Friday, October 2, 2015

Shawls and Bags

My posts are still lagging behind the weaving that I'm doing.  Actually that's not such a bad thing.  In fact it's far better than  blogging more and weaving less!

Dorset loom on left and Baby Wolf loom on right
In this somewhat odd photo there's a new project on my little Dorset loom.  Right next to it is my Baby Wolf.  I took this photo because without giving it too much thought I positioned the Dorset within spitting distance because I find the new Wolf Trap so useful.  For anyone not familiar with this piece of equipment, it is the little hammock-like shelf attached to the breast beam of the Baby Wolf.  In this photo it's holding several items that I'm using on the neighboring loom!  I particularly like how much easier weaving with two or more shuttles is with the Wolf Trap in place.

Prayer Shawl yarns

I think I mentioned one or two posts ago that I'd be including items here that I weave with fibers other than wool.  Here's one.  I am a member of what is called the Prayer Shawl Ministry at my church.  If you are unfamiliar with the concept of prayer shawls, you will find more information here.  One requirement of prayer shawls is that they be machine washable and dry-able.  This eliminates the use of many beautiful fibers.  The need to keep material costs down (I'm already donating an awful lot of my time!) eliminates purchasing lovely wash and dry yarns.  I try to make do with donated yarn and those bought at thrift shops etc.  Lots of acrylic.

Prayer Shawl; fringe not yet trimmed

This one starts with a warp of pale green Softball Cotton.  For the weft I tried two acrylics: a marly green Lion Brand Homespun, a yarn that is used by many knitters and crocheters.  It's actually difficult to knit and crochet with: terrible to frog.  It's great for weaving!  The second yarn, chosen for value contrast, is Moda Dea Metro.  I'd like to do another one in other colors soon because I think this one worked out nicely.  Next time I'll reduce the EPI from 10 to 8 to create a more drape-y effect.

Meadow Muffins yarn

Presently I have a warp of my Meadow Muffins sock yarn on the loom in variegated yellow-orange-pink.  I'm weaving a series of little drawstring bags based on one that I saw in Fabrics That Go Bump.  the weft is the same as the warp with strategic shots of novelty yarn or hand-spun to create a honeycomb effect.  Love these colors!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More Color-and-Weave

On the loom; the colors are not as accurate here as they are in the photos below.

Just a quick post with my most recent completed project, a small evening bag which will be submitted for a Guild exhibit at the local hospital.  I needed to do this in a hurry and hadn't yet investigated how to line bags like these so this one is unlined.  I found the draft in An Introduction to Multishaft Weaving by Kathryn Wertenberger.  

This draft requires eight shafts and two shuttles.  A very easy pattern to weave; once the rhythm is established it's a breeze. I used my usual sock yarn, dyed in chartreuse and magenta, and wove it on my Baby Wolf loom.  Nothing pale about this piece!

Monday, September 7, 2015

I Hope You Weren't Holding Your Breath...

A good year for our apple tree.  We never spray, yet some years the apples aren't wormy!

In the last year I've restructured operations around here, modifying several times. I needed to bring things more into line with the fact that I must stop hurting myself while doing farm tasks and dedicate more time to weaving.  The lovely Pygora goats went to several farms.  Although I do miss them, re-homing them eliminated the constant need for two pastures (one for does, one for the buck) and shelters in addition to the quarters for my sheep.  At this point my livestock consists of three elderly sheep.  I'm able to provide enough grazing with minimum use of the portable electronet fencing.  The electronet has never been kind to my right rotator cuff.

In the meantime, I wanted to get myself to a point with my weaving where I would no longer feel obligated to refer to myself as a Perpetual Beginner.  Basic skills need sharpening such as warping, reading drafts, and creating a quality woven fabric based on what I have in my mind.  I am constantly confronted in weaving by what I call Rude Awakenings.  This happens when I learn something the hard way.  My results aren't what I was expecting or hoping for because I have too many gaps in my knowledge; my reach exceeds my grasp by too many yards.  Examples include embarking on a project with a new weave structure without sampling first.  This could be prevented by cookbook-style weaving... in other words, duplicating a project in a weaving journal with the exact same warp and weft yarns and the same weave structure. With rare exceptions, this doesn't seem to be something I can interest myself in doing.

As a result my blog will be changing.  There will be less posts about sheep, or about yarns or roving for sale. Posts will focus more on current weaving projects, including those that aren't even woven from animal fiber!

That said, I'll laterally arabesque  over to the most recent work.  I've had increasing interest over the last few months in Color-and-Weave.  In her recently-published book, Next Steps in Weaving, Pattie Graver writes: 
Color-and-Weave is not a type of weave structure.  Instead, it describes a pattern that develops through repeating sequences of dark and light warp ends in both the warp and weft.  The design or pattern you see in the cloth is the result of the color alternations interacting with the weave structure.

Several things came together.  First, in the early spring I was offered the opportunity to take a course at Hill Institute called Sewing with Handwoven Fabric which will begin later this month.  The finished item will be a vest.  Lots or work... and I really want to use fabric that will make this endeavor worthwhile.  

Second, in an effort to weave more fabric that doesn't just look like mud when the warp and weft intersect...such as this...

 I had been reading a number of sources about Color-and-Weave.  

Third, a sub group of my weaving guild started a color study group this spring.  I decided that my project for this group would be a Color-and-Weave sampler, woven from the yarn that I intend to use for the fabric I'll be using my sewing class.  I warped and threaded my loom with an alternating dark and light warp and tried several different treadle tie-ups and treadling sequences, based on an eight harness eight point twill on page 115 of Color-and-Weave by Margaret and Thomas Windernecht.


The sample enabled me to make an informed choice when it came to which pattern I would weave for my vest project.  No Rude Awakenings!

I have an abundant supply (more than three hundred pounds originally), un-dyed, of this yarn.  It's sock yarn, 85% wool and 15% nylon, 1700 ypp.  I had it commercially spun here in Massachusetts from wool that I had collected from local sheep including my own.  I've been hand-dyeing it and offering it for sale for a number of years; currently it's available for knitters who like to do lots of color work in small one ounce cakes called Meadow Muffins.  It is stocked by Sheep and Shawl, a lovely small yarn store here in Western Massachusetts.

Meadow Muffins (center) at Sheep and Shawl

At left is the fabric in progress on the loom.

The photo below shows the fabric after fulling and pressing.

I'm very pleased with this fabric.  The colors will coordinate with just about anything.  The pattern isn't so large that it looks... goofy... but not so small that it is mousy like the beige and white fabric above.  I have high hopes!

There's more to say, but I think I've gone on long enough for one day.  More posts soon.