Thursday, January 26, 2017

Why I love my warping trapeze. Ready to weave!

I am so grateful for my warping trapeze today! (It is just two 2x4s with a copper pipe through the top, that I tie onto the sides of the loom.) If you'll recall my last post, I was really concerned that I'd have a whole bunch of tangles to deal with when I was beaming the warp this time around. I had had to do some rearranging of threads at the reed, as well as pulling some threads out of the design altogether. (I had miscalculated how many of each color yarn I needed, and redesigned on the fly when I was measuring warp chains.)

But, though I took some extra time to make sure to move yarn around to where it needed to be, having that long length up and down for the yarn to adjust itself, and having the constant weight on the threads to keep them from wiggling? Totally did the trick. I was bracing myself for a much bigger mess, and this went on with little trouble after all. Wheee!

And so now the warp is all nicely in place on the loom, and the header is woven. After a couple of weeks of work, I'm ready to 'start' weaving. Here we go!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Recalculating! (Blue and green gradated handwoven ruanas)

I'm working on a new weaving again. I'd like to make another set of my woven ruanas, but instead of doing the hand dyed stripey warp, like this:

I'm going to gradate them from one color to another like I did for a good portion of my baby wraps, like this:

 I like that gradual color change, and I'd like to be able to wear it myself.

So, I did my calculations, and ordered 6 cones of 3/2 cotton from Webs. I figured that would give me about a half a pound over what I needed. And, I have colors of 10/2 here on hand that would go well as weft colors.

Then, I got to winding the chains on my warping mill. To do the blend from one color to another, I break up the warp into sections and play with fractions. For 20 threads, I do 3/4 the starting color, and 1/4 the next. Then, 20 threads that are 2/3 the original color, and 1/3 the new one. Then, 20 threads where the colors are equal in ration. The next 20 threads have 2/3 of the new color, and 1/3 the original. Then, the next 20 are 3/4 the new color, 1/8 the original, and 1/8 the next color further down the line. This kind of using fractions to fade from one to the next has worked quite well for me in the past.

Except.... Oops. I had calculated out how much yardage I needed total. But, I neglected to calculate out how much yardage I needed of each color. When I got to the last bit of fading out the second color in the line, I found that I was 5 threads short. I ran out. (Insert cussing here.)

I took some time and re-figured. I was going to have more than I needed of the first and last colors, but not enough of the middle colors. And, by the time I discovered this, I was already toward the end of the second warp chain. I figured I had two options. I could buy 4 more pounds of yarn, which would add about $100 dollars to the project. Ouch! Or, I could recalculate and make the project a bit narrower, to use a bit less yarn. Which is what I chose to do. I grabbed the calculator, pencil, and paper, and adjusted the numbers to be 18 threads per fraction section.

Of course, I discovered this when I was almost done measuring the second of 5 warp chains. Which meant my first batch was going to have too many threads. And some of them were in the wrong order for this new configuration. I kept going, and figured I'd straighten things out when I was at the sleying the reed stage of putting threads in their order on the loom.

Which is precisely what I did tonight. I juggled threads around to new positions, and pulled some out entirely. I've got the order right now, and it is looking pretty good. But...I am really afraid that I am going to have an awful tangle on my hands when it comes time to pull those threads through the reed while beaming the warp. I am going to have to go slowly and carefully indeed.

But I think I can do it. And, I have my correct calculations for when I do these ruanas again in the future.

Weaving is definitely an exercise in constant problem solving!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Lion brand Homespun 'Thick and Quick' on the triloom follow up

I finished up the triloom shawl tonight, and I love love LOVE the way it turned out. I have finally found the PERFECT yarn for my triloom. Before, I was using yarn that was either too thin, and the weave ended up 'sleazy' (holy and unstable, kind of like cheesecloth), or too thick and the resulting shawl didn't drape well. But this is just right. I took it off the loom and tried it on, and it was like wrapping up in your favorite cuddle blanket. I had my husband try it on, and he said it was like wearing a hug. Soft, and thick, and warm, and I am sooo making more of these for the Etsy shop because I want everyone to have one!

Yes, I like it. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lion brand Homespun yarn on the triloom for shawls

I saw today that Joanns had the sock yarn I prefer on sale, so I popped over to stock up. While I was there, I found a new-to-me yarn that looked like it would be perfect for my triloom shawl making. This is Lion brand Homespun, but in a 'thick and quick' size that is bulkier than the stuff I've used before. So I grabbed a few skeins to try out.

It is working up beautifully!!! Thick enough to be a secure weave, and soooo soft and cuddly. I'll finish this up tomorrow and run it through the wash to see how it works after wet finishing. But I think I may have found the holy grail of triloom yarn finally!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas memories

When you were a kid, did you used to scoot way underneath the Christmas tree, and gaze up at the magic view? That used to be one of my favorite things to do at this time of year.

You know what? I think it still is. The magic is still there.

Go try it and see if I'm right. :)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Pirate's Map for Textiles class

So, my last post left us here in the process of making my 3d Pirate's Map for my final project for my Textiles class this semester. I had picked up a gourd, scrubbed the waxy coating off, and iced dyed it for a subtle coloration. So far so good. Next up, I needed to felt around the gourd. Last time I tried this, I carved the gourd open first and then felted around it. But, the gourd got really waterlogged that way, and that makes for a fragile gourd. This time, I decided to do the felting first, to take advantage of the natural water resistant rind. The risk, of course, was that I would crack the gourd in the cleaning process, and waste all my work. But, that is why I bought a spare gourd!
So, I went through my stash of wool roving, and pulled out my blues and greens. I want the felt to represent water, with the top of the gourd sticking up like an island. Ready? Go!
I found a little pail, and turned the gourd upside down. Then I spread out a length of roving and laid it over the gourd. It kind of looks like hair here. I resisted the urge to draw googly eyes on it.
Instead, I kept on adding thin layers of wool roving at right angles to each other, until I had 4 layers built up. Then it was time to add wisps of the colored roving to make it look watery.
I needed to hold the wool down to the gourd so I could get the felting started. So, I cut the legs off of a pair of panty hose, and tied the remaining stubs in a knot. That left me the body part of the hose, which was just the right size to come down and around the woolly gourd. Time to soak it with hot soapy water, and get to rubbing! The fibers will velcro themselves together.
Once the fibers were holding together, I could take off the pantyhose and just work it with my hands. At this point, I cut slits in the wool. With luck, these will pull apart as the wool shrinks down into felt, creating the look of little islands around the main island.
So far so good! The gourd stood up to the hot soapy water. The slits pulled apart into openings. And the wool shrunk and velcroed itself into a nice firm felt, that is holding to the gourd without the need for glue or stitching. Time to let this dry thoroughly before I cut the top off, and clean out the insides. Crossing my fingers that I don't crack the gourd in the process.
Yay! No cracks. I cut the top off, cleaned out the insides, and sanded down the rim. Then, I drilled holes and strung the opening with a web of artificial sinew, so I could needle weave my 'X marks the spot' and compass rose.
I also took a bit of time, and hand spun some wool yarn for the coiling at the rim. I used some of the same turquoise and green roving that I used in the felt, to tie the colors together. But I also added some browns, so the coiling could represent foliage.
My needle weaving is done, and I've started coiling. Round and round I go.
I like it! The red X marks the treasure spot in the cavern, and the blue arm with the white arrow points north. I had a pendant hanging around that makes a great sample treasure coin.
Now, to add some sea foam to mark the shore of my main island. I'm making a branched fringe with glass beads, crystal tear drops, and freshwater pearls. And a cloissone fish, just because.
Done!! I added some seashells to the sea foam shoreline. And then, it was time to make my pathway that makes this actually a pirate's map. You start at the coin with the key, and follow the freshwater pearl pathway from little island to little island, collecting keys. Avoid the little islands with the skull and crossbones. Trust me on that one. When you get to shore, follow the woodburnt dotted line up the beach to the foliage, and then the garnet path will lead you up and around into the cavern. The treasure is almost yours!!

This was a fun project. The assignment was pretty open ended. Just, make a map using some of the techniques that we learned over the course of the semester. I'll turn this in tomorrow, and see what the teacher thinks!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Textiles class final project: Make a Map

I've been taking a Textiles class at the local community college this semester. We've done felting, embroidery, ice dyeing, shibori, surface embellishment, and coiling as the sections. For our final project, the assignment is to make a map of some sort, using some of the techniques we've learned over the semester.

I was stumped. I thought for awhile that I'd make a fabric map of Snake Bay on Lake of the Woods, where I go for summer vacations. But, what I envisioned for that was going to take a lot of embroidery. And, I still really don't care for embroidery. Other techniques grab me much more. So, while I was working on my coiling project (bowl made of hand dyed wool yarn wrapped around clothes line)...
...I decided I wanted to do something more three dimensional. And, maybe not hold myself to an actual place. Wouldn't it be fun to make something like a pirate's treasure map? And my brain was off and running.

So....take a gourd. Maybe ice dye it to make island ground colors? Felt around it in water colors. Cut it open. Coil around the top, to mark the entrance to the treasure cave. And then embroider on it to make the map leading to the island. I don't think that makes sense to anyone who is not in my head, but I can almost see this one. And I am kind of excited to give it a try.

Step one was a visit to Wuertz Gourd Farm, which you can see in the picture at the top of this post. Seriously, if you can't find the gourd you're looking for there, you aren't trying. I have never seen so many gourds in one place! All sorted by type and size. So, I picked out two kettle gourds. One to work on, and one as a spare in case I screw up the first try.
I could have paid extra for a gourd that already had the waxy coating cleaned off of it, but it is easy enough to do with some water, a copper scrubbie, and some elbow grease. You can see the difference that taking that coat off makes visually!
Then I did some mad scientist art experimentation, and tried to ice dye the gourd. I couldn't find anything on line about it, just that it was possible to use Procion powder dyes to dye gourds. I wrapped the gourd in towels soaked in soda ash water to prep it, then removed the towels, buried the gourd in ice, and sprinkled the dyes on the top. 24 hours later, I rinsed off the gourd.
Hrm. I'd guess that I didn't find much on ice dyeing gourds because it doesn't work terribly well. Especially for the amount of pigment that went into the attempt. I'll keep ice dying for fabric, like in this class sample done with the same general technique:

But, the dyes did leave some subtle reds and greens, and brought out the natural variations in the gourd. I can definitely work with that for this project. I just won't try it again. (Unless someone out there has ice dyed gourds more successfully? I'd love to hear your technique!!)

Tomorrow in class, I'll attempt to felt over the gourd. I've tried this once before, and found that the felting process makes the gourd shell very delicate and apt to tear when it gets soaked. But I had already opened and cleaned that gourd, so the water was getting in to the shell and soaking from both sides. I'm hoping to avoid that this time by waiting to carve the gourd open until after the felting process, and after everything has dried back out. I've cracked several gourds in the cleaning process, so this is a risk also. Luckily, I have that spare gourd for when I screw this one up.

Wish me luck!