Chenille Scarves

When the Venne scarves came off the loom I wasn’t sure what to weave next. I have a few linen projects I’d like to weave, but the heating here is very drying so I’m waiting until spring. I’m not ready to weave another rug yet. I also didn’t want to tackle anything mentally challenging when I was about to launch into the 8-shaft course.

Opening my stash spreadsheet, I looked at the oldest yarns there and found a few potential sparks of inspiration. Maybe I could weave up some of the small batches of interesting yarn I’d been procrastinating over for years. Taking out whatever appealed, I wound up with three batches of indigo blue and white yarn – clearly something about the colour was attracting me. I chose the chenille that was ikat dyed in one of Kay Faulkner’s workshops.

I’ve woven this yarn (undyed) into a scarf before, using it as both warp and weft on a rigid heddle loom. It was hard to beat and the warp was a twisty nightmare, and the scarf came out a little stiff. Then I tried dip dyeing in indigo later, didn’t like the look and dip dyed the white end… and hated the result.

A different approach was needed. I’d seen chenille woven as weft on a 8/2 cotton warp in a project before, so based the sett and structure on that. I chose a simple 4-shaft 2×2 point twill with a straight treadling on a blue warp, which was easy to warp and fast to weave. When the scarf came off the loom it had the perfect drape for such a cushy yarn.

However, I had only used up one of the two balls of chenille. I decided to weave another scarf using a white warp. But then I thought… just one scarf? Wouldn’t it be more economical to warp up for two scarves? But what to use for weft on that second scarf? I could try unweaving that stiff chenille and use the weft to make a new one. Or, if that didn’t work, there was plenty of white slubby cotton in my stash that I could weave – and perhaps dye.

The second chenille scarf is much busier, because the white weft makes the twill more obvious and breaks up the blue.

In the meantime, I tried to unweave the old chenille scarf. It turns out chenille locks in pretty determinedly when woven with itself. I abandoned the task went looking for another yarn to use, but something about the unwoven chenille, which had a speckle effect thanks to being tightly woven then overdyed, kept calling me back to the old scarf. So I gave unweaving another try and found if I trimmed off the warp every 2 cm it was not so laborious that I wasn’t prepared to do it, over a couple of days.

Turns out I was right. It did weave up nicely. This time I wove point twill, which gave it a kind of flowery feel. However, it barely wove up to a cowl length. I added a bit of denim at either end and buttons to make it easily removable.

Which left quite a bit of warp on the loom. Not enough for a scarf, possibly too little for a cowl, but too much to just cut off and ‘waste’. This was an opportunity to play, I decided. I then played around in Fibreworks until I had a pattern I liked, and decided to weave it in black.

I’m thinking maybe fabric for a small bag.

Dyeing to Start

The eight shaft certificate weaving course has begun! Woohoo! The schedule needed to adapt to lockdown, but thanks to Zoom and our adaptable teacher and her assistant, it got underway without a hitch.

The Guild provides yarn for the course, but we couldn’t go there to pick it up. Last year, in anticipation of this course, I bought a range of the yarn we mostly used in the 4-shaft course – Bendigo 3ply classic – but for the first sampler we used the 2ply version, and I only have two colours of that yarn: natural (which I used for the warp) and a red. One weft colour wasn’t going to offer much exciting experimentation, so I dyed ten bobbin’s worth of the natural.

In my limited supply of dye I had the purply blue on the right, red and yellow. Overdying gave me the colours between. I was hoping for a brown using all three, but got dark burgundy-purple shades.

Still, I love how they turn out. Overdyeing creates more harmonious colour schemes. I’d dye more often if I wasn’t too lazy for the set up and clean up.

Venne You Can’t Decide…

… weave a kit!

This is definitely one of those “looks more complicated than it is” projects. I had the treadling sequence memorised within two repeats, and it wove faster than I expected. Avoiding draw-in was a battle. Seems like that’s a thing with shadow weave. I don’t have a temple small enough to fit the scarf, so I laid in the weft in a big angle and left a little bit of a loop at both edges, which kept it getting out of hand.

To be honest, I wasn’t that excited by the design, so for the second scarf I rethreaded the loom to weave a draft from Handweaving.net. I’m a sucker for a weaving pattern that is a weaving pattern. It was a slightly shorter, narrower draft than the kit scarf, and a bit simpler to thread and treadle.

The tie-up had me weaving it back-side-up. I must have missed some clue on the site. But I didn’t mind as I still liked the back more than the original design, and the there was the satisfaction of seeing the front pattern when I took it off the loom.

Faux Rib Cowl

It’s done…

The rib texture is subtle. It has a nice drape.

As I expected, it was too short for a scarf but just right for a mobius cowl.

It’s always satisfying when leftovers turn into something useful, rather than ending up yet more thrums hanging behind the Loom Room door.

Clasped To My Bleeding Heart

It’s been more than a year since I warped the AKL. Used to be I’d have a project on it nearly all of the time, but after all the prep for the workshop I did January last year I took a break. It wasn’t meant to last this long, but much of my weaving attention and creativity went into the 4-shaft course, which I’m certainly not complaining about!

Even after weaving nearly constantly on the AKL for sixteen years (gosh!), there are still a few methods I haven’t tried. One was clasped warp. It was meant to be the next one I did but every time I tried matching up colours for it nothing quite worked. Part of the problem was coming up with a weft yarn that wouldn’t spoil the look of the two warp yarns.

I had another go at it recently, and as I pawed through sock yarns It was thinking back to the Echo and Jin workshop. We used a finer yarn for the weft so the warp colours dominated. The same approach might work on this scarf.

Most of my sock yarn isn’t solid, and the few solids I have are either not a good match for the multicolour yarns or are but don’t provide good contrast – you need contrast with clasped warp (and weft) for the effect to be visible. I applied the principles of matching patterns in clothing: go for different kinds of pattern. Like stripes and florals, or pin stripe and spots, or random and regular, or fine and large. I had a speckle-dyed grey yarn, and a striped dark red and purple yarn. Perfect.

And for the weft… a solid. By going even thinner I had a wide choice of fine wool yarns to choose from. I chose one that would disappear in the striped yarn, and hopefully only add to the flecked nature of the speckled one.

Warping was easy. Instead of threading a loop through every slot of the heddle then, after the loop is cut, moving one thread into the neighbouring hole, you thread a loop in slots and holes. The second yarn loops through this to the peg. Which means every thread is a double thread, and you weave half basketweave.

I beat very lightly so the weft was well spaced. Which made the weaving quite fast.

A couple of sessions later it was done, and I finished it by twisting the fringe.

Ribs & Shadows

Once the rosepath warp was off the Lotas, it was time to plan a new project. Two, actually, because I’d decided I wouldn’t keep rethreading and sampling blended drafts on the Jane loom, which needed to be free in time for the start of the 8-shaft certificate course. Though that was two months away, I didn’t want to risk that a distraction, back flare up or something else stop me from weaving off the sampler warp.

What to weave? Something not too challenging, I decided. The latest Heddlecraft theme is ribs, which reminded me of one of the sampler I wove of half the first chapter of the Strickler book. Two of the twills formed ribs and a slightly stretchy fabric, which I’ve always wanted to use in a project. Going back to the source, there’s a note with the draft saying that it was used as a kind of knitted rib substitute. I decided to weave a simple ribbed scarf with the rest of the sampler warp, which only required rethreading the loom in a straight twill. Then I chose purple and aqua-blue weft yarns and started playing.

It’s easy to weave and you can see the ribs forming in the plain white section. You can also see my beat has been a bit variable. We had our covid shots a few days before, and my body did not react well.

For the Lotus, not wanting to tackle anything too challenging steered me toward weaving a Venne kit. I’ve woven shadow weave before, but I haven’t woven a kit. This one makes two scarves. I’m planning to do the first in the treadling provided then a variation for the second.

I replicated both drafts in Fiberworks so I could print at a bigger size, and play with shadow weave drafts. Once I’d threaded the shadow weave scarves I found I’m going to have to wait until the faux rib scarf is done to have two free shuttles for it. That’s fine. After all, I can only weave on one loom at a time!

Black Twill Stripe Rag Rug

I had enough warp left over from the twill rag rugs to weave a square t-shirt rag rug.

The variation in the depth of the black wasn’t obvious as I wove it, though I did reject one garment worth of rags because it was quite noticeably grey. This a bonus ‘spontaneity’ that comes from weaving rags from used rather than new cloth.

I like the extra squishiness of the knit fabric, and it was nice to not have to worry about ironing and placing the rag so the back side of the fabric doesn’t show. In fact, not having to fuss led to me trying different approaches on the next rug warp, but I’ll cover that in the next rag rug post.

Problem Solving Inspiration

As I was finishing the blue and aqua twill rugs, I started winding the warp for the two pink and one light blue rosepath ones. It was very tempting to slip in a different project before returning to rugs, but I feared I would get distracted and that project would become two, three, then more.

I’d already wound the warp, too. I’m always reluctant to let an already cut warp sit idle. Knowing my luck it will get all tangled no matter how carefully I store it, or the cross will be in the wrong place for whatever loom it ends up on, or I’ll simply forget what it was meant to be for.

It was much easier to wind, being one colour. Since I knew I didn’t have enough of the grey, I’d bought another cone, which had the added benefit that I could wind with two threads at a time. Still… it wasn’t an exciting warp to look at, being all grey.

What got me excited to use it was working out, while creating the draft in Fiberworks, how to fix a niggly problem I’d had with the threading of the blue and aqua rugs. Well, not really a problem for the resulting rug, but a quirk in the draft that bugged me.

You see, the edges of the rugs I’m making are plain weave, but the rag section has the threads doubled.

When I wove the first three rugs this wasn’t a problem, because the body of the rug was plain weave. I just warped the loom with a straight 8-shaft twill, and used a tie-up that lifted shafts 1+3+5+7 followed by 2+4+6+8 for the edge weft then 1+2+5+6 followed by 3+4+7+8 for the rag weft.

But when weaving twill on the blue and aqua rugs, I found that the weft on the edges would skip over two warps wherever the threads aligned with a twill point in the rag section.

The twill was an extended one in places, so the skips didn’t happen often enough to affect the fabric width of the edges (all basketweave would have woven narrower). The rosepath had far more points, which made it worth trying to find a solution.

I knew that the twill in the rag section was essentially a four shaft pattern – the only reason I used eight shafts was to separate the pairs into singles for plain weave at the edges – so if I considered the problem threads as pairs, what could I do to them to ensure there were no skips?

The answer then came easily: turn the pairs 90 degrees.

I was so chuffed to have worked this out, suddenly I was all fired up to weave the next lot of rag rugs. The following day I had the warp on the back beam and half threaded, but I made myself wait a few days until I did the second half, not wanting to set off my back issues.

Blended Drafts Workshop

During the numerous Zoom sessions of the last year and a bit, the lovely Jeanette at the Guild talked about her venture into blended drafts. Her explanation kind of blew my mind. While the method made sense at the time, my understanding of it seemed to dissolve straight after. Well, it was a trying time for our poor, stressed brains!

When the news came that Jeanette was going to run a workshop I was definitely interested. Yet I hesitated a little out of lack of self confidence. You see, it has occurred to me that nothing I’ve started this year has quite gone to plan. The Wiggle Scarf had wobbles, the warp for the aqua and blue rag rugs was a bit of a nightmare and the Aqua Rug came out short. I felt like my brain just wasn’t up to something as challenging as learning to weave two weave structures on the same threading.

But I signed up anyway, because when was I going to get the opportunity again?

Of course, then I had insomnia the night before, and so I did struggle a bit, especially toward the end of the day. However, overall I was fine thanks to the clarity of Jeanette’s instruction.

On the first Sunday we learned the what, why and how and created our own blended draft by matching one of the overshot patterns Jeanette supplied to a twill in one of a couple of books. I chose a slanting, angular overshot and modified a very simple herringbone twill to suit. We started threading our looms. At home we were to finish threading and weave the two structures.

I also tried making another blended draft, this time crackle and twill, and it seemed to go well. Then I created a draft in Fiberworks and confirmed it was correct. Yay!

On the second Sunday we did a ’round robin’ and tried what Jeanette and the other students had warped their looms for. Jeanette had blended o overshot with Atwater-Bronson lace:

Libby had a mix of overshot and waffleweave:

(pic to come)

I didn’t get to try Rosie’s combination, as we ran out of time. That night I took the crackle draft from my previous at-home blend and mixed it with Spot Bronson.

I still have warp left on the loom so I’m going to rethread for the crackle/spot bronson combo and weave a sampler. Then who knows? Maybe keep blending, rethreading and weaving. Maybe there’s enough warp left to weave a cowl.

Rugged & Blue

There’s something that tickles me about how the actual weaving of rag rugs is so fast. There is SO much preparation, and then BAM! a couple of hours more and the rug exists. (Mostly. There’s still hemming and washing, of course.)

The Aqua Rug turned out shorter than I’d intended. When sewing together the rags I had an older batch of mixed rags already sewn together, a few misc strips, and two newer batches of unsewn strips in the same colourway. Instead of cutting the already sewn strips apart to mix in the new ones, I added only the misc pattern strips, then sewed the two similar colours together. My aim was to use two shuttles to weave alternate rows of old-mixed and new-similar batches.

This made for only slightly more complicated weaving. It also meant I ran out of the old batch before I got to last quarter of the new, and I wound up with a shorter rug than I’d planned. I’m wondering, now, if I should have woven two new-similar rows for every old-mixed one. Too late now. The unused strips went into the box of leftovers.

The Blue Rug was one big batch of evenly mixed pattern, so I could just wind it onto a single shuttle and weave to the very end. Despite this, it really felt like it took much longer. Partly because I was weaving in shorter sessions, and because it wasn’t much shorter than it should be!

Since the Aqua Rug came out shorter than planned, I had a lot of warp left over. I decided to try weaving with t-shirt fabric strips. This came out much nicer than I expected and not needing to fuss with folding in the edges of the strips made it SO much faster. It was only slowed by having to stop and cut up more old garments. The down side is that no matter how you cut up t-shirts or leggings, you’re going to have corners or seams creating lumps. I don’t mind this, but it does make for a more bumpy rug and some people mightn’t like that.

I got to thinking, as I wove, that it might be worth taking the time to sew the flannelette strips. Ironing them with a bias tape maker helps by folding in the edges, but I still have to fiddle a lot to get them to sit right when weaving. So I tried that on the next rug’s strips and found that it’s slower than I hoped and chews through a lot of thread.

I’m at the point, now, where I don’t think I’d take more flannelette rags even if they were free. Though it was nice having a source material that was not ‘used’, the prep is too time-consuming and dark colours aren’t common (light colours not being so good for hiding dust and stains). If the fabric comes in larger pieces it is much faster to cut, and if the colour is near to or as dark on the back the edges don’t have to be folded in so long as it isn’t too prone to fraying.

There’s still enough flannelette for five or six rugs, however, so I’m not even going to be looking for fabric for some time!