Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Unfortunately for me weaving does not consume the major part of my life. In my day job, I'm a scientist. My nom de net gives a hint as to which flavour. Today I'm running away to sea for a couple of months to do some work, so this blog will go very quiet.

But in the meantime, as I'm about four posts behind on things I'd like to talk about, have an almost completely contextless photo of the silk scarves I've managed to get out of the ugly warp so far. The draft for these is two contrasting broken twills, inspired by a scarf Janet Phillips put in her excellent book. The warp is 60/2 silk set at 50epi, and the weft on the left hand scarf is a pale blue-grey 60/2 silk. The weft for the right-hand scarf is variegated handspun silk cap, in blues and greens. Neither have been finished yet, and won't be now until the spring.

Take care, weave well.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Returning to musings on colour

Way back in March of last year, I made a post about colour, and wondered at the time whether it would be possible to redeeem a dyeing disaster (not of my making, I hasten to add) which had been visited upon a rather lovely skein of grey 60/2 silk. So once I'd finished weaving the handtowel for the bathroom (there will be photos in the future. I tried to take some yesterday but the light was too dark for navy-on-dark-blue), I warped up the loom with the silk. Here's a photo of the silk on a swift, to illustrate the dyeing job:

I turned this into a 9 metre long, 7-inch wide warp, with a couple of navy threads at the side for definition. Normally to beam sectionally I'd wind the yarn onto as many cones as I want ends per inch, but this is less workable when you're working at 50epi. Instead, I wound two warps, each with 50 ends and long enough to beam each one inch section one after the other. This is the warp, coming off the sectional back beam just before threading.

I'm sure some people would love the colours, but to me they're insipid. The combination of pale turquiose, fuschia, (ugh)pink and yellow do not fit my prejudices.

I've woven two scarves off from this already, in a broken twill. One with a pale blue/grey 60/2 silk warp, and the other with a variegated handspun silk cap warp in blues and greens. I was weaving a scarf a day towards the end of last week which is an accomplishment in fine silk. I'm pleased with the way each has behaved so far, but appear to have non photos of them yet! So I'll promise to post them soon and leave you instead with a comment on acid dyes.

One problem I've been finding with this warp is the odd breakage. These always occur in the regions where the turquoise is brightest. This is due to the chemistry of acid dyes, and the breakdown of protein fibres caused by acid dyes if not adequately rinsed (there is so much dye still in the turquoise parts of this silk my fingers turned blue while winding the warp).

So there are two morals here: if you're home-dyeing, either rinse your yarn really really well, or don't store it for many years before weaving it!

Fortunately there are not enough of these to cause a problem and when they do occur I use a method I think I learned from Sandra Rude. While I have a few spare warp threads hanging off the back beam ready for replacements and sometimes use these, I often tie a new warp thread to the broken thread, pull both threads through to the back together so that the knot is behind the back beam and the front of the new thread is hanging over the breast beam, and weight both ends of the thread. Then I weave on until I'm well past where the breakage occurred and pull the thread back through taut from the back beam, weight it at the front, and weave on. No-knot fabric with minimum fuss.

I'm back at work today after five weeks at home. That's been a bit of a shock to the system, and will severely cramp my weaving style I think. I've been getting used to my lovely routine of weaving in the mornings, garden in the afternoon!

Friday, 1 January 2010

A day in the life of the torture device

January 1, 2010. Because Meg dreamed up the idea and it's fun.