Thursday, 5 March 2009

Moving on with pleats, part 2: sample, sample, sample

I'm slowly learning that it's always a good idea to sample. I this case, I wanted to decide what the best weft would be to use with the handpainted merino warp I planned to turn into a pleaty scarf, establish whether I'd managed to give myself loose pleats with the set I'd chosen, and see how much draw-in there would be. From just under 9 inches in the reed, the finished sample was an average of 5.5 inches wide - about 40% shrinkage.

From top to bottom:
- pale green 60/2 silk
- emerald green 120/2 silk
- soft grey-green 30/2 merino (the same cone as the previous too-soft warp)
- pale green handspun silk cap
- yellow overtwisted handspun silk cap
- olive green handspun silk cap
- a few picks of beige rayon flake thread used as a spacer because it's nice and slippery

There was little difference in the draw-in between the very fine silks and the handspun silk cap (which has more of a 30/2 grist).

The fine silks gave an incredibly soft hand to the fabric, but did give a weft-dominated fabric: not what you're after when you have gone to the effort of hand-painting a warp. The merino, being a closer grist to the warp than the other yarns, pleated less strongly than the silks. It's a nice effect and would give a nice result, but it's not what I'm after here - and the colour is all wrong. Cold contrasted with the warm colours of the warp. The pale green silk cap is too bright. The yellow overtwisted silk cap gave more draw-in and in intriguing result, but again was not what I wanted for this project - besides, I only have a small amount of that left over from one of the crammed-and-spaced silk scarves, and this sample has given me an idea for how to use it up.

The olive-green silk cap, which is what I was using for weft for the previous pleating efforts, is the winner. It's a little variegated, which I've decided to use to my advantage. I've used some of the darker silk to make a defined stripe, about six inches in from the end.

And the changing shades of the handpainted warp have the effect of increasing and decreasing the contrast between the pleats, and the variegations of the warp and weft drift in and out of similar colour tones:

This, too, has fired my mind and given me ideas for the next scarf, which will have more complex colour interactions again. It seems despite myself, my brain is giving me the increased layers of colour I was aspiring to last year.


  1. Nice explanation of your choice process, and a good range of "not this time but must return to..." options.
    How did you finish the sample (thinking of my sub-optimal experience!)?
    Were you just passing through Sydney when you learnt to weave?

  2. I finished the sample very simply and gently. I washed it under the running cold tap with a little hand soap and hand agitation. Rinsed and wrung slightly, I tweaked it loosely to work out any wrinkles and encourage the pleats and sat it on a radiator to dry.

    I was living in Sydney when I learnt to weave. I'm originally Australian and worked in Sydney for 7 years before moving to the UK.

  3. The way you describe how the colors work sounds wonderful, Geodyne. I can't wait to see the finished piece pic. Very sophisticated!!! This is so very exciting!!

  4. Loving it!! Fantastic description of what worked and what didn't, both texturally and colour-wise. Incidentally, I love the olive green. Tres 'me'.