Painted Roses Scarf

This one began as a three heddle rosepath project, but after most of a year in hiatus when I returned to weaving it I was totally over the novelty of wrangling three heddles. So I untied the warp, pushed off the little bit of weaving I’d done, and rethreaded with one heddle as plain weave.

The rosepath wasn’t the only effect I had intended for the scarf. The warp was a painted skein. I laboriously adjusted the warp length as I threaded the loom so that the colours aligned. So this has become the Painted Roses Scarf. The effect is subtle thanks to the weft being a similar red to that in the warp, but the weft also has a bit of glitz in it, adding a hint of shimmer to the final piece.

Matching the colours made for a shortish scarf, but some people prefer that.

Cutting up the flannelette scraps for use in rag rugs is done.

I’d estimated it might take a month. Instead it took about 12 hours, spread over two weeks. A lot more scraps had already been cut than I realised. I also weighed the strips and did the math to work out how long a rug each batch would make, and chose warp colours to match. Next I need to sew the strips together, then fold the edges in using and iron and a bias tape maker. From what I recall, the sewing is fast but the ironing is slow.

I had a mild feeling of de-ja-vu during the last four days of cutting, as I’d done the first big batch of cutting during the first lockdown in Melbourne. Thankfully both cutting and lockdown were much shorter this time.

The Owl & the Moustache

My first project using an Echo draft I designed is done:

I named the draft “The Twirly Moustache” after the design line but I’m going to call the scarf the Owl Scarf, because the resulting pattern looks like owl eyes and beaks to me.

There are a couple of other Echo ideas I’d like to explore, but I’ve decided to move on to the Deflected Doubleweave designs I created after the workshop so, hopefully, as much as possible of that stays in my memory.

In the meantime, I’ve started cutting up more flannelette.

The intention is to get it all turned into strips so they take up less room in the stash. It’ll be quicker and easier to mix, match, weigh and work out sizes, too. Since most of rag rug weaving time is prep, and the weaving is fast, it’s silly to wait until the loom is free before deciding to weave a rug, since that leaves the loom empty for weeks.

It’s around a year since I bought the huge bag of rags and I’ve only woven less than a quarter of it. I don’t really want it to take four to five years for me to use it all up, especially when there are other rugs, made both of rag strips and rug yarn, that I want to weave too. So I’ve set myself up in the kitchen with the electric bias binding cutter and aiming to do an hour of strip-making a day. If all goes well it’ll take under a month to get through it all.

Handwoven, Handmade

Early last year I wove fabric with the intention of making two tops in the same style as this top I made several years back and then embellished in 2016:

The first was woven from some fine blue yarn with white cotton slubs along it, that I got as part of a mill ends batch. I call it my Little Fluffy Clouds top.

The second was woven from some leftover and new Seta Soie Silk. I call it my Seta Soie top.

I’m resisting the urge to add darts on the front and back. For years my style has been fitted on the top and loose on the bottom, but I adopted it back when I didn’t have much of a bust and anything loose made me look flat-fronted. Now I certainly don’t have that problem. I’m more of an hourglass than a pear, and anything too fitted shows more than just the flattering bumps and creases. Loose on the top works with fitted on the bottom, or loose on the bottom so long as there’s a waist, or a suggestion of one.

Shadow Weave Vest

In May last year I finished this shadow weave jacket:

Ugh.

It was a fudged solution to a failed attempt at replicating a knitted jacket in woven cloth. I knew I wouldn’t wear it, and I didn’t, so wound up in the refashion pile.

A few months ago, when I was having the fabric/sewing clear out, I started playing with it again. I unpicked the seams and considered the fabric pieces I had, and after some playing on the dress model I mapped out a plan:

Did I make a calico? Nope!

And then didn’t have the courage to start sewing. But last week I bit the bullet, so to speak, and got stuck into the sewing.

It’ll need a closure of some kind if worn on it’s own. I’m thinking press studs.

The back was a ‘make it work’ moment, as I’d wrapped the top of the sides over the shoulder in the hopes of using less fabric for the back, and have enough left over for sleeves.

I do love how the shadow weave pattern looks here.

That wasn’t to be. I could have made 3/4 length sleeves, but I hate them, and short sleeves would look odd in fabric this thick. So I decided it would have to be a vest/top. The only seams I’m not 100% happy with are the armholes, which gape a little at the back of the right side, but otherwise I’m pretty chuffed with how it came out. And amazed at how secure the overlocked edges are.

I’m quite chuffed with how it turned out. I don’t need another vest, but the only alternative was to throw out some perfectly good handwoven fabric. At least this one is cotton, so I don’t need to wear anything underneath to prevent contact with my skin. Which might mean it’ll get more wear than my knitted vests.

Workshop the Second

The pin loom workshop last Sunday seemed to go very well. It was quite a challenge teaching half the class on Zoom and the other half in person, but my aim was to get everyone to complete one square by the end of the day and that was achieved. The rest of what I covered I did as demos, which worked well with Zoom.

The Guild is keen on me doing more rigid heddle workshops, which I’m considering. However, by the end of the Pin Loom workshop day, despite being home by 4:00, I was entering a bad back flare up that made the next day hell and shadowed me for the rest of the week. I don’t know if it was the workshop itself, or falling asleep in an armchair later that day, that sparked it. Exhaustion hit me like a wall when I got home. Maybe I need to limit myself to half day workshops.

Of course, all inspiration for the projects I was longing to start as soon as the workshop was done evaporated in the face of pain and fatigue. I got out the yarn and patterns for the two machine knit garments I want to make, but felt too brain-fogged for the complexity of adapting the patterns. Instead I did a bit more fresh indigo leaf printing and wove more of the Moustache Scarf.

Finishing existing projects and chores appealed. I finished a portrait. It’s been kicking my butt for the last year. No matter how much I tweaked and reworked, it just didn’t look like the subject. Working on it upside down for two sessions got it close enough that I am happy to let it go, if the recipient likes it.

Once I decided machine knitting was too much, I packed everything away. I noticed a half draped garment on my dress form and began to play with it again. That led to some sewing, but I’ll save that for the next post.

Little Looms, Big Ideas

In preparing for the pin loom workshop, lists were written, items crossed off, new lists created and those items crossed off, and finally I realised I was ready… with a week to spare.

This was a relief and also a bit annoying. I’ve been looking forward to the workshop, but also to getting stuck into some big meaty project afterwards. I didn’t want to start something that would need my full attention until the workshop was done. So for that spare week I had to look for short projects to fill the time. It was hot so no gardening. I didn’t want to risk a back flare up and migraine on the workshop day, either so no hobbies that might cause that.

I had considered making pin looms to sell, so I had a go at making one out of an old picture frame. It worked, but doing multiples of these would take too much time and put too much strain on my back. It’s a lot of nails to hammer.

I also made a half size loom at the vintage Weave-it loom nail spacing so I could make smaller wire squares, then turn them into a necklace:

Then I returned to the Jane loom and my Moustache Echo warp:

I decided not to work my way through the treadlings I’d come up with, but instead weave a scarf using the first one. Of course, I found a threading error only a few cm in, but once I’d fixed that and got into the swing of it I began to enjoy the weaving. As my brain memorised the pattern, I let my mind wander… to thinking about what I’ll do after the pin loom workshop. Dammit brain!

There’s the two tops I wove fabric for to sew. And two new garments to make on the Bond. And that 16 shaft loom I keep saying I’m going to make. And there’s still a loooot of work to do in the garden.

Well, at least I can’t say I have nothing to do!

Dishcloth Weaving

Turning the draft for the dishcloths was, initially, not quite 100% successful. I was able to get plain weave on all four sides for hems, but not in the corners. The corners would be folded into the hem anyway, so I figured it didn’t matter. Once the Deflected Doubleweave sampler came off the Lotus the dishcloths went on.

Slowly.

The back issues I had and the migraines they triggered meant I couldn’t approach a loom for days, and then only for very short sessions. Threading with the deflected threads at the same time as the ground warp was time-consuming, too. When I finally had it all threaded I began tying up the treadles and I realised I had two treadles tied the same.

Hmm. If I eliminated one it would free up a treadle, and maybe I could get those corners to come out as plain weave.

So I went back to Fibreworks and as I was deleting the duplicated treadle I realised there was another pair of duplicates. I sorted that as well, leaving two extra treadles to play with. More tweaking followed and I had it: a draft with plain weave in all the right places.

I also increased the sett by 150% except on the edges. As I got weaving I saw that this had been the right decision.

After weaving one dishcloth I ran out of the ground yarn. I was expecting to, but when I went to buy it from my usual supplier I found it was out of stock. I could have searched around for other sources, but I decided to play with other 16/2 cottons in my stash. This turned out to be a good idea.

First I tried red, then pink, then, at Paul’s suggestion, stripes of colour. After that I did a rather patriotic red, white and blue, and finally I tried using a linen yarn – which worked surprisingly well and didn’t pull in at the sides.

These six dishcloths quite a bit of time and brain energy for something I could have bought for a few dollars. But I saw it as an intellectual challenge and I’m really chuffed to have figured them out. Next time I weave them – if there’s a next time – it should be a lot faster. But I do need to come up with a better way to wrangle a supplemental warp. I had to put this one on lease sticks tied to the back beam, to stop the bundles of them twisting around each other then getting caught on the heddles when I advanced the warp. Perhaps if I threaded them through some sort of suspended reed. It’s going to be an ongoing conundrum.

Electrifying

On the Thursday of the tail end of four day sore-neck-possible-migraine I decided to try one of the methods Denise had shown us for making a Deflected Doubleweave draft. It involves taking a profile draft for another structure and converting it.

I had immediately thought of Cats Paws & Snail Trails, the only overshot pattern I’ve liked. So I drew that up in Fibreworks.

Then converted it to Deflected Doubleweave:

The double width blocks didn’t look great, so I reduced them to single:

The pattern looked like electrical plugs to me. That suggested a man’s scarf, so I changed the colours to blue and dark grey:

Which makes for a complicated pattern. What if I made the treadling the same as the threading?

Much better! Now what about some more colour?

Oh, this is fun! It’s like the yellowy green is electricity running down the cord to the plug forks. I’ll have to start and finish the yarn for each pair of stripes because of the big gap between them, but that’s not too much trouble. Of course, I can only guess how much fulling the fabric will change the pattern, but I decided to call this one “Electricty” anyway.

I’d like to weave this straight away, of course, but I’ve decided to return to the dishcloths project. I want to tackle that project before I forget what I was doing with it.

Deflected Doubleweave as Collapse Workshop

The local Complex Weavers rep had organised three Denise Kovnat workshops in a row, but I only signed up to the first one initially. Having enjoyed it, not suffered too much physically, and after looking at my calendar, I figured I could do the third if it was still possible. It was, so I signed up, got the documentation, ordered yarn and warped the Lotas.

Took a few rows to get the beat right

After the first workshop day of three sessions, I got weaving. The warping had been a lot faster than Echo, and the weaving was too even though it required two to four shuttles for the sampler drafts Denise provided. I tore through the first three, cut them off the loom and fulled them.

Front
Back

Only then did I notice a threading error. But I liked the way it looked and decided to keep it.

I continued weaving and by the second trio of classes the following workshop day I had the first one done and had started on the second. Between the classes I wove more, and would have finished all three if I hadn’t needed to stop and wind a bobbin.

Front
Back

Only three or four of the students had woven anything, because most were still finishing the project from the middle workshop. This was a bit disappointing, as I didn’t get to see a variety of samplers from different 8-shaft drafts to ones using more.

After the second day of classes I finished the second trio of samples, cut them off the loom and fulled them, using laundry soap. The fulling wasn’t happening as fast as it had the first time, and I realised I’d used woolmix previously. So I changed the water and added woolmix, and oh boy did that full! No wonder why my knitwear has been shrinking the last few years! That brand of woolmix has now been relegated to machine washable clothing or things I want to full.

With a week left, I decided to weave my favourite of the six drafts using the alternative yarns Denise had suggested we play with. My notes follow the pics.

Front
Back

1a dark blue Colcolastic instead of the grey merino, original blue 10/2 cotton.
1b original grey merino, lilac Colcolastic instead of the cotton.
RESULT: Colcolastic created an even texture on both samples that pulled in more than the merino shrinks. 1b creates the zig-zag effect better.

2a burgundy wool & stainless steel instead of the merino, yellow-green 10/2 cotton.
2b dark blue 10/2 cotton instead of the merino, pale green silk stainless steel instead of the cotton.
RESULT: Crinkle effect is more random but pulled in the same rate as the Colcolastic. Feels soft and a bit papery.

Front
Back

3a original grey merino, gold gimp instead of the cotton.
3b gold gimp instead of the grey merino, original blue cotton.
RESULT: Pulled in a little less than Colcolastic and stainless steel. Surprisingly soft for a metallic.

4a original grey merino, multicolour tape yarn instead of the cotton.
4b grey and black tape yarn instead of the merino, dark blue Colcolastic instead of the cotton.
RESULT: 4a had the same shrinkage on first two trios of samplers, which is less than the other yarns. The zig-zag is completely lost but it’s still a lovely effect and feel that would make a beautiful scarf or shawl. 4b shrank more – the same as the other Colcolastic samples – and lost the zig-zag. It’s is more like a messy plaid, which is okay but a waste of an expensive tape yarn.

That left me with about half a metre of warp left. I thought I might try tweaking the tie-up and treadling, but decided to wait until after the next class in case Denise had other suggestions. Then an email from the rep reminded us that Denise would no longer be available for questions after the third workshop so I figured I may as well keep going in case what I tried raised some issues.

It took a few days before I got back to the loom, however, as I came down with a really terrible headache. Possibly a migraine. I’ve been having these weekly, usually on a Monday and Tuesday, but this time it hung around most of the week. I did eventually manage to play a bit in Fiberworks and stumbled upon a horizontal version of the zig-zag draft I’d used for the alternative yarns. Which was the same on the front as the back. So I used that to worked out how to change the original so it was also same on both sides.

This suggested to me a scarf that switched back and forth from vertical zig-zag to horizontal. However, the gap between them didn’t translate to the back, and the two together used 12 pedals when I only have 10. But then I noticed that two sets of the treadles were very similar, so I could add and remove four pegs when I switched from vertical to horizontal and back. So long as the blocks of each were big, it wouldn’t be too much trouble.

So I got weaving, finished the warp, took the piece off the loom… and realised I’d forgotten that I had altered the threading slightly to get the vertical zig zag to be reversible. Never mind! I fulled the fabric and have a nice piece long enough to be a cowl.

If I had 16 shafts perhaps I could do this as a grid pattern. Maybe something to try if I ever get around to making that 16 shaft table loom.

Of the two workshops, I enjoyed the Echo and Jin one more for the interaction between the participants. Of the two weave structures, I enjoyed the Deflected Doubleweave slightly more. Overall, I have learned a great deal, tried a whole lot of new yarns, and my to-do list of things to make has grown. I hope to do more workshops, but that may depend on what I end up doing next year. Which is not going to quite be what I had planned. But I’ll leave that to another post.

Twirly Mo Sampler

By the end of the Echo and Jin workshop I had small but ambitious list of things I wanted to try, helped along by the arrival of a birthday and this present:

I wanted to:

  1. Make an Echo draft using my own design line
  2. Have another attempt at doubleweave
  3. Be a bit more deliberate in colour selections
  4. Make a thing
  5. Try moire/non-parallel threading

Launching into the first challenge, I made a design line based on a twirled moustache using the instructions given to us in class. The result was disappointing. No matter what combination of colours I used the design was indistinct and unexciting. I repeated the process a few times, rechecked the instructions, then one evening I had another look at the Heddlecraft article on Echo and had an ‘aha!’ moment. The instructions there reminded me that Denise had said not to skip a shaft. Though I’ve seen echo design lines that do, I figured if two sources say don’t then I would stick to the rule for my first designs.

My warp colour choices were perhaps a little lacking in contrast, too. I also had a hunch that part of the problem was one of scale. Back to Fiberworks, I restarted with a bigger moustache line with no shaft skips. This time the magic happened.

Next I made a doubleweave draft with the same tie-up and threading Denise used in her class example. Then I came up with six more twill-based tie-ups and treadings. My plan is to try the doubleweave, rethread the reed for twill weave a few of the designs, then pick one to weave a scarf out of.