to the pattern.

There's a good image of the picture I was working from here. The things I wanted to capture the most were the horizontal aspects of the main colour blocks, but also the vertical aspects in the image provided by the reeds. This happens within those colour blocks, so I wanted the clasped weft effects to dominate the horizontal, and the weaving draft to dominate the vertical. I'd also wanted to get a third effect inside the weave, of barbs similar to those found in feathers. I think I got that, in the image below.

A supplemental weft of thicker silk cap adds a highlight in the 'grass' section.

In places I've used the change from 3/1 to 1/3 twill to dictate and highlight the change in colour at the point of the clasped weft :
(but in other places I've used it to downplay it as well, such as in the pink section where I was using clasped weft on two pinks of similar but slightly different hue levels). Sometimes the colour blocks in the clasped weft change from one side of the piece to the other.

The 1/3 sections of the twill itself have provided the vertical structure within the colour blocks. It's given weft-faced areas which develop the colour blocks, and the warp-faced areas give vertical structure and an echo-weave like effect to downplay the colour interaction due to the warp.

The end result has been to provide a fabric which has a level of irridescence to it. The weave structure appears and disappears according to the angle you view the piece from.

My initial thoughts on this exercise were:

Emotive: roundness, warmth, growth, abundance, comfort, connections. (Roundness came in with the draft)

Colours: warm colours, especially in the pink-red-purple spectrum (I took these from the image)

Material: silk, but perhaps with some texture (I didn't stray from the silk idea)

Weave: Something involving flight, movement, possibly feathers (I chose the draft to have a feather-like feel to honour the lovely little hummingbird feathers I received, and chose the heron image to play with)

Overall: strong focus on the connection between colour and weave interplay. Possibly a networked draft on a hand-painted warp (I think I'd originally pictured the colour blocks being warp-derived rather than weft-derived, so this is a real departure.)

It would seem I made my mind up early and it stayed made up! Despite that, this piece looks nothing like the kinds of fabrics that were playing in my mind when I first started working and sampling. I managed to achieve my goal of opening my mind, experimenting and letting the piece take me where it would. I enjoyed the process, but it has brought surprises: when I first started playing with this draft it was in an attempt to create a pleated fabric, and that hasn't happened.

Now I just need to finish this, perhaps this weekend. The top part will be sewn around a dowel. I'm unsure whether I'll dowel or fringe the bottom.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

P2P2: dyeing to move on

I spent last week in Adelaide on a training course for work. I was lucky, I flew over there just before the ash cloud descended and travelled nack 24 hours after Tasmanian airports were re-opened. I spent part of the weekend before I went weaving, and took my second sample off the loom just hours before I was due to leave for the airport. I took it with me, unfinished, to have a look at and think about while I was away. More on that another time.

I also thought more about the photos. I realised that no matter how often I looked at the set, the picture of the heron was the central point of focus for my mind. So I started digging through my stash of handpun silk cap to see what I had that worked with it. I have a lot of handspun silk cap. I bought a kilogram of silk caps a few years ago and have been enjoying playing with dyeing them ever since. The problem was, I was now down to precisely one undyed silk cap - and now there are none!

If you click on the image above to biggify it, you can see that I've been matching colours to the photo. Those on bobbins I already had. The skein of silk and the silk cap have been dyed over the last couple of days.

The skein started out cornflower blue, before I started to fiddle with overdyeing. I tried to match the colours and in a way also textures in the grass. The silk cap, below, was dyed randomly to match not only the salmon-lavender colours in the reeds but also the purplishness of the tree in the background.

I plan to split out the darker and lighter portions as I spin and spin them seperately.

One striking thing about this photo is that the elements pull in towards the centre from either side. That screams clasped weft to me. But having the colour elements in the weft - particularly varigated ones - will give a fabric with the predominant elements horizontal, whereas this photo has a strong vertical element with all the tall grasses and reeds - not to forget the upright heron!

I have a plan for that, but more on that later.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Spinning

In some ways, this has been inspired by yarninmypocket of Yarnscape. She started talking some time ago about spinning a suitable yarn for the lovely Shipwreck shawl. This reminded me that I'd had that pattern saved to my favourites on Ravelry for some time - the only shawl pattern I've ever considered making.

Some time later, I was browsing through the yarn shop of our guild and found a bag of "winter" dyed tussah silk roving. I don't often buy dyed roving to spin but fell in love with the colours and enjoyed an evening of joy spinning. In a search for things to do with it, I plied it with some pastel blue spun silk cap. Then I thought of the shipwreck shawl - but the yarn was too fine for the pattern, which calls for a light fingering weight.


Enter The Thylacine yarns. Browsing her lovely hand-dyed rovings at a recent open day, I spotted a lovely blues-and-greys silk/merino that would go perfectly with the silk I already had. I'd already plied the silk, but it's passive enough that it would ply with the wool fine.

A couple of pleasant evenings later, and I have about 650 m of a lovely marled fingering weight yarn, in blues and greys with just the odd hint of peach. It would make a lovely shawl...only the shawl calls for 1320 yards of yarn.

At this stage, may I say bugger?

I'm off to the weaving evening at the guild tonight. I may have to stick my head in the shop to see whether I can pick up any more of that silk.

First sample

Not a success. This was 3/2 silk warp with a 10/1 silk noil weft. The plan had been to use a fine weft to see whether the fabric would pleat, but I think that the warp wasn't set tightly enough and the weft is too passive and fine. Never mind, the alternate motive was to use up a few more cone ends in my stash, and that was achieved. I hadn't intended weaving a full piece but I was having too much fun with the colour progression.

This was a structural test for the P2P2 challenge, using the draft in my previous post. I've decided that trying to use an advancing broken twill only really works with a network drafted liftplan if you have more than 8 shafts. A simple 3/1-1/3 twill results in floats that are impractically large. I knew this from the draft but needed to weave it so I could see how the cloth would work.

I'm not sure what I'll do with this piece. The colours are pretty but I'm not in love with the hand of the fabric. It may make and interesting throw or hanging once it's been properly pressed. I still haven't replaced my ironing board after the move, so it will have to wait until I've done so.

Somewhat alarmingly, when I washed the piece, the water immediately turned purple.

In the meantime, sampling continues.