Thursday, 31 July 2008


This past weekend's fun, and the next project. I've been dyeing 5 km of 8/2 cotton for some teatowels for the great tea-towel exchange. I decided to dye these green and sand as a kind of sample for a scarf I'm making for a friend, and I was so happy with the way the colours worked that I decided to dye the silk for her on the spot as well.

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So then I dyed a cone of 30/2 silk in three varying shades of avocado green and four silk caps as well: two in the greens, and two in two varying shades of sandy yellow/brown to spin up as a weft. I seem to only have photos of the greens, but here they are as a taster: cotton on the left, silk on the right:

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Interestingly, the cotton didn't take up the dye anywhere near as much as I thought it would. I was, however, happy with the way the silk played.

My partner asked me the other day to make him a single blanket to take to Antarctica with him. He wants to put it on his bunk as they tend to overheat the base and the duvets they supply are too hot. I want to make it in a Swedish krokbragd, in varying shades of blue and cream, with flashes of red. I'm going to have to do that in double-weave to make the blanket the width it needs to be (66 inches, and I have a 40" loom). This means I'm changing my mind on the fly about the draft I use for the tea-towels, as they cleary need to become a sample for both the blanket and the scarf!

Krokbragd, here I come...

Cotton babys blankets

There's been a baby explosion at work. No, really. I'm afraid to drink the water. That's meant that I wanted to make an industrial quantity of baby's blankets, so I raided my stash and pulled out some 2/0 Conshohocken cotton and Foxfibre cotton. What I had was sage green, beige and natural - not the most babyish of colours, but I wanted the blankets to be quiet and gender-neutral, so they suited me. Warping up 9 metres of the cotton, I set the blankets to 1 metre wide in the loom and warped it up in 1" stripes of sage green, beige and natural.

I threaded these as a block-draft 3/1 twill, set at 16epi. Unfortunately I used all of the sage green cotton up on the warp, so I made the first one in a block twill with a weft of alternating 1" stripes of the beige and natural.



Cut off the loom, this measured 1m x 1.2 m. Washed, with shrinkage, it came to 90cm x 1.1m, which is a decent size for a baby. I'd planned to sew ribbon around the edges, but the ribbon I bought simply wasn't going to look any good as it was too narrow to fold and sew reliably, so I settled for folding and hemming the edges, and leaving the blanket quite plain. Then I tied up and retensioned the rest of the warp.


The first blanket I wove, I wove with just a plain white weft in a constant 3/1 twill. As I was still using the block twill draft, this gave a broken twill. I'd planned to weave the second blanket and cut it off, but then I had a brain wave: I had put enough warp on there for 3 and a bit blankets, but I really needed four because there was yet another baby on the way (I told you, I'm afraid to drink the water!). But if I wove a solid ream of fabric, and cut it up....could I squeeze four out of it?

To measure how far down the warp I've woven, I'm tying a yellow scrap of yarn each metre.
I'm almost done weaving it, and I'm up to the 5m mark. I may manage to have 6m of fabric by the time I'm done, which will mean I've managed to squeeze 5 baby blankets out of a warp I'd designed to make three blankets, with a bit of wastage and playing space. Not bad really!

One problem I did encounter around the 3.5 metre mark was a frayed thread in the warp. Conshohocken cotton is a very soft single cotton, which is held by a binder thread. In this case the cotton had frayed, leaving only the binder thread hanging on:


It would have to happen in the sage green, of course - I have only 1 metre spare of that after making the warp. Thank goodness the binder is strong! It held on long enough for me to weave past it and then it held securely. It looks like I'm not even going to have to supplement sew taht portion, as I was able to adjust the cotton so it sits properly in the warp, and the weave structure is enough for the weft to hold it in place, even with washing and wear.

I'll finish this this week or next, and then post pictures.