Thursday, May 30, 2013

SCA Handwoven White Scarves: Finished Project!

They're done! The five hand woven SCA style white scarves are off the loom. I took a bit of extra attention to detail, and hand stitched the rolled hem with the same thread I used to weave the fabric. That makes the stitching just about invisible.

And here are the results. I'm really pleased with the way these turned out. The color and feel is crisp and clean. Since they are 100% cotton, they'll stand up to the wear and tear of the rapier fighting field, and still be machine washable. Also, I got quicker at weaving these than the last batch I did, so I was able to lower the price on them when I listed them in the Etsy shop. One of the longer ones is already sold, and left today for its trip to its new home in Pennsylvania. I'm so tickled! Here they are:


I also re-listed the two left over from my previous batch of scarves, so there is a nice half dozen to choose from in the shop right now. Though, I have two folks making noises about needing to acquire them, so they may not last too long.

Now, on to the next weaving project: warp painted ruanas in brown, rust, and cream. Ready? Go!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

SCA White Scarf Project: The Weaving has Started

More progress on the white scarf project! Yesterday I wound up the bobbins...

...and started weaving! Since I'm doing 6 different scarves on this warp, I needed a way to measure how long the scarf was as I was weaving it. I measured a guide string the length of one scarf, and pinned it in place at the beginning of the weaving with a T-pin. Then I let the guide string wrap up along with the finished fabric. When I reach the end of the string, I know it is time to start the next pattern.

At the end of one scarf, I put a couple of picks of contrasting color and change my treadling. It is fascinating how just changing the order that I step on the treadles can make very different looking patterns.

And just for the record, I love working in my studio in the late afternoon, when the light comes streaming through my windows. It is like weaving sunbeams.

The first scarf is finished, and I'm part way through the second. (Just keep weaving....just keep weaving....What do we do? We weave, weave, weave!)

Monday, May 13, 2013

SCA White Scarf project: Warping the loom pt. 2

In between doing Mother's Day things today, I managed to finish getting the loom all warped up. The first step in today's tasks was to tie the warp onto the back apron rod, and then crank the warp round and around the back beam. This stores the yarn until I can get around to weaving it a bit at a time. I love the way the mass of threads looks there, all sleek and clean and organized.

Then I went around to the front, and tied the other end of the yarn onto the front apron rod. Now the threads go from the front apron rod, through the reed, through the heddles, over and around onto the warp beam. (This picture is taken from the back again, but you can see how the threads look now that they're finally under tension.)

Back around at the front, I used some yarn left over on the shuttle from the previous project, and wove an inch or so. This header had the effect of spreading out the warp from where it was bunched up in the knots.

There was one last task to do. I had to crawl underneath the loom for this one. Remember that the threads go through heddles that control when they rise up in the weaving process? Each of those heddles is grouped on one of four harnesses. I can connect those harnesses to foot treadles, by way of chains. When I step on the treadle, the connected harnesses will rise up, lifting their associated threads. Each treadle can connect to one, two, three, or all four harnesses. Which harnesses the treadles are connected to, and which order I step on the treadles, that will define what pattern I will get on the scarves. With only changing the tie up of the treadles and the order that I step on them, I should be able to get several different patterns. My goal is to have each scarf have a unique pattern, without having to do more than changing those two variables.

All set to go! Tomorrow I wind some bobbins, and get to weaving. It should be fun to play with the different patterns, and see what I get. On your marks...get set.....

Sunday, May 12, 2013

SCA White Scarf project: warping the loom pt.1

I spent a quiet afternoon in my studio today, making progress on the woven White Scarf project. For those who missed it, in my historical recreation group, folks who are Very Very Good at rapier fighting are allowed to wear a white scarf on their shoulder. I got a commission for a hand woven one, and am taking this opportunity to make a half a dozen of them. I did the math and planning part of the project last night, which means today I got to start to play with the string. First up, I had to measure out 124 threads, all 8 yards long, in a way that wasn't going to get them tangled up. To accomplish this, I have a warping mill. I wind around and around it, back and forth, following a guide string that is just the right length.

When I take the thread off of the warping mill, I chain it up so that the threads stay under control and won't tangle. Then I wrap the warp chain around the front breast beam of the loom to keep it in place during the next part.

Next up is sleying each thread through the reed of the loom. The reed spaces the threads out to the proper width. When I was winding the threads on my warping mill, at one end I did a figure 8 maneuver around a couple of pegs, to give me something called the warping cross. When I sley the reed, I transfer that cross to the hand that is holding the thread. Then I pick the threads one by one from the top of that X to go through the reed. Since they are in that X, I can pick them off in the exact order that I wound them around the warping mill. It is another trick to make sure that the threads don't become a tangled mess.

After I've sleyed the reed, each individual thread gets put through its own heddle. The heddles control when each thread rises up in the weaving process.

So, you can see the warp around the breast beam, going through the reed, and then through the heddles.

The next step will be to pull the warp through and wind it around the back beam. But I'm out of time today, so that part of the process will have to wait. More pictures later!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New Weaving Project: SCA White Scarf

See that? That is how a weaving project starts for me. I got a commission today for a hand woven White Scarf. In some parts of the SCA (the Medieval/Renaissance historical recreation group I'm part of), a white scarf worn on the shoulder or tied onto the arm designates someone who is Very Very Good at rapier fighting. Several of the folks around my Kingdom wear scarves that I've hand woven, but I am about out of my stock. And, the gentleman who contacted me wants one that is longer than the two that I have left.

So, tonight after I got back from my son's final choir concert for the year, I rummaged through my yarn stash and started looking through pattern books for inspiration. I chose two different 10/2 cotton threads, in whites that are just a little bit off from each other. That way the scarf will be pure white, but the pattern will pop just a little bit more than if I wove it all of the same white. Making it of cotton ensures that the scarf will be machine washable. That is an important consideration, since these tend to be worn on the fighting field. Inevitably, they will get dirty. Very dirty in some cases. Sword fighters are not known for being easy on their fighting garb!

I weighed the yarn to see how much I had available, so I knew how many scarves I could make this time around. I did the math, and decided to make three scarves that should be long enough to tie around the arm, and three that are short enough to pin over the shoulder without getting in the way of arm motion. I knew I wanted to do a twill variation of some sort, so I looked up the chart for yarn settings and decided to put 30 warp threads for every inch. Out came the calculator, paper, and pen. I need...hmmm...120 threads, each of them 8 yards long. Wait...since it is a twill pattern, I find it easier to use some floating selvedges on each side. Make that 124 threads. Scribble, scribble, figure.

Then I went rummaging through my books. I like be able to set up the loom once, and make a variety of patterns depending on how I do the treadling. Ideally, each of the six scarves would have a different pattern, without me having to re-do my set-up on the loom. I found what I was looking for in the old standard, "A Handweavers Pattern Book" by Marguerite Davidson. I'll be playing with one of the variations of Rose Path twill (#2), found on page 17. In the picture, it is the second column in from the right.

Ok, I think my initial calculations are done. Tomorrow I start measuring thread!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The final steps of the diamond twill weaving project

Ah ha! Blogger was being a little persnickety about letting me upload pictures to show you all. Now that I seem to have that issue fixed, let me give you a peek at the wrap up of the diamond twill weaving project.

Cutting the fabric off of the loom is always a bit nerve wracking, while still being a joyous celebration that the weaving is finally done. Take a deep breath, and....

And then, this part is even more nerve wracking. You never really know what your finished fabric is going to be until you wet finish it. That first washing lets the threads slide into their finished places, and the fibers bloom and soften. And shrink. In this case, the fabric was 32" wide and 12 yards 20" long coming off of the loom. I sewed the ends so they wouldn't fray, then tossed the whole kit and caboodle into the washing machine on hot, with high agitation. After a trip through the dryer (also on hot), the finished fabric was 30" wide, and 11 yards 22" long. And the fabric had softened beautifully to the touch. I was so pleased with it!!

Of course, brand new fabric is fair game for the Studio Cat. We had a discussion as to whose project it really was. She was not pleased with me when I pointed out that I was the one with opposable thumbs, as well as the one who provided the cat food.

But, here is a shot of the finished fabric. Is it not gorgeous?

I'm really pleased with the way this project turned out, and will be making more yardage out of this yarn now that I have proof of concept. This fabric though? I can tell you now that this project was inspired when some friends of mine won Crown Tournament in the historical recreation group we're part of. They are both fiber geeks as well, with spinning and trim weaving skills that I think are better than mine. Of all the people I know who have taken on the burden of being in charge of the batch'strong personalities' that make up this hobby of ours, they would be the ones to most appreciate a gift of handwoven fabric to make costumes out of. I chose the light weight cotton since they're ruling in the summer in the deserts of Arizona, the blue to match the heraldry for the kingdom, and the medieval pattern to match some historical fabric remnants.

And how did they like it?

I got a Royal Squee!

Mission Accomplished.

(Last photo by Scott Whitaker.)